back to school 2014: kids are the future of robotics

in rethinking robotics by Jim Lawton

The new ad for the Amazon phone features two kids talking about what they’ve got lined up on their devices. The ad ends with the little boy saying “9 years on this planet, never seen anything like it.” Think technology isn’t for young minds? Think again.

There are a lot of 5 year olds who can navigate games on a mobile device long before they can tie their own shoes or read a book.  Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing isn’t for me to say. What it does bring to light is the fearlessness of children when it comes to embracing technology. How many stories have we heard about the parents or grandparents who need a child to program their DVR’s, smart phones and more.


Baxter with kids

School districts across the country are integrating human-safe robots into their curricula, as part of STEM programs. There are dozens of companies bringing robots for K-12 environments to market, now. This year’s RoboBusiness Game Changer awards will recognize for the first time a winner in the category of education.

Today’s elementary school age kids will be using robots in their everyday lives. They won’t think twice about buying coffee from a barista who is both the cashier and the brew machine. Their homes may in fact include a version of Rosie from the Jetsons (more likely than the flying car), who will clean the house, cook the meals and tend to any little Elroys. And odds are very good that by the time a child entering kindergarten this fall is ready to enter the workforce, one or more “colleagues” will be a robot.

Fearless, curious and ready to move us all forward – I salute you!


About the Author

Jim Lawton

Jim had a choice upon graduating from Tufts University – chase a dream as a concert pianist or become part of the inaugural Leaders for Manufacturing Program at MIT. He chose the latter– dedicating his career to developing and delivering innovative solutions that improve the business of manufacturing. Internally at HP, and then at breakthrough start-ups in e-commerce, inventory optimization and supply chain risk management, Jim’s never once looked back. His charter today: capture the power of data and analytics to push the standard for world-class manufacturing higher—once again.

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