It might seem flippant, but I genuinely think that is a potentially huge market (though probably not Google's cup of tea). After all, why create a robot that is shaped like a human? The human form is remarkably versatile, but there's a reason that industrial robots don't look even remotely human. Each has a specialised function and corresponding form that makes them far more efficient than a human being.
The best reason for having a robot that emulates human form and behaviour would be for interacting with other humans. There are fewer more basic human needs than that for sex, as much as we'd all like to be prudes and deny it. Though the uncanny valley may be an issue, human nature makes it unavoidable that this will happen eventually.
A lot of smaller businesses would take a general human shaped robot that they could visually and verbally give simple commands to (move all these boxes from here to over there, intuit that the stack needs to be stable), over some giant arm that they need to program/can't go outside/etc, even if it is more efficient at some specific set of tasks.
There's a reason Amazon are still using actual humans and barely organised heaps of unrelated products in a giant warehouse for a lot of their dispatch centres.
Seems to me that making robots look human is purely cosmetic and emotional, but limiting in functionality unless their function is to interact with humans.
They have been for a while.
Alternatively, for interacting with things that were designed for humans, including most of the world we live in.
today I think - "Wow, Google is path blazing, there is going to be so many opportunities - let's dig out ROS and find a local company with a needs"
The Amazon announcement had a concrete end goal and time commitments, and was met with cynicism, whereas this fuzzy approach allowing people to project what they want into what they're reading creates a sort of delusional optimism among many.
So I have to be careful to spot both the larger crowd, the crowd that is now my tribe and when people are dropping FUD scent markers over their desired territory.
In short - robots still look like a hobby that will pay off the same way writing games for the ZX 80 or Atari will pay off.
You realize that that "pay off" is entirely social, right? For people who made careers out of game development, it wasn't because they made an early investment on the Atari. It was because they developed a passion.
If robots take off the way computer games did (and they probably will), the fact that you tinkered on them twenty years ago is not going to be good for anything other than stories over a beer, the same way my dad likes to talk about programming with punch cards. (Spoiler: tmk, my dad hasn't programmed anything in maybe 30 years. Kept up he has not.)
I can easily imagine myself solving this problem in about 2 years if given access to Google street view data. Remember, Google probably has detailed (centimeter resolution) 3D maps of from their street view cars (they use LIDAR, afaik).
The Google plan is much more realistic than Amazon's announcement. IMHO. YMMV. I am not a robotics person etc.
For an extra couple $hundred, you can buy a decent hobby robot arm (eg. Robotis servos) and doing basic kinematics and manipulation. For the cost of a high-end computer, you can go pretty far these days!
EDIT: Also, I highly recommend reading Probabilistic Robotics. Not strictly necessary for many applications, but required reading if you want to understand most academic robotics topics.
Robotics is the next big thing because it will apply in so many fields. Not only robots, artificial intelligence as well. Better be the one who builds and conceive them than the one whose job has been taken oveer by them.
Everything Robotic: http://www.everything-robotic.com/
These are the main robot-centric ones (disclaimer: I run Hizook). There are lots of other websites that are mixed (robotics and other tech).
1) http://societyofrobots.com/ especially the forum
3) download the old coursera course on computer vision from some torrent site
4) anything and everything on 3d mathematics you can find.
Get a job making robots. Oh and the interview question is "how do you find a path for a non-point robot with non-line obstacles". The answer is to add the point-inversion of the robot to every point in the scene, and find a path in the resulting "configuration space" (google that and program it once. In 2d. No need to torture yourself with the 3d implementation). Worst-case followup question : and how do you find paths if rotation is allowed ? Tell the interviewer that you don't know, but he doesn't know that either (and it's easy to use the previous answer to come up with a -way to slow- algorithm suggestion, doing it efficiently and correctly however ...).
If you just want to make a robot. I suggest :
(shortcut if you got money to burn and don't care about electronics : http://www.robotis.com/xe/bioloid_en . Lego motors are slow and crappy)
1) forward kinematics (given 3 translated and rotated robot arm sections, what movement makes the end effector ?). Oh and mobile platform kinematics (robot arm is now a robot paw. What is the effect on a mobile platform if you move the arm, given that the end effector is on the ground)
2) make a robot arm. Bonus points if you make a walker.
3) actually program forward kinematics.
4) notice that the engines get really, really hot
5) learn control algorithms. Summary : the position of a motor is a function. Find the derivative of that function, speed. Make your control loop limit that speed (meaning speed needs to remain within -x and +x. Slow down if you find your robot risks exceeding that). Find the derivative of the speed function, acceleration. Make your control loop limit it's value.
5.5) find that the limits imposed in 5 are too strict. Find a way to relax them so that over a "small" time period of, say 2-3 seconds they're always true, but allow for small periods that exceed these limits.
6) notice that if you limit the torque (the derivative of the acceleration function to relatively low values) humans will not notice the movement of the robot, even though it doesn't preclude the robot moving quite fast. Have some fun with that.
6.5) attempt to make your robot pick up an unboiled egg. Break 100 eggs. Publish the traditional "look I can pick up an egg" (in 100 attempts you'll have a single egg that survives. Don't mention the other 99)
7) find ways to get your control loops based on other values. For example, find a way to have an end effector exert constant force on an object, as opposed to having a specific position. Find a way for your end effector to track an object.
