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Robotics The Almighty Buck

Robots Make the Coins Go 'Round, Down Under 126

Posted by timothy
from the can-haz-coin-collections dept.
inkslinger77 writes "Computerworld has a cool slideshow of a Kuka Titan robot and a bunch of AGVs managing the circulation of coins at the Australian Mint. There's also a lengthier article where the head of the project talks about the main reason robots were employed. One of the reasons being that they radically reduce OH&S risk: 'We are finding that the AGVs are much safer and more reliable. Robots are never affected by having a bad night with the baby and falling asleep at the wheel. They are extremely accurate and they always do the same task in the same way.'"
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Robots Make the Coins Go 'Round, Down Under

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  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Friday August 21, 2009 @01:53AM (#29143551) Homepage

    The Australian mint... where you can buy a $1 coin for $2 from a vending machine.

     

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Funny)

      by fractoid (1076465) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:08AM (#29143643) Homepage
      Sounds like a good business to me. Better than the thing in Portland where you put a nickel in the top and crank the handle and you get a squished flat nickel out the bottom.

      ...I wonder what I did with that nickel, anyway? That was like 7 years ago...
      • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Informative)

        by BobisOnlyBob (1438553) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:28AM (#29144141)

        They're still surprisingly popular [wikipedia.org], although they're usually in tourist spots and require two coins to be placed in: the penny/nickel to squish, and a token fee for operation. Utter ripoff, but nice memorabilia.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Actually, those things are about the most harmless tourist sucker-inner around. Think about it; most video games cost fifty cents or more, you play the game, and most of the time you forget the experience more or less entirely (save for a little sharpening of some probably-useless button smashing reflexes.) Most of those penny smashers seem to cost fifty cents to run (pennies are free, at least in small quantity) and produce one of the few pieces of tourist kitsch you won't break within the first two weeks.

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      To be fair, it is a great way to make money!

      Ok ok, I'll shutup now :)

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twostix (1277166) on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:00AM (#29143819)

      Worse is buying a $5 dollar silver coin for 35 reserve bank $1 coins where 5 years ago it cost 8 reserve bank $1 coins...

      Our money is becoming worthless.

      • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheLink (130905) on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:27AM (#29143907) Journal

        BUT inflation aka printing money is a way for the Printer to tax the users of that currency.

        It's all part of the plan.

        You see the great thing for the USA is the rest of the world uses US dollars to buy and sell stuff like oil, and zillions of other commodities and products. Even amongst themselves. Because of that very many countries end up holding billions or even trillions of US dollars.

        So when the US Federal Reserve lends[1] its friends X trillion US dollars ( and they only need to pay back 'later' when convenient), it's actually a way of taxing everyone else.

        Now the US citizens should be happy if they get their share of the printed money as well, but if they don't they really should do something about it.

        In contrast when Mugabe in Zimbabwe prints money, only the people using Zimbabwe currency are hurt. Which means the rest of the world is mostly unaffected.

        [1] Or allegedly "lose track" of it :).

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXlxBeAvsB8 [youtube.com]

        http://www.graysonforcongress.com/newsitem.asp?NewsId=90 [graysonforcongress.com]

        http://www.graysonforcongress.com/newsitem.asp?NewsId=91 [graysonforcongress.com]

        • by JordanL (886154)
          The difference being that the rest of the world is not REQUIRED to use dollars. The citizens of the US are.

          In other words, the rest of the world has an exist strategy, and the people who you claim should be exstatic don't.
          • Nothing requires US citizens to use federal reserve notes.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by JordanL (886154)
              Federal reserve notes are the only acceptable and legal way to pay taxes.
              • by Tim4444 (1122173)
                if you don't make money in dollars or spend money in dollars you don't pay income tax or sales tax in dollars

                -from the Wampum is Totally Awesome handbook
                • by Jared555 (874152)

                  Actually once when I was really bored I read one of the tax manuals.

                  It included paying taxes on SERVICES that are rendered to you freely that would normally cost money. Don't think just using another currency is going to get you out of paying taxes.

