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Design Insights: The Human Drama?; Drones Deliver Possibilities

Aug. 3, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

The Human Drama?

Jim McKay famously opened ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” each week with the phrase, “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition.” Part of that human drama in an era of robots is that there are some things robots cannot yet do.

But they’re getting closer. As a story in the Washington Post reports, a demonstration at the Toyko Olympics this week featured CUE5, a 7-ft basketball robot that is programmed to shoot with remarkable accuracy. The programmers say CUE5 can hit almost 100% of free throws, 98% on three-point shots and more than 60% from half-court. 

As a YouTube video from the Olympic shows, CUE5 has good form and accuracy, but lacks in lateral movement skills. That means his NBA career probably is still a few years off.

Drones Deliver Possibilities

Sports is not the only new frontier for robotics. As more automation makes its way into our daily lives, companies across the spectrum are throwing their hats into the ring and exploring the role that robotics, drones and other automated equipment can play in the future of work and life. From Amazon’s fulfillment cobots to UPS’ drone delivery service to IBM’s artificial intelligence-enabled Watson robot, the examples are proliferating across the business landscape.

Verizon became the latest company to get into the robotics and drone game with the formation of its new Robotics Business Technology division. According to DRONELIFE, the communications company has been taking an increasing role in the drone industry since it acquired drone management company Skyward in 2017.

“Since then, the company has used drones for maintaining their own network and for emergency response,” the publication reports. “They’ve also worked to leverage the power of 5G, forming partnerships with companies like UPS to work on last mile logistics and drone delivery projects.”

According to Verizon, Robotics Business Technology was formed to help expand enterprise solutions for aerial and ground robotics. Its focus will be on creating integrated solutions that incorporate Verizon’s 5G and mobile edge compute capabilities to help enterprise customers efficiently deploy, manage and scale mixed fleets of aerial and ground robotics.

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