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Bits: The Week in Tech: The Robots Aren’t as Human as They Seem

One company at the leading edge of the real world is RightHand Robotics, which is fashioning “picking” robots inside an old post office building in Somerville. Presented with a bin full of stuff, they can grab and pick up individual objects, even if they haven’t seen them before. This is just what a company like Amazon need inside its massive distribution centers.But companies like RightHand are still perfecting the art of picking. And the next task — deciding where each object should go — is even harder. Right now, RightHand is leaning on systems that scan the bar code attached to each item. Identifying items without bar…

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These Robots Run, Dance and Flip. But Are They a Business?

As the rest of the tech industry has focused on robotic cars and other contraptions that can navigate roads and warehouse floors, Boston Dynamics, which is owned by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, has plugged away at machines that can walk through the woods, into a rock quarry, across your home. “These robots can climb stairs,” said Sangbae Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is working on similar machines. “They can jump on a table.”But if driverless cars are still years away from everyday use, walking robots are even further. Though these machines are shockingly lifelike, they have limits. They can…

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