Automation and Robotics News
Collected and compiled by Tony Zaragoza (email@example.com) since July 2009.
Automation and Robotics News is a twice-monthly compilation of the latest news in automation and robotics from nano-robotics to large-scale industrial automation. ARNews is focused primarily on the impacts these technologies have on the global economy including productivity, labor replacement, law, politics, and warfare. Key sources include google news, cnet, wired, the wall street journal, robotics industry association, robot.net, robot world news, robots podcast, the inside technology automaton blog, industrial robot news, robotics trends, among others. Please share any stories or sources you feel are important, and please let me know about any bad links. Click on the headline to take you to the news story.
Nov. 7, 2010: Upgrading drones; why companies should automation; Indian Dairy Automation; automation and increaing demand; Robot sales up this year in NA; Asimo 10 year anniversary.
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
Doug Mohney, October 29, 2010
Far away from Washington D.C., in the shadow of NASA's Huntsville Saturn 5, the U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command is working on small, cheap nanosatellites for communications and imagery and an equally low-cost way to put them into orbit quickly. It's a radical break from the past, but the Army wants rapidly responsive and flexible assets that it can launch on short notice to support warfighting, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations -- and cheap enough to be essentially "throwaways.…
IAI Offers New Ultralight MiniPOP Payload for UAVs
Nov 01, 2010Robotics Trends Staff
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is introducing the newest member of its MiniPOP (plug-in optronic payload) family: the Ultralight MiniPOP. The new lightweight MiniPOP payload is manufactured using lightweight metals, including magnesium and titanium. The MiniPOP is designed to be used by small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which demand long endurance, and by special ground forces for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISTAR) missions. The system can be handled and operated by a single soldier.
Drones Get Ready to Fly, Unseen, Into Everyday Life
Personal drones aren't yet plying U.S. flyways. But an arms race is building among people looking to track celebrities, unfaithful... In early 2010, Senior Airman Cassie McQuade was all alone in an isolated corner of Bagram air field, NATO’s main base in Afghanistan. As the sole airman assigned to a team of civilian contractors from Boeing subsidiary Insitu, it was McQuade’s job to analyze video streams pumped into her trailer by the team’s fleet of low-flying ScanEagle drones used to spot threats to Bagram. “The hardest part is determining what is suspicious and what we are looking for,” she told me. The long, dark shape in a man’s arms could be a shovel — or a rocket launcher. Men digging by the side of the road could be repairing a culvert or planting a bomb. Telling the difference required training, practice … and intuition. With more and more drone-provided video pouring into Pentagon servers — “24 years’ worth if watched continuously” just in 2009, according to The New York Times – the Air Force in particular is struggling to train up enough analysts like McQuade to sift through it all. Their job is made more difficult by the raw nature of most video feeds. Watching untagged video is like “tuning in to a football game without all the graphics,” one industry executive told The Times.
In early 2010, Senior Airman Cassie McQuade was all alone in an isolated corner of Bagram air field, NATO’s main base in Afghanistan. As the sole airman assigned to a team of civilian contractors from Boeing subsidiary Insitu, it was McQuade’s job to analyze video streams pumped into her trailer by the team’s fleet of low-flying ScanEagle drones used to spot threats to Bagram. “The hardest part is determining what is suspicious and what we are looking for,” she told me. The long, dark shape in a man’s arms could be a shovel — or a rocket launcher. Men digging by the side of the road could be repairing a culvert or planting a bomb. Telling the difference required training, practice … and intuition. With more and more drone-provided video pouring into Pentagon servers — “24 years’ worth if watched continuously” just in 2009, according to The New York Times – the Air Force in particular is struggling to train up enough analysts like McQuade to sift through it all. Their job is made more difficult by the raw nature of most video feeds. Watching untagged video is like “tuning in to a football game without all the graphics,” one industry executive told The Times.
JJon Anderson has seen a lot of gawkers pause at his Northrop Grumman booth in the Association of the U.S. Army’s Washington conference. Not that he’s odd-looking or off-putting: He’s a gregarious guy. The stares he’s getting are about the .50-caliber M2 machine gun he’s got mounted on a treaded robot — something Northrop isn’t even selling right now. “Quite frankly,” explains Anderson, a Northrop advanced-systems employee with short white hair and a whiter smile, “a weapon on a robot brings people into the booth.” That it does. For the past few years, Northrop has produced a treaded, 60-inch robot vehicle to help troops haul their gear called the Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover, or CaMEL. It’s like a more traditional version of the BigDog robot — a simple flat, motorized platform that putters along at up to 7 miles per hour while taking on up to 1,200 pounds of stuff. Northrop has sold more than 60 of them to the Israeli military; and recently, the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning expressed interest in the CaMEL as a hauler.
It’s not that the unpiloted aircraft that the Army flies aren’t already tricked out. Some of them carry the latest surveillance systems and powerful missiles. But some companies at the Association of the U.S. Army convention in Washington D.C. figure that the drone fleet needs some upgrades. The box above? That’s a guidance system to make sure that a malfunctioning drone can land safely on the spot that a unit directs it — essentially, something that makes an unmanned plane really independent of human control. There’s also radar gear to give drones a better line of sight down to the ground for airborne spying. Need cellular coverage in the middle of nowhere? Hook a few pods up to the bottom of a drone, send it aloft, and start tweeting again.
The Army isn’t about to be upstaged at its own party by its contractors. Inside a pseudo-base set up on the floor of the sprawling Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington D.C.’s convention center is Forward Operating Base Modernization, a set-piece military version of Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Only the Army’s equivalent has models of synced-up soldier gear and a 32-pound motorized robot on treads designed to go into dangerous places troops can’t. This WALL-E-looking creature is the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, or SUGV, a cousin of iRobot’s Packbots. When last we checked in on it, the Army was testing the SUGV at Fort Bliss to see if it makes sense for infantry use. Testing continues. But the glee with which Army officials showed it off for reporters — and its pride of place in the Army’s brochure for modernization — suggests that the service really, really wants it to work.
Autonomous underwater robot hits the waves (photos)
November 03, 2010, Jennifer Guevin
An advanced undersea vehicle promises to take oceanic research to a new level, going faster and farther than its predecessors--and even doing some thinking of its own.
Globes - Nov 3, 2010
Former Israel Security Agency agent Amos Goren claims his robots can detect threats before the human brain does. Robots developed by a former Israel ...
November 05, 2010, Robots.com
Right now, businesses in the United States are facing some tough challenges including offshoring pressures, approaching work shortages, fierce competition, and economic upheaval. Robots offer a way to fight back and stay strong. Consider the unique benefits robots provide for U.S. manufacturing companies at this unique point in time. 1. Combat Offshoring: Manufacturing companies in the United States don't have contend with the unforeseen costs and hassles posed by offshoring. Robots allow manufacturing and other companies to remain on U.S. soil while still achieving offshoring goals (i.e. low cost, high quality production). Robots offer a much more reliable way to keep manufacturing costs down and remain competitive in the global economy. 2. Prepare for Skilled Worker Shortage: It may seem hard to believe considering the current unemployment rate, but the United States will soon be facing a severe worker shortage. According to a recent Industry Week article, over the next five years baby boomers (making up 40% of the workforce) will begin retiring en masse and there won't be enough workers with similar skill sets to fill the openings. Worker populations in specific applications, such as welding, will be especially hard hit. Prepare your company for this inevitable shortage by investing in industrial robots. 3. Compete Locally and Globally: Industrial robots make it possible for U.S. companies to keep up with both domestic and foreign competitors. As mentioned earlier, robots are reliable tools that can effectively keep costs down and quality consistent. This way your company can compete with low labor costs abroad, respond easily to product and packaging changes, as well as streamline and increase production. More and more businesses are turning to robots to gain a competitive edge. During the first nine months of this year, robot orders from North American companies have increased 34%. Don't fall behind! Invest in robots today. 4. Take Advantage of Tax Incentives: Recent legislation makes automating with robots even more advantageous for U.S. manufacturing companies. The Small Business Jobs Act extended and expanded Section 179. Now equipment (both new and used) that is ordered and put into use in 2010 or 2011 is eligible for the tax write-off. In addition, the thresholds have doubled. Companies can write-off the first $500,000 (not just the $250,000). The cap on purchases has grown from $800,000 to $2 million. 5. Strengthen the Country: The United States has been through some difficult times of late. The economy is still recovering from a recession and unemployment is at a record low (9.6% according to the BLS). With robots you have a chance to give back - to make sure you contribute to building up this nation. Be a force of change: staying onshore, providing robot techs and programmers with jobs, and contributing to the country's economic wellbeing. Interested in robots for your company? Contact RobotWorx at 740-383-8383.
Plastics News - Robert Grace - Oct 28, 2010
DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m. ET) -- The U.S. plastics industry, the third-largest U.S. manufacturing sector, is now stepping up its adoption of advanced machinery and automation to produce sharp gains in productivity, according to Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. “We got burnt back in the 1990s,” he said, when business was booming and the plastics industry didn’t bother to invest much in automation. “Now,” he noted, as an industry “we’re investing more in automation than in primary equipment.” The result is a more globally competitive U.S. plastics industry, albeit with fewer workers and plants.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Commodity Online - Nov 3, 2010
This cow farm will be one of the world's finest facilities integrating the best of automation and mechanisation, hygiene and quality standards and genetic ...
Telematics, GPS and tractor-implement automation are just a few of the technological developments set to revolutionise how operators spray in the future, according to those attending an Association of Applied Biologists (AAB) workshop last week.
FarmersWeekly - Emily Padfield - Oct 29, 2010
As legislation tightens it's grip and factors like the Water Framework Directive come into force, herbicide and pesticide application is going to come under ever increasing levels of scrutiny.
Columbus Dispatch - Alana Semuels - Nov 1, 2010
Automation means Young no longer needs large crews of farmworkers to plant or harvest - and no more worrying about immigration status, pay or benefits. ...
Gather.com - Christine Zibas - Nov 4, 2010
Asian nations have always been more engaged by robots and what they can accomplish than those of us in the West. While robots playing the violin or ...
ANDY PASZTOR, WSJ, Nov 5, 2010
Increasing reliance on cockpit automation appears to be eroding manual flying skills of airline pilots, who are "sometimes...
Jayashree Adkoli, TMCnet Contributor, October 27, 2010
Pasadena, Calif.-based Robotics technology company Evolution Robotics, Inc., announced that its Mint Automatic Floor Cleaning robot is now available at all Bed Bath & Beyond stores nationwide, as well as online.
by International Federation of Robotics, Statistical Department
So far, about 77,000 service robots for professional use were sold worldwide, reports the IFR Statistical Department in the new study “World Robotics 2010 – Service Robots”, which was published on Tuesday in Frankfurt. The total value of professional service robots sold was about US $13 billion. Due to the economical downturn the annual supply decreased for the first time slightly in 2009 to almost 13.000 units. Service robots can be characterized as assistants of man. They take over jobs which are dangerous, impossible or unacceptable. They help to rationalize, to save time and to improve quality. Military and agricultural applications predominate About 30% of the sold units of service robots are used for defense applications, mainly unmanned aerial or ground based vehicles and demining robots. Another 25% are milking robots, which were one of the first service robots ever produced. Both categories made up more than half of all sold service robots and can be regarded as the most established ones. Cleaning robots and medical robots follow with shares of 8% each and underwater robots with 7%. Cleaning robots are mainly used to clean swimming pools. Medical robots are used in combination with minimal access surgery, but also increasingly for diagnostics. Diagnostic robots may come in the form of devices that guide diagnostic equipment to the human body. One of the most established robotic operations in this field is biopsy.
1 Nov 2010, robots.net
The sternum stands between the surgeon and the vital organs within the chest. Typically it is simply sawed through then fixated afterwards with hardware. This fixation is imperfect and movement between the pieces can cause pain and even life-threatening issues. A new system by novoSurge uses x-rays and ultrasound under robotic control to precisely cut a path. The interesting part is that the path is not straight but sinusoidal so that the pieces fit back together better than a straight cut - sort of like a puzzle. This can lead to quicker healing for the patient and fewer complications. Hat tip to the fine folks at medGadget
How to Make a Humanoid Robot Dance
Erico Guizzo / Tue, November 02, 2010
Japanese roboticists recently showed off a female android singing and dancing along with a troupe of human performers. Video of the entertaining and surprisingly realistic demonstration received millions of views on the Internet. How did they do it?
A Robot Lifeguard Patrols Malibu
(CNNMoney.com) -- Emily may not be the prettiest thing with plastic parts on bikini-riddled Zuma Beach in Malibu, Calif., but 'she' still turns heads. That's because Emily -- whose name is an acronym for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard -- is a four-foot-long robotic buoy capable of racing through rough surf at 24 miles per hour. Emily's creators estimate that the robot can rescue distressed swimmers twelve times as fast as human lifeguards. Take that, David Hasselhoff!
PACKING AND SHIPPING
Lloyd's List Daily Commercial News - Jim Wilson - Oct 27, 2010
Following on a theme from yesterday's speeches at the Ports Australia biennial conference being held today in Hobart, Mr Rowsthorn said today automation ...
WIFR - Oct 25, 2010
To combat concerns over a decreasing workforce, researchers developed a new robot that would help pick up the slack in the manufacturing sector. ...
Clare Goldsberry, Senior Editor/U.S. , Copyright Modern Plastics Worldwide, April 2010, reprinted at RIA with permission
Motoman Robotics Posted 10/06/2010
Overseas sales increase, and you need more workers or more automation. For this small processor, automation proved the right choice, with those new robotics saving time and money at Intrepid Industries Inc. It is a problem many processors would welcome facing. An increase in foreign sales boosted Intrepid Industries Inc.’s business to the point that it either needed to hire for a second and third shift or invest in automation. Erich Bredl, president and partner in the company, chose the latter. “We’re in the process of putting a six-axis Motoman robot on the second molding station, and should be up and running this month,” he said. “We’ve got a small window of a three-day molding run and will get the robot installed and set up to run the mold continuously around the clock. It’s like gaining a second and third shift without hiring people.”
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Economic Times - Nov 3, 2010
LONDON: NASA is contemplating sending a robot to the moon in just 1000 days -- for just a fraction of the cost of sending a human. Engineers at the US space ...
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
by Bennett Brumson, Contributing Editor, 11/01/2010
As the world grapples with diminishing supplies of petroleum and the increasing carbon impact of coal, nations and manufacturers are turning their attention to alternative sources of power. Wind, solar and fuel cells are alternative energies poised to supplant coal and oil but the cost per megawatt is higher than conventional sources. Robotics plays a leading role in making ever-changing alternative energy more competitive with fossil fuels. “Alternative energy companies were very small and doing everything manually. With government funding available and the push towards alternative energy, companies are producing in much greater volume but cannot support that volume with manual processes,” says Christopher Blanchette, National Distribution Account Manager with FANUC Robotics America Inc. (Rochester Hills, Michigan) “Alternative energy companies are looking to automate quickly and to design an assembly process with hard automation would slow them down because the market changes so quickly.”
November 03, 2010, robots.com
As the economy recovers and more businesses realize the competitive advantages robots provide, the number of robot orders is rising steadily. North American companies are buying robots again - thousands of them! The Robotics Industries Association (RIA) has its finger on the pulse of these developments. The most recent statistical report from the RIA combined data from all the North American based robot manufacturers. According to the RIA, North American companies purchased 9,628 robot units (estimated value: $618.4 million) over the first nine months of this year. Compared with 2009 data, these numbers represent a 34% increase in units and a 45% increase in dollars. Increases in robot orders didn't only come from North American companies. RIA reports an additional 1,778 robots (representing another $102.6 million) ordered by companies located outside of North American borders. When placed beside Jan-Sept. 2009 numbers, these stats show a 143% unit gain and 168% dollar increase. What kind of businesses are purchasing all these robots? The answer might surprise you. While robot orders from automotive companies are up 18%, roughly half (52%) of the total orders are from non-automotive companies. Non-automotive orders increased 53% from last year.
Non-Automotive Industry Percentage Increase
Plastics and Rubber.......................62%
Application Stats Percentage Increase
Coating and Dispensing...............78%
The robotics industry is getting back on track!
IFR press release
Sales slump in 2009 - Strong recovery in 2010 - Further growth expected in 2011 and 2012 The IFR Statistics Department presented the preliminary results of the annual statistics on Industrial Robots on Wednesday, 9 June 2010, in Munich at the AUTOMATICA. In 2009, with about 62,100 industrial robots shipped, the number of units sold worldwide slumped dramatically by about 45% compared to 2008, one of the most successful years. But in the first quarter 2010 the sales skyrocketed worldwide by more than 50% compared to the first quarter 2009.
Happy Birthday ASIMO
Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Nov 01, 2010
Ghouls and goblins weren’t the only ones partying yesterday—ASIMO, Honda’s humanoid robot, celebrated its 10th birthday. To mark the date, dedicated anniversary Web sites and films were launched, with new photos, videos, the story of the robot’s creation, and smartphone apps.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
28 Oct 2010, Robots.net
The age-old problem of creating a robotic gripper capable of grasping unusually shaped objects has advanced one more step with this interesting development from researchers at Cornell, the University of Chicago and iRobot Corp. The Universal Gripper as they call it consists of a balloon filled with a jam-able particulate. When the balloon comes in contact with an object it conforms easily, then when a vacuum is applied, the particulates interlock providing the grasping action. Early material included rice and ground-up tires, but coffee seems to work really well. Video
Superfast Robotic Camera Mimics Human Eye
Erico Guizzo / Mon, November 01, 2010
German researchers have developed a robotic camera that mimics the motion of real eyes and even moves at superhuman speeds. The camera system can point in any direction and is also capable of imitating the fastest human eye movements, which can reach speeds of 500 degrees per second. But the system can also move faster than that, achieving more than 2500 degrees per second. It would make for very fast robot eyes.
Geminoid F Looks More Realistic Than Ever
Erico Guizzo / Mon, November 01, 2010
Kokoro Co., the Japanese firm that manufactures the android and sells it with the name Actroid F, recently demonstrated its newest capabilities. The android features facial movements even more realistic than before. It blinks and twitches and moves its head with remarkable realism.
Sam Biddle, 10/28/10
Okay, this might not look impressive at first. The maze isn't that complicated. But imagine being the size of the robotic Micromouse—relatively, this is a human-sized hedge maze. Then imagine running to the finish in only five seconds.
BusinessWeek - Joel Stonington - Nov 2, 2010
Robots build our cars and electronics. They sort packages with ease, lift enormous weights, and perform microsurgeries too small for the human eye. In Afghanistan, robots are fighting our wars. What they can't do is share an operating system. Today approximately 8.6 million robots are around the world, according to IFR World Robotics. That's equal to roughly the population of New Jersey. And most of these have been designed from scratch. For years, tinkerers in garages, professors at universities, and scientists at corporations have essentially been reinventing the wheel each time they develop a new robot. That means designing the hardware and writing the code that drives the actions. From robot welders to robot vacuum cleaners, the robotics industry at this point is essentially siloed. But maybe not for much longer. Enormous profits await the company that could become the Microsoft (MSFT) of the robotic world. "There is competition over who is going to have the dominant operating system for robots," says Ryan Calo, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society.
|Oct. 24, 2010: DARPA, DARPA crazy; Robotics Rodeo; Call Center Automation; Robotic Teachers; Reports on robot job displacement; positive ways of looking at robot job displacement; piano bot; bowler bot; babies and robots; and antarctic exploration.
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
DARPA Seeking to Revolutionize Robotic Manipulation
Erico Guizzo / Mon, October 18, 2010
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, unveiled last month an ambitious program to significantly advance robotic manipulation. The four-year Autonomous Robotic Manipulation, or ARM, program aims at developing both software and hardware that would enable robots to autonomously perform complex tasks with humans providing only high-level direction. This being DARPA, the tasks include things like disarming bombs and finding guns in gym bags. But as it’s happened with other DARPA initiatives, the program could have a broader impact in non-military robotics as well.
For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Army has invited prominent robotics technologists from across the country to display their …
Robots are already vacuuming our carpets, heading into combat and assisting docs on medical procedures. Get ready for a next generation of “near human” bots that’ll do a lot more: independently perform surgeries, harvest our crops and herd our livestock, and even administer drugs from within our own bodies. Those are only a few of the suggested applications for robots in a massive new federal research program. The military’s blue-sky research arm, Darpa, is pairing up with four other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Homeland Security, to launch a major push that’d revolutionize robotic capabilities and put bots pretty much everywhere, from hospitals to dude ranches to “explosive atmospheres.” In a single mega-solicitation for small business proposals, the agencies note that robotics technology is “poised for explosive growth,” thanks to rapid improvements in microprocessing, algorithms and sensors. Of course, Darpa’s been behind much of the progress. The agency has already launched programs to create a real-life C3PO, a bot that can match human intellect and a four-legged BigDog robo-beast. Not to mention the organization’s ongoing research into cognition and neural control, including efforts to map monkey minds to yield neurally controlled prosthetics.
For years, military and police bomb squads have used large robots to help investigate suspicious objects without putting...
Boeing to Offer A160T Hummingbird in Response to NAVAIR RFP
The RFP calls for government-owned, contractor-operated UAS services for the U.S. Marines.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Oct 15, 2010
The Boeing Company is preparing to offer a solution based on the world record-setting A160T Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft in response to the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for Cargo Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Services. The RFP calls for government-owned, contractor-operated UAS services for the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.
ABC Online - Lisa Millar - Oct 18, 2010
There are fears America's growing reliance on unmanned drones may be creating more enemies than they kill.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
3News NZ - Oct 20, 2010
By Dave Goosselink Four robot milking machines are helping a Southland dairy farm to produce record quantities of milk. Apparently, the cows are quite taken ...
Computing - Nicola Brittain - Oct 22, 2010
Alongside speculation around, and then the announcement of, the Comprehensive Spending Review, there has been a spate of releases concerning the automation of customer service as a way to cut costs.
In an interview with Computing
, local government CIO Jos Creese said local authorities should be looking to move as many services as possible into self-service. However, a report from Gartner last month argued that the technology was not yet sophisticated enough, and that self-service struggles to solve more than one eighth of IT problems
CNN - Susannah Palk - Oct 22, 2010
A student practices her English pronunciation with a robot as part of South Korea's robot-learning program.
SlashGear - Evan Selleck - Oct 18, 2010
The company is trying to make the future technology part of its core business, and with that, they're developing new robots to help in all sorts of ...
David Autor, Inequality and Technological Change
Excellent econ reports on tech impacts on the US economy.
The middle class is disappearing and the problem is deeper than politics. How will we understand work in the coming age of robotics?
Last April, the MIT economist David Autor published a report that looked at the shifting employment landscape in America. He came to this scary conclusion: Our workforce is splitting in two. The number of high-skill, high-income jobs (think lawyers or research scientists or managers) is growing. So is the number of low-skill, low-income jobs (think food preparation or security guards). Those jobs in the middle? They’re disappearing. Autor calls it “the polarization of job opportunities.” These days, all of us, from President Obama on down, are thinking about jobs. The unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, we’ve watched the ground disappear from under Detroit and Wall Street, and there’s a pervading sense that other industries might be next. It’s not that the issue isn’t getting attention. The Princeton economist Paul Krugman is out there telling Congress to spend more money to create jobs. The former secretary of labor Robert Reich is arguing for tax breaks for the bottom brackets so people can buy stuff again. Here’s the thing, though: The erosion of the middle class is a phenomenon that’s bigger than the Great Recession. Middle-range jobs have been getting scarcer since the late 1970s, and wages for the ones that are still around have remained stagnant.
October 22, 2010, Robotworx.com
Anti-robot sentiments are on the rise. There's a lot of chatter online right now about a study published by MIT economist David Autor. In a nutshell, Autor states that while American manufacturing is strong, middle class jobs are dying out and robots are to blame. A lot of robot apocalypse fear and finger pointing (at robots) has ensued. America's recent economic difficulties aren't helping the response to this news. National unemployment levels are currently at 9.6% (BLS). Those who have jobs are holding on to them for dear life, so any threat to job security is demonized - especially robots. However, there's a much more positive way to look at the robot issue. Perhaps it's time to start understanding the contribution that robots have in keeping our economy alive. A closer look at the issue doesn't have to result in a doom and gloom response. Ultimately, robots offer opportunities to keep and create new and better jobs for Americans.
Examiner.com - Oct 22, 2010
Recent studies by Duke University researchers show that robots performing medical operations may be part of our future. In studies conducted by Duke ...
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Piano player bot tickles the ivories in Taiwan
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak
Quirky robots showcased at the Taipei International Robot Show include a 10-fingered keyboard player and a bizarre horse-drawn carriage.
Robot can bowl a perfect strike every time
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 Posted by Matt Hickey
U.S. Bowling Congress shows off EARL, a programmable, one-armed bowling robot that it uses to design and test equipment like lanes, balls, and even pins.
Hey robots, census wants to know all about you
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 Posted by Leslie Katz
Data gathering for the U.S. 2010 Census may be finished, but it's just begun for Carnegie Mellon's Robot Census 2010. Have a robot? Let it stand up and be counted.
Study Shows That If a Robot Acts Like a Human, A Baby Will Think It's Human
Switched - Amar Toor - Oct 20, 2010
A metal robot may not look like a human being, but as long as it acts like one, babies won't be able to tell ...