              • by ebuck (585470)

                Well, most people aren't Willie Nelson, but part of the negotiations of his back taxes were paid by the proceeds of a record album. You might say that's US dollars at work, but since the proceeds went directly to the IRS, I would say it was more of a barter arrangement.

                Wikipedia's entry [wikipedia.org] A better description [taxfables.com]

        • by khayman80 (824400)

          BUT inflation aka printing money is a way for the Printer to tax the users of that currency. It's all part of the plan.

          Frankly, I don't understand macroeconomics well enough to comment intelligently on the likelihood of the conspiracy theory you're proposing. But the economy seems bloody complicated to me, and I can't rule out the possibility that the Federal Reserve is just trying to avoid a deflationary spiral [wikipedia.org]. Deflation seems more dangerous than inflation as far as I can tell.

          Inflation doesn't really see

          • by Jared555 (874152)

            Wages do not really account for inflation or increases in minimum wage.

            Consider the number of people who had to have raises just so they would be paid minimum wage, or those who had started out at minimum wage, worked multiple years, and now are back to working minimum wage instead of receiving an increase in salary based on the increase in minimum wage (the total of their past raises, etc.) (this part of it is more of the employers fault, but it shouldn't happen).

        • >> So when the US Federal Reserve lends[1] its friends X trillion US dollars ( and they only need to pay back 'later' when convenient), it's actually a way of taxing everyone else.

          This is 180 degrees away from the correct situation. With benefit of doubt, a presume a typo.

          The US benefits when it borrows money, and then returns diminished-value money.

          Our solution is to hold precious metals rather than just a FPOP.

          • by TheLink (130905)

            Sure.

            But the US Gov and banks can and do borrow from the US Federal Reserve. This can cause inflation (and thus the "taxation effect" I was talking about).

            The US people can still experience a net benefit if the US Gov pumps enough of that money to them (directly or to projects that benefit the people).

            But they should be careful if certain things happen like: the US borrows money from China etc, then lends a lot of money to an undisclosed bunch.

            That benefits that undisclosed bunch. Are that undisclosed bunch

      • by Rakishi (759894)

        No, precious metals are simply becoming more valuable. There's a big difference.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lammy (1557325)
      On a point of order, it is actually $3 in to get a freshly minted $1 back. (I went there today).
    • by Meski (774546)

      Not exactly just a vending machine. It's a fairly minimalist minting machine, where you see a blank turned into a $1 coin, which you get.

  • They are extremely accurate and they always do the same task in the same way.'"

    "...just like computer programs."

    *grin*

    Why yes! I will indeed be here all week.

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Friday August 21, 2009 @01:57AM (#29143585) Homepage Journal
    Kangaroo pouches are only so big.
  • Would be easier for the mint and the rest of us to handle.

  • Robots also can't tell their neighbors about how much more money the government is printing.

    • by twostix (1277166) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:55AM (#29143791)

      Given that (according to Bernanke) "printing" new money now consists of literally adding zeros to a banks balance digitally workers at the mint aren't going to notice anything until months or years later anyway.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by benjamindees (441808)

        Oh you're absolutely right. I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But obviously there is some ulterior motive for automating this workforce to such an extent. Hauling around money isn't particularly difficult, dangerous or precision work.

        But it is frightening to think about how much financial engineering has gone on in recent years. Printing money is literally no longer necessary in order to inflate the currency. Credit limits can be increased electronically. Paychecks are direct-deposited. It's just

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rakishi (759894)

          Oh you're absolutely right. I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But obviously there is some ulterior motive for automating this workforce to such an extent.

          No, they're simply trying to be more efficient. You know, like all the other tens of thousands of companies that have automated themselves.

          Hauling around money isn't particularly difficult, dangerous or precision work.

          They're hauling coins around. Drums of them. You know coins, those thing made out of metal. That heavy dense stuff that does bad things if it accidentally falls on your foot, right? Like the summary says it's boring repetitive work and humans aren't really made for that. Machines are.

