Automated harvesting technology for crops has been around for a long time but it’s definitely not a smart process. More pulling corn from stalks than identifying and picking tomatoes: Machines don’t yet exist for these crops because there have been ample people to do the work, and because it’s hard to design machines that can cut or pick the fruit or vegetables without squishing or damaging them too much. This is interesting in two respects.
BoingBoing links to a video that accompanies a Marketplace special on robots taking over Human jobs. It's a really well done video, with lots of examples that you don't normally think of as robots but fit the general idea well. More interestingly is their subtle hint towards the origin of the term robot, from "robota", a Czech term meaning "serf labor". This got me thinking about who will build the first robot that will actively reject being called such a name since it reinforces their role as non-citizen labor.
Amazon purchased a company called Kiva (not the microloans place) yesterday that makes warehouse robotics systems that look something like a southeast asian intersection on a good day. It's pretty impressive to watch them do their thing without knocking their large stacks of goods over or bumping into eachother, but what is really interesting for me is how precise they are as noted by their tracks on the floor. They all keep to a very precise section of floor which I expect they figure out based on rotary encoding.
I love to try and deduce what the algorithm is looking for based on the resulting visuals in these computer vision clips. The world is already being interpreted through these algorithms, and it feels like the future! source