CTV.ca - Oct 23, 2010
An underwater robot owned by the University of British Columbia is probing the ice-covered waters off Antarctica as part of a project designed to give ...
|Oct 10, 2010: Drones, Robotic sentinels guarding nukes, Automating paper production (the Philippines), mining (Australia), rice production (Japan), growth in service robots, pipe-fitting robots, variety of perspectives on job displacement, end of scarcity, robo-cars, robo legs, advances in walking robots, and rat-robot hybrid.
|Sept 26, 2010: Drone Strikes Peaking?; Robotics and the recession; Service Robotics Galore: Restaurants, Porters, hairwashers, etc.; Could a robot do your job?; Longshore strike and automation, etc.
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
How the CIA managed to expand its drone war so far and so fast has been a bit of a mystery. Now we have part of the answer: a network of Pashtun snitches, operating out of eastern Afghanistan, that infiltrate militant networks across the border. The information they collect helps direct the drones. Sometimes the targets are U.S. citizens.
Drone Strikes Peak; Can They Help End the War?
Noah Shachtman, September 15, 2010
Welcome to the new peak of America’s remote-controlled war in Pakistan. On Wednesday, U.S. drones hit their third target in 24 hours and their 12th attack in the last 13 days. That’s the highest number of robotic attacks in a single month since the drone campaign began. And there’s still a half-month to go.
The drones’ targeting decisions are highly classified. But there are indications that behind the lethal barrage, there may be a peaceful motive: helping bring about a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan war.
The Guardian - Sep 16, 2010
The rapid proliferation of military drone planes and armed robots should be subject to international legal controls, conferences in London and Berlin will argue this month. Public awareness of attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as Reapers and Predators, in Afghanistan and Pakistan has grown but less is known of the evolution of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). Two conferences – Drone Wars in London on 18 September and a three-day workshop organised by the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) in Berlin on 20-22 September – will hear calls for bans and for tighter regulation under international arms treaties.
Military Technologies (blog) - Sep 14, 2010
Tests by the US special forces of a radical, new-technology robot helicopter equipped with a radar intended to penetrate jungle canopies from above, ...
Business Journal - Mark Szakonyi - Sep 17, 2010
Northeast Florida manufacturers are increasingly installing automated machines rather than hiring new employees to keep competitive in a tight economy, local executives say. Continued automation in manufacturing is key to U.S. industry’s ability to grow through production of high-tech products ranging locally from aviation to next-generation batteries, said Lad Daniels, executive director of the First Coast Manufacturers Association.
Engineer Live - Sep 13, 2010
Manufacturers are seeing an increase in demand, but how can they respond? Paul Stevens looks at developments in industrial robots which are now simpler to implement. As European member states' economies start to recover from the recession, manufacturing companies are seeking ways to ramp up production in a flexible way. One option is to use industrial robots, which are now more cost-effective both to purchase and to implement, thanks largely to programming software that is more engineer-friendly. With robots now being simpler to integrate, there is increasing competition among manufacturers to add functionality so they can offer increasingly sophisticated systems. For example, Maurice Hanley, Fanuc Robotics' sales and marketing manager, says: "Fanuc robots now come with onboard vision so there is no need for engineers to get bogged down in interface and connectivity issues."
OptoIQ - Sep 15, 2010
In a recent study, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR; Frankfurt, Germany) says that since the beginning of 2010, the demand for industrial robots has been surging worldwide. "The trend towards automation, which was stopped by the economic crisis in 2009, is continuing", said Åke Lindqvist, IFR President, on the occasion of the publication of the study, "World Robotics 2010 - Industrial Robots". A strong recovery of worldwide robot installations in 2010 will result in an increase of about 27% or about 76,000 units. A further increase of about 10% per year on average will resume in the period between 2011 and 2013 attaining a level of more than 100,000 units in 2013.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Oxford Review - Elliot Ferguson - Sep 17, 2010
For the past month, the cows were at the show's dairy pavilion, being trained to be milked by robot milking machines.
Kat Hannaford, 09/24/10
There's nothing worse than an overly chatty hairdresser. Someone harping on about their snotty-nosed children, or about how lazy their husband is. Bring on the robots, I say. Especially if they can store memories on a customer's preferred massage treatment.
Jesus Diaz, 9/23/10
This is what happens when a Roomba is bitten by a radioactive spider. It's name isn't Spider-Roomba, but Windoro, a climbing robot that can clean windows automatically—on both sides. Watch it in all its polishing glory action...
Sam Biddle, 9/24/10
The basic premises of going to a restaurant haven't changed tremendously throughout history. You sit down. You order. It shows up. Maybe it's good. But new, high tech establishments around the world are putting a innovative spin on eating out.
'Core' carrying robot is (almost) all legs News Monday, September 20, 2010 Posted by Leslie Katz
Headless bipedal bot can carry 220 pounds, 88 pounds more than Toyota's i-Foot mobility assist robot can lift.
PACKING AND SHIPPING
Florida Times-Union - David Bauerlein - Sep 14, 2010
The planned Hanjin cargo terminal in Jacksonville cleared a major hurdle after the International Longshoremen’s Association agreed with Hanjin on manning levels at the terminal when it opens in 2014. Hanjin intends to deploy a high level of automation using remote-controlled equipment. That will cut the number of union workers in half compared to a traditional cargo terminal, said Romia Johnson, president of local 1408.
Materials Handling World Magazine - Sep 17, 2010
With the UK manufacturing industry now enjoying its strongest growth for over 15 years, ABB has invested over £100000 in installing new robot training cells ...
HealthLeaders Media - Sep 15, 2010
Automation will push up into the high wage areas via technologies like specialized artificial intelligence/expert systems, while it penetrates lower skill …
The Atlantic (blog) - Sep 24, 2010
In short: automation is more dangerous than we think. Our world automation increases productivity -- boosting business profits (now at record levels despite ...
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oil and Gas Industry Latest News - Sep 15, 2010
Honeywell has opened a department in the Moscow College of Automation which will give Russian specialists the opportunity to perfect their skills.
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Machinery - 15 hours ago
ABB has invested over £100000 in installing new robot training cells with the latest software technologies at its robot training centre in Milton Keynes.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Kat Hannaford, Gizmodo 09/13/10
We've seen wireless chargers over the years, but like PowerMat's Portable 2x model, batteries for the dock and swappable-batteries for the actual gadgets are still required. Fujitsu's looking beyond all that, with their "magnetic resonance" technology. No wires! No batteries!
Autonomous Vehicle Driving from Italy to China
POSTED BY: Erico Guizzo / Tue, September 21, 2010
The van is an autonomous vehicle developed at the University of Parma’s Artificial Vision and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, known as VisLab. Crammed with computers, cameras, and sensors, the vehicle is capable of detecting cars, lanes, and obstacles -- and drive itself. The VisLab researchers, after getting tired of testing their vehicles in laboratory conditions, decided to set out on a real-world test drive: a 13,000-kilometer, three-month intercontinental journey from Parma to Shanghai. The group is now about halfway through their trip, which started in July and will end in late October, at the 2010 World Expo in China. (See real time location and live video.)
Sept 12, 2010: Drone strikes increase in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Drone flights increase over US/Mexico border; the new China: less low-wage, more automated; India GDP growth due in part to growth in automation; food production automation in England and Nebraska; robo-jazz and robo pool cleaner; hurricane drone; lying robots and feeling robots; and the telepresence and smart grid futures.
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
Patriotic snake robot slithers up a tree
September 03, 2010, Leslie Katz
For its latest trick, Uncle Sam, a Snakebot from Carnegie Mellon University, slithers out of the lab and up a tree, where it looks around with its camera-enabled head.
Why Bomb-Proofing Robots Might Be a Bad Idea (Updated)
Noah Shachtman, September 2, 2010
Five years ago, troops in Iraq were lucky if they had a bomb-stopping jammer in their Humvee. Now, one company wants to outfit robots with the electronic countermeasures, to keep the machines safe from remotely-detonated explosives. But you’ve got to wonder whether outfitting the ‘bots with another $100,000 in classified tech kind of undermines the purpose of having a disposable army of machines to handle irregular war’s most dangerous work. Qinetiq North America, makers of the Talon bomb-disposal robot, floated the concept at conference in Denver, Danger Room co-founder Sharon Weinberger reports. The idea would be to strap a Thor portable jammer (.pdf) onto the 125-pound, three-foot tall robot. Over 2,800 of the remote-controlled machines have been deployed to warzones around the world, picking up (and blowing up) improvised explosives, so the flesh-and-blood bomb squad can stay safely far away. In the process, thousands of Qinetiq’s and rival iRobot’s machines have been wounded in action — or destroyed entirely. In Iraq, the robots’ sacrifices became so well-known that the insurgents started target the machines, in order to draw out their human operators. (In Baghdad, for instance, I saw one ‘bot narrowly escape a pair of rocket-propelled grenades.) So there’s a logic to protecting these robots, by giving them the safety of a radio-frequency jammer. The $108,000 devices interrupt the signals that insurgents use to set off the bombs from afar.
U.S. Escalates Air War Over Afghanistan
Noah Shachtman, August 30, 2010
There may not be quite as many bombs falling from the sky. But don’t let that fool you. The United States has dramatically escalated its air war over Afghanistan.
Spy plane flights have nearly tripled in the past year; supply drops, too. There are even more planes buzzing over the heads of troops caught in firefights (.pdf), according to statistics provided to Danger Room by the Air Force (.pdf). The increased numbers show how the American military has retooled its most potent technological advantage — dominance of the skies — for the Afghanistan campaign. But so far, at least, the boost in air power doesn’t seem to have shifted the war’s momentum back to the American-led coalition. An influx of Reaper drones and executive-jets-turned-spy-planes allowed U.S. forces to fly 9,700 surveillance sorties over Afghanistan in the first seven months of 2010. Last year, American planes conducted 3,645 of the flights during a similar period.
Starting Today, the Entire U.S./Mexico Border Is Drone-Patrolled
Kyle VanHemert, 09/01/10, Gizmodo
Yesterday, there were three Predator drones keeping watch over the Southwest Border; today, with the launch of a fourth Predator, in Texas, the entire border between the United States and Mexico is patrolled by drones. Pardon, patrolled by Robot-Americans.
First, Israel will beef up Russia’s robotic air force. Down the road, perhaps, Vladimir Putin may return the favor, by equipping Israeli drones with Russian laser tech. On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov, signed a first-of-its kind military agreement between the two countries. It’s the latest step towards cooperation for two countries that have traditionally been at each other’s throats. In 2009, Moscow bought a dozen Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles — two Bird Eye 400 systems, eight I-View MK150 tactical UAVs and two Searcher Mk II tactical short range UAVs, according to the well-connected Defense Update. That was after Georgia relied on Israeli spy drones during the South Ossetia War.
A Pentagon-funded scientist has come up with a comprehensive program to turn today’s robots into tomorrow’s A.I. overlords. Step one: Imbue them with toddler-level intelligence. Step two: Run them through a “cognitive decathlon” of tests. And finally, use programmed learning abilities and human instruction to turn bot tots into supersmart A.I. agents “that [can] learn and be taught like a human.” Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, wants robots that can outdo (or at least match) human smarts, from data analysis to C3P0-esque language translation. Advanced A.I. was also the overarching goal of their Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures, or BICA, program, which sought to mimic the physiological and neurological elements of the human mind.
Aviation Week - Graham Warwick - Sep 10, 2010
Autonomy is at the end of a spectrum of increasing automation, and increasing complexity that automation can deal with, says Air Force Research Laboratory ...
Motoman MS120 “Master Spot” Welding Robot Picks Up the Pace - Sep By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Sep 06, 2010
Designed to optimize automotive applications using DC spot guns with compact servo actuators, the MS120 is more than 43 percent faster than a traditional heavy-payload robot, resulting in shorter takt times and higher throughput. Quick and agile, the six-axis MS120 “Master Spot” welding robot features a 120 kg (264.6 lb) payload and is more than 43 percent faster than a traditional heavy-payload robot, resulting in shorter takt times and higher throughput. Specifically designed to optimize automotive applications using DC spot guns with compact servo actuators, the slim-profile MS120 robot can be placed in close proximity to workpieces and other robots to create flexible, high-density layouts. These configurations can eliminate multiple stations, resulting in shorter production lines and smaller spot welding workcells.
Forbes (blog) - Handel Jones - Sep 10, 2010
While the past approach was to use low-cost labor in China, the new factories, many of which are managed by outsiders, use increasing levels of automation, ...
India Infoline.com - Sep 8, 2010
The degree of automation will play a key role in driving India's position in the global manufacturing industry.
AGRICULTURE AND PRODUCTION
IGD Supply Chain Analysis - Sep 1, 2010
Food and drink manufacturers in the UK are increasing their investment in automation and robotic equipment during 2010, according to new data
PR-USA.net (press release) - Sep 1, 2010
Retrotech®, Inc, a specialist in the modernization and optimization of automated material handling equipment, recently completed the integration of a new automated box handling and shipping system for Cargill Meat Solutions’ Schuyler, Neb., beef processing plant, replacing a manually operated system. The new system, which went live as scheduled over two consecutive weekends, was made possible due to a unique partnership between the two firms. This partnership has evolved over the last decade as the two firms have collaborated on multiple projects for Cargill, including the company’s Friona, Texas; Dodge City, Kansas, and Plainview, Texas facilities.
PACKING AND SHIPPING
PR Newswire (press release) - Sep 1, 2010
The pharmacy automation systems market in Europe is experiencing a tremendous growth spurt. Until recently, most pharmacies have been either without automation or have employed very basic automation systems. In response, the adoption rate of automation systems across Europe has been progressing from basic prescription management systems to advanced medication pick-up and drug dispensing automation systems. Likewise, although the adoption of automation systems has been most prevalent among hospital pharmacies, there is significant potential for growth in the retail pharmacy market across Europe.
Watch Humans and Robots Getting It On, Musically, before Bumbershoot
The SunBreak (blog) - Sep 3, 2010
By josh As previously mentioned, this year's Bumbershoot arts program includes an appearance by Shimon, the Jazz-Improvising Marimba Robot
Rosa Golijan 09/10/10
Owning a pool is great—until you realize just how much time and money goes into maintaining it. Thankfully, there are robots like the Solar-Breeze which will remove surface debris and reduce pump usage costs without needing much more than sunlight.
MoreRFID (press release) - Sep 7, 2010
The University of Incheon in South Korea has automated its library operations with RFID. The university's newly built library, Haksan, utilises RaceTrack HF RFID tags from UPM Raflatac coupled with a complete library automation solution from ECO. The move away from the previously used barcode technology became opportune as the university began building its new campus and Haksan library in Songdo in 2009. Located close to Seoul, Songdo is a completely planned and sustainable international city in the Incheon Free Economic Zone. It is the new hub for innovation in the region and is world-famous for its use of new technologies. In the first phase, the Haksan library tagged 500,000 educational and research items. Thanks to the RFID-enabled library automation solution, the university's 10,000 students are now able to enjoy the benefits of faster book circulation and easy to use self-service check-in/out stations. In addition, the RFID solution allows students to use their credit cards for library transactions, eliminating the need to carry a library patron card.
MeasurementDevices - Aug 30, 2010
The answer to the crisis for large energy companies
Bucuresti, Romania -- Both goods producers and big energy companies as well as associated services (like transportation, infrastructure) are looking for alternative solutions to productivity growth and cost reduction. A possible answer is the implementation or extension of industrial automation processes. "In this difficult times, Romanian companies are interested in operational costs cut downs and looking for the best solutions that can meet the automation needs in industrial activities," says Ion Andronache, CEO at Syscom 18, a company that delivers integrated systems in industrial automation. Although the industrial automation market has almost downsized by half comparing to the period before the crisis (2007 – 2008), as well as the number of projects in oil, gas, metallurgical and fossil fuel powered plants, large companies kept on investing in equipment and services that essentially contributed to industrial process efficiency.
Another Ugly Jobs Number: ADP Says The Private Sector SLASHED 10000 Jobs In August
The Business Insider - Sep 1, 2010 Joe Weisenthal
The numbers: Another ugly jobs number. According to ADP, the private sector slashed a net 10,000 jobs in the month of august. Analysts were looking for the creation of 13,000 jobs, so not good. Small businesses slashed 6,000 jobs. Manufacturing fell by 6,000 in august. This is the first time in several months that ADP has reported net job losses.
Comment from reader Don McArthur (URL) This is not a normal (though severe) business cycle recession/recovery, this is the effect of automation, digitalization, and unfettered globalization on the work lives of our nation. If and when the majority of these people find work again, it will be for meager wages, marginal benefits, no security and no pensions. This is our brave, new world—this is how we live now. 10% of the population will be enormously wealthy winners, and the rest will be left sucking wind. And you know what? No democracy can survive that...
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Newsweek: GOP would produce fewer jobs, bigger deficit
Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) - Aug 30, 2010
It is not the GOP that would produce fewer jobs, it is automation. Accelerating computer technology is the primary cause of the current global economic ...
09/02/10, Opinion, ANDREW J. CHERLIN and W. BRADFORD WILCOX
Most people assume that working-class members of the baby-boomer generation have been hurt the most by the outsourcing and automation in which millions of factory jobs moved overseas or disappeared into computer chips, a shift recently compounded by recession. But actually it may be their children's generation. Not only are many members of the younger working class unprepared for the contemporary job market. New research we have done shows their striking inability to fit the middle-class ideal in family and religious life. It's a worrisome development for their lifestyle and our culture. These are the people we used to call "blue collar," although you can no longer tell a person's social class by the color of his shirt. If we can speak of a working class at all, education is now the best way to define them. Think of people with high school degrees but not four-year college degrees. They make up slightly more than half of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 44; old enough to have completed their schooling but young enough to be still having children, and 79% of them are white. Because they don't have the educational credentials to get most middle-class professional and managerial jobs, their earnings have sunk toward the wages of the working poor. The grim employment picture is familiar, but what's less widely known is that they are losing not only jobs but also their connections to basic social institutions such as marriage and religion. They're becoming socially disengaged, floating away from the college-educated middle class.
World Pumps - Sep 10, 2010
The main improvements involved the automation of the treatment processes to enable increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption.
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Martin Ford, Huffington Post (blog) - Aug 31, 2010
Google recently announced a new machine learning engine that it will make available to software developers. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) in which an application can learn from processing real data and become more proficient over time. By making the tool available, Google will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to use AI in wide range of new applications. In the coming years, artificial intelligence is going start showing up in more and more places. AI will be incorporated into productivity applications and into the enterprise software used by large companies. I'm not talking about science-fiction level general artificial intelligence ("Open the pod bay doors, HAL"), but rather specialized or narrow forms of AI. Narrow AI applications can already land jet aircraft and beat virtually any human being in a game of chess. In the near future, they will be able to do far more. Google's new AI tool is being offered as part of the company's cloud computing strategy. Cloud computing is a new model in which computer hardware resources as well as application software are made available on an as-needed basis, in much the same way that utilities like electric power are provided. The thing you should know about cloud computing is that it tends to concentrate information, power and income. The information technology resources of thousands of businesses and organizations will increasingly "migrate into the cloud." One immediate result of this is increased concentration and automation of jobs. Information technology workers are already seeing significant job losses as a result of the move toward cloud computing. Once artificial intelligence becomes integrated into the cloud, the effect will quickly be felt by far more than just IT professionals. Anyone with a knowledge-based job will be highly susceptible. Organizations will get flatter as more middle managers are eliminated. It's also quite possible that AI tools will be used to amplify the capabilities of low wage off-shore workers--allowing them to move up the value chain and compete directly with professionals who have high skill and experience levels.
Wall Street Journal, 9/9/10
Engineering company ABB stuck to an upbeat forecast, saying that demand remains robust and a plan to cut $3 billion in costs...
The Wall Street Journal
Little chance there will be single-pilot airline flights in the next decade or two.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
USA Today - Doyle Rice - Sep 1, 2010
An unmanned drone aicraft – known as the Global Hawk – is scheduled to fly directly into 135-mph Hurricane Earl tonight to help unlock some of the mysteries ...
Shapeshifting Robot Plane Flies in Bad Weather
TechNewsDaily - Charles Q. Choi - Sep 2, 2010
Researchers Give Robots the Ability to Lie -
Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Sep 12, 2010
A robot deceives an enemy soldier by creating a false trail and hiding so that it will not be caught. While this sounds like a scene from one of the Terminator movies, it’s actually the scenario of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception.
September 12, 2010
As Edwards explains in his book Junior Automated Courier, A Robot for Errands, JAC is an automated courier robot that acts like a well-trained Labrador retriever. You give it a command to bring you a physical object, and it goes and gets the object for you. In doing so, it saves you time and energy of having to go get the object yourself.
Is Telepresence the Next Big Thing in Robotics?
Erico Guizzo / Tue, September 07, 2010
Is telepresence the next big thing in robotics? Will telepresence robots revolutionize work, manufacturing, energy production, medicine, space exploration, and other facets of modern life? Or is it just all hype?
Test-driving Willow Garage's telepresence robot
September 11, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak
I got to kick the tires on Willow Garage's Texai robot, piloting it around the company's offices in Menlo Park, Calif. The Texai emphasizes man over machine.
PC World - 9/12/10
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new technology that may help robots feel, give the sense of touch back to those with ...
San Jose Mercury News - Sep 7, 2010
The classical grid developed over the last 100 years represents a rather inflexible one-way system from power generation via transmission and distribution to the consumer. Due to the availability of new technologies in communications, networks and automation we are now in the position of transforming the energy network into a two-way (feedback-control) system also called smart grid. Thus, the power network can be balanced, the energy consumption can be reduced, operating costs will become less and reliability and transparency will increase.
|Aug 29, 2010: Software malfunction strays robo-drone; cheap disposable military robots in development; robotic book publisher; Growth in automation of food production in UK; hospital workers and DoT workers replaced with robots; library robot; tree planting robot ...
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
At Robot Show, Future of Warfare Is on Display
AOL News - Aug 27, 2010
DENVER (Aug. 27) -- From robotic insects that can crawl and fly to spy drones that look and move like real hummingbirds, the future of warfare was on ...
Drones Surge, Special Ops Strike in Petraeus Campaign Plan
Spencer Ackerman, August 18, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan — Ever since the Afghanistan war became a counterinsurgency fight, critics have charged that commanders’ cautions about using force only inhibit the fight against the Taliban. But in the shadows, NATO Special Operations Forces are engaged in an intensely lethal war of their own.
Automation Alley puts focus on defense work
The Detroit News - Louis Aguilar - Aug 20, 2010
Automation Alley, the state's largest technology consortium, is stepping up efforts to nab more work in homeland and border security for Michigan companies.
US military to covertly deliver payloads with robot rockets
DVICE - Kevin Hall - Aug 20, 2010
Called the V-Bat, the rocket-shaped robot is able to take off vertically like a Harrier jet, and can autonomously proceed to its destinatio
Iran’s Robotic ‘Ambassador of Death’ is More Envoy of Annoyance (Updated)
Noah Shachtman, August 23, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad skipped onto a stage yesterday, drew back a blue curtain, unveiled a shiny gold drone, and pronounced it an “ambassador of death” to Tehran’s foes. So does that mean Tel Aviv should be worried about Iranian robo-bombings? At the moment, probably not. Not only does the drone have an announced range of 600 or so miles — short of the Israeli border. Here’s a little secret, dear readers: Iran sometimes tries to bullshit the world about its arsenal. Shhh! Pass it on According to the official word from Tehran, the 13-foot Karrar (’striker”) drone is capable of carrying four cruise missiles. That’s really unlikely. Even smaller-sized cruise missiles, like the Russian Kh-135s, weigh a more than a thousand pounds and are about nine feet long; it’s tough to imagine a relative pipsqueak like the Karrar lugging such a hefty package. [Update: As Pirouz notes in the comments, Iran calls its anti-ship missiles, like the Chinese C-701, "cruise missiles." Those are compact enough for drone duty.] State television later claimed that the Karrar could carry a pair of 250-pound bombs or a single 500-pounder. That’s more believable (although the single bomb the drone is carrying in the video above looks more like a 250-pound model to me). Iran has been making its own drones for a while; the U.S. even shot one down over Iraq last year. Since 2004, a small number of those unmanned aerial vehicles have made their way into Hezbollah’s hands. This, however, would be Iran’s first armed robo-plane. In so doing, state television crows, “Iran broke the military advantage of America” — and prepped the country for the looming days of all-robot warfare. That should arrive around 2020, the Iranian Defense Ministry guesstimates.
ROBOT KILL-CHOPPER GOES ROGUE above Washington DC!
Register - Lewis Page - Aug 26, 2010
A software error, combined with an unfortunate user action, led to a US military robot helicopter - developed from a manned version and capable of carrying a fearsome arsenal of weapons - straying into restricted airspace near Washington DC, according to reports.
Show features drones, robots; provides new hints about future of war
CNN - Charley Keyes, Reynolds Wolf -Aug 26
Denver, Colorado (CNN) -- It was a glimpse into the future, when convoys rumble toward the battlefield without a driver behind the wheel, aircraft soar without pilots on board and robots glide forward to fight with machine guns and grenade launchers, all the while beaming back video. Hundreds of displays at the Colorado Convention Center this week in Denver allowed the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) to show off its sharpest designs and latest inventions. Some of these machines already are on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving eye-in-the-sky views of the battlefield, locating hidden roadside bombs or crawling through dangerous terrain. But other machines are brand new, with their designers pitching to investors and military buyers. "Robotics and unmanned systems save lives and save money," AUVSI president Michael Toscano says as he looks over the exhibit hall. The giant Global Hawk unmanned aircraft sits at the far end of the hall, its 110-foot wingspan dwarfing much smaller planes and robots.