          I wonder if you're the same type of person who complains about government inefficiency a

          • I mean, you do know that it's all been little figures stored somewhere for well over a century if not longer, right?

            Clearly my history classes were deficient. They didn't teach me about the use of credit cards during the great depression. Thanks for bringing me up to speed, smart-ass.

            I wonder if you're the same type of person who complains about government inefficiency and waste of money.

            You're right, I'm sure there's no chance of any kind of mis-allocation of capital when the government agency that prints money is completely fucking automated in the middle of a recession.

            • by KDR_11k (778916)

              Completely automated? You think those robots repair themselves?

            • What difference does the automation make? It's not like a mint employee on the assembly line is going to be able to say, "Hey, Government! You've printed enough money today." Deciding how much money to print has always been the government's decision, automated or not. And it's not like a mint employee can hide in the washroom until everyone is gone, and run off a couple of million for himself. There would be security lockouts on everything.
            • by Rakishi (759894)

              Clearly my history classes were deficient. They didn't teach me about the use of credit cards during the great depression. Thanks for bringing me up to speed, smart-ass.

              Credit cards are simply a type of loan if a balance is kept on them, not sure why you find that so hard to understand. Loans have existed for a long time.

              You're right, I'm sure there's no chance of any kind of mis-allocation of capital when the government agency that prints money is completely fucking automated in the middle of a recession.

              Nothing is completely automated. Someone looks over the daily tallies, someone receives the shipment of money and so on. Since everything is now actually tracked it's probably harder to change how much money is made without anyone who can do something about it noticing.

              As someone else mentioned, some assembly line worker would know jack shit about how muc

          • by ebuck (585470)

            Automation is just a fact of life in the modern world, I'll accept your point.

            What I don't understand is why they used such a horrible example to justify it. Any critical thinker will immediately realize that while it does suck to be hauling around large drums of heavy coins after being kept up by a crying infant, it sucks far more to not have a job hauling around large drums of heavy coins when needing to provide an income to support your crying infant.

            Seems to me that the person pitching the plan didn't

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Hauling around money isn't particularly difficult, dangerous or precision work.

          Whoa. Handling money is seriously expensive for exactly those reasons. If we could get rid of physical money (without the side-effects) that would be a huge boost to the economy. The mint is of course only a tiny part of that but still big money...

    • The problem is the subsequent bank money multiplication.

  • Good morning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:19AM (#29143689)
    Robots are never affected by having a bad night with the baby and falling asleep at the wheel. They are extremely accurate and they always do the same task in the same way.

    Oh really? So, so...if the rest of the world could only take this brand new revolutionary idea from the Australian mint and apply these "robots" to all kinds of industrial tasks.... oh, wait they already do since about 50 years ago [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Good morning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pete-wilko (628329) on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:16AM (#29143875)
      So what's your point? The banner says 'news for nerds' - this is interesting stuff.

      You know the modern web browser was invented 16 years ago - should we link to mosaic every time a story on FF/IE/Chrome/Safari/Opera comes up?
      • by tsm_sf (545316)
        this is interesting stuff

        Hell, I read the article just because I thought Kuka Titan was an awesome name for a robot.
    • Re:Good morning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:32AM (#29144157) Homepage Journal

      I laughed at those words for a different reason: it's the kind of nonsense you get from people who have never dealt with robotics before.

      Although accurate, the indicated behaviour of robots is hardly a virtue. If a human kept doing the same task in the same way, regardless of the consequences, we'd call them stupid, and that's exactly what robots are.

      I think von Braun said it best: Using robots is a lot like having a wife. She helps you solve the problems you wouldn't have had if you hadn't gotten married.

       

      • by aicrules (819392)
        There are MANY human workers whose job it is to do the same task in the same way for years. They're paid to do it the exact same way, and they'll get in trouble if they do it differently. I do not think these people are stupid, nor would I call them stupid. Perhaps they have that particular job because they don't know how to do something else, but that doesn't make them stupid. We want the same consistently made burger every time we order it at the drive-through. If half the time you got a hot dog ins
        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          If they kept flipping the burger even though the meat had gone rotten, you'd fire them.

