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Tag Archives: automation

Smartsheet co-founder’s next project is a robotic rock picker-upper

A co-founder of Smartsheet, the enterprise collaboration startup that just filed for an IPO , is taking a hard right turn into the world of agriculture robotics. Brent Frei tells Geekwire that he has been working on an automated system for clearing rocks from land. It’s a bit unexpected, but far from a bad idea. While doing a little farming work with his kids last year, including the less than stimulating task of picking up big rocks and throwing them in a tractor trailer, it occurred to him that this was precisely the kind of thing that an automated platform would be good at. There are some semi-automated solutions, but nothing simple enough that you could just plop it on a few acres and tell it “go grab all the rocks this big or bigger.” Why not apply all the tech that’s going into watering, growing, and picking to this? It seems at the very least he might make something that he himself could use, so he started TerraClear in October to create a “Roomba for rock picking.” It’s still a ways off even from prototype stage, but it’s a great example of how wide open the world is to new applications of computer vision and robotics if you keep your mind open.

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Cloud empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance

With Everything-as-a-Service (EaaS) the big cloud vendors are using their breadth and pricing strategies to lock in customers. But there's a rebel alliance forming that intends to offer customers even better choices. Can you afford not to look?

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Tesla is overusing automation in Model 3 final assembly, analysts say

Bernstein analysts Max Warburton and Toni Sacconaghi argue Elon Musk is overusing automation, Business Insider reports,  and that’s why Tesla is unable to scale as fast as it would like. “Tesla has tried to hyper-automate final assembly,” the report states. “We believe Tesla has been too ambitious with automation on the Model 3 line. Few have seen it (the plant is off-limits at present), but we know this: Tesla has spent c.2x what a traditional OEM spends per unit on capacity.” In addition to automating stamping, paint and welding, the report states, Tesla is also trying to automate the final assembly process, which entails the actual placement of parts into the cars. “It talks of two-level final lines with robots automating parts sequencing,” the report states. “This is where Tesla seems to be facing problems (as well as in welding & battery pack assembly).” The report describes how automation is expensive and “statistically inversely correlated to quality.” It goes on to note how if Tesla tries to automate 50 percent of the tasks in final assembly, it would only cut out about five hours of human labor. Warburton and Sacconaghi later write, But while all that exotic capital might allow Tesla to remove 5 workers, it will then need to hire a skilled engineer to manage, programme and maintain robots for $100 an hour (our estimate of a robotic engineers’ hourly rate). So the net labour saving may be only $50 per unit. Yet putting the automation into the plant seems to involve an apparent capital cost that’s $4,000 higher per unit of capacity than for a normal plant. If the product is built for 7 years, that’s over US$550 of additional depreciation per unit built. It’s hard to see an economic case even if somehow the Fremont Model 3 line can be made to work. So why exactly has Tesla taken this route? It’s unclear.

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NexGenT wants to rethink bootcamps with programs for network engineering certifications

Developer bootcamps — several-month training programs that are designed to help people get up to speed with the technical skills they need to become a developer — exploded in popularity in the early part of the decade, but there’s been a bit of a shakedown on the space recently. And that could be a product of a lot of things, but for Jacob Hess and Terry Kim, it’s just not enough time to become a fully-fledged developer. With training in the Air Force, where both had to work on these kinds of compressed programs for entry-level technicians, both decided to try their own approach. The end result is NexGenT , which is own kind of bootcamp — but it’s for getting a certificate in network management, and not a one-size-fits-all sticker as a developer. That approach, which includes a 16-week class, is considerably more reasonable and helps get people industry-ready with a skill that’s teachable in that compressed period of time, Hess says. The company is launching out of Y Combinator’s winter class this year. “There are 500,000 open IT jobs, but when you look at that number, what’s more interesting is so many of them are IT operation roles, and the remaining is software development,” Hess said. “The bigger pie in IT is non-software programming jobs. Cyber security is also huge because of the automation and AI. We want to create the stepping stone. Network engineering becomes a foundation for a lot of these jobs, whether you want to be a cloud architect and work for Amazon, it all starts with understanding and building a foundation around networking.” The end result is a 16-week program where a batch of applicants gets a review, and a percentage of them are accepted into a cohort of students. They go through an engineering module, which teaches them the basics and mechanics of network engineering and learn about the IT industry

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Ecobee’s new voice-powered light switch moves closer to whole-home Alexa

 Alexa is already everywhere in a lot of homes, thanks to the affordability and ease of installation/setup of the Echo Dot. But Alexa could become even more seamlessly integrated into your home, if you think about it. And Canadian smart home tech maker ecobee did think about it, which is how they came up with the ecobee Switch+. Ecobee is probably most known for their connected thermostats,… Read More

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Waymo and Google launch a self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta

 Waymo’s autonomous trucking program is coming along – though we haven’t heard much about it since discovering it was a real thing last year, Waymo today announced that it’s launching a pilot program in Atlanta to focus specifically on self-driving trucks and automated logistics. The pilot is being done in partnership with Google, another Alphabet company and… Read More

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Adobe Analytics: the time smartphone users spend on websites per visit has decreased by 10% since 2015; the amount of money spent per visit has…

Rani Molla / Recode : Adobe Analytics: the time smartphone users spend on websites per visit has decreased by 10% since 2015; the amount of money spent per visit has increased by 27%   —  Faster mobile speeds could mean more money for online retailers.  —  Each time Americans visit retail websites on their phones, they're spending less time but more money.

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