Chico State program making cheap robot
Enterprise-Record - Aug 23, 2010
CHICO — Providing the military with a robot it can afford to lose in combat is the aim of a program at Chico State University headed by Nick Repanich, ...
Why Manufacturers are Giving Automation a Fresh Look
The market is in recovery. Finally, those who, over the last few years, have been forced to diversify to remain competitive - downsizing teams and stretching budgets in the process - can breathe a sigh of relief. “It has been a difficult period, but many [companies] have performed well [during the downturn]. They’ve remained competitive and [in some cases] even expanded. With the market beginning to recover, the race is on to find ways to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs and automation will be more popular than ever,” explained AEB (International) Ltd’s General Manager, Mark Brannan. Businesses, he said, are giving automation ‘a fresh look’ as they look to ‘ramp up’ without increasing overheads. “With the downturn, people have taken the opportunity to streamline [their] organizations, get rid of the deadwood and basically get to an optimum size,” he said. “Now they are in [the process of] the economic recovery, they don’t want to be in the position of increasing headcount or increasing the overheads associated with a distribution operation.”
One of the key benefits of automation is its ability to reduce labor costs, which in many instances represents the largest overhead in any given warehouse or distribution centre. “The benefits of automation encompass reducing the unit cost of labor, increasing the throughput and reducing the number of errors,” said Joel Anderson, President of the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA). “The business question is scale and flexibility. Unlike labor -- which can be increased or decreased within a relatively short time line -- the cost of this kind of capital investment, its expected return and its usage has a much longer time line and contains a higher level of risk. As a result, a facility requires a certain level of scale or operation to obtain the returns needed to justify adopting automation. “Current usages include warehouse space and alignments, which are mapped out in terms of obtaining least cost functions, high turnover versus low turnover, shortest routes for forklifts, and the quickest handling time for dock to stock. In addition, automation operates on the fulfillment side where, in addition to the conveyors, we have added automated packing, sealing, labeling and sorting machines.” Come a long way Automation certainly has come a long way in the last few years and is growing in popularity. Its development is likely to pick up pace in the future as companies face increasing pressure to cut costs in the supply chain.
Can this 'robot' help save publishing?
Monday, August 16, 2010, David Carnoy
The $150,000 Espresso Book Machine can print a professional-looking paperback in about four minutes. More small presses are looking at it as an option to cut down on printing costs and better manage inventory.
Chinese labour disputes have silver lining
By Jing Ulrich, August 17 2010, Financial Times
China’s large coastal manufacturing hubs have, for many years, been the production base of choice for domestic and multinational companies looking to take advantage of the country’s vast pool of inexpensive labour. But along with a strengthening renminbi and government action to curb pollution and overcapacity, an upsurge of labour disputes since May suggests that the low-cost model of production is no longer robust. Companies that traditionally relied on China as a source of cheap labour are increasingly relocating low-margin production lines to lower cost labour venues – particularly in central China, by speeding up factory automation plans and, where possible, by passing on costs to customers. This is evident in the recent announcement by Foxconn, China’s largest manufacturing employer, that it will increase its prices and use more automated production. Although the rise in labour costs calls into question China’s status as the world’s workshop, it can also be seen as a part of the process of moving towards higher-value manufacturing and of China becoming a more attractive consumer market. Labour tensions have disrupted operations at a range of big Chinese plants in recent months, including facilities producing Honda and Toyota vehicles, and more recently at parts suppliers Atsumitec and Omron. Labour costs in China’s biggest manufacturing hubs, the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta, have risen 20-25 per cent this year, according to official data. Around the country, minimum wages have increased 12 per cent on average this year.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Robot suit for old Japanese grower nearing completion.
FreshPlaza - Aug 27, 2010
Thanks to the robot, physically hard work like picking apples becomes easier. The farmer doesn't have to hold his arm up himself but is helped by the suit.
Robots Take Over Food Manufacturing
Food and Drink Digital - Chris Farnell
Food and drink manufacturers purchased more automation and robotic equipment than the car sector in the second quarter of 2010. The food and drink sector has been buying in a great deal of packing, palletizing and handling equipment , according to a quarterly survey of members of the British Automation and Robotics Association. The Robotics Association found that the food and drink sector accounted for 17 percent of all robotics sales, making it second only to the pharmaceuticals industry. Sales of robotic equipment in the first half of the year are up 55 percent on 2009, the first time sales in the first half of the year have grown since 2006. BARA President Mike Wilson said: “Sales to food and drink companies have grown by 172 percent since 2006 and it is now a major sector for robot applications in the UK. We expect that growth to continue throughout the rest of the year as more UK food and drink manufacturers look to close the productivity gap with their European competitors.” Julian Hunt, Director of Communications at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Despite the hugely challenging economic climate, this survey provides further proof that our industry has continued to invest heavily both in new factories and higher productivity. We have put in strong foundations on which we can build as the country emerges from recession.”
PACKING AND SHIPPING
Adept Technology Ships Major Order From Packaging Automation Solution Partner in China
PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced that Austong Intelligent Robot Technology of China placed an order for twelve Adept Quattro s650H robots to automate a secondary packaging operation for a leading dairy processor in China. The order was received and shipped in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010. As a member of the Adept Preferred Partner Program, Austong expands the benefits of this program channel to include manufacturers in China where it plans to work with Adept's Asian engineering team to deliver highly reliable and cost-effective robotic packaging solutions.
McKesson eyes automation for distribution center
FiercePharma Manufacturing - George Miller - Aug 19, 2010
McKesson US Pharmaceutical will open a distribution center in Caroline County, VA. A local press report says plans call for a 340,000-square-foot center requiring a $50 million investment. The facility will include "solutions for the automated picking of fast- and slow-moving product, and for storage and shipment of cold chain products," says Don Walker, senior VP for distribution operations, via email. It will ship no vaccines, he says, but rather prescription medications to independent and national chain pharmacies as well as hospital pharmacies.
Kokoro shows off its latest android Actroid F
Saturday, August 28, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak
Tokyo entertainment firm Kokoro shows off its latest fembot, Actroid F, in a PR video. The lifelike android is slated to go on sale to work as a receptionist or hospital worker.
A Robot Lawn Mower That Can Detect Darting Gophers
Timothy Hay, 08/18/10
obotic vehicles have been used for space exploration, deep-water drilling, high-tech warfare and a range of other exotic applications. But one start-up is gaining traction by creating robots to mow lawns, shovel snow and repave parking lots. Precise Path Robotics Inc. is preparing to unveil its first device, a $30,000 robotic mower for golf courses that will begin shipping in mid-October. To help with the launch of the RG3 Robotic Greens Mower, the Indianapolis-based start-up just raised $4.5 million in funding from angel backers Scott A. Jones and Charlie Staples to give it $10 million in total backing.
Who Wouldn't Buy Ice Cream From A Cute Japanese Robot?
Rosa Golijan, Aug 16, 2010
As if ice cream doesn't practically sell itself in the summers anyway, a Japanese theme park decided to hire a cute robot named Yaskawa-kun to hawk the delicious treat. I think you'll understand their choice after you see a video of him at work.
Library 'robots' now operational
SF State Campus Headlines - Aug 20, 2010
August 20, 2010 -- This summer, J. Paul Leonard Library faculty and staff gave members of the campus community a preview of the computerized crane system that will retrieve most books stored in the expanded and renovated Library when it is expected to reopen in early 2012. The library retrieval system, or LRS, fills three floors of the Library's new west addition. It consists of huge cranes that glide horizontally and vertically to access a vast system of storage bins. Five double rows of bins reaching 36 feet high house 10 times more books onsite than open shelving could accommodate. It is estimated that most books will be retrieved and ready for the user in less time than it takes for a Library patron to walk to open stacks and retrieve a book. "Library users should remember ," says University Librarian Deborah Masters, " that you don't need to be in the Library to request a book. From any computer, anywhere, at anytime you can access the online catalog, determine that the book is available, and make your request. " That online request cues the crane to retrieve the bin holding that book, and immediately delivers the bin to a crew of trained student assistants and Library staff. The book is removed by hand, and delivered to the Library's distribution desk for the patron -- all in about five to 10 minutes.
Bleep it and weep: the frustration of using self-service checkouts
Telegraph.co.uk - Alastair Jamieson - Aug 22, 2010
But Britons are embracing automation faster than any other country in Europe. Two-fifths of Britons refuse to queue for longer than two-and-a-half minutes, … Some 15,000 automated tills will be in operation by the end of 2011 according to analysts Retail Banking Research (RBR) – more than double the number in use last year. NCR, the American company responsible for four out of five of Britain's self-service checkouts believes they are the biggest revolution in shopping since the arrival of self-pick supermarkets in the 1950s.
Robots Redefining Cancer Surgery
UC Irvine Healthcare to perform robotic thyroidectomies.
By Marcida Dodson - Filed Aug 23, 2010
UC Irvine’s innovative Robotic Oncology Center offers minimally invasive treatment in multiple disciplines.In the ever-evolving battle against cancer, the surgical robot is gaining ground. UC Irvine Healthcare announced that it’s the first medical center on the West Coast and the only one in California to perform robotic thyroidectomies, which remove the diseased gland without leaving a visible scar on the neck. The da Vinci Surgical System is facilitating an increasing number of such procedures, and to further advance use of this new technology, UC Irvine Healthcare in July established a Robotic Oncology Center. Dr. Jason H. Kim, associate clinical professor of otolaryngology and a head & neck cancer specialist, has employed the da Vinci system on three patients with thyroid tumors.
Frog eggs could help robot noses sniff pollutants
CNET (blog) - Leslie Katz - Aug 24, 2010
It's not often here at Crave that we get to write about frog eggs and robot noses in the same story, so when we saw this report in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we smelled an opportunity. Frogs could help robots sniff out hard-to-detect chemicals and pollutants. The paper detailing the research is called "Highly sensitive and selective odorant sensor using living cells expressing insect olfactory receptors." Loose translation: take specially treated frog eggs, inject some insect RNA, put the concoction into a fluidic sensor, and stick the device up a robot's nose to give the bot a sense of smell far more sensitive than today's electronic sniffers.
Scientists' Robot Submarine Discovers Plume of Oil in the Gulf
Brandimposter.com - Aug 20, 2010
Scientists used robot submarine to wander across the deep of the gulf water and discovered plume of oil under the deep of the Mexican Gulf.
Robots Swarm Oil Spills
Posted 26 Aug 2010 at 22:41 UTC by Rog-a-matic
In spite of new and unexpected findings by a Berkeley Lab research team that microbes have done an amazing job taking care of the underwater oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico, oil on the surface can cause a lot of damage to wildlife and property if it washes ashore. Researchers at MIT are working out ways to skim that surface oil using a swarm of robots. The robots communicate with each other using a WiFi network, and using GPS then coordinate their movements with software inspired by natural swarms. Oil is dealt with on the spot by heating it thus avoiding a lengthy trip to shore. See the video.
Hospital hires robots, cans humans
Orlando Sentinel - linda shrieves - Aug 27, 2010
Feeling expendable? It’s little wonder when you read stories like this.
At El Camino Hospital in Silicon Valley, hospital officials are leasing 19 robots to do work that humans used to do. The robots deliver medication, food and take out trash. Hiring humans to make deliveries would have cost the hospital more than $1 million a year, said Ken King, vice president of facilities. Leasing the robots costs $350,000 a year, which helps the hospital cut costs. The robot’s maker says his robots perform work that people find distasteful or hazardous, such as picking up infectious waste. Add, there’s another benefit, he says: “They don’t take breaks and vacation and you don’t have to pay them benefits.” Hmmm. Please note that the same hospital has just announced they are going to lay off 140 workers.
DoT terminates staff as part of automation
Khaleej Times - Anwar Ahmad , Asif Zaidi - Aug 20, 2010
AL AIN, UAE — The Department of Transport (DoT), Al Ain, is in the process of restructuring as part of its move towards automation. The aim is to provide better services. As a result, DoT has had to lay-off some employees who will be provided three months’ salary and other benefits as per labour laws, officials from DoT assured. The employees have been working for DoT hired through a service provider company, World Wide Workers-Emirates (WWWE), which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai “The move is to develop and restructure different sectors of the department for enhanced facilities and services to the public,” Saeed Mohammed Al Hameli, General Manager of the Bus section at DoT told Khaleej Times. “As per labour laws, all employees will receive their end of service or cancellation entitlements. They will be given three months’ paid salary or grace period to find another job, ” said Al Hameli. Tasks like cleaning buses and other maintenance work used to be done manually, but now DoT has brought in hi-tech machines for these purposes. “The department therefore needs to be restructured to provide better service,” Al Hameli said. “In fact, we aim to reduce the scope of supplier companies, and this is a normal procedure,” Al Hameli said. The terminated employees are from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Philippines, Syria, Sudan, Palestine and Oman and WWWE handed over the termination letters to them.
Companies are boosting their spending: Could jobs be next?
USA Today - Paul Davidson - Aug 18, 2010
Caterpillar had nearly $4 billion in cash and short-term investments last month. "Shareholders typically don't like companies that sit on a lot of cash, so we'll put that to work," Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman recently told Bloomberg TV.
The company last week said it will break ground in September on a new factory in Victoria, Texas, that will make excavators and employ 500 when it opens in 2012. Caterpillar is also increasing capacity to make mining trucks in Decatur, Ill., and enlarging a factory in Aurora, Ill., to manufacture mining shovels, a new product. The initiatives are aimed at meeting rising long-term demand for electricity and construction in both Asia and North America, executives say. The company, which laid off 9,000 U.S. workers last year, is adding about 4,200 in 2010 to operate added plant capacity and meet new demand, Dugan says. Similar dynamics are playing out for some smaller manufacturers. Marlin Steel Wire of Baltimore recently bought a new $400,000 robot to make housings for electrical components, says President Drew Greenblatt. The machine can churn out large orders in a few days vs. existing machines that take weeks. "It's the most expensive thing I ever bought," he says. The purchase is requiring Marlin to hire two workers — one to operate the robot and another to bend the steel it cranks out into a three-dimensional shape. The company is also hiring four additional employees to run another new $250,000 machine that makes cable brackets and to relieve workers who have been putting in lots of overtime. His 30-employee workforce will grow by 20% this year. Greenblatt describes the economy as "lethargic at best." But he says the faster machines will help him grab sales he previously lost to Chinese makers. "You win jobs you never would have won, and you have to hire people to run the jobs," he says. … But not all of the companies' spending will lead to more jobs. Intel (INTC) recently increased its 2010 capital budget to $5.2 billion — up from $4.5 billion last year — to speed up a retrofit of factories, including several in the U.S., that will produce its new 32-nanometer chip. Corporations put off replacing PCs and laptops in the downturn. Now, they're clamoring for the chip, which conserves energy while enhancing graphics and security features, says Kevin Sellers, Intel vice president of finance. But the gear, he says, won't necessarily lead to new hires as it can largely be manned by current workers. Intel says it will boost its workforce of 80,000 by about 1,500 this year as it hires more researchers and engineers. Other manufacturers are buying new equipment to do more without adding employees. Diamond Casting and Machine of Hollis, N.H., is making $800,000 in capital purchases this year after not spending a dime in 2009 as revenue fell 50%, says CEO Gerry Letendre. The company, which makes brackets for electrical components, is buying a $350,000 die-casting machine after deferring replacement of a 20-year-old model in 2009. It's also spending $450,000 on computers, software and sophisticated machinery so it can increase output and make more complex castings that absorb the heat given off by certain components. The largely automated technology should help the company win more business and increase production 50% without adding workers, Letendre says.
Azerbaijani IT company starts implementing project on automation of state tax ...
Trend News Agency (subscription) - Aug 26, 2010
Azerbaijani SINAM IT Company started implementing the project of automation of the State Tax Service of Kyrgyzstan, SINAM director for business development ...
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Adept Technology strengthens 0.4%, outperforming 94% of stocks
OptoIQ - Aug 19, 2010
The Robotics segment provides intelligent motion controls systems, vision inspection and guidance systems, production automation software and robot ...
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Velodyne Introduces HDL-32E LiDAR Sensor
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 21, 2010
The HDL-32E is a small, light, and competitively priced next generation product designed to meet the explosive demand for autonomous navigation and 3D mobile mapping applications
Velodyne Lidar, Inc., a manufacturer of high definition LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, announced the introduction of the HDL-32E to meet the demand for a smaller, lighter, and less expensive product for autonomous vehicle and mobile mapping applications.
Mission to Mars: The next rover (roundup)
Friday, August 20, 2010, CNET News staff
Exploration of the Red Planet will shift into a higher gear in 2012 with the arrival of a car-sized, instrument-laden robotic rover named Curiosity.
Concept: Tree Planting Robot Keeps Our Earth Green
UberGizmo (blog) - Aug 19, 2010
If watching movies such as The Matrix or Terminator has taught anything, it's probably that robots might not be too interested in protecting the environment (and humankind), but the Tree Planting Robot concept design is quite the opposite, as it's designed to help with reforestation projects. This robot is capable of carrying 320 seedlings at one go, and each seed is planted with a biodegradable plastic protective barrier, protecting it from bugs until it's old enough to fend for itself. It's capable of treading lightly in order to not have a negative impact on the plants and animals that it'll have to pass by in order to get the job done. When needed, it can use hot steam to destroy competing vegetation, such as choking vines that can affect other plants. The robot is also capable of planting in patterns, so a virtual forest can be planned beforehand and programmed for the robot to carry out.
Cyborg Fly Pilots Robot Through Obstacle Course
Erico Guizzo / Thu, August 26, 2010
Swiss researchers have used a fruit fly to steer a mobile robot through an obstacle course in the lab. They call it the Cyborg Fly. Chauncey Graetzel and colleagues at ETH Zurich's Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems started by building a miniature IMAX movie theater for their fly. Inside, they glued the insect facing a LED screen that flashed different patterns. These patterns visually stimulated the fly to beat its left or right wing faster or slower, and a vision system translated the wing motion into commands to steer the robot in real time. The fly, in other words, believed to be airborne when in reality it was fixed to a tether ("A" in the image above), watching LEDs blink ("B") while remote controlling a robot ("C") from a virtual-reality simulation arena ("D"). Is this The Matrix, or Avatar, for flies? Graetzel tells me the goal of the project was to study low-level flight control in insects, which could help design better, bio-inspired robots. "Our goal was not to replace human drivers with flies," he quips.
Astrobotic Technology Announces Caterpillar Inc. Sponsorship of Robotic Mission to the Moon
Astrobotic will also leverage Caterpillar’s autonomous mining and construction machinery expertise.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 23, 2010
Carnegie Mellon University spin-off Astrobotic Technology announces that Caterpillar Inc. is a sponsor of the first of Astrobotic’s robotic expeditions to the lunar surface, which will collect data for NASA and extend the Internet to the Moon for the first time. Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) spin-off company has announced that Caterpillar Inc. will be a sponsor its first robotic expedition to the lunar surface. The initial Astrobotic mission will revisit the Apollo 11 site in April 2013 with a five-foot tall, 160-lb. robot broadcasting 3D high-definition video. The mission will carry payloads to the Moon and convey the experience to the world via Internet video access. The expedition also will claim a financial trifecta: up to $24 million in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $10 million data sale to NASA, and Florida’s $2 million bonus for launching from that state.
Remote-controlled robots are entering the workforce
San Jose Mercury News - Troy Wolverton - Aug 26, 2010
The robot, which resembles a Segway scooter, uses telepresence capabilities and is being operated in the next room by Kris Magri, the Anybots Engineering ...
Robot plants Chinese flag on seabed
NDTV.com - Aug 26, 2010
A robot was used to plant a Chinese national flag at the bottom of the South China Sea, CCTV said.
Total recall - Plymouth leads European project into robot memory
PhysOrg.com (press release) - Aug 27, 2010
A multi-million pound project has begun to design a new breed of robot that can form memories and engage in social interaction.
|Aug 15, 2010: Robotics Industries Rallies in 2010, Equipment purchases not new hiring priority as firms recover, new layoffs due to automation, Robo-jouirnalists?, Special Ops Robocop in Belize, Robot to explore Great Pyramid, Robots to help children with autism, Robot discovers undersea river, Emotion chip?, Social robot, Power line robot, Underwater rescue robot and more...
|TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
Airport police use growing fleet of robots to ferret out bombs
Atlanta Journal Constitution - Kelly Yamanouchi – Aug 1, 2010
API Technologies The teleMAX Explosive Ordnance Disposal robot that will be added to the fleet of bomb-detection robots at Hartsfield-Jackson International ...
Special Operations’ Robocopter Spotted in Belize (Corrected)
Olivia Koski, August 9, 2010, Wired DangerRoom
Watch out, humans, the U.S. military has released an all-seeing, unmanned helicopter-like aircraft into the wild, according to Aviation Week. The Boeing A160T Hummingbird was photographed in Belize, where it was test flying a tree-penetrating Darpa radar called FORESTER. Locals were given a heads-up thanks to a press release from the U.S. Embassy. There’s no sign of the document on the website, but local reports say that the the Belize government invited the U.S. to test the Hummingbird in a mountain range 25 miles from the Guatemalan border. A few dozen military personnel – both Belizean and American – are involved in the testing, which will last until September. U.S. Special Operations Command got its new gear in November of 2008, but at the time the unmanned hovering aircraft couldn’t see through trees. The synthetic-aperture radar now onboard is designed to detect slow moving people and vehicles – even if they’re hiding in dense foliage. It enables super high resolution imaging by using the motion of the helicopter to create an artificially large aperture. As if the unmanned A160T platform, which can fly 2,500 nautical miles for 24 hours at up to 30,000 feet, wasn’t high tech enough. The Hummingbird represents a completely new approach to helicopter design, with a special adjustable-speed rotor enabling it to be super quiet.
Navy Works to Laser-Proof Its Drones
Noah Shachtman, Wired DangerRoom, August 2, 2010
In May and June, the U.S. Navy sent four drones crashing into the Pacific Ocean, after blasting them with a prototype laser weapon. If follow-up tests are successful, there’s a chance the ray gun might be ready for deployment some time around 2016. Other countries’ energy weapons will come years afterward — if they ever come at all. But the Navy isn’t taking any chances. It’s pushing ahead with research to laser-proof its drones, just in case anyone else has the bright idea of using ray guns to down America’s robot planes.
U. engineers' robot climbs efficiently — like an ape
Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug 13, 2010
A gibbon moves through the forest so efficiently, swinging from branch to branch in a motion called brachiation, because it captures the energy from each swing to drive the next one, while keeping its body almost still. University of Utah engineers applied that same principle to enhance the efficiency of climbing robots in a breakthrough that could lead to new remote-controlled surveillance and inspection technologies. The U.’s Oscillating Climbing Robot, or ROCR (aptly pronounced “rocker”), holds potential for evaluating the safety of bridges, nuclear reactor cooling towers, dams and other structures with inaccessible faces, according to lead developer William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Is This Flying Drone Google’s Next Privacy Controversy? Update: Google Says No
Update: A Google spokesperson writes that Google hasn’t purchased and is not testing any Microdrones: “This was a purchase by a Google executive with an interest in robotics for personal use.” If you felt that Google Street View violated your privacy, wait until you’ve got one of these hovering over your back porch. The German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported over the weekend that Microdrones, a company based in the city of Siegen, Germany, has sold at least one of its flying surveillance robots to the search giant for testing. Sven Juerss, Microdrones’ chief executive, told the magazine that the radio-controlled devices–four rotor helicopters about a meter across–could be helpful in Google’s mapping projects, and that he think there’s a good chance Google will buy more of the airborne bots.
Trends in Automation: The Emerging World of Robotic Materials Handling
Robotics Online (press release) - Aug 6, 2010
A new generation of stationary and mobile robots, coupled with software and materials handling automation, is emerging. These new technologies are creating ...
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Wine Robot Modernizes Wine Industry
Buzz Blab - Honeylynn Inocencio - Aug 8, 2010
A vine-pruning robot has been labeled as the next invention to revolutionalize New Zealand wine industry.This robot is presently developed in Christchurch ...
Modern Agriculture Through Robotics
Tech2 - Jul 28, 2010
AGRIBOT is a self-directed agricultural robot powered by solar energy. It can control various aspects of farming like ploughing and leveling, seed sowing, ...
Czech meat processor calls in Cryovac
Control Engineering UK Online - Aug 10, 2010
A Czech meat company claims to have dramatically improved quality and sales by overhauling packaging systems at its processing plant. Kostelecké uzeniny turned to Cryovac for packaging automation to meet a demand to package its products in shrinkable films.Located in the Vysočina region, Kostelecké uzeniny is the largest meat and meat products manufacturing company in the Czech Republic with a market share of approximately seven per cent. The company’s product range includes fresh pork, beef and poultry. The flagship product is fermented salami covered with fine natural mould. The company’s annual sales amount to approximately €150 million, with ten per cent for export to Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. It supplies multinational chains, as well as retail associations and traditional markets. Recently, the company upgraded from standard shrink bags to high performance shrinkable films and automation. Sealed Air Cryovac provided the solution with Cryovac RS2000 film running with the innovative Cryovac Ulma Flow-Vac system. Kostelecké installed the FV45 that is based on horizontal form-fill-seal technology operating at very high speeds and loading into Cryovac vacuum equipment. The new packaging system immediately provided various advantages. The low impact investment in automation adding to an already existing flat belt vacuum chamber allowed a user-friendly and flexible change with substantial benefits, such as improved meat quality, longer shelf life thanks to shrinking and vacuum properties, or better pack appearance due to the Flow-Vac automatic adaptation of bag length to product length.
