Things to Know This Week: Panda Bus, Football Robot, and Not Stealing Jobs

DeepBlue Technology unveils the Smart Panda Bus in Shanghai

January 21, 2019      

Happy Monday! We’re trying something new this week, giving readers a heads-up on some of the robotics news, events, or other interesting facts from last week (or what to look for this week). Ready? Here we go…

1. Ride a panda (bus)

If you’re ever in Shanghai, check out the Smart Panda Bus, which debuted last week at the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Future Development Summit”. The bus is a “multifunctional AI-based autonomous vehicle that incorporates eight different core technologies from DeepBlue Technology, working together to solve various pain points for commuters all over the world.”

Technologies on the bus include autopilot, finger vein recognition, voice interaction (“Jane! Get me off this crazy bus!”), precise advertising push (ummm….), vehicle monitoring robot, intelligent unmanned retail system, abnormal behavior monitoring system (fully endorse this), and intelligent escape emergency handling system, “which has never been implemented in a public commuter transport until now.”

The company said passengers can take the bus and go shopping by swiping their hands through the biometric ID system, “while an on-board robot monitors and records any suspicious behavior in real time.” The robot also broadcasts upcoming stops and can activate the aforementioned emergency escape system.

The company plans to expand the Smart Panda Bus to Europe later this year, saying that Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, and Greece “have shown great interest in this product.”

I totally want to ride this bus.

2. I guess they’re NOT stealing jobs

My eyes roll whenever someone comes up and asks me whether robots will be stealing their job (the other eye-rolling moment happens when they discuss Terminator-like robots taking over the planet). I now have additional evidence to hand them when this topic comes up.

A new report from ManpowerGroup titled “Humans Wanted: Robots Need You” found that 87% of employers plan to increase or maintain headcount as a result of automation for the third consecutive year (emphasis mine).

Employers ManpowerGroup Things article

More employers than ever (87%) plan to increase or maintain their headcount as a result of automation, finds new ManpowerGroup research.

The report says that global talent shortages are at a 12-year high, and new skills are appearing as fast as others disappear. For example, 84% of employers plan to upskill their workforce by 2020.

“The focus on robots eliminating jobs is distracting us from the real issue,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup Chairman & CEO. “More and more robots are being added to the workforce, but humans are too. Tech is here to stay and it’s our responsibility as leaders to become Chief Learning Officers and work out how we integrate humans with machines. Learning today cannot be done as it was in the past.”

Take that, job-stealer robots.

3. Spotting the damsel tied on the tracks

The very cool company PerceptIn last week announced a 1,000-meter visual perception module, designed for semi-autonomous high-speed trains, which can detect obstacles far away. The company said the module can also be tuned to cover a 300-meter range for deployment in industrial and commercial autonomous vehicles such as logistics trucks.

The company said its stereo visual perception solution can “accurately detect objects and calculate distances, providing autonomous driving systems with more reaction time to avoid obstacles.” The company said it will deploy a customized long-range visual perception module that will work with China’s high-speed railway system, where trains travel up to 300 km per hour.

Check out their cool video here:

4. Did you see Cleatus this weekend?

If you’re a fan of the NFL, chances are this past weekend you spent some time on the couch watching either the AFC or NFC championship games on TV. It’s also possible that at some point, Cleatus, the football robot, showed up on Fox.

If you ever wondered about the history of Cleatus, check out this Fast Company story, which details more than you ever needed to know about this animation, which has now been around on Fox broadcasts for more than 13 years.

Without spoiling anything, Cleatus was inspired by a 7-year-old. Yeah, that makes sense.

5. This week’s non-robot story

Netflix thinks ‘Fortnite’ is a bigger competitor than other streaming services

Definitely true in my house.

6. Catching up on real robotics news

OK, we’re ending the inaugural column with some headlines of our own from this week’s Robotics Business Review. Give these a read so I can increase my page view counts!

Peace, love, and donuts, everyone – have a great Monday!

Love, Keith