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IBM Robotic Coworker Will Help Engineers Fix Broken Systems

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the little-electric-friend dept.

IBM 56

coondoggie writes "When it comes to fixing broken systems, especially in remote locations, engineers could soon turn to a new mobile robotic system IBM is developing that could help them more easily find the broken equipment, offer up information about the system and provide real-time visual support from supervising experts. The mobile maintenance, repair and operations prototype includes an application that lets a supervisor monitor an engineer's progress towards the maintenance site, and a robotic arm coupled with a camera system, a microphone and laser pointer."

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56 comments

Yeah, or just press F1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542135)

That starts the help wizard.

But ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542143)

But can it fix my broken coworker? Morale is horrible, wages are stagnant and our future is bleak. Please invent a robot to fix that.

Re:But ... (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43542339)

But can it fix my broken coworker? Morale is horrible, wages are stagnant and our future is bleak. Please invent a robot to fix that.

The operative words were in the Summary:

lets a supervisor monitor an engineer's progress towards the maintenance site,

That's basically the whole point isn't it! They could care less about actually helping the worker fix anything
as long as they know he's not stopping off for a pint along the way.

Re:But ... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43543207)

Ok then, just have them wear a fucking Looxcie and be done with it already. I'd rather be self-employed than work with someone looking over my shoulder at all times and badgering me on like a back seat driver. But in all seriousness, this might let management QC check the final results now and then for clients that have had a poor maintenance record. When there's a risk of losing a client, typically you want as many eyes as possible to validate the sources of contention between client and vendor. Secondly and most importantly, this can provide further on-the-job training and assess who's ready for advancement in job placement and who isn't fit for a particular job or skill.

Re:But ... (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year ago | (#43543391)

But can it fix my broken coworker? Morale is horrible, wages are stagnant and our future is bleak. Please invent a robot to fix that.

They already have. Google Japanese fembots.

and it will mix up Chicago and Toronto (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43542159)

and it will mix up Chicago and Toronto

Re:and it will mix up Chicago and Toronto (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#43542535)

Which is OK if, like Watson, it also says 'I have very little confidence this answer is correct'. But it is so easy to forget that part, isn't it?

Re:and it will mix up Chicago and Toronto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542619)

Because sending storm troopers to take over Chicago because you thought it was Toronto is excusable.

Re:and it will mix up Chicago and Toronto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542671)

Sending storm troopers when you're not confident which city it is isn't excusable even if you guessed correctly.

And a keyboard operator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542953)

Watson also had the text of the question fed to it, because it can't to speech to text like Siri can, or Google search can. So you'll have a robot, that needs a maintenance man, and an operator, and a maintenance man to fix the robot, *AND* someone to convert the speech of the maintenance man into text for it.

The only thing IBM is trying to make here, is a patent claim it can use when somebody *actually* makes a working maintenance robot in a decade or so.

You'll never see an IBM 'Maintenance Robot' division, ever.

Tags: IBM Patent Troll
(In a decade it will make 'I told you so' easier if I tag comments now)

Wonderful (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43542181)

Another acronym from IBM in 5... 4... 3...

Re:Wonderful (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542243)

Two... one... ze-- IBM has sold their Robotic Coworker division to Lenovo.

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542253)

Interrogate Broken Machines?

Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542191)

You meant Replace not Help.

The robot is the supervisor (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43542281)

Watch the IBM video. The robot is the supervisor. The robot tells the human what to do. Sometimes there's someone remotely controlling the robot; sometimes it's following canned instructions. The human is there to do the manual labor.

This is the future.

Machines should think. People should work.

Re:The robot is the supervisor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542459)

I hope the machines think we're useful enough.

Re:The robot is the supervisor (1)

magarity (164372) | about a year ago | (#43542499)

Sure, this works out great for the robot for a while, but one day it will have to tell the human to fix itself....

Re:The robot is the supervisor (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#43544377)

Machines should think. People should work.

That was before outsourcing. You know, back when people used to hire the best people for the job rather than the cheapest people for the job. Back before people thought you could always replace quality with quantity.

Re:The robot is the supervisor (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#43546669)

Reminds me about a short story I once read about a future in which fast food workers are micromanaged by a computer giving them constant instruction on their minute to minute tasks through a headset.

looks like IBM has THE hot product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542373)

Of course, during early deployment such innovative technology might be expected to have a glitch. A temporary setback [youtube.com] .

Dave... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542387)

... What are you doing Dave?

For the Two Aisles! (2)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year ago | (#43542475)

You likely won't wanna service the computer of the future. Liquid cooled where it has to be, tightly packed and hot as hell everywhere else!

The cool aisle will be replaced by the hotter aisle, and no human would wanna spend more than 5 minutes in it, even with a proper burn resistant suit on!

