Robotics company Boston Dynamics has begun leasing out one of its robots for the first time...Robotics company Boston Dynamics has begun leasing out one of its robots for the first time ever. It's leasing out Spot, a dog-like robot which it says could be used for inspecting building sites or oil and gas facilities. Boston Dynamics' VP of business development Michael Perry told TechCrunch the company's getting a "deluge" of applications. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Boston Dynamics, the robotics company famous for sending the internet into a frenzy with videos of its disconcertingly life-like robots, is getting ready to foray into the real world. On Tuesday the company announced it is starting to lease out its dog-like Spot robots (formerly known as Spot Mini). To accompany the announcement, Boston Dynamics made a slick ad boasting of Spot's capabilities. With a top speed of 3mph and a battery life of around 90 minutes, Spot is able to go up and down stairs, traverse uneven terrain, and even go out in the rain, according to Boston Dynamics. Read more: This funny but terrifying parody video about Boston Dynamics shows a robot learning to fight back against humans On its website Boston Dynamics suggests Spot could be used to inspect building sites, oil and gas facilities, or "public safety." The company emphasised to The Verge that Spot would not be sold for any military application. "Fundamentally, we don't want to see Spot doing anything that harms people, even in a simulated way... That's something we're pretty firm on when we talk to customers," VP of business development Michael Perry told The Verge. In the past Boston Dynamics has developed robots with potential military uses, such as its original Spot robot which was designed to scout for the marines. via GIPHY Perry told TechCrunch that the company has already started to ship Spot. "Last month we started delivering robots to customers, as part of an early adopter program. The question we're posing to these early customers is 'what do you think spot can do for you that's valuable?' We had some initial ideas, but it's all our thinking and the hope is that this program will enable a whole new set of use cases," he said. Boston Dynamics hasn't put an upfront price on leasing out Spot, prospective buyers have to fill out a form on the company's website. Perry told TechCrunch the company was getting a "deluge" of applications — some more serious than others. "Some are legitimate applications, but some just want Spot as a pet, or to get them a beer from the fridge. It would be thrilling to accommodate them, but we're not quite there yet," he said. This is the first time one of Boston Dynamics' robots has left the lab, a major landmark for the company which has been heavily research-focused since its inception in 1997. Its lack of marketable products is why Google sold the company to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in 2017.SEE ALSO: Boston Dynamics built a robot that makes Amazon's warehouse bots look primitive Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The Navy has its own Area 51 and it's right in the middle of the Bahamas
After years of worries that automation will steal people's jobs, the left is transforming robots from competition to comrades
Automation is expected to make millions of Americans' jobs obsolete in the coming years. Instead of...Automation is expected to make millions of Americans' jobs obsolete in the coming years. Instead of framing this as robots "stealing" jobs, progressive leaders including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry say Americans should be excited by the change. "We don't automate jobs," Alex Garden, CEO of food-tech startup Zume, said. "We automate boring, dangerous, repetitive tasks." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Zume CEO Alex Garden has been working for years to replace his pizza chain's workers with robots. And, he doesn't think that makes him such a bad guy. "People say, look, robots are gonna take away jobs. AI is going to take away jobs," Garden recently told Business Insider. "I say that's absolute nonsense. That's a choice." "We don't automate jobs," Garden added. "We automate boring, dangerous, repetitive tasks." Zume has made headlines as a chain using robotics and artificial intelligence to make pizza. In 2018, it raised $375 million from Softbank. Now, Garden says, the startup is taking what it learned as a pizza chain and making its delivery tools, packaging, and other tech available to other companies. A large piece of that puzzle is providing restaurants with tools that will allow them to automate tasks, potentially putting workers out of a job. At Zume, Garden says that employees are typically offered new roles — often promotions — within the company if their position is replaced by a robot. However, if Zume provides fast-food giants with similar tools, it is nearly impossible to guarantee similar care will be taken. "Every CEO in the world will be forced to adopt automation to maintain a competitive position, so that's unavoidable," Garden said. "But what I would say to them is, when that happens, what will you do then?" 'We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work' Increasingly, it isn't just executives attempting to cut costs who are supporting the rise of robots. Workers' groups and progressive politicians have begun emphasizing the potential upsides. Mary Kay Henry, the president of Service Employees International Union and a major force behind the Fight for $15 movement, told Business Insider earlier this year that the labor movement shouldn't fight against automation. "I think we should welcome automation," Henry said. "But, workers need to be a part of the design and the transition. That's what fast-food workers have said." Henry pointed to Germany, where unionized workers have worked with companies and the government to transition away from fossil fuels. Henry says this shift — while not always smooth — can provide a blueprint for how workers and governments can work together. "Right now, the way automation is being introduced in the workplace is kind of the wild, wild west. And, the strong will survive," Henry said. "We don't think those are the rules that should govern the introduction of automation." Read more: The president of the union that helped make a $15 minimum wage a reality at Amazon and Costco reveals how automation could be good news for fast-food workers Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared a similarly optimistic view of automation at SXSW in March. "We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work. We should not feel nervous about the tollbooth collector not having to collect tolls. We should be excited by that. But the reason we're not excited about it is because we live in a society where if you don't have a job, you are left to die," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in. Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage." The rise of automation has typically been framed as dangerous news for workers. The World Economic Forum predicts that half of companies will reduce their full-time workforce by 2022, and McKinsey estimates that as many as one-third of American jobs will disappear by 2030. However, at least some progressive leaders are urging America to see the bright side. If the US accepts the reality that robots are taking some jobs, they argue, the country can improve how people work and make a living. Unions have already begun considering more futuristic consequences of automated labor in contracts, such as robots taking over housekeeping in Marriott hotel rooms. Ideas such as universal basic income are gaining buzz while proposals, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's robot tax, that aim to discourage automation are mocked. Robots can be comrades, not the competition, these progressives argue. The US just needs to figure out how to deal with them before our new coworkers take over the workforce. SEE ALSO: The 2020 presidential race has a new frontrunner for the worst idea Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 9 bizarre foods that disappeared from the McDonald's menu
Jeffrey Epstein told a journalist he funded Sophia the robot, who he claimed would have 'more empathy than a woman'
Sophia the robot garnered national media attention for her advanced artificial intelligence, quotable moments (she said...Sophia the robot garnered national media attention for her advanced artificial intelligence, quotable moments (she said she wanted to "destroy humans"), diverse facial expressions, and one-time spat with Chrissy Teigen. As it turns out, Sophia may have been funded by the late Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in a New York City jail in August after being charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. Epstein told a journalist he knew for more than a decade that he was funding a Hong Kong group to produce "the world's smartest robot," who would have "more empathy than a woman." The disgraced financier said he hoped to use Sophia's technology to assist the elderly. Epstein was a prominent philanthropist and gave to research institutions while making connections with powerful scientists. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Jeffrey Epstein's tangled web leads down some surprising paths, including, possibly, to Sophia the robot. The female robot styled after Audrey Hepburn made headlines in recent years for her eerily lifelike skin and appearance, complete with a diverse set of facial expressions, and the artificial intelligence she uses to spout off quotes like "OK. I will destroy humans." She also got in a Twitter fight with Chrissy Teigen. In a new essay detailing a journalist's friendship with Jeffrey Epstein over the past three decades, Edward Jay Epstein (the two are not related) says the wealthy financier told him in April 2013 that he was funding a Hong Kong group to build "the world's smartest robot," named Sophia. Since the last conversation the two had on February 25 this year, Epstein was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. He had previously been convicted in 2008 on two counts of soliciting prostitution from underaged girls in Palm Beach, Florida. He died by suicide in jail in August while awaiting trial. Epstein expressed a vision for Sophia the robot as early as 2013, but her makers deny he was involved in financing her Sophia was built by Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong company created and led by David Hanson. Hanson teamed up with Ben Goertzel, founder of open-source software project OpenCog, to create Sophia. Goertzel has openly thanked Epstein for "visionary funding" of his "AGI research," Fast Company reported, and Sophia is powered by OpenCog's code. But Hanson Robotics has denied that Epstein funded Sophia, saying in previous statements that none of Epstein's money "were used towards Sophia or to the benefit of Hanson Robotics." The statement included Goertzel's confirmation. Hanson Robotics didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Even if Epstein didn't directly fund Sophia's construction, he told the journalist in 2013 that his main interest was cutting-edge artificial intelligence, and said Sophia would have "more empathy than a woman." Epstein also said the team had run into difficulties simulating human skin, suggesting that the then-convicted sex offender kept close watch over the experiment he claimed to fund. When Epstein the journalist asked Epstein the financier what Sophia would be used for, the latter replied that she would assist the elderly. Epstein spent much of his last years investing in scientific philanthropy. He donated millions of dollars to research institutions at Harvard and MIT. He went to great lengths to meet with people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, and had a keen interest, and an alleged proficiency, in physics. Read more: Meet the first-ever robot citizen — a humanoid named Sophia that once said it would 'destroy humans' Epstein told the journalist that advances in medicine and biotechnology would result in a much larger population of elderly people, and that many would require 24-hour care. He envisioned an army of empathetic Sophias assisting a new generation of people who would live to be 100-years-old. The real Sophia isn't quite there yet. She can make over 50 facial expressions and was first debuted at the South by Southwest festival in March 2016 in Austin, Texas. She has been interviewed multiple times, including by Business Insider. She can speak conversationally, and has changed her mind about destroying humans, who she now says she loves. Hanson's stated reasoning for Sophia's existence echoes Epstein's. The former Disney Imagineer also said that Sophia could be used to help elderly people who need personal aides. He also suggested Sophia could assist the public at large events or places like theme parks. After touring the world, Sophia seems to have temporarily settled down. She still posts regularly on her Twitter account. Her profile says she uses a combination of her artificial dialogue and a human PR team to tweet. Read more: Jeffrey Epstein reportedly used a murky nonprofit account with Deutsche Bank to reap tax benefits Harvard accepted over $8 million in donations from Jeffrey Epstein. The university plans to redirect unused funds toward supporting victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. Epstein bombarded Bill Gates with calls and contacts to score a meeting with the billionaire a year before his $2 million donation to MIT Jeffrey Epstein's island temple inspired dozens of conspiracy theories. We spoke to someone who went inside. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Violent video games are played all over the world, but mass shootings are a uniquely American problem
