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Cartman, a budget priced robot from Australia triumphed in an annual contest to create a machine that can identify, pick up and stow warehouse goods commonly known as ‘pick and place’. The bot was designed from scratch to take part in 2017's Amazon Robotics Challenge and used a radically different design to past winners. Instead of building a robotic arm, the victors used a sliding mechanism that picked up products from above.

The four-day event was held in Japan. The winning Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (ACRV) squad were engineers from Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. They walked away with the $80,000 cash prize. The parts for the robot were cheap by the standards of typical industrial robots and it could be built for under 30,000 Australian dollars (USD $23,935) including its sensors, according to Prof Jonathan Roberts, robotics lab leader at Queensland University of Technology. Amazon already uses robots to move goods about its warehouses, but relies on humans to pick up and pack them. Finding a cheap, universal solution to package the millions of items Amazon sells on a daily basis is something of a “holy grail” in the robotics industry. It began hosting the competition in 2015 to ‘promote shared and open solutions’ to automating the tasks. A total of 16 teams from 10 countries took part in the latest challenge in the city of Nagoya.

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Electric car company Tesla, and its billionaire entrepreneurial leader Elon Musk, know how to dazzle an audience.

At the back of Tesla’s Fremont, Calif. factory last Friday night -- surrounded by thousands of Tesla employees and under the spotlight of cameras and a video live stream -- Musk showed off the first thirty of the company’s new Model 3 electric cars, awaiting pick up by customers, including many employees.

It's a car intended for a more mainstream customer with a base price of $35,000, and it represents a major bet by the fourteen-year-old Tesla. Musk has spent over a decade envisioning this car as the key to his “master plan” to make electric cars both affordable and thrilling, and an estimated 500,000 customers have already made reservations for the cars.

But it won’t be the fawning press coverage, with many already comparing the launch of the Model 3 to the launch of the iPhone, that will determine if the rollout of the Model 3 will be a success. It will be the employees.

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