The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has led to the emergence of commercial robotics. Advances in AI technology, combined with investments in areas like self-driving vehicles, have paved the way for the integration of robots in various work environments. Matthew Johnson-Roberson, director of the robotics institute at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that this marks the beginning of a wave of commercial robotics. Startups like Dexterity are at the forefront of this trend, developing robotic systems that utilize AI for tasks such as package stacking.
Dexterity, a California-based startup, has built a robot for FedEx that uses generative AI to stack boxes and AI to identify and grab them. This robotic system demonstrates the potential for robots to perform complex tasks previously done by humans. The system incorporates force-feedback to ensure tight fits when stacking boxes, and uses cameras and depth sensors to compare stacks with pre-existing models. The growth of ecommerce, driven in large part by Amazon, has made working with packages a prominent area for robot development. Pulkit Agrawal, an AI and robotics expert from MIT, acknowledges the challenges of truck unloading and loading, but believes that engineering solutions can reduce complexity.
While the adoption of AI in robotics raises concerns about job displacement, the technology holds the potential to improve efficiency and accuracy in various industries. FedEx has already adopted robot technology developed by Berkshire Grey to sort parcels in some facilities. Although specific details about the deployment of Dexterity’s robots at FedEx remain undisclosed, the capabilities demonstrated by their system indicate the potential for robots to take on more tasks in the future. FedEx sees this as a significant step in enhancing their operations and improving efficiency.