October 10th, 2008

Robots: Warehouse Robots

In this episode we sit down with Raffaello D’Andrea, professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and founding member of Kiva Systems, to speak about their Kiva robotic warehouse system. We then continue with the second quarter of Jack Graham’s sci-fi story, Selkies.

Raffaello D’Andrea

Prof. Raffaello D’Andrea is an expert in multi-robot systems, leading the Cornell Robot Soccer Team to four world championship wins at the international RoboCup competition. After ten years of assistant and then associate professorship at Cornell University, D’Andrea crossed the lake to take a position as full professor at ETHZ in Zurich.

Not satisfied with research however, D’Andrea has applied his knowledge to industry, and is co-founder and Engineering Fellow at Kiva Systems. He describes for us Kiva’s Mobile Fulfillment System, a revolutionary robotic warehouse concept that uses hundreds of mobile robots to fetch items for workers, increasing efficiency and looking really cool in the process!



Besides creating robots for research or industry, D’Andrea is also a creator of dynamic sculpture. His robotic art has appeared at various international venues, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Venice Biennale. In an attempt to spread his passion and get students thinking about robotics outside the laboratory, D’Andrea is teaching a project course at ETHZ in which students design and build a dynamic sculpture purely for public display.



Selkies

Science Fiction author, Jack Graham from lonesomerobot.com treats us to the second quarter of his story “Selkies”. As a flash back, the first episode introduced roboticist Mangan, his sea-lion pet Cato and the team of seal-like robots called selkies which work in the depths of the ocean to clean up waste. In this episode, Jack, further pushes us into the ambiance of his futuristic world where unexpected visits and disappearing selkies create the intrigue.

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  • Chroino

    Fantastic interview, I too find myself wishing I could take his course – and fascinating to see how the robots function in the warehouse. With some robotic arms to do the sorting (perhaps some Yaskawa Motomans?) the thing could practically run itself! I’m not really a fan of the fiction segment, maybe you guys could just do an interview with the authors of upcoming sci-fi novels that catch your attention instead?

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