By Aaron Kesel
Boston Dynamics has done it again, now its robot can do gymnastics while it decimates the human race, remembering through its artificial intelligence that time when a Boston Dynamics employee pushed its obsolete cousin. Meanwhile, robots have also taken over the kitchen.
In a new video uploaded to Instagram, Boston Dynamics showcases its robot doing gymnastics, specifically somersaults and jumping spins.
Boston Dynamics has another robot called “Handle,” which aims to be the replacement for warehouse workers loading pallets as Activist Post previously reported.
Unlike Atlas, Handle isn’t able to do parkour because it lacks legs; it’s equipped with wheels instead.
Handle originates from 2017 and was Dynamics’ first “wheel-legged” robot. Boston Dynamics described the design decision on its website, stating, “Wheels are fast and efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle has the best of both worlds.”
There is also a robot named Flippy which isn’t produced by Boston Dynamics. Flippy can flip 150 burgers an hour for $3 and it never goes home. A robotic cook might just be what the doctor ordered due to the ongoing pandemic.
As a result, Miso can offer Flippys to fast-food restaurant owners for an estimated $2,000 per month on a subscription basis, breaking down to about $3 per hour. (The actual cost will depend on customers’ specific needs). A human doing the same job costs $4,000 to $10,000 or more a month, depending on a restaurant’s hours and the local minimum wage. And robots never call in sick.
According to Digital Trends, Flippy is a “burger-flipping robot arm that’s equipped with both thermal and regular vision, which grills burgers to order while also advising human collaborators in the kitchen when they need to add cheese or prep buns for serving.”
When Miso Robotics set out to create their first units, off-the-shelf robotic arms sold for upwards of $100,000. Today, they’re going for about $10,000 and are only getting cheaper, according to the LA Times.
In 2017, international chain CaliBurger was the first to install Flippy with success.
Flippy isn’t the first robot to take over the kitchen and it won’t be the last. It turns out Taco Bell was the first to use a robot in the kitchen with their “Automatic Taco Machine”—a long-forgotten relic from almost 30 years ago, because it failed due to too many problems. However, Taco Bell has given up on automation and is looking elsewhere in the form of self-ordering kiosks, which it had planned to install at all its 6,000+ locations across the United States by the end of 2019, according to Business Insider.
Last year international fast-food chain McDonald’s reported they would begin employing automated fryer robots throughout their different branches across the world. Former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi told Fox Business, “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.” McDonald’s has also introduced touchscreen ordering kiosks to some of its stores.
Restaurant chains that are using automation include McDonald’s, KFC, Panera, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Arby’s according to Business Insider.
Meanwhile, in China e-commerce giant Alibaba has a chain of automated grocery stores with attached diners staffed by robot waiters that take your order. Real estate giant Country Garden Holdings recently opened its first fully robotic restaurant in Guangzhou, China where computers and robots handle ordering, food prep, serving, and even the cleaning of tables.
Activist Post previously reported how JBS SA, the world’s largest meat producer, was preparing to install robots in slaughterhouses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as well.
Robots aren’t just taking over restaurants and slaughterhouses, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates there are 800 million careers (or 30 percent of the global job force)—from doctors to accountants, lawyers to journalists—that will be lost to automation by 2030. The report concludes that hundreds of millions of people worldwide will have to find new jobs or learn new skills.
Grocers themselves are also in danger of being replaced by machines. CNN reports that grocers – big and small chains alike – are turning to robots for performing various tasks like cleaning floors, stocking shelves and delivering groceries to shoppers. The covid crisis could even prompt online retail warehouses like Amazon to invest more into automation technology as well.
Last year, robots took a record number of jobs in the U.S. according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA) as Activist Post reported. Now, with the impetus of the coronavirus the number of jobs occupied by robots could multiply quite rapidly. Oxford Economics also published its own report warning that accelerating technological advances in automation, engineering, energy storage, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have the potential to reshape the world in 2020 through 2030s, displacing at least 20 million workers.
With the coronavirus as a catalyst to speed up the deployment of automated machines, we can probably safely say that number will be much more severe. It seems I am not the only one to share that opinion; a recent MarketWatch article written by Johannes Moenius, a professor of global business and the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, agrees with this author’s conclusion stating “at least 50 million jobs could be automated in just essential industries.”
In fact, the Brookings Institution said in a report last month that “any coronavirus-related recession is likely to bring about a spike in labor-replacing automation … Automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline.”
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post.
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