租个机器人修草坪:每月99美元,不用担心被偷走

美剧中,我们经常能看到修建完美的草坪,可在现实中,打理草坪对于房屋主人来说却费时又费力,是件折磨人的事儿,专门雇人来维护费用又太高。而不久后,也许机器人可以解决这个头疼的问题。近日,在旧金山举办的 Disrupt Hackathon 黑客马拉松大会上,一个叫做 robin 的草坪机器人就向我们展示了这一可能性。

我们在修草坪的时候,总是试图寻找可靠的草坪修理公司,而且不得不支付一大笔钱。” robin 的发明者之一 Justin Crandall 告诉媒体,“难以想象,现在都是21世纪了,竟然还有人在用 30 年前的方法来赚钱。”

这也许有点难以理解。事实上,草坪维护工作的利润是很小的。通常几个维修工配上一辆卡车,只能服务一个城市,有时甚至只是一个社区。这是一件高风险、高成本、低收入的工作。而且很容易“吃力不讨好”。

而 robin 的服务模式则给这个工作提供了一个新的视角。它不仅仅能够代替修理工帮你维护草坪,甚至更进一步,人们可以通过在线交易的方式来预约 robin 的修剪工作 。

robin 的前半部分造型很像一部跑车,后半部分由两个大轮胎制成,整体设计仿照人体肌肉的曲线而成。工作人员按下开关,草坪机器人立马就进入工作状态。它可以自动绕过障碍物,自动识别草坪边界,整个工作过程都不需要人工参与。

除此之外,robin 的入职过程也很简单:用户在线提供一个地址,并且根据自己的财产状况给出一个报价,随后 robin 就能估计出需要修剪草坪的大小。然后你可以选择开始日期和重复时间,这样就大功告成了。不用实地考察,不用考虑产品回调问题,也不用再纠结付款方式。

这一点是很重要的,简单的流程可以使整个交易过程的障碍降到最低。Crandall 指出,“不断做出选择对于消费者来说是件困难的事情,所以我们尽可能地让人们只做一个决定就可以了。当他们有心情报名参加这个活动时,你必须马上抓住这次机会。我们的效率很高,不像其他形式的电子商务,有的可能会出现几个小时的延迟,甚至是一两天,那这买卖肯定要赔了。”

其实,草坪机器人并不是什么稀罕物件, robin 的独特之处在于它的服务模式和价格优势。Crandall 称他们的团队直接从制造商那里买来设备,然后自己组装,再把它以每月 99 美元的价格租出去。这样居民也不用担心昂贵的价格,甚至不用担心 robin 会被偷走(有人看管)。而对于他们自身来说,这也给同事提供了工作机会,不用担心被机器抢走了饭碗。这可算是一桩双赢的交易。

https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/09/hack-for-the-environment-at-the-disrupt-sf-hackathon/

Hack for the environment at the Disrupt SF Hackathon

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Incoming McAfee CEO Chris Young on his company’s post-Intel future

This weekend, hundreds of developers and engineers will pack into the Disrupt SF conference space for our Hackathon, a 24-hour race to build a brand-new product. Competitors will present their inventions on stage and win prizes, in a TechCrunch tradition that’s launched products like GroupMe.But this year, we’re doing things a little differently — we’re making data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility available for developers to incorporate into their products. The Net Zero facility is a home in Maryland that NIST has transformed into a laboratory for conducting research on energy efficiency. The four-bedroom house produces all of its own energy, with some to spare, sending the excess back to the electrical grid. It’s a model for the American home of the future, and it produces valuable data on energy use and production that developers can use to create new energy-efficient products.

The data comes to us from the Department of Commerce, which touts itself as America’s data agency. DOC produces and publishes vast datasets, generating enough information every day to fill the Library of Commerce twice over. That includes the weather data and import/export data that form the backbones of many a startup. Without that weather data, your favorite weather app couldn’t function. And companies like Flexport, which we’ve called “the unsexiest trillion dollar startup,” use DOC’s trade data to better serve their customers.

“When I became Secretary of Commerce, I made harnessing the power of Commerce data a top priority for the Department. To me, it was idle inventory on the shelf that I knew — from personal experience — has the power to create economic opportunity and change lives,” Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker told TechCrunch. “The hackathon is not only an opportunity to put our data to use in new and creative ways — it is also an opportunity to learn what we can be doing better.”

We hope that our Disrupt SF hacking teams will take this opportunity to show these government folks how we do it here in Silicon Valley. They can use the Net Zero home’s data sets to inform other projects, or create projects that are completely focused on renewable energy. Teams can work to make homes smarter or create analytics tools to provide insights on energy efficiency. We’ll have data available from the house on 400 variables across 11 subsystems, including temperature, energy, lighting and electrical usage.

“We would love to see developers create tools that visualize home energy use patterns. For instance, many Americans do not know that a clothes dryer consumes more energy than almost any other appliance in the home. With this information, individuals could make decisions that reduce the amount of energy they use and lower their energy costs,” Pritzker said. “We are also interested in the creation of an algorithm that predicts energy production from the home’s solar panels. This type of information could be used as the basis for predicting energy production under various environmental conditions.”

The market for these products is already enormous and is growing larger every day. In December, the United States and every other member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet the commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement, it’s estimated that the world will spend $13.5 trillion.

That’s a big opportunity for major businesses, small startups, and bootstrapped products that are still only a glimmer in a hackathon participant’s eye. “This is an enormous opportunity for American businesses,” Pritzker explained. “Consumers are increasingly demanding products that are sustainably produced and cost effective.”

“Bottom line, the transition to an advanced energy economy is not just a moral responsibility to our planet and future generations today, it is good business,” she added. We hope our Disrupt hackers agree!


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