Inside a spartan garage in an industrial neighborhood in Palo Alto, Calif., a robot armed with electronic “eyes” and a small scoop and suction cups repeatedly picks up boxes and drops them onto a conveyor belt.
It is doing what low-wage workers do every day around the world.
Older robots cannot do such work because computer vision systems were costly and limited to carefully controlled environments where the lighting was just right. But thanks to an inexpensive stereo camera and software that lets the system see shapes with the same ease as humans, this robot can quickly discern the irregular dimensions of randomly placed objects.
The robot uses a technology pioneered in Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensing system for its Xbox video game system.