  • Port of Hamburg (Score:4, Interesting)

    by seifried (12921) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:21AM (#29143701) Homepage

    You think that's interesting check out the port of Hamburg, shipping containers being zipped around on robotic trucks/lifts/etc.

    Terminal Automation [hamburgportconsulting.de]

    • by mach1980 (1114097)
      "Terminal Automation" sounds more like you put robots in a retirement home...
      • by WeblionX (675030)

        Sounds more like you're giving robots guns.

      • by lxs (131946)

        "Terminal Automation" sounds more like you put robots in a retirement home...

        I smell a sitcom idea in there. We already have a title.

    • by kthejoker (931838)

      I remember on The Wire when they're showing Frank Sobotka and some shipping execs how Amsterdam runs their dock with robots, and Sobotka's just looking at it in abject horror, at the thought of not having all of his buddies in the union to work the docks any more.

      Such a weird feeling, to see yourself being replaced. It will constantly move up the employment chain, too.

  • by commlinx (1068272) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:36AM (#29143737) Journal

    I wonder if the Australian Federal Police (AFP) setup security for the mint?

    Might try a blank root password and see about getting that robot to do a home delivery.

  • Robots! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They're taking our jobs!

  • Or does anyone else think the Australian mint was modeled after a level in Doom? I'll bet if I shot one of those barrels it would take out any nearby imps.
  • But which way will the coins circulate down under?
    • The correct way.
    • by khayman80 (824400)
      I realize you're joking, but it's important to note that the Coriolis force doesn't affect [dumbscientist.com] small objects in any significant sense. Sinks and toilets don't drain the other way in the southern hemisphere, nor would coins circulate differently.
      • by anarche (1525323)
        Really? The first thing I tried when I moved to England was the direction the sink water drained, and surely enough it drained the opposite direction.

        Always thought my landlord was dodgy.

        Seriously though, I'd like to propose the following; since the Earth/Solar System is in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere and not the northern, then by inference the Southern Hemisphere is closer to the core of the Milky Way (while you lot stare out into space). Therefore, we are fa
        • by khayman80 (824400)

          Really? The first thing I tried when I moved to England was the direction the sink water drained, and surely enough it drained the opposite direction.

          Really. The Coriolis force is overwhelmed by tiny asymmetries in the sink and plumbing. Different sinks will drain differently even in the same city because they're made by different companies.

          Therefore, we are facing 'up' and the globe is the wrong way around.

          Go ahead and believe that if it makes you feel better as you cling to a tree lest you fall into the s

  • It would be interesting to find out.

    That slide show reminds me of the Newegg tour posted here some time ago.

  • Why don't we all have a factory that produces money? I'm thinking of times when we can print and produce personal cash, or have an ATM do that for you. The basis would be our real savings or other assets, which would be transformed into legal tenders of our choice.

    In a future world where everything is electronic it's a nice touch to have something tangible once in a while.
  • If they'd make the coins a reasonable size there wouldn't be all these OH&S problems.

  • Probably a very easy job.

    http://despair.com/motivation.html [despair.com]

  • That robot in picture 8 is seriously advanced. It seems to be a generic task model too.

  • Guess that somebody actually considering an off-the-shelf industrial robot newsworthy speaks volumes about the state of Australian society.

    Australia suffers from a severe problem, where anything perceived as too 'clever' is distrusted and sneered at. Governments don't support industrial development (and indeed, the neoliberals and environmentalists try to actively sabotage it). If it isn't sport, and if it doesn't involve farming it or digging it out of the ground, it doesn't rate.

    Much of the problem is k

  • When most of the jobs are held by robots because they are cheaper....

  • the real question is do they send them around clockwise or counter-clockwise?
  • SCV (Score:3, Funny)

    by Froboz23 (690392) on Friday August 21, 2009 @06:18PM (#29151491)
    SCV reportin' for duty!

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