Tagalong robots follow…and learn

Follower robots have been tapped for senseless pursuits like carrying a single bottle of water, but robots can also carry tools in a warehouse or just-picked fruit from an orchard to a packing station. Artificially intelligent machines trained to follow people or other machines can transform how we think about everyday objects, like carry-on luggage or a set of golf clubs. Now the makers of follower robots want to coordinate movement around the modern workplace.

To train a Burro robot, you simply press a Follow button and start walking; at the end of the path, you press the button again. Using up to 20 cameras, computer vision, and GPS, Burro follows you and memorizes the route. It can then ferry goods unassisted and communicate the path to other Burro robots.

A Burro weighs up to 500 pounds and can carry as much as 1,000 pounds. Table grape growers are using Burros to ferry fruit from laborers in vineyards to people packing the goods in clamshells before loading them onto trucks for transport to grocery stores…

Burro CEO Charlie Andersen says the robots have logged nearly 50,000 hours in the past five years in blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and grape fields, as well as at plant nurseries.

Questions and answers programmed into one robot communicate instantly to the whole workforce. Informing decisions, guidance and distribution skills. They don’t need a cigarette break, either.

The Celebrity Twitter Ecosystem Map

Click on image to enlarge

twittermap

What is the sound of celebrities tweeting? Well, it might be Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails notifying Dave Navarro, a musical collaborator who now plays for Jane’s Addiction, that he’s “hanging on the bus.” Or maybe it’s Ashton Kutcher and John Mayer comparing notes on being 31 years old (from John to Ashton: “Let’s open a hip new restaurant together. ‘31 club.’ Where it’s always standing room only. It will fail but we will have had fun.”).

Most celebrities let anybody follow them on Twitter, but are pickier about whom they follow themselves. Mr. Kutcher, for instance, in addition to following his wife (Demi Moore) and a stepdaughter (Rumer Willis), follows a mix of boldface names from different walks of life, including Evan Williams (a Twitter founder), Soleil Moon Frye (remember “Punky Brewster”?), Maria Shriver and Ellen DeGeneres. (The latter two are not shown on the already-too-crowded chart below.)

It seems that — just like the rest of us — celebrities enjoy hearing about other celebrities, and Twitter lets them participate in a giant cross-disciplinary mash-up of a conversation.

Twitter still bores me. The boss over at the “big blog” I edit has about 50,000 followers.

I’ve considered using it to support this – my personal blog – but, can’t crank up the motivation to add one more step to the simple process of communication, my journal of interesting news and events, opinion.