Last week, re:MARS returned to the stage, offering a glimpse into a technology-enabled future that may be closer than it seems.
The conference—which debuted in 2019—brings together luminaries and technical experts to discuss the latest in Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space (MARS).
Read on for some of the things that stood out.
1.A (very) smart home
Alexa Smart Home’s vision is centered on ambient intelligence. It’s there when you need it and fades into the background when you don’t. Alexa AI Senior Vice President and Head Scientist Rohit Prasad said customers interact with Alexa billions of times each week, and more than 30% of smart-home interactions are initiated by Alexa.
2.Robots in the workplace
We unveiled some of the newest robots to be used in our facilities around the world, including sort centers and air hubs. These robots help us sort packages, move products and orders, and improve efficiency.
Yves Nazon and Riley Pieper, two researchers from the Neurobionics Lab at the University of Michigan, talked about their work developing ankle exoskeletons. Nazon demonstrated how these wearable robotics can be programmed to provide people with assistance when running or walking. The pair is investigating how to incorporate user preference into the development of wearable robotics—for example, whether people prefer more or less assistance when walking uphill. Exoskeletons could provide support for people with physically demanding jobs or those who have limited mobility.
We found Astro hanging out in the Smart Home. Introduced last fall, Astro is a home robot that can do everything from making sure your home is safe while you’re away to delivering a snack while you’re watching TV. Astro employs Intelligent Motion to map your home, then navigates anywhere you need it to go at a comfortable strolling speed. And yes, Astro can be blocked from certain rooms or areas, like the bathroom. Learn more about Astro and its creator.
5.Alexa in space
Alexa will be along for the ride for NASA's upcoming Artemis 1 mission, providing voice interaction between the Artemis 1 spacecraft and mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. re:MARS attendees could check out a full-size mockup of the spacecraft’s crew cabin and a copy of the Alexa system that will be part of the first Artemis mission. Learn more about the upcoming space mission.
AI where we shop
Conference attendees could visit the Just Walk Out Experiential Mock Store—which walked them through a retail customer journey from entry to exit. Amazon Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology Dilip Kumar spoke in a keynote about how his team is using computer vision and machine learning to deliver easier and faster in-store shopping experiences for customers in physical spaces—from checkout-free shopping with Just Walk Out technology, to Amazon One.