Why don't our shopping carts follow us around the grocery store?
Manuela Veloso has had it with dumb things on wheels.
Suitcases we have to pull through airports.
Shopping carts we have to push through the aisles of grocery stores.
"Why can't this cart follow me?" Veloso, a longtime robotics and artificial intelligence researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who will become head of JPMorgan's AI efforts next month, asked during the MIT Technology Review EmTech Next conference this week in Cambridge, Mass.
"Everything that has wheels, one day, you could actually just say, 'Follow me,' and it should just come," Veloso continued. "There is no reason for us in Trader Joes to be sending our husband or our partner to the cashier while we shop instead of having a robot that we just send. These carts should all be automated."
The theme of the conference was how robots and artificial intelligence are changing the future of work and if we're ready. Veloso, head of CMU's Machine Learning Department, is. One of her robots will greet you inside her department at CMU and lead you to her office. She showed a video during the conference of how a robot will get you coffee even though it doesn't have any hands.
Self-driving suitcases made a splash at CES this year. At least three companies showed off suitcases designed to follow people, according to The Wall Street Journal .
Self-driving shopping carts may be obsolete if we all start buying our groceries online and pick them up at the store or perhaps have them delivered by a self-driving car.
But Veloso's point is simple. While AI might not be able to do all the things we want it to do, yet, it can do some things very well. Empowering autonomous suitcases or shopping carts to follow us around is one of them.
Veloso has been at CMU since 1992. Starting July 1, Veloso will take a leave of absence from CMU to head JPMorgan's artificial intelligence research, a new position the bank created.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.