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Friday Follies: Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

SnackbotThe economy is still sliding into gloominess, and unemployment is the highest it’s been in many years. You’d think folks would be more careful about displacing workers with automation.

Okay, the food industry has been fairly bullet-proof during this downturn, with the exception of some restaurants. After all, people have to eat! But now, even the lowly snack vendor’s job is on the chopping block.

In a press release that got very little press at the time, Carnegie-Mellon University announced it had snagged a cool half a million bucks for research from Microsoft External Research. The purpose? To develop a robotic snack vendor.

This automaton will merge two areas of robotics research: Social robots, who usually don’t move about, and mobile robots, who do tasks but often don’t interact socially. To prove their premise, the researchers are building four robots. Two of these have been sold to Stanford, and two will be placed into servitude in the halls of CM’s Engineering Department, selling their wares to unsuspecting geeks dweebs engineering students.

Can’t you see it all now? Don’t you feel the threat? Next up: The street cart guy. He’s doomed. To be replaced by a fiberglass-domed C3PO understudy, of all things.

What’s this poor world coming to?

There are some nice pictures here; do you notice a spooky resemblance to the Asimov robots? Or maybe I’m getting him confused with Daniel Radcliffe, sans eyeglasses and wand…

Enjoy the (Rolling Foodie) Heat!

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