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March 22, 2018 Marketing

TechHub: MIT’s Robot Fish, FedEx Follows Amazon Into Robotic Future & Steel News

MIT’s New Robot Fish Are Giving Scientists A New Level Of Insight Into Ocean Life

Video was recently released debuting a lifelike aquatic robot named SoFi, which is about the size of a full grown orange-lined triggerfish whose been keeping company with the residents of the Pacific Ocean according to Forbes.

The silicon bionic fish is the newest product of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

Most underwater robotic systems are unable to slip into a natural environment undetected. Tethers and spinning propellers and jets often alienate the sea life they’re trying to get close enough to study — until now.

SoFi is an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with sensors that mimic marine organisms for a stealth undercover job. It navigates around coral, mixing with local fish up to 18 meters — controlling its buoyancy by adjusting the angles of its fins.

“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim unthethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” said the roboticist that built SoFi, Robert Katzschmann.

SoFi was designed to function as a mobile underwater observatory capturing real-time marine activity, providing valuable feedback about how ocean life is adapting to rapid changes in the environment. Katzschmann is hopeful that his fish will allow marine biologists to observe marine life interacting with each other as well as with SoFi.

“Definitely the purpose is to influence, not just observe,” he said. “We have a platform that can now be used to do those studies.”

FedEx Follows Amazon Into The Robotic Future

The first major deployment of robots within FedEx shipping hubs began in the heart of North Carolina early last year. Employees were use to driving the “tuggers” that navigated large and irregular items across the 630,000-square-foot freight depot since it opened in 2011, according to the NY Times, but have since adjusted to working alongside the autonomous robots.

The first robot drew a 3D digital map of the place as it tugged freight around, allowing an infrastructure for three other robots to join it a few months later, using the digital map to get around on their own.

By March, they were joined by two more. The robot team was the first significant deployment of mobile robots inside FedEx. Amazon and our e-commerce shopping habits are the big reason why it’s happening.

Humans and robots work side by side in a FedEx distribution center. “Everyone will have a job,” said Galen Steele, the senior manager who oversees the depot. “It just might be in a different place.” Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times

Amazon acquired a robotics company in 2012, moving many of the company’s robots into its network of over 200 fulfillment and package-sorting centers, causing Amazon partners and competitors to move in the same direction.

But what happened at the FedEx hub might be a surprise to people who fear that they are about to be replaced by a smart machine: a robot might take your role, but not your job.

This tech allows the facility to create 100 new jobs every year.

“Everyone will have a job,” said Galen Steele, sr. manager who oversees the depot. “It just might be in a different place.”

Andrew Brod, sr. research fellow at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, tracks the local economy. He estimates the arrival of distribution centers like the one FedEx opened in 2011 has created as many as 120,000 jobs.

“I understand people thinking this will take their jobs,” Steele said. “But over time, they realize this is not the case at all.”

Even inside Amazon, the need for human labor is growing much faster than the robot work force. Since acquiring Kiva robotics and deploying its first robots, Amazon has expanded its work force by 300,000 people.

U.S. Tariffs May Add 19,000 Steel And Aluminum Jobs

The Coalition for a Prosperous America says a long run analysis shows that steel and aluminum industries will produce more, increase revenue and hire more, according to Industry Week.

The group estimates the 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminum will add about 19,000 jobs, making job losses downstream and in other parts of the economy negligible.

The impact would hit the economy by $1.4 billion, or 8/1000th of 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product.

“This tiny, tiny decline in GDP is a result of these tariffs in the medium term,” said Jeff Ferry, research director for the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

“In the longer term, I would anticipate that the effect of tariffs are positive because a longer-run analysis shows what happens to steel and aluminum industries as a result: additional production, revenue, hiring and investment.”

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