Despite a litany of forces working against them, American consumers spent a record amount of money during the 2021 holiday season. Shaking off supply chain woes, inflation concerns and a surge in Covid cases like a Taylor Swift song, consumers not only returned to physical stores but continued to shop online for their holiday gifts.
Last year I participated in the A3 conference on Autonomous Mobile Robots & Logistics, in Memphis. The location was no coincidence: Memphis is the global headquarters for FedEx, one of the largest logistics companies, with operations around the world. A highlight for me was being on stage with luminaries in the robotics space, including FedEx’s Aaron Prather.
The relationship of technology and food production and distribution has a longer history than most people realize. Early man used sticks and stones to shovel dirt as subsistence farming was invented. The first plows made their appearance as early as 4,000 BCE, and Mendel famously applied scientific rigor alongside engineering as his experiments cross-breeding peas led him to be widely considered the “father of modern genetics”.
The process of producing food and bringing it to the table is an ever-evolving exercise. The introduction of automation into agriculture, and related areas of food technology, or FoodTech, are poised to revolutionize these fields again. FoodTech is a broad category of initiatives designed to help feed the explosive growth in our global population, to manage waste, to address food scarcity, support a troubled supply chain, and revolutionize food service to tackle labor challenges. Investors in FoodTech want to see technologies applied that will strengthen everything from production to distribution to consumption. With such an expansive scope, much of the FoodTech innovation often focuses very pointedly on solutions for specific yet complex issues.
It’s the start of a new year, and it’s customary to look at the year ahead. In addition, February 1st will mark the start of The Year of the Tiger in the Lunar calendar.
Over here at InOrbit, we believe that it will also be The Year of the Robot. As companies across industries become more comfortable with the use of autonomous robots to augment their workforce, growth in robotics deployments is accelerating.
As the days of 2021 come to a close, we quickly anticipate the new year and all of our exciting new projects atInOrbit. But before we flip the calendar, let’s take a look at the trends we predicted back in January to see how we did. Was our crystal ball clear or cloudy?
This past year saw major changes for InOrbit, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Through experiment-led development, lots of trial and error, and some great connections with our friends and family in the robotics community (that’s all of you), we’ve made our platform more accessible, and robust for our users.
As 2021 comes to a close we are taking time to look back and reflect, if only for a few minutes on the year that was, and highlight some of our successes.
The value of early feedback in any product development – including software – is, well, invaluable.
Software development has evolved over the last 20 years to allow for more incremental or iterative development, to help eliminate the problems of delivering a product that a customer doesn’t want. We all know software engineers who have suffered from spending monumental time and effort on creating something that ends up being the wrong product, tool or app.
In our experience, robot manufacturers orchestrate specific robot tasks either with internally developed software that mostly works, or a hacked version of something off the shelf that sort of achieves their goals. In reality, “mostly working” and “sort of” does not cut it when it comes time to grow a robot fleet. Many software solutions that attempt these tasks are often opaque and keep developers in the dark, limiting the necessary customization around unique robot deployments.
From the ground up, the InOrbit platform is designed to let users orchestrate and monitor their robots. The data platform is built to report, control as needed and manage a robot fleet to facilitate autonomy.
At InOrbit, most of our time is spent thinking about robots and how to make them perform better. But part of that vision includes robots and humans working together – without the human factor, robots are just a collection of metal and plastic parts. Here is another in a series of posts highlighting some of the outstanding humans on the InOrbit team, also known as InOrbiters. The posts aim to share details on some members of the team, what drove them to work here, and what they find most interesting about robotics and the development of the InOrbit platform.
Today we sat down with our User Experience Designer, Ryu Sakai. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been with InOrbit for about a year and a half.
Individual instruments in the hands of a professional musician can sound wonderful, but when many different instruments come together in an orchestra or band the result can be awe-inspiring and magical.
We think the same thing can be said about robots and robot operations (RobOps). Individually, a single robot can perform some pretty amazing tasks to help human co-workers with their jobs. But when you add several robots and then add different types of robots to the system performing different tasks, the end result can be an amazing workflow that exponentially scales efficiency for a company.