PACKING AND SHIPPING
Robotics rallies in 2010; packagers automate for profit
Packaging World - Anne Marie Mohan - Aug 8, 2010
After the past couple years’ serious sales slump, the industrial robotics industry is beginning to rebound, with food and consumer goods applications showing strong gains. Recent packaging installations testify to the value of automation. As the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) recently reported, North American-based robotics manufacturers emerged from nearly two years of declining sales to see new orders jump 16% in units and 30% in dollars in the first quarter of 2010 as compared with the same quarter in 2009. During that time, North American manufacturing companies ordered a total of 3,069 robots valued at $208.1 million. Further positive indicators show that the first quarter of 2010 was also 35% better in units and 45% ahead in dollars over the last quarter of 2009. “Nearly every major user industry increased its purchases in the opening quarter of 2010,” RIA reports. “Especially strong gains were seen in robot sales to the semiconductor/electronics/photonics industries as well as food and consumer goods.” Recent installations in packaging plants worldwide—from food to pharmaceuticals—provide examples of the many ways in which automation is being employed to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and improve product quality.
Hull Cleaning Robot for Large Ships
Design World Network - Aug 10, 2010
A Florida company designed a robotic crawler to navigate around the underwater portion of a ship and remove accumulated biofilm layers.
Cover Story Automating one of North America's largest pipelines
InTech - Steve Pulsifer, Jim Nelson - Aug 5, 2010
It is very important automation system suppliers and engineering partners provide necessary equipment and control technology support with maximum speed, ...
ABB bags USD 20 million Sadaf contract
SteelGuru - Aug 15, 2010
Trade Arabia reported that automation technology group ABB has won USD 20 million contract from Saudi Petrochemical Company to implement a power factor correction and power management solution at its Jubail manufacturing complex. As per the deal, ABB will deploy solution to help Sadaf improve its network efficiency and, accordingly, significantly reduce the electricity losses while improving the stability of its power supply. Owned jointly by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and Shell Chemicals Arabia, Sadaf was established in 1980 and began commercial operation in 1986. The company operates from one of the worlds largest and most competitive petrochemical complexes in Al Jubail industrial zone on Saudi Arabia's eastern coast.
Equipment Purchases Make Up for Recession Cutbacks, Not to Raise Production
Justin Lahart, The Wall Street Journal
Companies in the U.S. are stepping up purchases of equipment and software at the fastest pace since the late 1990s. But much of the spending is aimed at replacing older equipment after recession-related postponements or to improve efficiency—not to raise production or boost hiring. After one of the sharpest declines in spending on equipment and software, companies in the U.S. boosted their spending on such products at a 21.9% inflation-adjusted annual rate in the second quarter, after the first quarter's 20.4% increase, the U.S. Commerce Department said.
The Recession, Round Two?
NPR Staff, August 14, 2010
There were more signs this week that the sluggish economy is persisting. Will the nation's economy keep lurching slowly forward, or will it slip backward and lead to a double-dip recession? NPR's Scott Simon talks with Professor Danny Boston of Georgia Tech. Prof. BOSTON: What corporations did was to take advantage of the downturn to undertake enormous downsize in their workforce. And that was in response to global competition. So some of the dynamics that we see in the labor market today actually are in response to events that have been taking place for the last 10 to 15 years. As a result now, what they're doing is keeping the workforce that they have, investing a lot in technology, and trying to meet these same or new levels of output with the same workforce. And so you're getting increased profitability, no new hiring.
Precise Automation Introduces Low Cost, Vision-Guided Motion Control System
Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 10, 2010
Accommodating remote access, Guidance System D4/D6 includes all electronic components necessary to operate robotic mechanism: 4- or 6-axis motion controller, motor and logic power supplies, fans and filters for cooling, and connectors. Software includes complete set of motion commands and machine kinematics as well as continuous path motion planner and trajectory generator. Precise Automation has introduced the Guidance System D4/D6, a complete four or six-axis vision-guided motion control system in a compact enclosure. The Guidance System D4/D6 (GS-D4/D6) is the latest in Precise Automation’s extremely powerful and compact Guidance Motion System series. This unit includes all of the electronic components necessary to operate a robotic mechanism: a four or six-axis motion controller, motor and logic power supplies, fans and filters for cooling and easy-to-use standard connectors. This hardware is combined with Precise’s modern, full-featured programming language and kinematic library. Therefore, the GS-D4/D6 integrates easily with third party mechanisms such as the DENSO Robotics HS series SCARA or VP series 6-Axis Articulated Robots. For customers who wish to use third party robots, but desire the features of a Guidance Controller, this system provides a convenient, ready-to-use alternative to purchasing, mounting and wiring all of the motion control components necessary for a complete system.
More Clinical Pathology Laboratories Are Buying Total Laboratory Automation
DARKDaily.com - Laboratory News - Aug 11, 2010
Worldwide, growing numbers of clinical pathology laboratories and medical laboratories are purchasing total laboratory automation (TLA) systems
Screen Savers: Will Online Financial Planning Catch On?
Jason Zweig, AUGUST 7, 2010
With the "flash crash" seared into investors' minds, would they trust a financial planner who climbs out of a computer? New online financial-planning services, led by a Philadelphia-based startup called Veritat Advisors, aim to replace the traditional in-person approach with a faster, cheaper beam-me-into-your-living-room model. Here, you feed details about your income and net worth into a secure website. Aided by advanced software, an adviser then generates a comprehensive financial plan and investment recommendations, followed by live video chats. Cheap, trustworthy advice is in desperately short supply. The economist Robert Shiller of Yale University has estimated that roughly 50 million Americans with no access to professional advice could benefit from it. But the typical financial adviser can serve only about 70 to 90 clients at a time, reckons Mark Tibergien, managing director of Pershing Advisor Solutions. It would thus take well over 550,000 advisers to cater to the needs of everyone who needs help with saving, borrowing, investing, retirement, taxes and estate planning.
Japanese Factory Automation Companies Positioned To Take Advantage Of Rising ...
The Wall Street Transcript (blog) - Aug 9, 2010
One thing about Japanese companies, they are very good at providing factory automation equipment to Chinese manufacturers.
Diversified Information Technologies announces unspecified number of layoffs
Scranton Times-Tribune - Jim Haggerty - Aug 10, 2010
Diversified Information Technologies Inc. will shed some employees as it moves toward more automation, the company's top administrator said Tuesday. "Change is never easy, but it is important that we stay ahead of what's happening in the industry, and the industry is moving toward a new automated environment," said Scott Byers, president and chief executive of the Scranton-based information-management company. "We are changing the business model where there will be some staffing changes," Mr. Byers said. He declined to say how many of the company's 600 employees will be affected. Diversified employs about 350 people in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Automated Welding Machines Improve Product Quality and Safety
Design World Network - Laura Carrabine - Aug 9, 201
0Manual welding can be slow, cumbersome, and risky. Typically, welders must precisely position an object on the welding table, lower the cylinders that weld the object together, and move the completed product to the next stage of the manufacturing process. The welded piece is often heavy and the repetitive lifting motions pose many ergonomic and safety risks to employees. Some manufacturers, however, recognize these negative factors and are migrating to automated welding processes. For example, Janda Company, Inc. recently updated the control system on its resistance welding machinery to help its customers eliminate physical safety issues, produce higher quality parts faster with fewer people, and reduce scrap. Before the welding automation update, Janda’s machinery was based on relay logic and cam timers. This type of control system was sufficient when customers needed tolerances of one-eighth inch. However, some of Janda’s customers need tolerances as small as one-ten thousandth inch.
With Keepers Obsolete, Lighthouse Duties Fall to New Set of Stewards
New York Times - Susan Saulny, Aug 14, 2010
As GPS units and the automation of navigational tools have rendered traditional lighthouse keepers obsolete, the government has been decommissioning the properties it owns, nearly 50 over the last 10 years, and transferring ownership to new stewards at no cost, preferably nonprofit groups. When it cannot find a proper caretaker, the properties are auctioned to the highest bidder, which has happened 15 times.
Robot journalists set to write the news
THINQ.co.uk - Aug 12, 2010
Computers could soon be writing your daily news, if a scientist interviewed on the BBC's Today programme has his way. Dr Kristian Hammond of the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois told Radio 4 listeners this morning that Stats Monkey, a piece of software developed by his lab, can produce sports reports based on ball-by-ball data from baseball games, without any human intervention. The results, according to Hammond, are indistinguishable from those of a 'real' journalist (whatever one of those is).
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Three reasons why automation doesn't quite cut it
ZDNet (blog) - Joe McKendrick - Aug 6, 2010
Julian Sammy provided a thoughtful response to my recent piece on when processes are beyond the reach of automation, illustrating the three reasons why ...
Good News: Robot Sales Up 40%
August 09, 2010
Mid-year robot sales data compiled by the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) proves the robot industry is doing well. According to the RIA statistics, North American robot unit sales have increased a full 40% during the first six months of 2010. Which Industries Purchased the Most Robots: While orders from the automotive sector rose 30%, non-automotive companies demonstrated the highest increase - 51%. The first half of 2010 saw increases in robots purchased by companies within the food, plastics, and electronics industries, to name a few.Which Applications Saw the Most Robot Orders: Not surprisingly, the greatest percentage of robots were purchased for arc welding applications. However, material handling robots also saw a dramatic increase in unit sales. The RIA said it expects to see this trend continue as distribution and packaging industries begin to incorporate more robots.
Trends in Automation: The Emerging World of Robotic Materials Handling
08/06/2010, Robotic Industries Association Posted 08/06/2010
In this special webcast, Executive Editor Bob Trebilcock, Group Editorial Director Michael Levans and Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association, will explore the range of exciting new robotic solutions now available and where they may fit in your materials handling operations. This program airs online August 12, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. (Register for this webcast.) For years, industrial robotics has been relegated to repetitive processes, like spot welding or palletizing at the end of the manufacturing line. That's beginning to change. A new generation of stationary and mobile robots, coupled with software and materials handling automation, is emerging. These new technologies are creating opportunities to streamline traditional picking processes and to develop highly-automated mixed SKU palletizing solutions.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Roboscooper tidies up your room, whacks objects
Tuesday, August 03, 2010, Tim Hornyak
WowWee's Roboscooper is a snarky little home robot that can autonomously pick up junk on your floor and cart it away. "One step closer to a cleaner world," says the Wall-E-style droid.
Telenoid R1 bot meant to be 'minimalistic human'
Monday, August 02, 2010, Tim Hornyak
Robot wizard Hiroshi Ishiguro's latest creation comes with a high creep factor. But if you hug it, the creepiness goes away. Maybe.
Robot to explore mysterious tunnels in Great Pyramid
Independent - Andrew Johnson – Aug 7, 2010
Now technicians at Leeds University are putting the finishing touches to a robot which, they hope, will follow the shaft to its end. ...
LineScout Robot Climbs on Live Power Lines to Inspect Them
Samuel Bouchard / Fri, August 13, 2010
Canada's Hydro-Québec Research Institute started the LineScout project after the 1998 North American ice storm that led to massive power outages and left millions of people without electricity for several days. The idea was to have a small mobile robot that could be able to roll on high-voltage transmission lines and de-ice them. The first line scout was a little rover that would hang head down like a sloth and was equipped with claws to break the ice. The new generation, featured in a recent IEEE Spectrum article, is larger and equipped with cameras and a thermo-infrared imager. The remote-controlled robot has been used dozens times to do inspection and maintenance on high-voltage lines (2000 amps, 735 kilovolts). It uses cameras to inspect line conditions and discover irregularities, while also employing a smart navigation system to pinpoint locations in need of attention.
Singapore Researchers Unveil Social Robot Olivia
Erico Guizzo / Fri, August 13, 2010
Olivia, a social robot from Singapore, loves to talk -- and gesticulate with its sleek 6-degrees-of-freedom white plastic arms. Designed as a research platform for human-robot interaction, Olivia is a creation of the A*STAR Social Robotics Laboratory, or ASORO, part of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research. The researchers plan to use the robot, unveiled at RoboCup 2010 in June, as a receptionist to greet visitors and provide information, and later, as a personal assistant and companion in people's homes. Olivia's head has a pair of stereoscopic camera eyes and it can rotate and also tilt up or down. It appears to float over a ring of light, a design that reminds me of EVE, the little flying bot from WALL-E.
Robots to Help Children With Autism
PITTSBURGH, Aug 12, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/
Interbots, Inc., a high-tech spin-off company associated with the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center has teamed up with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh to provide innovative robot-based therapy for children with autism. The program, "Character Therapy," through the use of the Interbot robot "Popchilla" will test the ability of children with autism with limited or no verbal skills. According to Seema Patel, CEO and co-founder of Interbots, "We've had numerous individuals tell us our robots could be tremendous tools for Autism therapy. We're excited to be working with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh and the Sprout Foundation to take this first step. We're going to learn a lot from the next few months." "The premise behind the program is that children with autism are sometimes more likely to communicate with a non-human entity," said Cindy Waeltermann, Founder and Director of the Autism Centers of Pittsburgh. "When you have a child with autism, you use whatever interests them to gain access into their world. The idea is to bridge the gap between their word and ours.
Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to Test Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Limb System
DARPA funds testing of neural interface technology for artificial limb.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 11, 2010
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab wins a $34.5M DARPA contract to test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system, which was developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 program, on human subjects using a brain-controlled interface. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract for up to $34.5 million to The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to manage the development and testing of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system on human subjects, using a brain-controlled interface.
SARbot – Remotely Saving Lives
SeaBotix developes robotics underwater rescue system.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 05, 2010
SeaBotix, in cooperation with Tritech International and Marine Simulation LLC, have developed the first specially designed, rapid response underwater robotic rescue system. Until now remote operated technology has been used to recover drowning victims, not rescue. Improved medical studies have shown that a person experiencing near drowning in water up to 21ºC has the potential for rescue. If the victim can be rescued from the water within approximately 90 minutes there is a good chance that the residual oxygen in their body will keep them alive without permanent damage to their vital organs.
Neuron Interface Chips Advancing
Posted 14 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic, Robots.net
University of Calgary researchers have developed neurochips capable of interfacing to and sensing activity of biological neurons in very high resolution. The new chips are automated so it's now easy to connect multiple brain cells eliminating the years of training it once required. While researchers say this technology could be used for new diagnostic methods and treatments for a variety of neuro-degenerative diseases, this advancement could ultimately lead to the use of biological neurons in the central or sub-processing units of computers and automated machinery.
Robot Finds Worlds Sixth Largest River Undersea
Posted 13 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic, Robots.net
Scientists at University of Leeds are using a robotic submarine to study a deep channel that runs along the floor of the Black Sea. The underwater river is denser than the surrounding water and composed of sediment with a high salinity. There are similarities to land-based rivers but also major differences in how the mass flows. Study of the flow is being performed by a 7-metre torpedo-shaped robot called the Autosub3 because its accurate positioning system allows it to be programmed to stay just above the channel to prevent damage.
Robot Eyes Great Pyramid
Posted 11 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic, Robots.net
Researchers from Leeds University are working on a camera and drill-weilding robot known as Djedi to solve the mystery of the blocked shafts inside the Great Pyramid at Giza. In 1992 and 2002, remote cameras were sent through the shaft under the watchful eye of antiquities master Dr. Zahi Hawass only to be stopped by limestone doors. Dr. Robert Richardson of the Mechanical Engineering department said their goal is to find out what is beyond the blocks and go as far as possible to discover the purpose of the shafts, all while doing minimal damage to the structure. Final preparations are being made now with hopes of sending the robot in before year's end. Place your bets now!
Humanoid robot Nao gets emotion chip
Saturday, August 14, 2010, Tim Hornyak
Copying a standard sci-fi film plot, humanoid robot Nao is becoming more human by developing emotions. The RoboCup star might be able to fake it like the best human soccer players.
The First Church of Robotics
New York Times - Jaron Lanier - Aug 8, 2010
THE news of the day often includes an item about some development in artificial intelligence: a machine that smiles, a program that can predict human tastes in mates or music, a robot that teaches foreign languages to children. This constant stream of stories suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as fellow creatures instead of as tools. But such conclusions aren’t just changing how we think about computers — they are reshaping the basic assumptions of our lives in misguided and ultimately damaging ways. I myself have worked on projects like machine vision algorithms that can detect human facial expressions in order to animate avatars or recognize individuals. Some would say these too are examples of A.I., but I would say it is research on a specific software problem that shouldn’t be confused with the deeper issues of intelligence or the nature of personhood. Equally important, my philosophical position has not prevented me from making progress in my work. (This is not an insignificant distinction: someone who refused to believe in, say, general relativity would not be able to make a GPS navigation system.)
Waste powers autonomous robots
Cordis News - Aug 12, 2010
As the saying goes, one person's garbage is another person's treasure. In this instance, the garbage in question is used by a robot to harness energy for its own operation. For the last few years, the team of EU-funded scientists behind the EcoBot series (I, II, III) of robots has generated energy by feeding the machine food waste and raw materials. They have now set their sights on converting energy from urine for the same outcome. The EcoBot-III project received EUR 320,000 in funding under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor John Greenman, Professor Chris Melhuish, and other researchers from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in the UK are responsible for a succession of experiments undertaken with EcoBots I, II and III. Their unique approach has been to create an artificial digestion system for the robot. This 'gut' is designed around novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology, which draws on bacterial cultures to break down 'food' in order to generate power. 'Over the years we have fed our MFCs with rotten fruit, grass clippings, prawn shells and dead flies in an attempt to investigate different waste materials to use as a food source for the MFCs,' said Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos. 'We have focused on finding the best waste materials that create the most energy.'
Aug 1, 2010: New Stealth Drones (US &UK), Warehouse Automation, Sugar Automation in Kenya, Poll Automation in Nigeria, Structural Unemployment, Automating the Automation, Economic Recovery for Siemens, Rockwell, ABB, iRobot, and Honeywell, Robot Vans Travelling from Italy to China, Robotic Conscience, and Developing Autonomous Surgical Robots
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Deploying Drones in U.S. Skies
Morgan Bettex- Filed Jul 22, 2010
Nicholas Roy, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the Robust Robotics Group, discusses the challenges of incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles into commercial airspace.
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to expand flights of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, along the Texas-Mexico border for surveillance purposes. Although unmanned aircraft have been used extensively by the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, the FAA has been hesitant to issue flying rights for the pilotless vehicles in the U.S. other than on a case-by-case basis, such as for border patrol. Last year, the agency promised defense officials it would unveil a plan for regulating unmanned planes this year, and it recently opened a new lab to explore how air traffic control systems can control unmanned aircraft for civilian and law-enforcement purposes. As the FAA appears to make progress with regulating UAVs, MIT News sat down with Nicholas Roy, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the Robust Robotics Group, to discuss the challenges involved with flying unmanned planes across America.
BAE reveals UK's first combat robot aircraft
Financial Times - Sylvia Pfeifer - Jul 12, 2010
Robot wars came a step closer after BAE Systems unveiled the UK’s first unmanned aircraft that can pilot itself and strike targets as far away as Afghanistan. Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is about the size of a Hawk trainer jet. The unmanned combat air vehicle, or UCAV, could have wide ramifications for Britain’s military aircraft industry, eventually replacing manned jets, such as the Tornado. It will be the first “stealthy” roboplane, or “drone”, designed to make it difficult for enemy radar to detect. It can carry out intelligence and surveillance on enemy territory, but it also carries weapons with which to attack ground targets. It can be controlled from anywhere in the world via satellite communications.
Boeing Unveils Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Jul 26, 2010
Hydrogen powered unmanned airborne system designed to fly at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet for up to four days. The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days. “Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications,” Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said today at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis. “It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye’s design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers.”
Army building robotic tentacles to handle IEDs
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
The military is developing snakelike tentacle robots to manipulate IEDs and take part in search and rescue missions. Cobra Commander would be pleased.
Robot Toyota lift truck performs unmanned tasks
Thursday, July 22, 2010 Posted by Suzanne Ashe, cnet.com
The U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency hosted demonstrations at Fort Lee, in Virginia, of an MIT-developed prototype unmanned robotic Toyota lift truck.
At iRobot, moving way beyond the Roomba
Thursday, July 15, 2010 Posted by Daniel Terdiman, cnet.com
Road Trip 2010: CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stops in on the maker of the hit robotic vacuum cleaner and learns what the company has in store for the future of military and home robotics.
Air Force Wants Drones to Sense Other Planes’ ‘Intent’
Spencer Ackerman July 23, 2010, Wired Danger Room
Unmanned aircraft, for all their utility, are fairly simple beasts. They’re good at taking direction, but they’re not so good at processing information on their own. Now the Air Force figures it’s time for drones to get a lot smarter, especially as they take off or land. As anyone who’s ever flown knows, the runway is a crowded place. Planes on the runway queue up to get airborne. Planes in the air have to coordinate with Air Traffic Control for the order in which they can safely land, taking precautions not to get in anyone’s way until it’s their turn. There’s a fair amount of information to rapidly process in order to avoid collisions and other accidents. Pilots can handle that information load. Drones can’t. Yet. It’s one of the big reasons why the Federal Aviation Administration has been so reluctant to allow unmanned aircraft to fly over the U.S. Even robotic flights over relatively unpopulated areas along the southern border have been canceled when there’s the most routine technical hiccups. On Tuesday, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said it’ll soon solicit engineers to design an algorithm to allow drones to “integrate seamlessly” with piloted planes for takeoff and landing. In the algorithm-driven future that the labs want to build, drones will be equipped a database of terminal procedures; link up with Air Traffic Control; and “recognize the intent of other aircraft.”
Killer Drones Get Stealthy
Noah Shachtman, July 19, 2010, Wired DangerRoom
Today’s killer drones are sitting ducks. Loud, slow-moving, and simple to spot, any air defense more potent than a militant with an AK is liable to take one of the robotic planes down. But the next generation of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) won’t be the airborne equivalent of fish in a barrel. They’ll fly faster and higher than the current drone crop. And they’ll be somewhat stealthy, as well. Take the Avenger UCAV, unveiled last year by General Atomic Aeronautical Systems, the company behind the Predator and Reaper drones. With a 41-foot long fuselage and 66-foot wingspan, the Avenger is capable of staying in the air for up to 20 hours, and operating at up to 50,000 feet. Powered by a 4,800-lb. thrust Pratt & Whitney PW545B jet engine, it can fly at over 400 knots — 50 percent faster than the turboprop-powered Reaper unmanned plane, and more than three times as quick as the Predator. General Atomics says the first Avenger is now flying two to three times a week. “Over the past 15-plus months, only one launch has been canceled due to parts and/or maintenance,” the company notes in a statement. A second and third Avenger are now in production. It’ll be a little longer than the first — 44 feet — and able to haul a 6,000 pound payload. That’s a 50 percent improvement over what the Reaper can carry.
One union's demise: The end of Local 1111 should prompt serious questions about the economy
John Gurda, Opinion: July 31, 2010
A union died last night. As the clock struck midnight and July became August, Rockwell Automation - a company that many Milwaukeeans still think of as Allen-Bradley - finished its final contract with Local 1111 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. The roughly 130 UE members who were still on the job - electricians, maintenance crews, cafeteria staff - have been replaced by contract workers earning much less in wages and benefits than their predecessors. Most of the newly terminated are company veterans who will receive one-third pay and full benefits until they're eligible to retire in the next year or two. Local 1111 was neither the oldest nor the largest union in Milwaukee, but it was a fixture on the city's labor scene for nearly 75 years. For the thousands who faithfully paid their dues over the decades, the union's demise marks the end of an era.
Why Warehouses are Adopting Automation
Supply Chain Digital (blog) - Ellie Duncan - Jul 30, 2010
Next generation warehousing may sound like the name of the latest Star Trek film but automated warehousing is, in fact, the future of the warehousing and storage industry as we know it. The concept actually dates back to the 1950s when the first Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) was brought to market (A Guide to Robotic Logistics, elettric80.com). At the time, automated meant that a tow truck could move via a wire in the floor, as opposed to by rail. Ok, so it might not sound like the most advanced technology but the idea since then has remained the same; to utilize cutting edge equipment in warehousing in order to increase productivity and accuracy. Joel Anderson, President of the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), agrees about the ways in which automation can be an advantage to the warehousing sector. “The benefits of automation encompass reducing the unit cost of labor, increasing the throughput and reducing the number of errors,” he explains.
Chemelil eyes automation in bid to boost efficiency
Business Daily Africa - Steve Mbogo - Jul 14, 2010
Chemelil Sugar Company plans to automate its cane processing unit to boost efficiency in cane crushing, extract more sucrose and cut operating costs as it prepares for competition from imports from the COMESA region in less than two years. “We have given automation of our boilers the priority,” said Managing Director Edward Musebe. It was however not clear how much money the company plans to use for the project. Kenya’s sugar millers are partially protected from competition from cheaper imports –despite a sugar supply deficit – in a deal that applies across the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region, to help millers improve their efficiency ahead of its 2012 expiry. The deal was necessary because the cost of Kenyan made sugar is twice that of the world market. Opening the local market to imports at this time would effectively kill the local industry that benefits millions of cane farmers. The automation of Chemelil is expected to trigger similar cost-cutting measures in other factories that have not done so and will most likely result in reduction of employment opportunities especially for unskilled labourers.
