Brad Porter, VP of Robotics at Amazon, on Warehouse Automation, Machine Learning, and His First Robot

Amazon’s chief roboticist discusses the latest advances in the field and how his team is using machine learning to make its robots smarter

7 min read
Amazon Robotics
Photo: Amazon

Starting with its acquisition of Kiva Systems for $775 million back in 2012, Amazon has been steadily investing in a robotic future. From delivery drones to a rumored home robot to a robotics picking challenge, Amazon definitely wants useful, practical robots to happen. We’re not always sure that they’re going about it the right way, but we are always in favor of companies with as much clout as Amazon has recognizing that robotics is worth focusing on, especially with an understanding that some problems are going to take years of work to solve.

Brad Porter, Amazon RoboticsBrad Porter, vice president of robotics at Amazon.Photo: Amazon

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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