Artificial intelligence (AI) is now used in many walks of life. Accordingly, AI is becoming more common place in our daily practices. For example, there are several areas in an online casino where AI is used, such as in the banking services All Slots employs to provide you with a safe online casino to play your favourite slots and games.
Other examples of automation and artificial intelligence are popping up with increasingly regularity, even in areas where you may not expect it. We as a society can fully accept that artificial intelligence and automation are here to stay. Read on for four of the most interesting AI cases in recent years.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
The stuff of science fiction films and literature for years, today we use, experience, and read about applications of artificial intelligence every day.
A basic definition of AI is that is a broad branch of computer science focused on building technology and “smart’ machines capable of performing tasks that usually require varying levels of human intelligence. Artificial intelligence has become a viable interdisciplinary study of science that primarily emphasizes machine learning (ML). Because of this, much of AI is becoming disruptive tech, which serves to replace traditional processes with more streamlined solutions. Using Uber in lieu of taxi services or mobile banking are both types of AI at work in the modern, everyday world. One of the biggest areas where average people experience AI is with security tech as they look for safe ways to deposit money, combat identity fraud, and apply for credit cards.
In late 2015, footwear giant Adidas was determined to change the future of sneaker manufacturing. They opened a remarkable new factory in Ansbach, Germany. Unlike every other traditional shoe-making factory in the world, this new facility was just about 35 miles from the company’s corporate headquarters. And it was designed to rely on artificial intelligence.
Dubbed Speedfactory, the facility was intended to pair a small team of humans with automated technologies such as 3-D printers, robotic arms, and computerized knitting to create the company’s signature running shoes.
Adidas would go on to build another Speedfactory facility in Atlanta in 2017. The sustainability of these new high-tech manufacturing centers would become a point of interest in the disruptive technology trend.
Why the Technology Was Established
Although the concept of the Speedfactory originally seemed like a publicity bid, Adidas made its reasoning for creating the two automation facilities clear. Simply put, it seemed to be inefficient to continue making shoes in Asian countries like China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Shoes and many factory-manufactured goods are traditionally made in Asian countries because parts and labor tend to be more cost-effective. However, Adidas was facing delayed production times, increased supplier expenses, and extended shipping periods between creating the product and getting it to their customers. By establishing the Speedfactory models closer to corporate headquarters, they could more easily access their European and United States markets.
Also, the new factories would allow Adidas to come out with digital designs that could potentially be updated and tweaked continuously, keeping up with the ever-dynamic customer demand.
The first Speedfactory shoes came out in 2016. An extremely limited edition, the shoe was called Futurecraft M.F.G. (Made for Germany). Accompanying the release of the new robot-engineered sneaker, Adidas also released a 3-minute teaser video to promote not only the shoe but the innovative manufacturing process behind the cool new footwear. People camped outside on the street awaiting the 500 pairs of Futurecraft M.F.G. available and all shoes sold out nearly instantly.
Excited about the possibility of slashing production time and quickly shipping shoes off to prime markets, Adidas had visions of global mini-factories all around the world.
The Outcome of Going All Digital
Unfortunately, Adidas did not quite plan for all the consequences involved with running two primarily automated facilities. By November of 2019 the company was already shutting down the two Speedfactory plants in Germany and Atlanta.
What went wrong? We were so close to the age of robot-created footwear that other companies like Nike were starting to follow suit. However, the case of Adidas and the Speedfactory shoe may give other sneaker companies pause when considering the same path – at least for the near future.
One of the biggest challenges the company faced at the Speedfactories was the limited types of models the robots could make. At Ansbach, Adidas had the automated tech creating running shoes with a knit upper, along with Adidas’s Boost midsole model. Unfortunately, the automated facility was unable to create leather shoes with a rubber sole, which are the most popular Adidas models. The technology just was not there yet to adapt a new joining process for the different type of material.
Until the company comes up with more flexibility with the technological process, they have decided to repurpose their automation system at their Asian manufacturing companies. Because they already use the Asian companies to develop 90% of their sneakers, they will continue to build on the existing tech in a more economic setting.