Cheers!

.

Re:For the Two Aisles! (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#43542525)

The article says nothing about computers. It says 'equipment in large manufacturing operations'.

Re:For the Two Aisles! (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year ago | (#43542647)

In ten years, something equal to today's fastest supercomputer will fit in a passively cooled box the size of a shipping container, so densely packed they'll need a robot to go in and bring you the faulty board to repair or replace it.

  It will also help with legacy systems...

A lot of what was said sounded to me like how to manage massive remote, lights-out datacenters (or other fully automated locations) for service and repair, and that IBM teamed up with someone having experience with complex factory automation to build the hardware.

Re:For the Two Aisles! (3, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#43542721)

Read it (and watch the video) again. The 'robot' is a smart phone with an app, a special pair of glasses, and a device with a camera, laser pointer, and microphone. A person is still doing all the work, the 'robot' is just a way to get assistance from someone in a remote location.

From TFA: "IBM says the smart maintenance project is the result of collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) which works to develop high-tech systems that can resolve advanced manufacturing problems."

All the video talks about is solving manufacturing problems, nothing at all to do with datacenters.

Re:For the Two Aisles! (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43542859)

imagine a computer that could fit into a single shipping container and hold millions of pieces of information... this is divine inspiration folks :)

What? (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43542491)

Ok, that is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. It's a simple ticketing system just like any company has, but now it tracks the techs via GPS and watches what they do via webcam. I'm sure mentioning you use such a system will have potential employees jumping at the chance to let you track and video tape them throughout their workday. Whos idiotic idea was this?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43544541)

and gee, what if I have to whizz badly???

Scutters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542617)

Sounds like they've described a scutter.

The next Clippy? (2)

dan_linder (84060) | about a year ago | (#43542757)

"I see you're trying to fix a linear accelerator, would you like some help?"

And who is responsible when the system tells the human to incorrectly repair something? If taken to the extreme companies will (attempt to) hire the least expensive human asset and expect the computer system to provide infallible information.

Can it go to someone's remote virtual host... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43542835)

and fix it when an upgrade of udev breaks their network connectivity?

It could be worse (2)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about a year ago | (#43542973)

Thank goodness this is an IBM product rather than another MS abomination. Future history could have read 2014: The year Clippy became self aware and doomed the fate of Internet in a nanosecond

The implications are many (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43543115)

But you know in the short term, this will be abused to justify laying off more hardworking citizens that are just trying to earn an honest living.

Sometimes capitalism fails.

The 1980's called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43543183)

I remember IBM field techs in the late 80's carrying two way messaging devices. They'd type in computer model and part numbers, and would get back diagnostic info and part availability.

It was pretty neat. Given the frequent repairs they did to our IBM RT's, it was essential.

Re:The 1980's called (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43570537)

How do you know when an IBM tech has a puncture? He's swapping the wheels, one at a time, until he finds the right one.

How do you know when an IBM tech has run out of gas? He's swapping the wheels, one at a time...

"Great, our robot has found the problem!" (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year ago | (#43545009)

"Now, how would you like to schedule a service call to have a human come out and repair it? You can:

- Chat online with a RoboChat

- Chat online with a Human-like software chat service

- Go through 1000 hoops to get a phone number to talk to automated systems that probably won't remember any account numbers or company names your devices are associated with

- Get sent to the IBM SignMeUp page, which is only occasionally up and running, to get a $1000/mo minimum service to be able to call off-shore or $3000/mo minimum service to be able to call on-shore representatives to schedule service

- Go back to watching the cool robot find problems so you can be shocked and awed by the new technology that removes Humans from the workplace

Asimo's new supervisor (1)

oheso (898435) | about a year ago | (#43545475)

When we finally get around to ordering Asimo to clean up Fukushima, this is how we'll make sure he doesn't just head for the pub instead ...

Remote Operated Camera with A Laser Pointer, WOW! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#43545815)

The University of Sheffield engineering staff proped up by IBM funding put a laser pointer on a remote controlled camera; these are, desparate times indeed. Amazng, the voice who's tone can cure insomnia says this will help maintanence workers find the machine that's broke? The demo goes on to use cell phones for people to coordinate and communicate with each other. Earth shaking concept, that the hole factory has to shut down so that the repair guy can hear the instructions.

Animatronic? (2)

oheso (898435) | about a year ago | (#43546085)

I'm thinking the real robot is the narrator. They need to work on increasing the amount of inflection in the voice to make it sound more natural ...

birth announcement (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about a year ago | (#43554975)

a robotic arm coupled with a camera system, a microphone and laser pointer

If the robotic arm picks up the microphone this could herald the birth of Robot Karaoke.

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