A Helping Robotic Hand

Predictions on automation are quietly being proven true in our day-to-day lives. While we're certainly not feeling the full brunt of the automation revolution, advances in modern technology are drawing the seemingly inevitable closer to reality.

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At the moment, RightHand Robotics, a startup building helpful robotic arms, is doing its part to shake up the manufacturing industry. The company's founders, Yaro Tenzer and Leif Jentoft, have developed several prototypes that can differentiate between different items and categorize them into individual bins.

Using a set of fingers with a suction cup at their center, the RightHand system can grab objects detected by the camera embedded in its hand. It can then place the objects where it believes they should go.

Notably, these machines can learn on their own over time through practice. While this ability seems like second nature to us, it is a particularly challenging feat for a machine, but RightHand Robotics has accomplished it with its flagship product. What's even more fascinating is that each bot can share what it learns with the others.

A Million Workers, One Mind

These pseudo-sentient arms connect to a hive mind. Each robot can communicate with the others through a cloud server, sharing what it has learned with its robot brethren. This multifaceted system has earned the company praise from the likes of Ken Goldberg, a professor at UC Berkeley and an expert on robot development. "This is a clever mechanism,” he told MIT Technology Review. “These guys are smart.” Clearly, investors agree as RightHand has received $8 million in funding.

The hive mind isn't only helping robots learn how to sort objects. It's also helping mobile 3D printers collaborate with one another and swarms of drones operate as a collective. The power of the hive mind isn't limited to machines, either. Human hive minds are already being used to predict the future and could one day help us solve many of the world's problems.

While RightHand Robotics' technology isn't at the level needed to replace human workers just yet, the company's prototype showcases its potential to eventually handle fulfillment for pharmaceuticals, electronics, groceries, and apparel. Their hive mind connection will only serve to increase the rate at which these robots get up to speed with their human counterparts. The automated future is just around the corner.

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