A keen-eyed new robot looks poised to snag an important everyday warehouse job.
The new robot uses a simple suction system to grab boxes, but it needs state-of-the-art computer vision and machine learning to figure out how to grab them. The machine does not need to be programmed at all—instead, it automatically calibrates itself and teaches itself how to break boxes down.
It might be trivial for a human to grab a box, but it is hard for a computer to know where one box ends and another begins, especially if the boxes are covered with labels and packing tape. And if the robot does not place its suction device at the center of a box, there is a risk it will drop it.
Sachin Chitta, founder and CEO of Kinema, says the robot uses a combination of 2-D and 3-D vision as well as learning in order to grab boxes from a pallet. The learning process also helps the robot deal with different environmental conditions such as changes in lighting. “As it picks things up, it builds a model of each box,” Chitta says. “And in the future, it can use that model to speed things up.”