Walmart Robot Employees
Speaking of everyday settings, what’s more everyday than Walmart? This common shopping ground for all walks of life also happens to be the stage for one of the biggest robot takeovers in recent history. You have used the automated checkers at Walmart for years (also a type of AI) but now get ready for watching robots actually stocking those shelves and mopping floors.
In April of 2019, Walmart announced it was adding thousands of robots to its stores. It planned to stock 1,860 of its 4,700 US stores with floor scrubbers and 350 stores with shelf scanners by February of 2020. They would also plant bots at 1,700 US stores to automatically scan and sort boxes coming off delivery trucks.
Living up to their own expectations, Walmart seems to be working on delivering on their 2019 goals. As of January 2020, Bossa Nova Robotics was planning on bringing the shelf-scanning bots to 1,000 US Walmart stores with plans to add an additional 650 bot-filled locations. Currently, the shelf-scanning bots are in 350 stores. The big roll-out should happen this summer.
As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart prides itself on good customer service. And that is the motivation behind all these robots. They want their employees focused on stellar customer service rather than tasks like mopping floors and processing inventory.
Walmart believes these “smart assistants” will help workers cut down on repeatable and predictable manual labour that detracts from focusing on assisting customers and selling merchandise. The company also believes the bots will boost sales and overall efficiency in the stores. Another area the bots will help in is worker turnover, due to the difficulty of finding employees willing to work graveyard shifts unloading trucks and performing janitorial duties.
Creepy Tall, Functional Robots
These robots are six feet tall and don’t have any arms, but they are completely capable of taking over basic employee tasks. They may not be able to pick up and place items elsewhere (so it does not fully stock shelves, just assists with inventory), but they are quickly proving useful in the stores under which they are employed.
It helps with shelf scanning and inventory by looking along the aisles for missing items. The bot then sends that information back to a central computer. At the computer, employees can locate the correct product for timely restocking.
The mopping bots are being used in other major retail stores, like Kroger grocery stores. Designed to be self-driving, cleaning machines, they scour the aisles up and down, functioning like over-sized, extra smart Roombas.
The Future of Helpful Bots
Walmart has a lot of stores to yet stock with robots, but they seem to be gaining on their overarching goal. However, beyond the current bots, they are setting their sights on grocery-shopping robots. To battle Amazon and Kroger in the food shopping department, Walmart is testing robots which can pick up grocery orders up to 10 times faster than a human, helping to possibly expand the user-friendly experience of picking up frozen pizzas and Saturday night’s family dinner.
Who knows? Walmart’s take on streamlining grocery shopping may also add to the upward trend in ethical online shopping. Whatever steps humans take for more online or waste-free options, the better the situation could be for the globe.
Uber’s Self-Driving Cars
Jumping on the idea of the autopilot, self-driving car that Tesla debuted in 2014, Volvo and Uber have now joined forces to launch a self-driving car concept for autonomous ride-sharing experiences. Just as Tesla has experienced working through some kinks with their line of cars, Volvo and Uber have not quite yet perfected their innovations. However, the future looks bright for reduced emissions and road-related injuries thanks to this AI technology.
Uber Did a Cool Thing
We have all loved Uber for years for its convenience, comparatively low fares, and ability to pick us up from pubs at 3am when no taxi driver would bother. But Uber went above and beyond with its Volvo creation. Debuted in June of 2019 in Washington, they unveiled a new self-driving car as a flagship for autonomous ridesharing under limited conditions.
At the time, Uber stated that the XC90 Volvo model would be manufactured by Volvo Cars in Sweden. The car would have human-operated controls such as steering wheels and brakes, but the factory-installed steering and braking systems would be engineered for overall computer control. However, it would come with several human-operated back-up systems, including battery and cybersecurity systems. The company has stated they are far from offering cars without any human controls.
Uber’s goal has been to slowly replace older vehicles in the rideshare company’s fleet with these self-driving models.
Uber’s New Car Could Save Uber
How did Uber’s goals turn out between 2019 and 2020? Well, Uber’s self-driving cars are on the road in Pittsburgh and a few other cities. But the company has had a bit of a rough year. Its co-founder and estranged CEO Travis Kalanick sold all his stock and left the board towards the end of 2019. Uber then sold its rapidly growing food delivery branch in India. Investors are questioning the company’s ability to be profitable, which is why Uber is turning its gaze on the self-driving car as its new hope.