Secondary Sources: Basel III, Structural Unemployment, Securitization
By Phil Izzo, July 27, 2010 - Real Time Economics: Economic insight and analysis from The Wall Street Journal.
–Structural Unemployment: The Economist hosts a debate over whether the U.S. is facing structural unemployment. Daron Acemoglu writes: “Yes, US structural unemployment is up. But this is not a recent turn of events. It is the continuation of an ongoing process… US employment and demand for labour have been undergoing profound changes over the last 30 years. While the demand for high skill workers, who can perform complex, often non-production tasks, has increased, manufacturing jobs and other “middling occupations” have been in decline. Also noteworthy is that over the last 10-15 years, many relatively low-skill, low-pay service occupations have been expanding rapidly. These patterns are not peculiar to the United States. They are visible in almost every West European economy as well. They result from changes in technology, which have enabled the automation of many manufacturing jobs as well as certain lower-end managerial routine tasks, together with offshoring and outsourcing of some of these tasks to China, India and elsewhere. As incomes have increased, the change in demand towards both high-skill (e.g., health and legal) and low-skill (e.g., cleaners and child care) services has continued and there has been an associated increase in the demand for service occupations, which are more difficult to automate and offshore. “
Manufacturing Journalist TR Cutler Looks at Overall Equipment Effectiveness by Memex Automation
Burlington, Ontario -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/23/2010 -- Memex Automation Inc., http://www.memex.ca, a unit of Astrix Networks Inc., was created to leverage the research and development of Memex Electronics, which was founded in 1992. Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology. Memex products allow a manufacturer to “Automate the Automation” to increase productivity and decrease costs. Memex Automation focuses on delivering value with Real-Time Machine Monitoring and Control, which utilizes OEE+DNC solutions that boost efficiency by up to twenty percent with minimal capital investment. Memex is based in Burlington, Ontario. According to John Rattray, a senior executive with Memex Automation recently discussed Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) in a feature article by manufacturing journalist TR Cutler, titled “Shop Floor to Top Floor Automation In Real-Time.” The article appeared in AS411.com a leading online software solution media resource. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics of ANY and ALL machines with a direct hardware connection typically increase efficiency by 5 to 20 percent. Immediate visibility of production status and comprehensive data collection creates a competitive advantage. Memex Automation details that automating the information flow companies can manage productivity.
Automation is key to credible elections in 2011 , SALISU
Jul 20, 2010, Vanguard, Nigeria
While the debate on electoral reforms is going in the national assembly, how best to realize a stable democratic political system in Nigeria through IT tools and strategies has continued to be a major concern of stakeholders in the Nigerian IT industry, especially the Nigerian Computer Society. For many observers, electoral reform is not feasible without deployment of robust IT infrastructure. Less than one week ahead of the 2010 NCS Annual General Meeting slated for next week in Asaba, Delta, Mr Afolabi Salisu, Chairman, Conference Committee of the conference who is also the Managing Director of Simplex Automation Systems LTD spoke to CyberLIFE’s Emeka Aginam on a number of issues including stable political system in Nigeria with the deployment of technology, how INEC can face the challenges ahead of 2011 elections, among others.
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Siemens Alerts Customers to Virus in Its Automation Software
New York Times - Kevin J. O'Brien - Jul 22, 2010
The company, based in Munich, is the world's largest maker of industrial automation equipment and software, with sales of €6.8 billion, or $8.7 billion, ...
Rockwell Automation 3Q Profit More Than Triples
JULY 28, 2010, 3:21 P.M. ET
CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Rockwell Automation Inc.'s (ROK) fiscal third-quarter earnings more than tripled as the factory-automation equipment and software company benefited from the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry. Sales for the quarter increased 25% and Rockwell's operating margin nearly doubled, prompting the Milwaukee company to raise its full-year guidance. "Industrial production has been growing the last three or four quarters," said Chairman and Chief Executive Keith Nosbusch during an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. "We had solid growth in Europe, the U.S. and ...
ABB reports lower net, but cites signs of upturn
JULY 23, 2010, 4:59 A.M. ET, By Goran Mijuk Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
ZURICH -- ABB Ltd. posted an 8% drop in second-quarter earnings on Thursday, but said a market recovery is emerging as demand improves for industrial and infrastructure projects. Europe's largest electrical-engineering company by sales said net profit fell to $623 million from $675 million a year earlier amid continued pricing pressure and restructuring costs. Cost cutting limited the decline, ABB said. Revenue fell 4% to $7.57 billion from $7.92 billion. Chief Executive Joe Hogan said ABB is "more confident about the recovery in most of our markets than three months ago," because "customers have started again to invest in technologies for energy efficiency and productivity." Orders rose 5%, in both dollar-terms and local currencies, to $7.67 billion. Analysts said that while orders from India fell, demand in Europe, the Middle East and China is growing solidly. Mr. Hogan said the order backlog in the company's power division is reaching record levels. ABB, which produces transmission lines and industrial robots, was hit hard by the economic downturn as governments and private-sector clients curbed spending. The downturn was most painful in the automotive and construction industries.
Siemens Returns To Growth As Order Intake Surges
JULY 29, 2010, 5:50 A.M. ET
MUNICH (Dow Jones)--Siemens AG (SI) Thursday posted a 12% rise in third-quarter net profit and increased sales and order intake for the first time in seven quarters, marking a return to growth after the demand slump brought about by the recession. Siemens posted especially strong results in its short-cycle businesses, which are closely linked to the economic cycle, such as industry automation and lighting unit Osram. But big-ticket spending also returned. Siemens' third-quarter order intake was up 22%, bringing the order backlog to a record level of EUR89 billion, driven by new orders for Siemens' renewable division.
Honeywell 2Q Profit Up 4% Amid Improving Sales; View Raised
JULY 23, 2010, 8:44 A.M. ET
Honeywell International Inc. (HON) on Friday delivered one of the second-quarter season's most upbeat reports, beating its internal forecasts and raising full-year guidance. The U.S. industrial and aerospace group said it was seeing improvements in early-cycle businesses such as auto parts, while longer-cycle operations were also seeing sales momentum. "We believe the recovery is happening," said ...
Let's Get Ready To Roomba! iRobot Posts Blowout Q2 Results
Eric Savitz, Tech Trader Daily, 07/28/10
iRobot (IRBT), which makes the Roomba vaccum cleaner robot and other robots for both the consumer and military markets, posted better-than-expected Q2 results, triggering a rally in the stock after hours. For the quarter, the company posted revenue of $98 million and profits of 20 cents a share; the Street had been expecting $92.2 million and 8 cents. For Q3, the company projects revenue of $91 million to $94 million, and profits of 5-6 cents a share; the old Street consensus was $93.2 million and 7 cents. But for the full year, iRobot sees revenue of $385 million to $390 million, with profits of 51-54 cents a share; the Street has been forecasting $380.6 million and 44 cents.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
CMU's Walking Robot "Ranger"
by Sabine Hauert on 30 Jul 2010, Robotspodcast.com
Carnegie Mellon University's walking robot "Ranger" has set a new world record for distance walking. In a bit over 11 hours, Ranger walked 23km (or 14.3 miles) to beat the former world record of 20.6km (or 12.8 miles) set by Boston Dynamics' BigDog. Unlike the BigDog, the Ranger uses two pairs of swinging legs that do not have knees but actuated feet to finish its step. The design allows the robot to use gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward, which allows to optimize energy efficiency while walking. The researchers hope that insights gained from the dynamic walker can be applied to rehabilitation, prosthetics, and for improving our understanding of athletic performance.
CMU Launches $7 Million Educational Initiative
Posted 28 Jul 2010 at Robots.net by steve
The CMU Robotics Institute, with the help of a seven million dollar DARPA grant, has announced the launch of a four year educational initiative called Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE). The goal is to use student interest in robotics to encourage computer science education, and to steer students toward science and engineering careers. In addition to embracing existing educational robotics competitions such as FIRST and VEX, CMU will also be creating new competitions. The initiative will ... create new competitions for autonomous, multi-robot teams and for computer animations that will attract a broader array of students and offer new challenges. To help, CMU is tapping robot expertise from Dallas, TX, hiring none other than Ed Paradis, current president of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. When asked about the propsect of leaving one of the nation's top Hobby Robot Groups for CMU, he replied, "although I'm sad to leave the Dallas robotics community, this is a hobby roboticists dream job!".
3D designer envisions C.R.A.B. robot revolutionizing London’s police force
July 31, 2010 - Robot World News
The C.R.A.B. (Cybernetic Autonomous Remote Barricade) robot may currently be just a 3D design concept, but it’s an inspiring look at the potential abilities of future defense robots.
Check counterfeiting using botnets and money mules
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Posted by Elinor Mills, cnet.com
SecureWorks uncovers bizarre criminal operation that uses digital techniques to aid in old-school check counterfeiting.
Robot vans begin 3-month Italy-China journey
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
Two self-driving robot vans have started a three-month, 8,000-mile journey from Italy to China. What would Marco Polo say?
Japanese rescue-bot can sniff out disaster survivors
AFP - Jul 30, 2010
TOKYO — Japanese emergency services are to trial a small tank-like rescue robot that can search rubble for survivors and deliver water, food or cellphone
The world's first robot with conscience
Economic Times - Jul 29, 2010
MADRID: Spain has designed the world's first robot with its own "conscience" and "life", which will "entertain, teach and be a companion" to humans who purchase it. The AISoy 1, which will go on sale in August, is the first social android developed by Spanish firm AISoy Robotics, which is now bringing its creation out of the laboratory. "It almost seems like science fiction, but it's a reality," said Diego Garcia, one of the "fathers" of the robot and head of AISoy's product engineering and development division. AISoy 1 was conceived to entertain and provide company to the user, but its main objective is "to live," just like any other being that "senses, has emotions and makes decisions". At 25 cm in height and weighing 1.5 kg, the robot "is almost a living being. It has the same activity as a living being, it has its own autonomy and conscience", he said. It also has a series of "basic needs, like nourishment and security, and other more advanced ones, like love, recognition, freedom and, above all, enjoying itself and getting along well". In contrast to the available robots developed till date, its makeup does not consist of "a collection of limited actions or programmed responses. It's dynamic, it has its own life and, at times, it's unpredictable," said AISoy 1's designer. The robot is capable of learning from experience and modifying "its behaviour, values and actions it can undertake at specific times," he said.
New Robot Surgeons Can Operate Without Human Assistance
Fast Company - Austin Carr - Jul 21, 2010
Bioengineers at Duke University announced yesterday that they've created a robot that can "locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session," all without a doctor's supervision. Researchers hope these developments could one day lead to robots working autonomously on basic surgical operations. Nicknamed the Biopsy Bot, the robot relies on 3-D and ultrasound technology for its movement. The ultrasound scans serve as the robot's "eyes," enabling the doc bot to locate its target. With advanced artificial technology, the robot processes the 3-D data and sends out specific commands to its mechanical "arm" and "hand," devices that examine lesions and are able to take samples.
July 18, 2010: New organization by topic including terror, military & policing, industry, job displacement, government, industry, agriculture, business of robotics and automation, research and new developments…
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Korean machine-gun robots start DMZ duty
Tim Hornyak · Wed Jul 14 2010 - CNET
Samsung's SGR-1 robot has already starred in an action film. Now the machine gun-toting badass is taking on intruders along Korea's DMZ.
Countries Look To Robot Armies For Border Defense
Huffington Post (blog) - Jul 14, 2010
He says we could have underground robots that will pop up and give border-crossers heart attacks. They could be forty feet tall, breathe fire and look like ...
There are few borders more heavily guarded than the one dividing North and South Korea. That became even more true last month, when Seoul stationed a a heat-, voice-, and motion-detecting surveillance robot in the Demilitarized Zone. With guns.
Lockheed Using Gravity to Spot ‘Subterranean Threats’
Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010 |
The military could soon be hunting for terror threats using detailed maps of the planet’s subterranean territory — thanks to aerial vehicles that tap into the “anomalous gravity signature[s]” of structures built beneath the earth’s surface. Lockheed Martin has received a $4.8 million, 12-month contract to create a prototype sensor that spots, categorizes and maps man-made facilities concealed underground. And does it all from the safety of the sky, embedded in a drone and linked to cameras that’d stream the data in real-time.
In a First, Full-Sized Robo-Copter Flies With No Human Help
Olivia Koski July 14, 2010
In mid-June, a single-turbine helicopter took off from a test field in Mesa, Arizona, avoided obstacles during flight, scoped out a landing site and landed safely. It’s the kind of flight choppers have made tens of thousands of times before. Except this time, the helicopter did it entirely on its own — with no humans involved. It was the first fully autonomous flight of a full-sized chopper, ever.
Hydrogen-Powered Drone Could Be The iPad of Spy Planes
Spencer Ackerman, July 13, 2010
It can stay aloft in the stratosphere for up to four days, powered by hydrogen. It can carry up to 450 lbs. worth of spy gear And it sounds like a Bond villain. Meet the Phantom Eye. Its manufacturer thinks it could be the iPad of unmanned aerial vehicles. At a time when much of drone tech is shrinking, the Phantom Eye is a big mother. It’s got a 150-foot wingspan. The thing itself — unveiled by Boeing today — relies on two 2.3 liter, four cylinder engines that create 150 horsepower each, according to a company press release, allowing it to cruise at 150 knots. But the company didn’t specify much about its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, aside from issuing a vague quote assuring that the Phantom Eye “could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications.” So why is it an iPad-esque potential game-changer? For one thing, check that longevity. The Air Force’s Global Hawk (Manufacturer: Northrup Grumman) remotely-piloted drone can match the Phantom Eye’s 65,000-foot max altitude. But the Global Hawk has a maximum flight time of 30 hours. General Atomics’ Predator — often the last thing that al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in northwest Pakistan see — can only fly up to 25,000 feet, but it can stay in the sky for up to 40 hours. Boeing told Aviation Week that it’s shooting for a 96 hour flight from the Phantom Eye next spring.
Darpa Plots Death From Above, On-Demand
Noah Shachtman, July 12, 2010
Before a bomb gets dropped in Afghanistan, dozens of people weigh in: Air controllers bark coordinates over a radio; officers double-check the target’s location against digital maps; pilots survey the scene with cameras from on high; far-flung intelligence analysts scour the plane’s footage and discuss it in a secure chat room; military lawyers make sure the strike complies with the rules of war; commanders weigh the potential combat benefits of a bomb against the risks of civilian deaths. Darpa would like to cut out all those middle men. Instead, the Pentagon’s R&D arm wants to build an air strike network with exactly two nodes: the air controller on the ground, and the robotic, heavily-armed airplane in the sky. Darpa calls the project Persistent Close Air Support, or PCAS. Think of it as death-from-above — on demand.
Ford Motor India Hires Robots
07/09/10, India Real Time, WSJ
At Ford Motor India's Chennai plant, a team of robots has been drafted in to cope with surging demand. Ninety-two of the high-tech robots are installed across the plant and take on up to 30% of the total workload. This includes mostly repetitive tasks, such as applying successive coats of paint, welding the car body structure, sealing a car’s underbody and hemming car doors. The ‘robot hires’ are part of an expansion plan designed to meet increasing demand for Ford’s latest small car, the Figo. Ford Motor India invested $500 million into its Chennaiplant last year to double capacity to 200,000 cars per year. The company plans to export the Figo to South Africa in the coming months.
John Payne on 04 Jul 2010
The application of robotics to ecologically robust crop production has been a long-term interest of mine (see http://cultibotics.blogspot.com ), long enough that I've had plenty of opportunity for despair at the slow pace of progress. That situation now seems to be turning around. I am aware of a few examples of relevant projects, but would greatly appreciate assistance in accumulating others.
ParkPlus automation will cause 33 city job losses
Calgary Herald - Jul 9, 2010
The Calgary Parking Authority's shift to ParkPlus in its downtown parkades will mean layoffs for 33 full-time and part-time parking attendants. Starting in August with the convention centre parkade, the city-owned agency will phase out the facility's attendants and security entry-exit arms, replacing them with the same computerized system used for surface lots and street parking. "Many of our competitors already have automation in their facilities, and, indeed, we are following that trend," he said. The affected workers have been ...
Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot
LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion. The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms. “Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor. Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall. But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high. Up goes the boy’s arm — and now he is smiling at the machine. In a handful of laboratories around the world, computer scientists are developing robots like this one: highly programmed machines that can engage people and teach them simple skills, including household tasks, vocabulary or, as in the case of the boy, playing, elementary imitation and taking turns. So far, the teaching has been very basic, delivered mostly in experimental settings, and the robots are still works in progress, a hackers’ gallery of moving parts that, like mechanical savants, each do some things well at the expense of others.
Report on poll fraud: plug gaps, or nix automation
Business Mirror - Fernan Marasigan - Jun 27, 2010
SPORADIC cheating in the country’s first automated general elections last month appears to be confined to local races, the chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has concluded. But these, taken with the “fitful credibility” with which technical provider Smartmatic-TIM explained crucial date-and-time stamp issues in the vote-counting machine, and the Commission on Elections’ move to discard certain security features, made it necessary to revisit the country’s experiment with automation—and perhaps even set it aside for the next elections if the loopholes of the May 10 exercise are not plugged. Locsin said, “The further danger is that these admittedly sporadic automated or automation-related anomalies could be perpetrated and institutionalized ...
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
ATLANTA, Jul 15, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- After nearly 3,000 attendees in five cities, Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced that the sixth and final stop for its Answers for Industry (AFI) conference will be Seattle. The two-day conference, which focuses on enhancing competitiveness through efficient manufacturing, green buildings and renewable energy, will take place Aug. 24-25, 2010, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash.
Robots as the next big industry?
Computerworld - Patrick Thibodeau - Jul 14, 2010
ATLANTA -- The hardest thing about artificial intelligence (AI) is keeping your imagination in check. A visit to some robotic displays at an AI conference here opens the mind to incredible possibilities. Imagine, for instance, CNBC's Jim Cramer, who just about jumps up and down when he talks about the "mobile Internet tsunami," doing something similar for the "robotics tsunami" as the next big industry. It is that kind of thinking that AI can trigger. However, for the wonder of watching a robot with expressive eye movements, there is a competing reality that progress is slow. For a sense of the timeline, the Conference on Artificial Intelligence marks its silver anniversary next year.
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
The ChouChou Robotic Butterfly is just like a real butterfly, except it can live forever. Or at least until its battery runs out. You won't even know the difference, just watch it fly.
Oceanscience Group wins grant to develop swarming river robots
July 12, 2010 ROBOTIC WORLD NEWS
The Oceanscience Group, an Oceanside technology company, has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Oceanscience’s institutional collaborator on the project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Ocean Engineering. Oceanscience will work with MIT Professor Henrik Schmidt to develop a fleet of self-organizing drifting floats that will survey rivers autonomously. These small “smart” floats will travel in intercommunicating groups capable of repositioning themselves in a river to avoid hazards and provide real-time survey data from a variety of onboard sensors. The robotic floats are expected to weigh less than 10 pounds each. ONR has committed up to $100,000 for the design phase of the project. Upon successful completion of this phase, up to an additional $1,000,000 may be granted for further development and production. Oceanscience will work closely with Robotic Marine Systems (RMS) of Gray, Maine, experts in automation and “smart” vehicle behavior.
Markus Waibel » 16 Jul 2010 ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a microrobot with 512 feet. The robot is about the size of a fingernail and weighs about half a gram. Each of the 512 robot feet consists of an electrical wire sandwiched between two materials that expand differently under heat. By passing a current through the electrical wire, one material expands more than the other, making the feet curl. The small size of the feet results in a very large surface area compared to their volume, which makes it possible to heat up or cool down the feet in less than 20 milliseconds, allowing the robot to take 20-30 tiny steps per second. Another advantage of the bi-metal feet is their strength, allowing the robot to carry more than seven times its own weight. The researchers are now optimizing the robot for efficiency, to improve its current 10 minute power autonomy, as well as its speed which is currently limited to about 1m per hour.
QinetiQ’s Zephyr Unmanned Aircraft Soars to New World Records
07.16.2010 — Solar solar powered high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air system doubles the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight and is expected to continue flying. QinetiQ announced that Zephyr, a solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) smashed a number of long-standing world records while flying for a week. Flying high above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001. As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world air sports federation, to oversee the flight and an FAI Official has been monitoring progress at the Yuma Proving Ground. Zephyr’s world records will not become official until the aircraft is safely back on the ground. The current goal is to fly for a further week and prove Zephyr is the world’s first truly eternal plane, capable of providing a low-cost, persistent surveillance capability over months rather than days. Potential applications include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defence, security and commercial requirements
Robot Submarine Patrols Lake Michigan for Climate-Change Study
Autonomous underwater robots studies fish populations.
07.06.2010 — Purdue University researchers are using an autonomous underwater vehicle in Lake Michigan to study how the changing physical properties of water affect the larva of fish yellow perch and alewives. Researchers at Purdue University are using a robotic submarine and other specialized tools in Lake Michigan to gather biological and environmental data showing how young fish vital to the ecosystem may cope with future climate change. The researchers are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations, said Tomas Höök, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Human Trials Next for Darpa’s Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm
Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010 | WIRED Dangerroom
Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.
July 4, 2010: Robot lifeguards, automated spa, dealing with budget cuts through automation, robot spies, robotics virtual summit, upswing for robotics industry…
Robot lifeguard Emily is no 'Baywatch' babe
Leslie Katz · Tue Jun 29 2010
Remote-controlled contraption called Emily can locate distressed swimmers and ferry them back to shore--or give them something to hold onto until human help shows up.
Robotics meet origami in self-folding sheets
Leslie Katz · Tue Jun 29 2010
Thanks to scientists at Harvard and MIT, programmable electronic sheets can now fold themselves into shapes that any origami aficionado could appreciate.
China labour unrest to accelerate automation trend
Moneycontrol.com - Jun 28, 2010
"The automation equipment industry is growing very, very fast. Sensors, frequency converters, conveyor belts, pneumatic systems, power tools -- you name it ...
Salem Public Library moves to more automation
By Barbara Curtin • Statesman Journal • July 2, 2010
The Salem Public Library plans to buy two DVD dispensers and one additional self-check machine in order to serve the public with a smaller circulation staff. The City Council approved the purchases in hopes of increasing library efficiency, said library administrator BJ Toewe. Due to budget cuts that took effect July 1, the library was unable to fill 1.75 circulation positions.
Riverton residents question library automation
Press Herald - Kelley Bouchard - Jun 22, 2010
PORTLAND - Riverton residents pleaded with city officials Monday night to keep a staffed Portland Public Library ...
Automation takes over spa services at My Resort
Cathryn Creno - Jun. 21, 2010 The Arizona Republic
If Jane Jetson had been a spa girl, the 1960s cartoon character probably would have frequented someplace like My Resort Tanning and Spa. All of the pampering at the Ahwatukee Foothills and Scottsdale salons is automated. Massages, facials, teeth whitening and full-body steam treatments are done by machine. There's no need to chitchat or appear in your underwear in front of anyone. And no one at My Resort hints around for a tip.
Automation World - Gary Mintchell - Jul 1, 2010
Well, we have a number of companies that develop, manufacture and sell products and services in what could be called automation. There are magazines that ...
Iran unveils human-like robot: report
AFP - 12 hours ago
TEHRAN — Iran has developed a new human-like walking robot to be used in "sensitive jobs," government newspaper Iran reported on Sunday. ...
New era of "robot" spies will test privacy
Reuters UK - Daniele La Monaca, Myra MacDonald - Jun 25, 2010
"Once you go over to data mining you are essentially handing the process over to robots, who roam through this material looking for patterns of suspicious ...
Adept Technology Furthers Commitment to Sustainable and Green Production With Validation of Adept Quattro Energy Savings
Adept Technology, Inc. Posted 07/02/2010
Adept Quattro™ s650HS Robot Provides Significant Energy Savings and Sustainable Manufacturing Practices for Critical Production Processes
PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced it has further demonstrated its commitment to green and sustainable manufacturing through developing energy conscious solutions such as the Adept Quattro robot for production systems ranging from safely processing food to reducing the costs associated with manufacturing solar cells. Energy consumption has consistently ranked as a top consideration when companies select and implement capital equipment. Recent benchmark tests validate that the Adept Quattro, which was originally designed with energy conservation in mind, consumes up to 35% less power over delta or SCARA robots.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Lizard robot swims through sand
by Markus Waibel » 02 Jul 2010, 08:38
In a video reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Dune novels, researchers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta have shown a robot that can swim through sand. Like the salamander robot you may remember from previous interviews with Auke Ijspeert (including an earlier Talking Robots interview), this robot's morphology and locomotion pattern are modeled after that of a real lizard. However, while previous research for movement in water or air could rely on detailed dynamic models, no such models exist for sand which can behave as both, a solid and a fluid.
Robotics Virtual Summit Available On Demand
Access to online exhibit hall, resource center, keynote addresses and feature presentations available at no charge.