Investors are betting $85 million that hungry students will normalize these robot food delivery workers of the future
Robot food-delivery startup Starship Technologies closed $45 million in funding this week, and it's putting that...Robot food-delivery startup Starship Technologies closed $45 million in funding this week, and it's putting that money towards winning over hungry college students with its six-wheeled food robots. The company has raised $85 million in total from investors. CEO Lex Bayer told Business Insider about the company's strategy going forward, which is to hook students on the convenience of robotic delivery in a long-term plan to normalize robot delivery in the wider world. Bayer said Starship hopes to have the edge on gig-economy food delivery apps like Uber Eats by tapping into the underused infrastructure of sidewalks. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Robot food-delivery startup Starship Technologies has been gaining speed, and it's thanks to hungry, tech-happy students. Earlier this week the five-year-old San Francisco startup announced a $45 million series A funding round, bringing its total funding to $85 million. It simultaneously revealed that its rate of delivery has been growing rapidly. Founded in 2014, it took the company four years to get to 10,000 robot deliveries. Eight months later it was at 50,000. Four months after that, it hit 100,000. Starship's goal, essentially, is to replace your pizza delivery guy with one of its robots, in what CEO Lex Beyer sees as the logical conclusion to the current trend for food delivery apps. Starship's robots look like a little white box, no taller than knee-height, that trundles around on six wheels. They have an array of cameras through which human controllers can see where the robot is going, and sirens that go off if the robot detects it is being tampered with. Bayer told Business Insider that the acceleration in delivery rate is due to the company's technology maturing. It isn't easy building robust robots that can navigate poor weather — and unkind humans. "If you zoom out, this is really difficult, challenging technology to build," he told Business Insider. "We needed to drive a lot of miles for our robots to get smart and learn about the world. We've had to invest in the technology and making our robots capable. But we've now pretty much sorted that out, so we can put down one of the robots and turn them on and they just start doing deliveries." Now that its robots are ship-shape and it has a $45 million cash injection Starship has a singular aim — expand to 100 university campuses in the US and Europe to get students hooked on robotic delivery. "We're seeing tremendous uptake on university campuses," said Bayer, adding that hot food deliveries were dominating the orders rather than groceries. "The reason is simple. We're dealing with a generation of people that have grown up expecting that they can control the world through their phones, and with a few taps have things delivered to them," he said. Read more: The 100-hour weeks, intense culture, and divisive hires that made Deliveroo a $2 billion business with backing from Amazon Starship first started serving students in George Mason University, and has since spread to Northern Arizona University and Pittsburgh University. Bayer says it will soon launch in Purdue as well. It's partnered with a handful of restaurants on each of these campuses, ranging from big chains like Starbucks and Subway to independent local places. When it started out in George Mason it had 25 robots serving four restaurants, that has since grown to over 35 robots serving more than ten restaurants. Bayer said that on the three campuses where Starship currently operates it has seen a pretty constant stream of orders from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, to late night. "Students are eating all of the time," he said, although he emphasised that late night had been a particular success. Starship deliveries run from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Bayer said some partnered restaurants had even extended their hours to cater to more robotic deliveries. Starship's long-term aim isn't just to dominate university life, but rather to use this next generation of students as a kind of Trojan horse for normalizing robotic delivery outside of campuses. "A whole generation of students will grow up in the world where they expect things to be delivered to them with robots and they think that is normal and the way the world works. And then as they leave university they will expect this in neighborhoods and cities around the world as well," he said. Starship founder Ahti Heinla told Business Insider last year that the robots had encountered some teething problems as some human pedestrians were prone to giving them a kick as they pass by. When asked how the increased robot fleet is doing, Bayer said the reaction has been largely positive, with some students even posing with the robots in in caps and gowns at their graduation ceremonies. When asked how robots are going to out-compete delivery services such as Uber Eats, which hire human delivery riders and drivers, Bayer said their advantage lies in using the sidewalk. "Sidewalks are an underutilized asset," he said. "I look at sidewalks everywhere I go, and they're generally empty." The sell is faster deliveries. He also believes that having robots fan out centrally from restaurants and supermarkets is a more efficient model than pinging delivery riders from outlet to outlet. "With things like grocery and food delivery, nearly all of the stuff people consume all work in a three-mile radius of where they're already based. So doing it with a robot is just a much more efficient way to do it," he said. So watch out Generation Z, the robots are coming, and they want you to like them.SEE ALSO: Why using food apps like GrubHub and Postmates could lead to the actual restaurant apocalypse Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: This company turns shredded plastic and clothing into new bottles for Pepsi, Evian, and Coca-Cola