Children train robots in school to prepare for the future workplace

Children as young as ten years old are now learning how to train robots in their schools as a result of Rethink Robotics’ expanding distribution of the Baxter Research Robot.

The Baxter Research Robot is a humanoid robot designed to help in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing and education. The robots can typically be found in laboratories, graduate and undergraduate programs, and are even being used as an educational tool in primary school classrooms.

According to Scott Eckert, the CEO of Rethink Robotics, “By the time [today’s students] enter the workforce, robots will be integrated into nearly every industry, as we see in manufacturing today.”

Indeed, robots are becoming a crucial component for automotive, plastics, electronics and various other industries that string together manual tasks to build their products, as they provide cheap and reliable labour.

The increasing use of robots in many fields has stirred fears of job displacement for human workers. But by educating children about how to operate robots and perhaps even program or design them, we can ensure that people will adapt their future careers to the use of robots.

In addition, students will learn how they can improve the robots of the future to optimize efficiency in their workplaces while maintaining a healthy job market.

“These children will have an important advantage—experience—thanks to the K-12 schools, colleges and universities that are investing in robotics now,” Eckert stated.

Rethink Robotics has recently partnered with three new distributors, Robotshop, Teq, and Gaitech International, giving classrooms around the world the opportunity to use Baxter, not just those in the US where the Rethink’s robots are designed and manufactured.

“Robotics already play a large part in the educational market and corporate [research and development] markets and that will only continue to grow. Providing Baxter Research Robots to the Asian market is a logical and important step in that growth,” said Jenssen Chang, CEO of Gaitech International.

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The use of robots in the classroom points to a future where they are a normal and indispensable part of everyday life in our homes, school and workplaces. Nearly every job could require some level of interaction with robots.

As this vision of the future becomes a reality, it will become more important than ever for all people to have baseline knowledge about robots and how they operate.

Perhaps one day robot training programs such as the one Baxter provides will even become mandatory curriculum for schools.


Images and video courtesy of Rethink Robotics.


DJI’s First Drone Arena in Tokyo to Open This Saturday

Consumer drone giant DJI will open its first Japanese drone arena in the city of Tokyo this Saturday, providing a space for both hardened professionals and curious newcomers to hone their flying skills.

The arena, which covers an area of 535 square metres, will not only include a large flying area complete with obstacles, but also offer a store where visitors can purchase the latest DJI drones and a technical support area where drone owners can get help with quadcopter issues.

The hope is that the arena will allow those who are curious about the technology but currently lack the space to try it out to get involved.

“As interest around our aerial technology continues to grow, the DJI Arena concept is a new way for us to engage not just hobbyists but also those considering this technology for their work or just for the thrill of flying,” said Moon Tae-Hyun, DJI’s director of brand management and operations.

“Having the opportunity to get behind the remote controller and trying out the technology first hand can enrich the customer experience. When people understand how it works or how easy it is to fly, they will discover what this technology can do for them and see a whole new world of possibilities.”

Images courtesy of DJI

In addition to its general sessions, which will allow members of the public to drop by and try their hand at flying drones, the arena will also offer private hire, including corporate events. For some companies, then, drone flying could become the new golf.

There will also be regular events, allowing pros to compete against one another, and drone training, in the form of DJI’s New Pilot Experience Program, for newcomers.

The arena has been launched in partnership with Japan Circuit, a developer of connected technologies, including drones.

“We are extremely excited to partner with DJI to launch the first DJI Arena in Japan,” said Tetsuhiro Sakai, CEO of Japan Circuit.

“Whether you are a skilled drone pilot or someone looking for their first drone, we welcome everyone to come and learn, experience it for themselves, and have fun. The new DJI Arena will not only serve as a gathering place for drone enthusiasts but also help us reach new customers and anyone interested in learning about this incredible technology.”

The arena is the second of its kind to be launched by DJI, with the first located in Yongin, South Korea, and detailed in the video above. .

Having opened in 2016, the area has attracted visitors from around the world, demonstrating serious demand for this type of entertainment space.

If the Tokyo launch goes well, it’s likely DJI will look at rolling out its arena concept to other cities, perhaps even bringing the model to the US and Europe.

For now, however, those who are interested can book time at the Tokyo arena here.

Commercial Human Spaceflight Advances Prompt Calls for Space Safety Institute

Commercial human spaceflight has been a long-held dream, but now it is finally poised to become a reality. Companies including Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are inching ever closer to taking private citizens into space, and there are serious plans for spaceports in several parts of the world, including Hawaii, the US, and Scotland, the UK.

But while the industry is advancing, the legal side of this fledgling commercial space industry remains underdeveloped, leading to calls for the development of an organisation to establish a framework for the safe operation of spaceports for human commercial spaceflights.

Writing in the journal New Space, Mclee Kerolle, from the United States International Institute of Space Law in Paris, France, has proposed the establishment of a Space Safety Institute recognised by the US congress and the United Nations.

This institute would “develop, enforce and adopt standards of excellence”, allowing the industry to develop while protecting it from liability and insurance risks.

“Currently, no international regulatory body exists to regulate the operation of spaceports,” he wrote. “This is unfortunate because while the advent of commercial human spaceflight industry is imminent, a majority of the focus from the legal community will be on regulating spaceflights and space access vehicles.

“However, the regulation of spaceports should be viewed in the same light as the rest of the commercial human spaceflight industry.”

The article focuses particularly on the establishment of a spaceport at the Kona International Airport in Keahole, Hawaii. At present, the spaceport’s development is subject to regulation by the Federal Aviation Authority, however there are aspects to spaceport development that do not apply to conventional aviation operations.

A spacesuit design for commercial flights developed by SpaceX. Featured image: SpaceX’s proposed spaceport for its conceptual interplanetary transport system. All images courtesy of SpaceX

The institute would be designed to first and foremost ensure safety within the industry, so it would be important, according to Kerolle, to ensure it was made up of individuals with expertise in the field, rather than bureaucrats.

“To make sure that this flexibility is inherent in a Space Safety Institute, the organization should be composed of individuals within the industry as opposed to government officials who are not familiar with the commercial human spaceflight industry,” he wrote.

“As a result, this should protect the commercial human spaceflight industry to some liability exposure, as well as promote growth in the industry to ensure the industry’s survival.”