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The Amazon Picking Challenge approaches

Friday, 10 June, 2016

Before we turn our attention to France and Euro 2016, it should be noted that when the quarter-finals kick off on 30 June in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and Paris, the Amazon Picking Challenge will be in full swing in Leipzig. This year’s event features two parallel competitions: the Pick Task and the Stow Task. It’s much more difficult than it sounds because although robots are developing a better feel for our world, they’re still terrible at physically handling it. Robots will need to be much more agile if they’re going to play a useful role in everyday life. In last year’s Amazon challenge, the bots had to grab loose objects — a package of cookies, a book, a rubber duck — and put them in a container. The winner took 20 minutes to deal with 10 items. Way to go, bots.

Footnote: If you’re thinking of putting a few quid on Belgium to win Euro 2016, it might do no harm to place a side bet on the neighbours to win this year’s Amazon Picking Challenge. Word is that the equipe from the largest and oldest Dutch public technological university are the real deal. Team Delft for the win.


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