It's a fun site designed for robot enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. You should go check it out right now. Seriously, stop reading this and go to robots.ieee.org. We really hope there was something that captured your interest. A major goal of the ROBOTS site--which is an expansion of our Robots App from a few years back--is being a resource for anyone interested in robotics, no matter if you're a beginner or a robot legend.
Technology is critical for innovation, yet schools struggle to get students interested in this area. Could teaching robotics change this? The Queensland government has just announced plans to make teaching robotics compulsory in its new curriculum – aimed at students from prep through to year 10. Robotics matches the new digital technologies curriculum, strongly supported by the university sector and states, including Victoria. But while, worldwide, there are increasing initiatives such as the Robotics Academy in the US to teach robotics in schools, Australia isn't doing enough to get it taught in schools.
This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Venture funding for robotics has exploded by more than 10x over the last six years and shows no signs of stopping. Most of this investment has been focused on the usual suspects: logistics, warehouse automation, robot arms for manufacturing, healthcare and surgical robots, drones, agriculture, and autonomous cars. But after looking into the robotics industry as I set out to launch my own robot company, Cobalt, founded last year and which came out of stealth today, I became convinced that there is a new emerging segment about to become one of the fastest-growing in coming years: Autonomous indoor robots for commercial spaces.
When science fiction critics Eric S. Rabkin and Robert E. Scholes argued in the 1970s that "no one would go through the trouble of building and maintaining a robot to hand wash clothes or pick up the telephone receiver," they were apparently unaware that Japanese researchers had already made a long-term commitment to develop humanoid robots that could do exactly that. The goal was to care for the elderly in the 21st century. To this end, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, industrial giants Honda, Mitsubishi, and Toyota, as well as university research labs around the world, began demonstrating humanoid prototypes. More recently, the desire to operate in disaster sites like Fukushima has motivated even more researchers to explore humanoid designs. But the dream of humanoid robots goes back much further than the 1970s.
Starting with its acquisition of Kiva Systems for $775 million back in 2012, Amazon has been steadily investing in a robotic future. From delivery drones to a rumored home robot to a robotics picking challenge, Amazon definitely wants useful, practical robots to happen. We're not always sure that they're going about it the right way, but we are always in favor of companies with as much clout as Amazon has recognizing that robotics is worth focusing on, especially with an understanding that some problems are going to take years of work to solve. Brad Porter is the vice president of robotics at Amazon. He joined the company over a decade ago, initially working on Amazon's web operations and e-commerce architecture.