As Uber tries to redirect its profitability by 2021, the self-driving car does seem like it could be the ticket. The whole unit of self-driving vehicles, called the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), is estimated at a value of more than $7 billion and represents more than 10% of Uber’s current market worth of $61 billion.
The big factor for Uber in pushing the self-driving car is savings. With non-autonomous ridesharing, the driver eats up 80% of the total per mile cost, drastically cutting Uber’s total profits. Removing the driver would significantly lower of the cost of a ride for a customer, thus bringing in more Uber riders, and boosts Uber’s relevance in the market. Uber’s ultimate goal, with other ATG groups in Washington D.C. San Francisco, and Toronto, is to make the cost of rides so low that they render vehicle ownership a thing of the past.
But don’t get too worried for now, if you love your car. Uber is only rolling out their plan for now in cities where the self-driving model is technologically feasible, cost-effective, and safe.
One major benefit of most many advancements in AI is the ability to provide environmentally friendly options. Running parallel to technology utilizing renewable resources, many AI businesses and innovations are working to cut down on carbon emissions, waste, and travel. The first drone delivery business in the world may be another step towards eliminating unnecessary vehicle and aircraft use in worldwide deliveries.
Australia Takes to the Skies
Imagine burritos, mojitos, and truffle chocolates dropping form the sky – and that is what you get with drone deliveries. The first drone delivery business was granted approval in March of 2019 to operate over Canberra, Australia.
Known as Project Wing, the drone delivery business was an offshoot of Alphabet, Inc., Google’s parent company. After 18 months of practice runs deploying food, drinks, medication, coffee, and chocolate, the company was finally able to sign off on the plan, with stringent safety precautions and regulations met as required by the local government.
Approval was granted based on operating only during daylight hours. Drones were also banned from crossing major roads and they have to a stay a minimum distance away from people on the ground. Noise restrictions were also considered.
All drones meet highly regulated requirements involving safety of drones, traffic management, maintenance, pilot training, and operational plans.
Saving the Earth and Economy
The plan was to begin the drone delivery service using 100 eligible homes in Crace, Palmerston, and Franklin, all suburbs of Canberra. The company believed that the drone delivery service could potentially add $30m to $40m in annual revenue for Australian Capital Territory (ACT) businesses. Naturally, the company also realized the possibilities for significantly reduced carbon emissions if drones could deliver more than one in four take-out food orders and 4-6% of all ACT business purchases by 2030.
While not much news has circulated since Project Wing launched last year, the inspiration is still there. Google’s Wing is growing, expanding the company’s success to more Australian cities and crossing over to Virginia in the United States.
Amazon has also jumped on the drone wagon, possibly bypassing Google’s attempts, with Prime Air. This service promises goods delivered in 30 minutes or less, which is on par with many current motorized delivery systems.
Drone deliveries could certainly lower the carbon footprint of many take-out users and delivery afficionados. Other environmentally conscious factors of the system include the drone’s long-life rechargeable battery, greatly cutting down on materials needed to power and build the self-piloted entities.
The benefits of drone delivery also go beyond helping the environment and economy. Fewer delivery trucks on the road will also create reduced traffic for commuters, reducing travel delays and potential accidents.
Another obvious benefit is speedy, nearly instant deliveries. If you needed medicine, food, supplies, or, heck, even a pizza, you could get instantly with this souped-up form of ecommerce. For people who want a more streamlined version of delivery services or absolutely need emergency help as soon as possible, drone deliveries could be the future of shopping, commerce, and instant assistance.
What AI Means for You
How will your world be affected by AI and automation? For now, probably only as much as you want it to. You can choose Prime Air, if you are in a service area, and have the option to use mobile banking or play mobile slots with basic AI tech used by All Slots.
However, we will probably reach a time soon where AI is almost unavoidable to function, at least on a basic level. We are almost there. Are you ready to embrace a world of automation?
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