By Robotics Trends 06.30.2010
Access to online exhibit hall, resource center, keynote addresses and feature presentations available at no charge. Event focused on autonomy, mobility and navigation in robotic systems. Robotics Trends announced that access to the inaugural event in the Robotics Summit Virtual Conference and Exposition Series, Autonomy, Navigation, and Mobility Solutions, is available on demand and at no charge at http://vshow.on24.com/vshow/robotics.
The robotics industry is getting back on track!
Sales slump in 2009 - Strong recovery in 2010 - Further growth expected in 2011 and 2012. The IFR Statistics Department presented the preliminary results of the annual statistics on Industrial Robots on Wednesday, 9 June 2010, in Munich at the AUTOMATICA. In 2009, with about 62,100 industrial robots shipped, the number of units sold worldwide slumped dramatically by about 45% compared to 2008, one of the most successful years. But in the first quarter 2010 the sales skyrocketed worldwide by more than 50% compared to the first quarter 2009.
June 20, 2010: Automated hospital, Chinese wage increases push automation, Automation as an attack on union workers, Robotics industry growth in production and hiring, Automating state services, automation in the Turkish postal system, Drone Malfunctions, Robots in the gulf oil spill….
Wire-crawling robots could inspect power lines
Tim Hornyak · Fri Jun 11 2010 Bots developed at the Electric Power Research Institute will crawl along power lines to check for defects. But they look a little too much like UFOs.
Flying robots self-assemble into midair swarm
Tim Hornyak · Wed Jun 9 2010
The Distributed Flight Array is a Swiss-built group of single-propeller robots that can autonomously dock with each other and hover above the ground. Is it the precursor to a flying robot swarm?
Japan dreams: Moon solar panels, pyramid cities
Tim Hornyak · Tue Jun 8 2010
Japanese contractor Shimizu's plans to ring the moon with solar panels and build pyramid cities won't be realized soon. But they are cool.
Hitachi humanoid rolls over floor junk, looks cute
Tim Hornyak · Sat Jun 19 2010
Hitachi has improved its Emiew robot so that it's more dynamically stable and understands speech better. What would you say to it?
Japan's creepy kid robots perfect pals for Chucky
Tim Hornyak · Wed Jun 16 2010
Researchers are developing bots that mimic infant behavior to further study human development. They also seem intent on creating the creepiest baby robot ever.
BBC, Thursday, 17 June 2010 00:31 UK
The robots will carry clinical waste, deliver food and clean the operating theatre
A hospital in Scotland is to become the first in the UK to use a fleet of robots to carry out day-to-day tasks. The robots will carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs. They are currently undergoing final tests ahead of the August opening of the new £300m Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire. The robots will have their own dedicated network of corridors underneath the hospital. NHS Forth Valley chairman Ian Mullen said the new hospital would be "packed full of design features to improve patient care and improve the life of staff".
CNNMoney - Martin Ford - Jun 10, 2010
In manufacturing and in many clerical and administrative occupations, computerization and automation have left many formerly middle-class workers with few ...
DailyFinance - Lauren Cooper - Jun 10, 2010
Increasing wages in China gave a huge boost to Japanese automation company SMC, which surged 7.1% and industrial robot maker Fanuc, which leaped 6.2% in today's trading. China's factories have been pumping out low cost goods as a result of cheap labor. In the boomtown of Shenzhen, for example, factory workers, who are paid on the higher end, receive a minimum wage of just 1,000 yuan ($146) per month. But a round of wage hikes, spurred in part by suicides at Foxconn, could threaten the appeal of producing products in the region. Foxconn employees will now receive a minimum of $300 per month and other companies are following suit. Minimum wage earners in Beijing have just received a 20% raise to $140 per month, according to etftrends.com. These costs will raise production costs and investors are betting that automation will be the key to keeping costs low. They're predicting orders to pour into automation companies.
Hydrapinion - Ian Grayson - Jun 7, 2010
HP raised some eyebrows recently when it announced plans to save millions of dollars by automating functions within its data centres. The IT giant believes the savings can come from using sophisticated software tools to do away with the need for many staff. The slight downside is that 9000 HP folk will lose their jobs as part of the changes. Sackings aside, such moves are likely to become increasingly common within large organisations as they search for ways to remove fat. Leaner companies are more flexible, and more profitable. But such strategies can also work for SMBs [small and mid-size businesses]. Just because you don't have a football stadium-sized room full of servers doesn't mean there aren't ways you can cut your IT costs.
Robots may be moving into the workplace as companies are putting them side by ...
New York Daily News - Rosemary Black - Jun 8, 2010
The humanoid robot named Robonaut2 has arms and hands capable of using human tools. Robots are slowly moving into the work place where ...
Bloomberg - JoAnne Norton - Jun 8, 2010
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Fanuc Ltd. will increase its production of industrial robots by almost 70 percent to a record 2500 units a month by ...
Daily Caller - Jun 9, 2010
By DVICE | Published: 06/09/10 at 1:20 PM Here's an “innovation” we hope will remain a design concept: the Scarab Chase Assistant is an electric ...
National Defense Magazine (blog) - Jun 8, 2010
The US military's unmanned aircraft and ground robots have been ballyhooed as symbols of a fundamental shift in warfare, a revolution in military technology ...
Inside Indiana Business (press release) - Jun 7, 2010
Indianapolis-based Precise Path President and Chief Operating Officer Jason Zielke says his company has designed robots that will mow golf course greens.
MarketWatch (press release) - Jun 15, 2010
Kofax plc (LONDON:UK:KFX) is the leading provider of document driven business process automation solutions. For more than 20 years, Kofax has provided award ...
MarketWatch - Chris Oliver - Jun 17, 2010
"The pace of wage hikes is so fast that we will have no choice but to accelerate factory automation and curb the rise in labor costs by installing robots ...
PressOnShD - Jun 14, 2010
Materials handling systems provider Crisplant will install Turkey's first automatic tray handling system for processing mail.
Telegraph.co.uk - Andrew Gilligan - Jun 17, 2010
In the original version of Doctor Who, our favourite villains were living creatures who had been turned into ruthless machines. Gliding and stamping through their cardboard sets, the Daleks and Cybermen kept an entire generation of viewers pinned behind the sofa. Why don't we try something similar with the unions? As the public services gear up for a season of cuts, and almost certainly prolonged industrial strife, it is often forgotten that, beyond the traditional cry of "exterminate", the Daleks had a full portfolio of policy options for dealing with personnel management issues. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, for instance, they fitted captured human rebels with special helmets and turned them into highly obedient robots. I am not suggesting that the average civil servant be turned into a robot – although secret experiments of this nature were successfully conducted on several New Labour MPs. But I do think that technology offers scope for savings, and even greater scope for resisting union blackmail. This week, the Tory group in the London Assembly proposed the automation of the Tube. It was immediately dismissed as a "joke", "lethal" and a "fantasy" by the leader of the main Tube union, Bob Crow. But the generously paid, totally secure, yet endlessly militant Underground workforce is one of the most obvious places to start.
ROBOT WORLD NEWS
Robotics Industry to Grow, Increase Hiring in R&D and Engineering
June 15, 2010
Robotics Trends, an integrated media firm serving the robotics workplace, has announced a report based on a survey of robotics companies that predicts increased hiring in the robotics industry. The report, called Current State and Future Needs of the Robotics Workforce, is freely available for immediate download to anyone who has registered for Robotics Trends’ free upcoming robotics virtual conference Autonomy, Navigation, and Mobility Solutions. The virtual conference takes place on June 16, 2010. To register for the free event, please go to www.robovirtualevents.com and click “Register.” [NOT too late to register and get report and papers]
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Markus Waibel on 18 Jun 2010
This year's Automatica trade fair took place in Munich, Germany, last week. The fair, which is one of the world’s largest Automation & Mechatronics events, included exhibits from all major industrial robotics manufacturers and attracted more than 31'000 visitors and 708 exhibitors. Next to a range of new industrial robots and robot parts, we were particularly impressed by a new mobile manipulator revealed by industrial robotics giant KUKA. In a surprising and unique step for an industrial robot manufacturer, KUKA demo'ed a small, mobile platform for education and research.
Noah Shachtman, June 18, 2010
For years, drone proponents have pestered the Federal Aviation Administration to let more robotic planes fly in American airspace. For years, the FAA has squirmed; they don’t want the drones wandering off-course over Cleveland, or smacking into a traditional airplane as it makes its way to O’Hare. Incidents like this won’t help that comfort level: The first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying on a Texas-Mexico border security mission lost communications with its remote cockpit, leading to undisclosed “pilot deviation,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson tells the Brownsville Herald. Since 2004, CBP has deployed unmanned surveillance planes, off and on, to watch the southern border. Under pressure from local congressmen and senators, the government started flying drone patrols over Texas on June 1 — only to have the first UAV drop its data link. Communication breakdowns like this happen all the time when the military operates drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. But the safety standards are much tighter when those UAVs are flying over Texas and Arizona. The FAA and border patrol stopped drone flights for six days for “additional training” of CBP personnel. The remotely-piloted flights have now resumed.
Noah Shachtman, June 17, 2010
The military’s Special Operations Command is expected to have a record budget next year, with an unprecedented amount of cash to buy everything from spy gear to gunship upgrades. Danger Room co-founder Sharon Weinberger took a trip down to the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, to meet the weaponeers vying for a slice of those billions. “True to special operations’ reputation for secrecy, rules for the SOFIC were strict,” she writes. “Special operations personnel below the rank of major or master sergeant are allowed to be photographed only from the side (‘to avoid both eyes and bridge of the nose’) and cannot be identified by name.” Some of those companies — like their customers — prefer their work to remain below the radar; their websites provide few public details and are password protected. The booth of one surveillance company, Black Tree, featured listening devices embedded in what looked like nothing more than a tree branch… Another company, Geonautics International, advertises its “covert technical surveillance” products, which include a camera mounted inside a Garfield stuffed animal and a “nano camera” that comes hidden inside a Pepsi can. A company representative manning the booth declined to speak about the product line. More traditional defense contractors showed off their wares, too. BAE Systems demo’d a prototype commando ensemble, supposedly 18 percent lighter than today’s back-breaking mass of gear. According to National Defense magazine, this ”Ultra Lightweight Warrior Soldier System” includes a “chest-size battery that is integrated into a body armor plate, night vision goggles embedded inside a helmet, a forearm-mounted computer display sewn into the sleeve of a combat uniform and a rucksack carriage system.” Aurora Flight Sciences showed off a two-pound drone, made out of polypropylene foam, that can hover and soar for an hour. When the trip’s done, the Skate folds into a briefcase, vanishing from plain sight.
Zach Gottlieb, June 10, 2010
Earlier this week, the U.S. Navy announced that four of their “REMUS 100” unmanned underwater vehicles sailed off-radar and stopped responding to commands. The ‘bots were part of a fleet of thirteen drones being used in a training exercise to locate mine-like objects on the ocean floor off the coast of Virginia. After days of searching for the runaway bots using manned boats and aircrafts, the U.S. Navy has yet to find anything. So now, they’ve called in the real underwater experts: dolphins and sea lions, trained to detect mines.
Robots Shine Amid the Gulf Coast Oil Crisis
As America watches its worst oil spill in history, robotics technology takes the spotlight. 06.15.2010 — Robots are being used to assess the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as repair the damage. Robots are front and center in the Gulf of Mexico these days. Americans are glued to their TV sets, newspapers, and Web media outlets, monitoring the progress of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. A lot of what they’re seeing—in addition to globs and swaths of oil—is robotics in action.
Insitu Signs Groundbreaking Agreement with FAA
Insitu and FAA to partner on national airspace research.
06.14.2010 — Developer of unmanned aerial systems has signed a cooperative research development agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration for cooperative research into integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace. Insitu Inc. signed a cooperative research development agreement (CRDA) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whereby Insitu will provide a ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and related support hardware and data. The FAA will conduct research needed to guide the development of recommendations for integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.
Chinese Workers Win Wave of Raises
BY ANDREW BATSON AND NORIHIKO SHIROUZU, JUNE 7,
BEIJING -- Workers are winning higher pay and better conditions at some of China's biggest manufacturers, a shift that promises to change the nation's economy while complicating life for foreign companies. Workers at a Chinese company that supplies exhaust pipes to Honda Motor Co. extended their walkout for a third day Wednesday, less than a week after the Japanese auto maker settled a walkout at another supplier -- which paralyzed Honda's manufacturing operation in China for 10 days -- by granting workers a 24% increase in pay and benefits. The Honda strikes are part of a series of labor disputes that have dramatized an important, nascent transformation in China's economy toward one more driven by the spending power of its people. The shift is also changing business for companies that have come to rely on China's low-cost labor to keep a steady flow of inexpensive goods. "This is a watershed. You can no longer rely on China's cheap labor," said Terry Gou, the founder and chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer that supplies iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc. and a range of gadgets for other companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Nintendo Co. Hon Hai, one of the largest employers and exporters in China, said this week it will double wages for some of its roughly 800,000 workers in the country, following earlier announcements of increases of 30% for some workers. Behind the wage increases are a rapid rebound in the country's economy over the past year, and longer-running demographic shifts that have been slowly sapping the supply of workers. It is a process the Chinese government has been trying to hurry along by boosting social programs and making it harder for companies to fire workers. As Chinese workers start to spend more, the nation's economy could become less prone to boom-and-bust cycles and provide greater support for growth in other countries, economists say.
Higher wages have made operating in China likely to become more complex for foreign companies, especially if workers are increasingly emboldened to test the limits. Yet companies have room to lift wages without causing drastic price increases or sharply lower profits, because Chinese factories are increasingly efficient. China's labor productivity -- the amount each worker can produce -- has risen by more than 9% a year over the past five years, according to estimates by the Conference Board research group. In part, that reflects companies investing more in factory equipment and automation that allows each worker to do more -- a strategy Hon Hai says it will likely pursue.
June 6, 2010: HP increasing automation cutting 9000 jobs, automation eases worker scarcity[?], debates around the coming structural employment crisis, Old: Soviet moon robot, New: Japanese moon robot base, driverless bus, automating China, and more
Right: At UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library, a new automated storage system is being filled with books and other items in the collection.
Robots infiltrate fish schools, garner followers
Tim Hornyak · Sat May 29 2010
Researcher Maurizio Porfiri is developing robotic fish that can lead schools of real fish. One possible application is to use the machines to keep fish away from dangerous areas.
Cute Qbot aims to be Model T of robots
Tim Hornyak · Tue May 25 2010
Qbot is a prototype home robot that can interact with its user and avoid obstacles. Developer Francisco Paz says it will be an open-source machine that will be cheap enough to garner many users.
Monkey brain controls robot arm, hand
Tim Hornyak · Fri Jun 4 2010
University of Pittsburgh researchers have hooked a monkey's brain up with an industrial robot arm, giving the animal's mere thoughts direct control of it.
Wobble-proof Navy crane can offload cargo at sea
Tim Hornyak · Thu Jun 3 2010
The U.S. Navy's experimental automated crane allows vessels to offload cargo in rough seas, eliminating the need for a deep-water port.
HP to cut 9,000 jobs, take $1 billion charge
Lance Whitney · Tue Jun 1 2010
Hewlett-Packard is spending $1 billion and cutting 9,000 jobs in a restructuring designed to consolidate and invigorate its enterprise services. The company announced Tuesday that it plans to spend the money to invest in a series of commercial data centers that will offer enterprise customers a more integrated platform on which to run their businesses. The initiative will also consolidate HP's data centers, networks, and applications. But as a result of the increased streamlining and automation, HP expects to eliminate around 9,000 jobs, or about 3 percent of its work force, over the next few years. HP has approximately 304,000 employees worldwide, according to a Fast Facts page on its Web site.
Military Roomba Cleans Land Mines With Explosions
Jesus Diaz 06/01/10
Like its domestic ancestor, iRobot's new military robot is also a cleaning machine. But instead of dust devils, this one cleans land mines and barbwire obstacles. It works using the Mk7 Anti-personell Obstacle Breaching System. Not subtle, but extremely effective.
BusinessWorld Online - Carol Pagaduan-Araullo - May 27, 2010
Comelec allowed all these violations and circumvention of the automation law as well as its contract with Smartmatic. It tried to minimize or cover up the … In brief, two things are imperative: (1) the quality or reliability of the machine which allows for near zero-tolerance of error, and (2) the competence of the operator. Both are seriously in doubt with regard to the Automated Electoral System used in the May 10 elections. Since election day, we have been swamped with an avalanche of complaints and reports of anomalies and electronic fraud -- some backed up by hard evidence, others sounding like red herrings to divert and confuse the public mind. Still, the very nature of an automated count compels us not to easily set aside even those complaints that appear to have no clear proof or evidence. It is noteworthy that in Germany, one of the most technically advanced countries, electronic voting has been constitutionally banned precisely because of the near impossibility of preventing anomalies from occurring.
Smarter robots set to replace clumsier ones
Sify - May 27, 2010
Scientists are developing faster and smarter robots that would not only replace their clumsier counterparts, but also use much less energy, says a new study. The goal eventually is to design the first robot that can move 10 km within 10,000 seconds, through and over obstacles, using less energy than it would take a human to do the same task. 'Researchers have been working toward robot locomotion for a long time based mostly on experience and intuition,' said Jonathan Hurst, assistant professor of robotics and mechanical design at the Oregon State University (OSU).
Automation in spinning reaps rich rewards
Fibre2fashion.com - May 29, 2010
In yarn producing technology in textile industries, ring frame is one of the most important components. During the last two decades components of ring spinning machines have been greatly improved, changes in drafting system, drive systems and robotics have enabled large gains in productivity, flexibility and quality. Most of the technical advances in ring spinning were aimed at improving the performances on the existing technology. These are all achieved by the automation. The ultimate goal of every manufacturing industry is, complete automation of machinery starting from that of raw material on its one end and delivering the finished product from the other end. Cotton spinning is among the relatively modernized industries, comprising of numerous processing stages making it far from the final goal mentioned above. But, recently, with the advent of high speed and automatic machines a continuous and automatic production became feasible by connecting these machines in series.
Women's vests Automation eases worker scarcity
Global Sources - May 27, 2010
As China's labor shortage drives up compensation expenses and impedes productivity, suppliers of knitted vests and cardigans are taking steps to diminish reliance on manual processes. The primary reason for the manpower deficit is that migrant workers are choosing to stay in their hometowns, where comparable pay can be obtained in a setting with a lower cost of living. For example, skilled personnel for the textile and garment industry can earn $260 to $330 per month in the coastal areas, but at least 80 percent of this is spent. Companies located inland give up to $220 per month, but the savings rate is higher. Salaries increased by an average of $30 in the second half of 2009 as businesses vied to fill positions. Further, a number of exporters offered to augment pay by another $30 after the 2010 Chinese New Year, but numerous employees did not return. Some factories in the Southeast said as many as 60 percent of staff members abandoned their posts. Moreover, between February and May 2010, the industry's major hubs of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces raised the minimum wage by 12 to 21 percent. This affects companies that are hiring people without experience. To counter the challenge, factories are ramping up automation efforts that will enable them to boost output and improve quality even with a leaner team.
Martin Ford: The Coming Structural Unemployment Crisis
USA Trends (blog) - Neal Tolani - May 25, 2010
Previously, I’ve argued here that job automation technology might someday advance to the point where most routine or repetitive jobs will be performed by machines or software, and that, as a result, we may end up with severe structural unemployment. The latest weekly report shows an increase of 25,000 in new unemployment claims–instead of the decrease expected by economists. Clearly, the economy continues to struggle with job creation, and I think that automation is playing a significant role.
Automation World - Gary Mintchell - Jun 2, 2010
This thought, and more, were spurred by a book that suddenly appeared on my desk this spring for review. We don’t have a book review column at Automation World, though a good book may spur an interview or article. In this case, the thinking and writing may go on for a while. I took “The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future” by Martin Ford (Acculant Publishing) along on vacation this spring. There is much to think about, and I had time on the beaches of Hawaii and on the plane to ponder. Ford is the founder of a Silicon Valley software firm, an entrepreneur and a technologist. Reading the book led to an e-mail exchange that will probably be ongoing. You can also catch his blog at econfuture.wordpress.com.
IT Business Edge (blog) - Jun 2, 2010
By date: Is process automation the new offshoring? I made that case several months back, noting that companies may increasingly opt for automation over ...
Automation World - Jim Pinto - Jun 2, 2010
With quality and productivity that cannot be matched by people, automation continues to eliminate jobs. Automation technology, together with the emergence. Automation technology, together with the emergence of offshore workers equipped with increasingly sophisticated technology tools, will continue to move up the food chain, steadily encroaching on higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs. So, where and how will the future workforce be employed? The archetype of the factory—work that needs to be done in a central place, at a set time—remains only as a legacy of the past. Technology has brought the freedom and power to access information anywhere, at any time, so that work is becoming untethered from central locations. It is becoming more adaptive, more informal and less focused on local hierarchies and pre-arranged plans. Technology facilitates flexible schedules. It reduces, or even eliminates, commuting time and related energy costs. Work increasingly will become integrated with other facets of life, providing more and broader levels of personal satisfaction.
msnbc.com - Rachael King - Jun 2, 2010
One of Linda Muniz's newest colleagues is a robot that makes deliveries. On a recent morning, Muniz greeted the robot as it rolled up to the nursing station at El Camino Hospital in the Silicon Valley community of Mountain View, Calif., and announced its presence in a polite female voice.
Industrial robots can help companies compete by boosting quality and productivity. That's ultimately a benefit for American labor
By Jeff Burnstein Special Report June 1, 2010
If you work in an American manufacturing company today, you should be worried about your job. I live in Michigan and have witnessed the destruction caused by shuttered factories and jobs shipped overseas. When plants close, whole communities suffer. With unemployment at about 14 percent or higher in Michigan, it's not surprising some workers are afraid of robots capable of working seven days a week, 24 hours a day with great accuracy and reliability, capable of performing many tasks better than people.
Japanese Robots Building Moon Base
Escapist Magazine - May 29, 2010
In fact, it might be boiling over, with the Japanese government allocating $2.2 billion to send robots to the Moon to build a base.
New York Daily News - Joe Tacopino - Jun 1, 2010
The Japanese space agency is embarking on a mammoth $2.2 billion project to put humanoid robots on the moon and create an unmanned robot ...
Octavia the Android, a Real-Life Rosie the Robot
FOXNews - John R. Quain - May 26, 2010
Designed to support and work closely with humans, the Navy's Octavia the Android may remind you of the Jetson's Rosie the Robot.
BP turns to robot subs after mud fails
New Zealand Herald - May 30, 2010
BP has been forced to focus on a new option after the most ambitious bid yet to stop the worst oil spill in United States history ended in failure yesterday. President Barack Obama called the setback "as enraging as it is heartbreaking" after the oil company failed to overwhelm the gusher of crude with heavy mud and metal. BP immediately began readying its next attempted fix, using robot submarines to cut the pipe and cap it with a funnel-like device, but the only guaranteed solution remains more than two months away.
FRANKFORT — The Franklin Regional Medical Center on Thursday rolled out — literally — its newest tool in stroke diagnosis: a "remote presence physician robot" that will allow University of Louisville doctors to recognize strokes and other neurological ailments within minutes.
The robot has a high-resolution screen that rotates perched atop a wheeled column that can move in any direction. U of L now has such robots at 13 hospitals in Kentucky.
Industrial robot manufacturer ABB capture 30 percent of UK market
Materials Handling World Magazine - May 25, 2010
ABB has captured over 30% share of the UK market for industrial robots in the first three months of 2010, according to results available from the British
Robot Lawn Mower – Robby Garden XP
Gadget Venue (blog) - 19 hours ago
by Matthew on May 29, 2010 The Robby Garden XP is a robot lawn mower that has a number of advanced features.
Northern Colorado Business Report - Jun 1, 2010
The company also said that, "as a result of productivity gains and automation, HP expects to eliminate roughly 9000 positions over a multi-year period to ...
Greentech Media - Jun 2, 2010
The most effective way to turn information technology green might be as simple as automating it. That way IT administrators are more likely to use it and ...
Trend News Agency (subscription) - Jun 1, 2010
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Finance plans to complete automation of the control system of the State Treasury Agency until August, Finance Minister Samir ...
Kansas City Star - Edward M. Eveld - Jun 4, 2010
Four stories of bins towered above workers on Wednesday as they made adjustments to the robot that retrieves items requested by library patrons. ...
Daily Mail - Jun 2, 2010
By Daily Mail Reporter Scientists are developing robots that have eyesight that works in the same way as human vision. The robots will be able to determine ...
UA News (press release) - Monica Everett-Haynes - Jun 2, 2010
Ian Fasel said that in building self-teaching robots, researchers can learn much more about the naturally occurring behaviors in humans, such as why young ...
SlashGear (blog) - Shane McGlaun - Jun 4, 2010
No the picture below isn’t a steam punk hot tub, and it’s not a prop left over from the Flash Gordon series either. The thing you see below if the Soviet lunar rover called Lunokhod 1. The rover was launched back in the Apollo-era and was reportedly one of the biggest successes of the Soviet lunar program. In the years that followed its publicized landing in 1970, the Lunokhod 1 was forgotten about until the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found it again. A team of scientists from the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico has now been successful at hitting the Soviet rover’s laser retroreflector and getting a signal bounced back to Earth.
Sydney Morning Herald - 17 hours ago
AP France's rugby and engineering prowess have come together in an unusual combination - a six-legged rugby robot intended to help improve player ...
