Robots, more specifically distribution center robotics and automation have become the major competitive weapon in the escalating battle for retail customers.
It's stacking up to be a fight to the death with traditional brick and mortar chains struggling to catch up with online giants like Amazon. The big challenge may turn out to be that they are playing a catch-up game, one where Amazon has already paid it's dues and accumulated years, if not decades of know-how and experience.
"Walgreen Co. and Toys “R” Us Inc. are among the chains rushing to open distribution centers, revamp websites and integrate their stores more seamlessly into their online operations. Amazon, meanwhile, plans to open 15 distribution centers this year. “Many brick-and-mortar retailers have had their ‘a-ha' moment as Amazon continues to grow and the Internet is getting more viable,” said Mick Mountz, chief executive officer of Kiva Systems Inc., which has seen orders surge this year for the warehouse robots it sells to retailers. Last month Toys ‘R' Us opened a warehouse near Reno, Nevada, equipped with the Roomba- like critters, which shorten order turn-around time."
Toys ‘R' Us Deploys Robots as Retailers Seek to Catch Amazon - BusinessWeek
Software development isn't cheap, and it's particularly difficult if you happen to be a sole developer committed to supporting and enhancing a popular open source software project out of your own pocket.
For years Robert Oschler has contributed to the robot community in many ways, including freely sharing his knowledge and expertise, creating hilariously entertaining robot videos and unique new robot songs, in addition to developing the RoboDance project that enables users to control a wide range of robots from their PC or other devices. He's even gone to the extreme of adding voice recognition capability and Skype functionality to the open source system.
While his dedication and commitment to the project have brought him some level of recognition and fame, like being featured in the New York TImes, it hasn't attracted funding to underwrite the project. As a result, he's putting several very attractive internet domains on the auction block, including potentially strong SEO ranking properties like AndroidBlogs.com, AndroidJob.com, WomanBlogger.com, and WomanWorker.com.
It's a great chance for the right person to pickup a hot, highly relevant, domain at bargain pricing, while helping out the robot community in the process.
(Via RoboDance fundraiser.)
It's been a long, hot, and extremely humid summer here in Japan. The weather, the economy, and the general mood has been depressed and languid to say the least. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the plans for regular robot competitions, like ROBO-ONE, had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely after the triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear) that took place on March 11th.
All of that is about to change big time, and all the pent-up robot energy and enthusiasum is going to explode on the scene over the next few weeks in a frenzy of exciting competitions with a new mega robot battle double-header that promises to totally blow away all standing records.
’Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up’ continues
Without exception every robot distributor that we've had the pleasure of talking to over the years has expressed a strong commitment to school education and encouraging young people to get involved with science, technology, and robotics. Most of them have special programs, educational discounts, or actively participate in school events donating their time and effort to the cause.
A good example is Michael Gruber with the RoboteShop located in Australia. There's a major School Education Expo coming up in Sydney next month, so the company decided to design a very simple, low cost hexapod robot to dramatically get the message across that robot education doesn't have to be expensive. It can be accomplished with parts and tools as basic as ice-cream sticks, a glue gun, and a few items 'borrowed' from an off the shelf kit.
I'm not connected with Woot, and I can't even order any of their daily special offers because I live outside the country and the shipping costs would be more than the cost of the time. Still, it's fun to watch what they put on offer, especially since the prices are always rock bottom.
For some strange, unknown reason, several of their recent one day sales special offers have been robots. Today their offer is a "Robokid Programmable Disk Shooting RC Robot". Looks pretty cool, at least from the small photo on the kids.woot website.
If you do happen to pick one up within the 24 hour sale period, please let me know what you think and how it performs.
I can't be exactly sure what Michael Overstreet and his gang of fellow makers are up to in Kansas City, but whatever it is, it sure looks like fun. They have turtle shell racers that appear to be remote controlled from the operators smartphones, that look just as if they jumped right off the screen out of a Mario Bros video game adventure.