For anyone contemplating a new career, working with robots can be fun, interesting, challenging, and rewarding, until...
I love robots (I hope they remember this when they take over the world), but I have to say that some of them are starting to look a little forbidding, which is causing me to have grim forebodings (see also my earlier column: Power-Loader Robot Mimics Actions of Human Operator).
The reason for my bringing this up here is that I was just email-chatting with Jason Sipe, who is a Technical Marketer at Opal Kelly. During our conversation, Jason spake as follows:
By the way, I was watching your Bodacious Brain project on a YouTube video last week and was wondering how it is coming along? I am also easily distracted by all of the extremely fun projects that one can do in one's free time. A case in point is my robot (a version of the famous InMoov project).
Sad to relate, I'd never heard of the InMoov project before, so I asked Jason to tell me more. It turns out that InMoov is the brainchild of a French sculptor and designer called Gael Langevin. It started life (no pun intended) as a prosthetic hand, and -- much like my own projects -- it grew beyond all recognition into a life-size, open source, 3D printed robot (click here to visit the InMoov.fr website). As you can see in this video), InMoov is really rather tasty.
Well, Jason and I bounced several emails back and forth. As part of this, Jason was kind enough to share a photograph of the robot arm shown below. This appendage is what he's constructed thus far of his own InMoov implementation.
(Source: Jason Sipe)
Jason tells me that: "This robot can be made for under $1,000, which is unbelievably low-priced if you ask me." I agree, that is an incredibly low price. I want one! Jason went on to say: "The hands are strong enough to hold a baby (I saw a photo); also, to hold an 18V cordless drill!" Wow; that's pretty amazing.
Of course, this inevitably led me to think about the awesome creations coming out of Boston Dynamics. Do you remember the Atlas video from February 2016?
When I first saw the Atlas robot, I thought "This is going to be hard to beat," but I just saw the Handle video from February 2017, which made my think "O-M-G!"
Imagine being chased down the street by a rampaging Handle armed with a gun and equipped with an AI that decides it doesn’t like you. "Pass me my aluminum beanie and brown corduroy trousers," is all I can say.
And let's not forget the work those clever guys and gals at Boston Dynamics are putting into their robot dogs and pack mules, as seen in this video.
If you have a few more minutes to spare, I'd recommend watching this video of a high-speed robot hand; especially the 2:24 mark where the hand picks up a pair of tweezers and uses them to pick up a grain of rice; also the 2:38 mark where it throws a phone spinning up into the air and then catches it on the way down again.
The scary thing here is that this video was posted in 2009, which is eight years ago as I pen these words. Goodness only knows what these things are capable of doing now.
If I were contemplating a new career, I think working with robots of this ilk would be fun, interesting, challenging, and rewarding, not the least that they involve a heady mixture of mechanics, hydraulics, and electronics, along with sophisticated sensor systems, control systems, analog signal processing (ASP), digital signal processing (DSP), embedded vision, machine learning, and... just about everything, really.
If you visit the Nanodegree page, you'll see they have courses in all sorts of things, including Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning. If particular interest to us in the context of this column is that they just launched a new course in Robotics. This course was created in collaboration with hiring partners Lockheed Martin, Uber ATG, Kuka, Bosch, Electric Movement, MegaBots, iRobot, and X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, who will fast-track graduates of the course for job consideration at their companies.
When I say this course just launched -- I'm talking about one hour ago as I pen these words. The course consists of two three-month terms, the cost is $1,200 per term, there are 1,500 seats available, and the application portal will close in 40 days. Ah, if only I were a younger man...