Travel Weekly UK - Jun 3, 2010
Robots should replace travel agents to deliver information to clients and take bookings, according to a leading travel design director.
Motoman Inc. and Yaskawa Electric America, Inc. Combine
Posted: 06/02/2010 Motoman Inc. and Yaskawa Electric America, Inc. announced today that they will combine to form Yaskawa America, Inc.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
Robot Bus Moves People, No Driver Needed
Erico Guizzo // Thu, June 03, 2010
French company Robosoft has unveiled what it calls a "cybernetic transport system." The robuRIDE carries 30 passengers and reaches 24 kilometers per hour, driving autonomously using differential GPS and onboard sensors. The vehicle weighs 3 metric tons, or 5 metric tons fully loaded. A 380-volt pack of lead acid batteries gives it 8 hours of autonomy. In automatic mode, it can follow a pre-recorded path. To drive it manually, you use a game controller. A safety system relies on a laser scanner to avoid collisions.
iRobot Demonstrates New Weaponized Robot
Palmisano // Sun, May 30, 2010
iRobot released today new video of its Warrior robot, a beefed up version of the more well-known PackBot, demonstrating use of the APOBS, or Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System, an explosive line charge towed by a rocket, with a small parachute holding back the end of the line. The APOBS, iRobot says, is designed for "deliberate breaching of anti-personnel minefields and multi-strand wire obstacles."
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
The Story of How Industrial Robots Began
June 04, 2010
Today, industrial robots are a common sight. You can find them everywhere - from small job shops to large automotive lines. But it wasn't always like this. In reality, the 6-axis, articulated, industrial robot is a fairly recent invention, albeit one that involved many designs, inventors, and companies. An American inventor, George Devol, was the first to develop a programmable robot in 1954. A little less than a decade later, his UNIMATE robot was installed at a GM plant in New Jersey. Its first job consisted of spot welding and die cast material handling. The robot industry really took off in the 1970s. This period saw the arrival of what would later become major robotic manufacturers: Nachi, KUKA, FANUC, and Motoman. In 1973, the familiar six-axis configuration came into existence. KUKA, a German company, built Famulus, a robot with six electromechanically-driven axes. Want to learn about how industrial robots began? Visit our Robot Education section.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Markus Waibel on 04 Jun 2010,
In a surprising move, Microsoft has announced that its Robotics Developer Studio, or RDS is now available to anyone for free! The big package of programming and simulation tools for robotics has previously been available in 3 different versions with various limitations and costs. By offering its new release with all capabilities bundled at no cost, Microsoft hopes to grab a share of the robotics software market. Microsoft's announcement follows a move by French company Gostai to make their URBI software available for free and the success of Willow Garage's Open Source Robot Operating System ROS.
Boeing X-51A WaveRider Breaks Record in 1st Flight
WaveRider launched fro B-52H Stratofortress and goes hypersonic.
By Robotics Trends Staff
05.30.2010 — Ramjet based, WaveRider flies autonomously for more than 200 seconds reaching an altitude of about 70,000 feet and an approximate speed of Mach 5. In its first flight attempt, the Boeing [NYSE: BA] X-51A WaveRider successfully completed the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight in history—nearly three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. The unmanned aerial vehicle was released from a U.S. Air Force B-52H bomber off the southern California coast around 10 a.m. today. It flew autonomously for more than 200 seconds, powered by its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) motor, as it transmitted telemetry data to ground stations. Something then occurred that caused the vehicle to lose acceleration. At that point, the X-51A was terminated as planned.
Botched Operation Using da Vinci Robot Spurs Lawsuit
Wall Street Journal - John Carreyrou - May 25, 2010
A woman whose ureters were accidentally cut during a surgery with the da Vinci robot last year filed a lawsuit against Wentworth-Douglass ...
Rising labor costs present opportunities for the foreign companies that will help China mechanize its factories.
BY KATSUSHI SAITO AND WENJIE GE, 06/02/10
The words "Made in China" usually conjure images of row upon row of low-wage workers manufacturing cheap toys or stitching inexpensive garments. But Chinese manufacturers are starting to climb up the value chain. Not only are the goods produced changing, but so are factory floors as manufacturers embrace more sophisticated technology to replace increasingly expensive labor.
|May 23, 2010: Border Drone, teleprescence robots, Marketing automation, Robot marries couple, Automation industry growth, arguments for and against robots taking jobs, robot kindergarten teachers, US, European and Japanese space robots, more on X37B, ONION: Robot March on Washington, DARPA’s “Minority Report” Fantasies, DNA robot, and a Free Book Download.
Tim Eaton, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF, May 21, 2010
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said Thursday that border officials have broadened their request to fly an unmanned aircraft in Texas to allow the drone to cruise along the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Rio Grande. Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo , also said that Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt would work as quickly as possible on the request. The plane, which would be based in Corpus Christi, is expected to be approved by this summer and begin operating by the fall, Cuellar said Thursday after hosting a meeting between officials from the FAA and Customs and Border Protection. "These aircraft will increasingly become a familiar means for providing homeland security," Cuellar said in a statement. "The real time intelligence they provide will benefit our domestic security strategy and give us a new tool to meet the evolving threats of the 21st century."
DNA robots spin gold in molecular factory
Tim Hornyak Fri May 14 2010
Scientists have developed microscopic bots composed of DNA that can follow instructions and work together like an assembly line.
The telepresence robots are coming
Daniel Terdiman, Tue May 18 2010
A $15,000 robot from Anybots called QB is designed to help companies with remote offices save on communications costs.
Human error hounded poll automation
BusinessWorld Online – 5/16/10
"Automation was never really autonomous from human participation... That's [human participation] where the errors are cropping up.
Comelec proves critics wrong
By RAYMUND F. ANTONIO
May 11, 2010, 7:51pm
They were criticized, they were under extreme pressure, and they were almost ostracized. But in the end, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), its officials and staff had the last laugh. Doomsayers and critics were silent – at least for now – as their worst predictions that there would be massive cheating and failure of elections in the May 10 polls did not come to pass.
Ind. seeks OK to double size of hybrid area
The Associated Press - Ken Kusmer - May 11, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's human services agency hopes to receive federal approval soon to roughly double the size of the area where it is adding welfare workers to fix problems with its privatized, automated intake system, a spokesman said Tuesday. The Family and Social Services Administration wants to add 11 western and southern counties to what it calls its "hybrid" solution of using more face-to-face contact to complement the call centers, document imaging and other automation that many welfare clients have had problems with.
What Is Marketing Automation, and Why Does It Matter to You?
MarketingProfs.com (subscription) - Jep Castelein - May 11, 2010
Recently, a new type of online marketing system, marketing automation, has become popular. What is it, how does it work, and should you adopt it?
Robot Pharmacists Are Picking Your Medications—Literally
Singularity Hub (blog) - Christopher de la Torre - May 9, 2010
Dispensing medicine is about to get more efficient. New Jersey’s Holy Name Hospital is using robot pharmacists to package, store and dispense medications, while an automated system at an Ohio children’s hospital is preparing I.V. drugs for patients. Automation in medicine is reducing human error and cutting costs, and because these robots can handle pills in a fraction of the time it takes humans, we should be noticing a lot more of them around real soon. Be sure to check out one of these robo-pharmacists in the video below. Robot pharmacists are doing what humans can do, and better—at least when it comes to sorting medication. Augmenting human abilities and performing critical daily functions are nothing new for robots—in fact, that’s usually what artificial intelligence is built to do, and it’s how automation is gaining ground in medicine. General Electric has developed software that can track patients’ history and suggest treatments in real time. Intuitive Surgical’s DaVinci robot regularly performs prostate removals and hysterectomies, albeit under the guidance of human hands. Meanwhile, doctors can now monitor their patients’ hearts and review exam results with smart phones, and recently we told you about how a California medical center ordered 100 iPads to keep its personnel current. All of these technologies are aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes. Robot pill-pickers can’t claim the sleekest of designs—some look like computers before IBM invented desktops—but they do get the job done.
Bringing Automation to Solar Manufacturing
IndustryWeek - May 11, 2010
While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not. The U.S. has set 2015 as a goal to reach grid parity, which means the point in which solar electricity is equal to grid electricity. Many other nations predict reaching it as soon as 2010. But no matter what your thoughts on regulatory involvement, it is clear there will be a resurgence in investment, development and innovation within the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing community throughout the world—and it will largely be driven by technology. Finding the most effective tools and processes is paramount. While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not. Robotic Automation's Impact Robots in the photovoltaic manufacturing process are important due to their ability to significantly reduce costs while continuing to increase their attractiveness compared to manual labor. Richard Swanson, CTO of SunPower, a large-scale manufacturer of solar technology, described automation's impact through the prism of economies of PV manufacturing in terms of labor.
Tokyo couple married by robot
BBC News - 5/16/10
The couple decided to use the robot as they are both connected with Japan's thriving robotics industry. Since robots had brought them together in the first ...
'Phantom Ray' robot stealth jet rolls out
Register - Lewis Page - May 11, 2010
US arms'n'aerospace goliath Boeing yesterday held a public unveiling of its "Phantom Ray" jet-fighter sized robot ...
Robots bring telepresence to stay-at-home workers
Times Online - May 11, 2010
Mr Goecker does not need to be there in person - he lives thousands of miles away in Indiana - because his robot is there every day, acting as his eyes,
Robot With Laser to Zap Weeds Automatically in Chemical Free Control of Pesky ...
Before It's News - Alton Parrish - May 9, 2010
No more chemicals for fighting weeds in professional gardening! A fully automated unit drives over a field, a camera recognizes weeds sprouting up and a laser beam takes care of the rest. This science-fiction scenario is actually being researched at the Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) and the Institute for Biological Production Systems (IBPS) at the Leibniz University Hannover.
Automation will return to double-digit growth in 2010
Drives & Controls - May 19, 2010
Sales of industrial automation equipment during the first quarter of 2010 probably grew by 25% more than a year before, according to a new analysis by IMS Research. It expects an equally strong second quarter – buoyed by robust order books resulting from restocking and new orders – and predicts that even a flat second half of the year will result in close to double-digit revenue growth for most product areas. According to a new type of assessment by IMS – looking for the first time at the entire global market for industrial automation equipment, including motors – revenues dropped by around 14.3% last year to $74.9bn, from $87.4bn in 2008 (with market shares of the leading players shown below).
Computers To Take Human Jobs, Shutdown Global Economy? Get Ford's Book Free
Singularity Hub (blog) - Aaron Saenz - May 21, 2010
I got my copy of The Lights In The Tunnel for free, and now you can too. Martin Ford’s recent book discusses the growing capability of artificial intelligence and robotics to replace workers at all salary levels and what a sharp rise in automation may mean for the global economy. Ford believes that without drastic adjustments to the way the market is structured, automation could bring the whole system crumbling down. In the interest of boosting sales and spreading the message, The Lights In The Tunnel is now being offered free for download as a PDF via its website. As I mentioned upon reviewing the book this past winter, I don’t agree with Ford’s conclusions, but I do think he is one of the few authors spending time exploring the long term and potentially extreme consequences of what automation could mean. That’s important.
FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD
Robot subs deployed in search for oil under gulf's surface
MiamiHerald.com - Sara Kennedy - May 18, 2010
Scientists at Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on Monday were in the process of launching the first of three torpedo-shaped robots equipped to hunt for oil underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. The robots, measuring about six feet long and with little wings, have in the past been used to search for red tide, but now will be hunting for oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to Gary Kirkpatrick, a Mote senior scientist.
Robot Teachers Introduced In South Korean Kindergartens
NTDTV - May 20, 2010
Lucky students at 50 kindergartens in South Korea have the opportunity to test out the latest educational aid – robot teachers. Known as the “R-learning”
Ingestible Surgical Robots—Hard To Swallow Concept?
Singularity Hub (blog) - Christopher de la Torre - May 20, 2010
Medical robots are advancing at phenomenal speed, and within years micro-sized robots could be assisting surgeons with operations from inside their patients. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab in Italy has developed a robot called ARES (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical System) that will be assembled inside the human body. This modular design is leading the way for a new breed of device that may one day take the place of our most trusted surgeons’ hands. ARES may only be a concept at present, but the project represents amazing new possibilities in the field of robotic surgery.
Efforts to Field New Kinds of Ground Robots Have Had Little Success
National Defense Magazine - Stew Magnuson - May 17, 2010
The life-saving qualities of ground robots have been touted since explosive ordnance disposal teams began widely using them at the outset of the Iraq invasion in 2003. But since then, other applications for the potentially life-saving technology have not reached Iraq or Afghanistan. Their predicted influx into the battlefield has stalled. That’s not to say that research into myriad applications hasn’t continued. But so far, the experiments have not made the transition to the current fights. Acceptability on the part of senior military leaders is one of the major roadblocks, officials said at the National Defense Industrial Association ground robotics conference in Miami.
Europe Sends Huge New Robot Space Freighter to Launch Site
Space.com - May 17, 2010
Europe's second robotic space cargo vessel is headed for its South American launch site in preparation for a delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. The Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, or ATV-2, a cargo ship built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is slated to launch toward the station in December. ESA has named the new spacecraft after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. The first in the disposable robotic cargo ship fleet was named Jules Verne. It flew a successful debut flight in 2008 and destroyed itself intentionally at the end of its mission.
Japanese space yacht Ikaros launches on Venus mission
Daily Mail - Claire Bates - May 21, 2010
The space agency has proposed that the Japanese government send a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and build the world's first lunar base by 2020.
Is it dangerous to let unmanned drones fight our wars for us? - P.W. Singer ...
Slate Magazine - P.W. Singer - May 19, 2010
As I sat there trying to piece it all together, it felt like I, Robot (the Isaac Asimov novel, not the crummy Will Smith movie) had come true.
Singer Versus Smith on “Robot Rights” and Human Exceptionalism
First Things (blog) - May 18, 2010
Back in December, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan wrote a piece in the Guardian arguing on behalf of robot rights. I took exception here as SHS, my headline being, “Robots Will Never be People and Should Never Have Rights.” Singer and Sagan have now taken exception to my exception in the humanist magazine, Free Inquiry (no link), with “No Rights for Robots? Never?” (June/July 2010).
Robot military shuttle X37B- More questions than answers
DigitalJournal.com - Paul Wallis – 5/23/2010
While the furor has raged around the scrapping of the space shuttles, the military shuttle X37B has been percolating in the background. It looks like a shuttle, but smaller. It’s a very functional design, too. Some amateur space watchers spotted the highly unpublicized X 37B in its 255 mile high orbit, producing a grudging amount of semi-information. It actually took off last month, and the silence on its mission and uses has been thunderous. The information about X37B available so far indicates the thing has an endurance of up to nine months. That’s huge, by spacecraft standards which have measured flights in no more than weeks in the past. X37B also has its own slightly coy Wiki. For a spacecraft described as an orbiter, it has a lot of grunt, even in theory. It can carry “a payload”, which is sort of in the “Duhhh…” range as information, but it’s also configured like the shuttle payload bay.
Robots Speak Out Against Asimov's First Law Of Robotics
The Onion (satire) - May 17, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC—More than 200000 robots from across the US marched on Washington Monday, demanding that Congress repeal Asimov's First Law of Robotics.
The Army's First Combat Robot - Operational by 2015
Defense Update - May 18, 2010
According to Lt. Colonel Jay Ferriera, Product Manager Unmanned Ground Vehicles, a key system for the ARV-A-L is the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) being developed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems. ANS is scheduled to be ready for Integrated Qualification Testing on these robotic vehicles in 2012, anticipating initial operational capability with an airborne, air-assault or light brigade by 2014. Featuring an integrated weapons and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) package the ARV-A-L (designated XM1219) will support the dismounted infantry’s efforts to locate and destroy enemy platforms and positions. This robotic platform will support both anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons systems that to be remotely operated by network linked soldiers.
AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Robotics will Open its Gates Again!
From June 8 to 11, 2010 AUTOMATICA will bring all areas of robotics and automation under one roof. The aim of the trade show is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Only here you can meet the experts and decision makers from all around the world.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
Do Robots Take People's Jobs?
Jeanne Dietsch // Tue, May 11, 2010
Technology taking jobs is a notion that probably dates back to the invention of the wheel. After all, it took four bearers to carry the emperor and only one to pull a chariot! The problem is that most people stop thinking after the first domino falls instead of following the chain of events further on. Let's continue the chain: Once the wheel is invented, more people can travel comfortably, goods can be carried farther, better roads are built and commerce thrives. A few bearers of the ruling class have to find new work, the remainder of the world benefits and thousands of jobs are created.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Markus Waibel on 21 May 2010, 08:37
In a first step, the team mounted miniature wireless microphone sensor on six Egyptian fruit bats. This allowed them to record the bats' double-click echolocation calls, and its returning echoes, during the bats' flight. The team then went on to create an ultrasonic loudspeaker and electronics that accurately reproduces the bats' clicks. Their system recreates the bats' natural acoustic gain control which allows bats to emit high-intensity calls, while still hearing the weak echoes returning from surrounding objects.
Darpa’s Self-Learning Software Knows Who You Are
Katie Drummond, May 21, 2010
Software systems could one day analyze everything from blurry war-zone footage to the subtle sarcasm in a written paragraph, thanks to two unassuming scientists who are inspired by biology to make revolutionary strides in intelligent computing. Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus, both computer science professors at New York University, are the brains behind “Deep Learning,” a program sponsored by Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency. The idea, ultimately, is to develop code that can teach itself to spot objects in a picture, actions in a video, or voices in a crowd. LeCun and Fergus have $2 million and four years to make it happen. Existing software programs rely heavily on human assistance to identify objects. A user extracts key feature sets, like edge statistics (how many edges an object has, and where they are) and then feeds the data into a running algorithm, which uses the feature sets to recognize the visual input.
Darpa Wants Code to Spot ‘Anomalous Behavior’ on the Job
Noah Shachtman, May 20, 2010
Can software catch a cyberspy’s tricky intentions, before he’s started to help the other side? The way-out researchers at Darpa think so. They’re planning a new program, “Suspected Malicious Insider Threat Elimination” or SMITE, that’s supposed to “dynamically forecast” when a mole is about to strike. Also, the code is meant to flag “inadvertent” disclosures “by an already trusted person with access to sensitive information.” “Looking for clues” that suggest a turncoat or accidental leaker is about to spill (.pdf) “could potentially be easier than recognizing explicit attacks,” Darpa notes in a request for information. But even that simpler search won’t be easy. “Many attacks are combinations of directly observable and inferred events.” Which is why SMITE’s program managers are interested in techniques to figure out “the likely intent of inferred actions, and suggestions about what [that] evidence might mean.” That goes for “behaviors both malicious and non-malicious.” Step one in starting that process: Build a ginormous database to store all kinds of information on would-be threats. “The next step is to determine whether an individual or group of individuals is exhibiting anomalous behavior that is also malicious.” That’s a toughie — something anomalous in one context might be perfectly normal in another. One possible solution, the SMITE paper adds, could be detecting “deceptive” activities, which are a sign of cyberspying. Or cheating on your taxes. Or carrying on an office affair. Or playing World of Warcraft on the job. Depending on the situation.
Pakistani Site: Drones Only Killed One Terrorist in 2010 (If You Don’t Count Taliban)
Noah Shachtman, May 18, 2010
Read one American analysis, and you’ll be told that U.S. drones haven’t killed a single civilian in Pakistan this year. A look through one pair of local eyes yields a very different result, however. According to the website Pakistan Body Count, America’s drones have only hit a single terrorist in 2010, while slaying dozens and dozens of innocents.
Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs
Noah Shachtman, May 17, 2010
This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck — just 50 square inches. It’d be cute, almost, if it wasn’t armed with “dozens” of eight-inch rockets. The world’s militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they’re always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human’s day. But Rafael, Israel’s state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.
Gitmo Shutdown Means More Drone Strikes, Officials Claim
Noah Shachtman, May 19, 2010
The White House has essentially forced the Pentagon and the CIA to fire off more and more drone strikes in Pakistan, because of “executive orders to ban secret CIA detention centers and close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.” It’s one of a number of remarkable assertions military and intelligence officials make to Reuters’ Adam Entous in this monster of an article.
Report: Secret Space Plane Likely an Orbiting Spy
Noah Shachtman, May 14, 2010
When the U.S. Air Force launched its secret space plane last month, speculation about the X-37B’s true purpose ran wild. Some conjectured that it might be a prototype for an orbiting bomber. Others warned of “a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy.” Prominent members of the Russian military establishment screamed that Moscow needed to build up its own space arsenal, ASAP. The British press, meanwhile, made dark insinuations about “the testing of new laser weapon systems” in space. The reality is probably less exotic. In all likelihood, the space plane is another way for the American military to spy on its foes from on high. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Secure World Foundation, provided to Danger Room.
Telepresence goes mobile withe introduction of Anybots QB.
By Robotics Trends Staff
05.19.2010 — Anybots enters the mobile telepresence market with QB, a web accessible mobile platform that provides a physical presence for remote workers.
Welcome to the Age of Interactive Robotics and Entertainment
By Robotics Trends Staff
05.19.2010 — What is robotic dinosaur museum installations could interact with visitors? What if the dinosaurs stalked the visitors? Visit the Field Museum in Chicago to find out. On May 26, 2010 KumoTek Robotics will launch a first of its kind interactive robotics exhibit at the historical Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The exhibit will feature huge life-like dinosaurs manufactured by Kokoro Japan and integrated with the latest in interactive robotics technology from KumoTek. Visitors will experience firsthand what it’s like to be stalked by prehistoric creatures of varying proportions, and can even bear witness to an interactive robotic performance between predator and prey.
Synchronized Swimming for Submarines
By Robotics Trends Staff
05.18.2010 — Clark School of Engineering studies schooling fish to improve motion coordination in unmanned vehicle teams. Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey. Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.
They Walk. They Work. New DNA Robots Strut Their Tiny Stuff.
For the first time, microscopic robots made from DNA molecules can walk, follow instructions and work together to assemble simple products on an atomic-scale assembly line, mimicking the machinery of living cells, two independent research teams announced Wednesday.
Robots Have a Place When Used by Trained Surgeons
New surgical innovations are always highly prized. However, your article "Surgical Robot Examined in Injuries" (page one, May 5) illustrates that the evaluation of the virtues of new instruments takes time and effort.
|May 9, 2010: Automation Company first quarter reports (Rockwell automation profits booming, Swiss automation giant ABB on a global roll, Siemens earnings surge, Honeywell sales up, iRobot profit and salses up), Worker shortage in China?, Longshore workers and automation, More Green Jobs for Robots, World's Quickest Robot, Philippine Election Automation, Da Vinci Troubles, Moon Robots, and more...
Can robots stop Gulf of Mexico oil spill?
Tim Hornyak, April 26, 2010
Officials have dispatched robotic submarines to try to stop oil leaking from a sunken rig on the Gulf of Mexico 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.
Gulf Coast oil spill responders employ latest tech
Daniel Terdiman, Fri Apr 30 2010
Oil spill cleanup is largely a low-tech field, but there are an increasing number of new technologies being used in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Researcher offers arm to knife-wielding robot
Tim Hornyak Sun May 9 2010
A German researcher gives a robot a few knives--as well as his own arm--to play with. A collision avoidance system he and his colleagues are testing may help prevent injury by robot.
Robot orchestra to rock world music in L.A.
Posted by Tim Hornyak, Wed May 5 2010
Karmetik Machine Orchestra is a group of robot and human musicians based at CalArts that blends electronic and world music. Check out their unusual grooves.
Honeywell buys into building-efficiency software
Martin LaMonica, Fri May 7 2010
Building automation giant buys Akuacom, a small company that makes software for demand-response and smart-grid programs.
Rockwell Automation Triples Profits, Increases Outlook
Wall Street Journal - Matt Jarzemsky - Apr 28, 2010
Rockwell Automation Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter profit more than tripled as architecture and software sales surged and margins widened.
ABB Wins $28 Million Power and Automation Order for Water Project in Algeria
ThomasNet Industrial News Room (press release) - Apr 27, 2010
Power and automation solution to support increasing demand for drinking water
Zurich, Switzerland, April 20, 2010 - ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order worth $28 million to provide power and automation solutions for one of Algeria's biggest water projects in the Sahara region…. As populations grow and demand for drinking water rises, the water sector has been identified as a key growth area for ABB, whose long-standing expertise and trusted solutions have contributed to water treatment plants and distribution networks all over the world.
ABB wins automation orders worth USD 40 million from China
SteelGuru - Apr 28, 2010
ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, announced that it has won orders worth a total of USD 40 million from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co Limited to supply crane automation and electrical systems for three projects. The orders were booked in the first quarter.
ABB wins $108 million substation order in Saudi Arabia
ARC Advisory Group (press release) - Apr 30, 2010
Zurich, Switzerland, April 29, 2010 – ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order worth $108 million from the Saudi Electricity ...
Siemens Raises Full-Year Outlook as Earnings Surge
BusinessWeek - Richard Weiss - Apr 29, 2010
ABB Ltd., which competes with Siemens in power distribution and automation, on April 22 reported a lower-than-expected profit for the first quarter as ...
Honeywell Reports First Quarter Sales Up 3% To $7.8 Billion; Earnings Per ...
PR-USA.net (press release) - Apr 26, 2010
Automation and Control Solutions -- Sales were up 4%, compared with the first quarter of 2009, primarily due to the positive impact of foreign exchange, ...
