Surely There's A Better Use For Robots...

Meet…actually this poor guy hasn’t been given a name yet.

Let’s call him Brian.

Brian is a robotic printer on wheels, built by Fuji Xerox in Japan, which delivers your papers right to your desk.

Thus saving you from that treacherous stroll to the printing machine, and that awkward moment when you meet a colleague who has managed to print something at the exact same time.

Both of you smile narrowly at each other, then stare at the ground, secretly willing the printer to hurry itself up. On long prints, you might have to break the tension with a line like, “Going a bit slow today isn’t it?”

The reason for Brian’s existence other than curbing the above? I’m not entirely sure to be honest.

There might be an argument for delivery by robot being a more secure way to print sensitive documents. But there are solutions on the market already which are potentially a more productive way of doing it – such as having an individual keycard for each employee.

And what happens when two employees hit print at the same time – can it work out who it would be best to deliver to first, or do you have to get into a ‘Here boy!’ whistling match with colleagues based across the room?

It’s been described by the IDC (International Data Corporation), talking to the BBC, as seeming ‘more like technology for technology’s sake’.

I’m inclined to agree. It appears to be more like a novelty item rather than serving an actual business need. And was it supposed to look like it has a face, a la Google’s driverless car?

It could also lead us to a similar situation as prescribed by the brilliant Pixar production Wall-E, whereby humans are no longer able to move by themselves and are consigned to hover chairs with video screens.

I’m not doubting the cleverness of it all, but perhaps there are some potentially better ways of using robotic inter-office delivery technology? I’ve suggested a couple – feel free to add your own in the comments section:

  • Shepherding colleagues with timekeeping issues who are late to a meeting
  • Setting up the room ready for your conference call, saving you from this sort of situation: