Ease of Use Is the Next Big Challenge for Robotics, Says Fetch CEO

In the News
April 20, 2017

DELFT, the Netherlands — Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics Inc., aided in the kickoff of RoboBusiness Europe here this week by sending a call to action to all roboticists to continue innovating.

She also urged them to do so with ease of use and the “end-user experience in mind.”

“There is a lot of growth, but the next big challenge for robotics is putting it in the hands of people in their daily lives,” Wise said. “The only way we are going to do that is by increasing user groups through ease of use.”

Wise’s message may seem basic. However, it reflects an early-stage industry on the verge of breaking out but still facing a significant learning curve in its efforts to penetrate markets and increase adoption levels.

It’s easy for roboticists to forget that the biggest pool of potential robotics users is made up of people who don’t have an intimate understanding of the technology.

“It’s about enabling someone to use a robot, even when they don’t know how a computer works,” Wise noted. “This is very real.”

Business Takeaways:

  • Fetch Robotics CEO Melonee Wise helped open RoboBusiness Europe 2017 by noting reasons for increasing commercial adoption of robotics.
  • Ease of use is a key factor in the spread of automation into new industries and among small and midsize enterprises worldwide.
  • Wise observed that developers who remember that robots need to be used in daily life will find career opportunities.

San Jose, Calif.-based Fetch Robotics provides robots for logistics and material handling applications. The 2017 RBR50 company’s technology includes autonomous mobile robot Freight and picking system Fetch’s core software. Combined, they provide comprehensive turnkey solutions to increase warehouse productivity.

Wise said Fetch Robotics spent significant time building ease of use into its offerings. “We set out to enable people to create workflows in their warehouses through simple drag-and-drop interfaces,” she said.

The company’s robots simply move things from Point A to Point B, according to Wise. The operator specifies points where Freight and Fetch should travel through a simple interface, and the robots take care of...

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