7.5) make your robot pick up an unboiled egg. Get the breakage under 10%. Publish another paper. Do mention the 10 broken eggs.
8) find a way to do 7 while making sure your robot doesn't crash into itself, that generally there is no way to trick it into attempting to intersect with itself.
After step 7, you now know more than 80% of the people working on robotics. If you're still having fun, I'd definitely suggest getting into a phd program. Note that all this is bloody hard. Before you have step 8 covered you will be one of the 100 best-informed people in your state when it comes to 3d geometry and how forces affect objects. You will get irritated everytime you see a crane or bulldozer or escalator or elevator ... Your girlfriend will hate you for pointing out ways that those things can easily or suddenly accelerate large masses and cause disasters, and how easy it would be to prevent that.
Note that we really aren't that far when it comes to robotics. That means that with basic electronics you can achieve the state of the art (exception : battery life). It is not necessary to utilize expensive motors to achieve any of this, nor do you need things like a 3d printer or the like (servos + balsa wood(and something more solid, when you inevitable make a bigger robot) + saw + drill) will get you to step 6.5, and there is plenty of information on the internet on how to replace the servo ciruits to make 7+8 possible.
8) Robotics is a big industry. Find what interests you within it. It may be arms, rovers, drones, sensors, logic, etc. In my case, I'm interested in autonomous robots in the spirit of the google self driving projects.
Both things are related to control loops, so how about you make a slightly more complex robot that can detect it's position somehow, and get some pathfinding going ?
*Drow Tales reference...
Hopefully all of these innovations will not only replace humans with robots but will also create new industries and new jobs.
Something that's more Utopian would be if there was no meaning of currency. I think it happened in Star Trek (never seen it but someone told me about the concept). If you have re-arrange the molecules of any object to create any other object, then why would everyone need to work? If you wanted MORE things then you could work, but to live day to day, would you have to pay for small items and food in the future or could you just "print" or create them from re-atomizing anything you already own?
This would mean that the modern industrial supply chain costs the US around $1.5 trillion/yr.
I think robotics is coming up on a similar transition. For years it was 99% research projects and industrial uses: pure nerdery. But Bot & Dolly is selling to Hollywood, and is very slickly marketed. Aesthetics are starting to really matter.
Bot & Dolly is half robot technology, half creative consultancy and they have a very cool office in SF.
um, how many people are actually killed by industrial robots? while the robots provide what economic value?
In the US alone, it is about one death a year, purely by OSHA standards. This doesn't include things like "struck by robot, died three days later due to brain haemorrhage".
Economist: 77 accidents with industrial robots in 2005 alone - http://www.economist.com/node/7001829
Research paper: 103 self reported and survey responded by 1995 - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hfm.4530050304/ab...
Edit: one of those are a stretch calling it a "robot" A conveyor belt is a robot? Also, 33 results for robot, but 108 for Forklift and 11 for microwave, is it really all the much more dangerous than any other equipment? Should we ban microwaves (deliberate hyperbole, I realize those weren't deaths)?
77 accidents- I assume that's injuries, not deaths, right?
I would consider the OSHA count as incomplete for the reason you say- but I doubt there is more accurate data.
Right now I'd say the numbers look reasonable to not justify preventing the entertainment industry from using robot automation in movie making alongside actors (I think that's what was being suggested?).
The more pressing concern with putting actors in the mix is that they are necessarily untrained or poorly trained participants.
Most of these accidents happen with trained personnel.
I'm not saying that Bot and Dolly shouldn't do what they're doing. I'm just interested in what their safety procedure is to prevent accidents. "Don't get hit" is not a procedure.
Both of these questions need more specificity - the former in the data available and the latter in what you're considering value.
My answer to this question is that dynamite and machine have good use and bad use. There were also good reason to fear the bad use of them. But mankind manage to keep the balance largely in favor of the good use. I'll not prone obscurantism or the ostrich attitude regarding the risks of this new technologies. But we will have to manage that type of problem. It's easier when we have a little time left in front of us before things get out of control. I beleive that artificial intelligence reproducing the brain capabilities is just behind the corner. So we are in a race that I hope the good people and use will win.
This is like DNA. All the puzzle pieces (molecules) were known but what was missing is how these pieces fit together. It was a aha moment that made the difference between before and after.
For the explanation on how the cortical neural network works the aha moment is the only missing step. All the puzzle pieces are known (of coures in the hypothesis that only bioelectrical mechanisms are in play).
I don't think there's a single correct thing about anything in this sentence, it's also a little bit conspiracy crazed.
I don't see what could be "conspiracy crazed" in my comment. It looks like you believe that if someone knew how it worked, the whole world would immediatly know it as well. This might be a shock for you but this world is not sesame street.
A delivery drone that crashes into your car due to a software bug wasn't turning sapient and trying to kill you. You just ran off a bridge and died anyway.
People crash into each other on the road all the time. I'd trust a machine much more than a human any day.
Some project that a three-man company hacked together in five months and are now selling without requisite safety measures and testing? Yikes!
Maybe i'm just not used to silicon valley doghouses; I know things are expensive out here.
In my experience big SV companies have classes of staff on payroll merely to prevent them working somewhere else where they would represent a bigger threat to the core business. Google seems to have more than normal of this type of character.