IRobot sales, profit up in 1Q
BusinessWeek - Apr 28, 2010
The company said its international home robot revenue more than doubled to $37 million during the quarter, and its government and industrial robot revenue ...
Worker shortage in China benefits automation equipment maker
Digitimes - Nancy Cheng, Jessie Shen - Apr 28, 2010
Automation equipment maker Mirle Automation has benefited from the ongoing worker shortage in China, according to the company, adding that it has seen ...
Progressive Longshoremen Fight Against 'Race to Bottom'
In These Times - Kari Lydersen - Apr 30, 2010
Perlstein was referring to the trend wherein fewer and fewer workers are needed on the docks because of automation and new technology…and companies ...
Family Nanny robot in works
Gadgetrepublic - Apr 30, 2010
Here's a robot that's quite accomplished: Family Nanny, by China company Siasun Robot & Automation Co., Ltd., can reportedly talk, email, detect gas leaks and send text messages.
Honeywell Reports First Quarter Sales Up 3% To $7.8 Billion; Earnings Per ...
PR-USA.net (press release) - Apr 26, 2010
Automation and Control Solutions -- Sales were up 4%, compared with the first quarter of 2009, primarily due to the positive impact of foreign exchange, ...
More Green Jobs for Robots
CleanTechnica - Tina Casey - Apr 26, 2010
Green jobs for robots are becoming an important factor in pushing sustainable new technologies into commercialization, and a couple of recent developments underscore the key role our mechano-minded friends are playing. First, emerging solar giant Dow Corning Corp. has just announced an alliance with robot master Reis Robotics to promote a silicone-based encapsulating technology for solar cells that is expected to lower the cost of solar energy through a more efficient production process. Second, just last month the National Renewable Energy Laboratory featured robots that operate a solar energy test site, where companies can use the latest technology to asses, develop and refine their solar cells. The public-private aspect of the endeavor mirrors the new federally-funded kinetic hydropower test facility embedded in Tulane University, which aims to create new green jobs by providing a platform for private companies to develop sustainable technologies.
Nearly Perpetual Robot Submarine
Digital Silence - Apr 28, 2010
NASA has unveiled an ocean-going robot that really can go on forever. It is the first of its kind to be fuelled entirely by renewable energy.
Robots and vision pack lettuces
OptoIQ - Apr 30, 2010
El Dulze (El Mirador, Spain), a family run business that produces lettuce, uses 68 robots in a packaging system installed by system integrator IT Robotics ...
Robots help doctors treat stroke patients from miles away
KSTP.com - Katie Lynn - Apr 26, 2010
... can interact with us have multiple consultants viewing the patient, interacting with the patient via the robot," said Dr. Demaershalk.
Army Investing in Robot Balloons
FOXNews - Apr 30, 2010
AP High-tech military balloons will provide battlefield commanders with an aerial view of threats, according to sources. AP A 242-foot-long dirigible being ...
Salami Sorting Robot: Automation At Its Most Delicious
Gizmodo.com (blog) - May 1, 2010
Usually, when I watch these sorts of videos, I'm mesmerized by the dazzling, superhuman movements of the robots. This time, I can't take my eyes off the ...
World's Quickest Robot defies human interference via a Wii-mote
Geek.com - Doug Osborne - Apr 29, 2010
Think you can outsmart the world's quickest packaging and sorting robot? Yeah – good luck with that. Recently people were challenged to see if they could ...
Dustbot: An On-Demand Trash Collecting Robot
PSFK - Apr 29, 2010
The Dustbot is a robot that can pick up trash and drop it off at its appropriate dumping place, all on its own. Started as a project by Italy's Scuola ...
'Automated polls a new beginning'
Philippine Star - Sheila Crisostomo - May 8, 2010
MANILA, Philippines - For all its imperfections, real or imagined, the first automated elections tomorrow would signal “the beginning of a massive transformational phase in the electoral system of the Philippines,” Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo said yesterday.
IBON: 64% of Pinoys believe automation will lead to poll failure
GMA news.tv - May 5, 2010
Sixty-four percent of Filipinos believe the poll automation program may lead to a failure of elections, according to a survey conducted by militant think tank IBON Foundation. IBON said Wednesday night that 88.5 percent of respondents were aware of poll automation. Of the number, 64 percent believe automation "could fail and lead to electoral failure."
Rockwell Automation Triples Profits, Increases Outlook
Wall Street Journal - Matt Jarzemsky - Apr 28, 2010
Rockwell Automation Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter profit more than tripled as architecture and software sales surged and margins widened.
Solar cell manufacturing and robot automation: Right fit, right robot
PennEnergy Petroleum Products (press release) - Rush LaSelle - May 5, 2010
While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, which robot types and kinematics fit each unique process may not.
Siemens to Provide Electrical Equipment and Automation System for New Turkish ...
Azom.com - May 5, 2010
AS the Siemens Industry Solutions Division is to provide the electrical equipment and automation system for a new cement line at Jebel, Turkmenistan.
Honda Seeks Cheaper Local Parts to Compete in China
BusinessWeek - Makiko Kitamura - Apr 29, 2010
April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co. plans to buy more parts from Chinese suppliers to cut costs at its auto assembly plant in Wuhan, central China, as demand grows for affordable cars in the world’s largest auto market. … Robots vs. Workers: The Honda-Dongfeng venture is gradually increasing automation at the existing Wuhan plant, said Shinichi Ikeda, a division head in charge of vehicle production. The factory has about 130 robots, compared with about 400 each at Honda’s plants in Saitama and Mie prefectures in Japan, said Isamu Matsuoka, deputy president of the joint venture. About 15 percent of engine-assembly work is automated at the Wuhan plant, compared with 50 percent at factories in Japan. Welding is one area in which automation is already used, to ensure consistency, Ikeda said. Automation doesn’t necessarily reduce costs given the need for equipment maintenance, Ikeda said. Wages in China are also lower than in Japan and the U.S., Matsuoka said. Most line workers are hired from local technical schools, and the average wage is about 4,000 yuan ($586) a month, including overtime. That compares with an average monthly wage of 357,324 yen ($3,800) for Honda’s workers in Japan.
ABB automation for Goliat oil and gas field
The Engineer - May 5, 2010
Zurich, Switzerland – ABB has won an order worth over $60m from Hyundai Heavy Industries to provide an array of power and automation technologies for an offshore production platform at the Goliat oil and gas field off the northern coast of Norway.
BP robot team to tackle oil disaster
Daily Mail - Sarah Bridge - May 9, 2010
BP, whose shares have been savaged following the catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, is hoping this week to receive the necessary permits for ten underwater robots to begin dispersing oil on the seabed. The energy giant has already tested its remotely operated underwater vehicles, which were deployed to pressure-spray the oil away from the source of the leak before it had the chance to build up into a slick. It said the trials had been successful. However, the company is having to wait for permission from American marine authorities before it can submerge all ten robots to mount a large-scale operation.
Robot Examined in Injuries
Wall Street Journal - John Carreyrou - May 5, 2010
Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, a small community hospital in this coastal New England town, used a college hockey game to showcase its new technological marvel: a $1.4 million surgical robot named after Leonardo da Vinci. As the University of New Hampshire battled the University of Vermont last season before a crowd of 6,000, hospital representatives invited fans to try out the robot between breaks in the action. The da Vinci robot is a massive machine that is used to perform minimally invasive surgery. But some experts warn that the robot can do more harm than good when wielded by inexperienced doctors. WSJ's John Carreyrou reports.
Da Vinci robot disaster? I don't think so
MedCity News - May 7, 2010
… Heres the problem with the Journals two arguments:
- I definitely believe that injuries occurred in surgeries where the robot was deployed. And its believable that this hospital lacked the volume of cases to use the robot successfully. Yet mistakes happen in surgery all the time. A robot is no prerequisite for a medical error. Theres nothing in the article to compare these anecdotes with the rate of errors in the hospitals non-robotic surgeries. If anything I would say the article makes a good argument not to have surgery at a small hospital.
- Of course the robot is being marketed to hospitals as a money maker. Thats not da Vincis fault at all. The company is just responding to the way doctors and hospitals operate: as profit-seeking, revenue maximizing entities. If someone wants to change that, blaming the robot wont help.
New rescue robot pulls victims inside its body
CrunchGear (blog) - Serkan Toto - May 7, 2010
This looks much like a robot that actually serves a purpose. Japan-based tool maker Kikuchi has developed a robo vehicle that can pull victims at disaster sites into its body. The obvious goal is to support human rescuers for whom it’s too dangerous to reach injured people during certain emergency situations.
Walking Moon Robot
Digital Silence - May 4, 2010
...just make sure they aren't self-replicating ;-) A humanoid robot could be walking on the moon – and drawing the Japanese flag on its surface – by 2015,
Safety fears as robot spy plane takes to skies over Wales
WalesOnline - Robin Turner – May 9, 2010
THIS is the next generation robot war plane stalking the skies above rural Wales. The super-intelligent £15m spy drone, currently cruising around a 150sq mile fly zone, is set to be the latest weapon in the deadly fight against the Taliban. In a project codenamed Watchkeeper, the £680m fleet of new unmanned aerial vehicles have started flying from Parc Aberporth in Ceredigion, the centre of excellence for drone development run by MoD spin-off firm QintetiQ. The Watchkeeper fleet, due to go to war in Afghanistan in 2011, have a range of uses – including the ability to automatically check ground disturbance on an hour by hour basis.
Litter-Robot to the rescue
Calgary Herald - Lisa Kadane - May 9, 2010
that most dreaded of household tasks: the daily (or, er, weekly) chore of scooping doodie from your cat's indoor toilet. The Litter-Robot is an automated, self-cleaning litter box. Seven minutes after kitty visits, it rotates, sifting waste clumps from the litter and depositing them into a plastic bag-lined tray. Your cat always gets a clean potty spot, and you only have to deal with the nasty business of tying up and tossing the bag about once a week.
First Heart Surgery Performed by Remote-Controlled Robot
AllGov - May 7, 2010
What ordinarily takes eight hours was done in only one when the world's first robot-performed heart surgery took place last week in the United Kingdom.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
Micro Robots Compete in 2-Millimeter Dash
Erico Guizzo // Tue, May 04, 2010
At the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, in Anchorage, Alaska, this week, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the famed NIST, is holding a robotics competition for small robots -- very small robots. In the Mobile Microrobotics Challenge, robots with dimensions measured in micrometers will square off in a series of challenges taking place at a, uh, microchip playing field [photo above]. First there's a race across a 2 millimeter distance, or the equivalent to the diameter of a pin head. Then the microbots will compete in a microassembly challenge in which they'll have to insert tiny pegs into tiny holes. Finally, there's a freestyle competition in which each team chooses how to show off its small bot in a grand way.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
Robot Orders Increase in 1st Quarter of 2010
Posted: May 06, 2010
If the first quarter of 2010 is any indication, this is going to be a better year for robot sales. According to data gathered by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the first quarter of 2010 saw a marked increase in robot orders. Robot manufacturers in North America report 16% more units sold than last year at the same time. They also brought in 30% more dollars compared to the first quarter of 2009. The application with the largest number (60%) of new robot orders was material handling. There were also increases in the following industries: food and consumer goods and semiconductor/electronics/photonics. Recovery in the automotive sector was also evident from increases in new robot orders.
5 May 2010 at 21:11 UTC by steve
The image above, from the US Coast Guard's flickr stream, shows an ROV attempting to activate the Deepwater Horizon Blowout Preventer (BOP). The attempt failed and the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues, threatening to become one of the biggest environmental disasters of all time. Efforts to stop the spill now include at least 10 underwater robots (in addition to 200 manned sea vessels). US Coast Guard ROVs located two of the major leaks. There have been unsuccessful attempts by six different ROVs to close the BOP. Other underwater robots are monitoring the disaster site, locating portions of the spill and dispensing subsea oil dispersents. BP has rented most of the ROVs they're using but ExxonMobil has donated the use of one underwater robot plus a support vessel. ROVs working on one of the three major leaks today successfully installed a half-ton valve on the broken pipe and were able to shut it off. Next up for the robots is to assist with the lowering of a 100 ton containment dome over the disaster site to contain the spilling oil. This type of operation has never been attempted at a depth of 5,000 feet. If the containment dome doesn't work, scientists warn, the spill may get worse fast.
ROBOT WORLD NEWS
May 2, 2010
As CHARLI takes his first steps, anxious onlookers stand ready to catch him if he falls. His stride is short, but upright, as one foot is placed in front of the other in the basement of Virginia Tech’s Randolph Hall.
May 2, 2010
Berkeley Lab scientists have established a revolutionary nanocrystal-making robot, capable of producing nanocrystals with staggering precision.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 2)
by Sabine Hauert » 07 May 2010,
Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 1)
by Sabine Hauert » 23 Apr 2010
Intelligent Surveillance & Security Guard Robot
by Johnny 5 » 05 Aug 2008
It's been a while since this emerged, but the robotic sentry developed by Samsung's Techwin division to guard the border between North and South Korea should not be missing in a robot products section.
No-Name Terrorists Now CIA Drone Targets
Noah Shachtman, May 6, 2010
Once upon a time, the CIA had to know a militant’s name before putting him up for a robotic targeted killing. Now, if the guy acts like a guerrilla, it’s enough to call in a drone strike. It’s another sign of that a once-limited, once-covert program to off senior terrorist leaders has morphed into a full-scale — if undeclared — war in Pakistan. And in a war, you don’t need to know the name of someone on the other side before you take a shot.
Air Force Treating Wounds With Lasers and Nanotech
Katie Drummond, May 5, 2010
Forget stitches and old-school sutures. The Air Force is funding scientists who are using nano-technology and lasers to seal up wounds at a molecular level. It might sound like Star Trek tech, but it’s actually the latest in a series of ambitious Pentagon efforts to create faster, more effective methods of treating war-zone injuries. Last year, the military’s research agency, Darpa, requested proposals for instant injury repair using adult stem cells, and Pentagon scientists are already doing human trials of spray-on skin. Massachusetts General Hospital researchers Irene Kochevar, Robert Redmond and dermatologist Sandy Tsao are behind the nano-tech project, which has been funded by various agencies within the Department of Defense for eight years. They’ve successfully tried out the nano-sutures in lab experiments and a clinical trial of 31 patients in need of skin incisions.
Video: Military’s Robotic Pack Mule Battles the Mud
By Noah Shachtman, April 30, 2010
The military’s creepily life-like robotic pack mule can now trot along at five miles per hour — and trudge through mud as it goes uphill. Earlier footage of BigDog, the mechanical quadruped built by Boston Dynamics and funded by Darpa, showed the mecha-creature climbing over hills, stomping through snow, surviving swift kicks to the chops, and hiking alongside troops at Ft. Benning. Boston Dynamics’ latest BigDog video is mostly a compilation of those earlier accomplishments, plus some new footage from a quick run and from a muddy march at Quantico.
Pentagon: Give our Robot Spy Birds Life-Like Legs
Noah Shachtman, April 29, 2010
Stanford University researchers have already figured out how to build a drone that can land on the side of a wall, perch there for a while, and then take back off into air again. The Pentagon would like to make its robotic aircraft even more bird-like. The military recently handed out a trio of contracts to design legs that will let these “micro air vehicles” hang onto a branch in high winds, and run around on the ground if need be. The question is whether these Pentagon-backed firms can top Stanford’s already-impressive results.
The Legal Case for Robot War Gets Complicated
Nathan Hodge, April 29, 2010
The legal debate over America’s undeclared drone war in Pakistan is getting sharper: In a congressional hearing yesterday, a prominent law professor suggested that drone operators could, in, theory, be liable to criminal prosecution for “war crimes.” It’s just one of the many sticky legal issues raised by observers of the CIA’s (and the military’s) lethal drone operations. “This is not an academic debate,” Shane Harris of National Journal noted earlier this year. “Quietly, and with little apparent notice from the Obama administration, a broad range of important international actors are raising fundamental questions about the legality of drone strikes, particularly in countries where the United States does not have a military presence.”
Black Sea Drone Wars: the Sequel
Nathan Hodge, April 27, 2010
Pakistan isn’t the only place where drones are causing controversy. In the separatist republic of Abkhazia, local officials are accusing the Georgian government of intruding on their airspace with unmanned aircraft.
Vasily Malayev, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) border force in Abkhazia, was quoted by Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency as saying that Georgian drones had crossed into Abkhaz territory “more than 40 times” since last May. More than two dozen weapons caches had also been discovered in Abkhazia, Malayev added, though he did not give any specifics about how, exactly, the weapons got there. So, is this something to worry about? For starters, Abkhazia’s claims to sovereign airspace are pretty tenuous: The region broke away from Georgia after a civil war in 1992-1993, but only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru recognize the state’s independence. And Russia effectively props up the secessionist territory: Russia’s FSB, for instance, helps control the boundary between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.
Targeted Killing Lite: Inside the CIA’s New Drone Arsenal
Nathan Hodge, April 26, 2010
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has long been wise to a problem: Weapons designed for Cold War combat are often too powerful — and too lethal — for low-intensity conflict and counterinsurgency. Now it seems the CIA is catching on to the concept as well. In today’s Washington Post, Joby Warrick and Peter Finn report that the CIA may be using “new, smaller missiles” to take out suspected insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas, in combination with better surveillance and other technological upgrades. Last month, they write, a CIA missile “probably no bigger than a violin case and weighing about 35 pounds” targeted a house in Miram Shah, in Pakistan’s South Waziristan province. The strike killed a top al-Qaeda organizer, along with several others. Such precise, low-collateral-damage attacks, they add, “have provoked relatively little public outrage.” Leaving aside the question of whether the CIA’s campaign of targeted killing is any less controversial — our pal Peter Singer argues that is isn’t — the agency’s acquisition of less-lethal weapons is intriguing. While the agency refused to comment on the specifics, it’s pretty easy to guess what’s going on here.
LaserMotive Unveils Strategy for First Laser-Powered Fuel System for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
By Robotics Trends Staff
05.05.2010 — Using laser power beaming – the wireless transfer of energy from one location to another using laser light, the new power system will supply unlimited power, extending the capabilities of unmanned aerial systems and enabling new missions. LaserMotive, a R&D company specializing in laser power beaming and winner of the NASA-sponsored 2009 Power Beaming Competition, has unveiled its blueprint for creating the first endless power system for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Robot Orders Post Strong Gains in First Quarter of 2010
Robotics Trends Staff
05.04.2010 — Robotics manufacturers announce that Q1 orders for robotics systems have increased significantly posting large gains in both unit sales and revenue over the same period in 2009.
Fearing for their jobs, American workers are scrambling to produce more for every hour of work. Call it the hustle factor. At the same time, new machinery and new ways of doing things are boosting productivity. Call it the brain factor. Both forces are at work: Productivity in the fourth quarter 2009 rose 5.8% from a year earlier, the biggest jump since ...
Moment of Truth for U.S. Productivity Boom
|April 25, 2010: Automation around the world: India, Angola, Japan, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Automation Census, Cocaine-hunting robot chopper, X-37B Robot Space Plane, 2 female androids, Important book: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, and more
# Chinese robot chef can't walk, but it can wok
Tim Hornyak, Wed Apr 14 2010
Students at China's Yangzhou and Shanghai Jiaotong universities are developing a cooking robot that can whip up 300 kinds of Chinese dishes. Chefs are not pleased.
# Robovie R3 robot wants to hold your hand
Tim Hornyak, Wed Apr 21 2010
New humanoid robot is designed to help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks. Cheaper than earlier versions, it still costs as much as a sports car.
# Man Is No Match For World's Fastest Pick-and-Place Robot
By Kyle VanHemert, 04/20/10
Even armed with a Wiimote, the BotJunkie junkies couldn't shake the 300-cycle-per-minute Adept Quattro, the world's fastest-pick and-place robot. Watch this video and imagine how quickly it could fill up one of those state quarter maps.
# German Fembot AILA Has No Mouth to Feed Bratwurst To
By Kat Hannaford, 04/23/10
As the glamor shots illustrate, fembot AILA is pretty tasty. Curvy in all the right places, big eyes not seen since Zooey Deschanel, and a modern haircut that shows she's got an awesome music collection. Shame she has no legs.
# The Roboplant Is Coming For You(r Contaminated River)
By Mark Wilson, 04/09/10
The roboplant will not rest until it walks to the nearest source of polluted water, sips from it and tops off its microbial fuel cells.
# Smart factory's cheap chassis: Rockwell helps keep cost of India's Tata Nano low
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - John Schmid - April 18, 2010
AP By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel Tata Motors last month inaugurated its $417 million intelligent automation factory, where it builds the Nano. … How do they do it? In Tata's case, a crucial element is a $417 million "smart factory" in the state of Gujarat that uses intelligent-automation hardware, software and services supplied by Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. "That plant in India is using the latest technology," says Keith Nosbusch, chief executive of Rockwell. "The myth of these emerging countries is that they do it by cheap labor and abysmal working standards and terrible plants and abusive environments," Nosbusch said. "These are high-tech facilities, as high-tech as they are in the U.S. And the people are very happy to be working in them." Tata's technology goes beyond robotics, the craze of the 1980s. While the Gujarat plant remains in ramp-up phase, it already manages every sensor, microchip and motor control. It predicts bottlenecks and breakdowns on the factory floor before they happen. It has the capacity to seamlessly order parts from its suppliers - such as seats for the Nano from the Indian subsidiary of Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. - the instant it receives a custom new car order from a dealer.
# Yokohama’s Cherry Blossom Symposium Showcases Clinical Lab Automation Breakthroughs
April 16 2010
Third-generation total laboratory automation (TLA) solutions now used by Japanese clinical labs Your Dark Daily editor is writing this e-briefing from the 7th Cherry Blossom Symposium in Japan, where it is already Saturday—one day ahead of you readers in North America! The second day of this International Conference of Clinical Laboratory Automation and Robotics is now unfolding. Yesterday’s opening sessions were chock-full of innovation, insights, and new developments in clinical laboratory automation and robotics. Representing 12 nations, a sizeable crowd of 260 pathologists, clinical biochemists, laboratory scientists, and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) vendors is in attendance. The scope and scale of medical laboratory automation was obvious from the 17 speakers who made presentations yesterday. In many of these clinical pathology laboratories, total laboratory automation (TLA) is a given. A number of presenters discussed the design and function of their clinical lab’s third generation of total laboratory automation. One common theme is the use of automated solutions to further integrate operational flow, starting at pre-analytical and flowing specimens into the analytical stage and then post-analytical steps.
# Angola: Higher Education Ministry runs debate about automation, robotics
4/13/10 Luanda – The foment of the Angolan Society of Automation and Robotics will be discussed at a workshop on April 20, in Luanda, sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. According to a press release that reached Angop Monday, the meeting will tackle such topics as “General policies on scientific research and Angola’s technological development”, and “Progress of engineering in Angola and new national reconstruction challenges”. “Automation and robotics in Angola’s sustainable development – Agostinho Neto University’s Vision” and “Automation in Angola’s oil industry-Utilised techniques” as well as “Importance of automation in the development of agile systems of production” are also topics under discussion at the event.
# Angola: Automation and Robotics Enables Society's Wellbeing
AllAfrica.com - Apr 21, 2010
Luanda — The Angolan secretary of state of Science and Technology, João Teta, defended this Tuesday in Luanda the need to invest in automation and robotics
# Automation Census - How Many Robots, Vending Machines, Self Service Kiosks, ATMs
There were 8.6 million robots at the end of 2008. There are probably about 11 million robots now (start of Q2 2010). Automation goes beyond robots and below I discuss vending machines, self service kiosks, ATMS and more….
Process changes and other Job Impacts
There is concern that robots and automation displace human jobs
Better and more robots and artificial intelligence are not the only ways for humans to lose jobs
Going down the list of jobs and looking at how many people have different jobs which are the jobs that are safe from displacement ? Even if a class of jobs is not completely eliminated could demand be severely reduced ?
23.3 million jobs in the USA for office administration and support. (New business systems that require fewer people. Web 2.0 companies only need a handful of people or one person to do what took hundreds only a few years ago).
14.3 million jobs in the USA for sales and related work. (Automation and new sales processes)
11.3 million jobs in food preparation and serving. (Improved frozen meals, more elaborate food vending machines)
10.1 million jobs in production. (Automation and process re-engineering, shifts of jobs to other places - jobs still done by people but they are other people, better additive manufacturing and printable electronics and components)
9.6 million jobs in transportation and material moving. (more local production : high rise farming, rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems)
8.3 million jobs in education, training and library. (online learning, MIT recordings of the best professors.)
6.9 million healthcare practitioners and technical. (Biomarker tracking with cheap devices to catch and treat diseases early or in the developing stages. Keep people healthier and avoiding the need for more costly and people intensive intervention).
6.7 million jobs in construction and extraction (pre-fab buildings and panels).
6.0 million Management. Re-engineering to flatten organizations and take out layers of management. Web 2.0'ing a business. Reinvent it where a lot fewer people are needed.
5.4 million Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. Redesign things where the quality is better and it does not break or does not need service or is simple to install.
# Automation Anywhere Announces 70% Growth and Record Year
Newswire Today (press release) - Apr 17, 2010
Automation Anywhere, a global leader in automation software, today announced record numbers as the company continues to grow in both business process ...
# Worker deficit spurs automation
Global Sources - Apr 12, 2010
Prohibitive costs limit adoption to tier 1 enterprises, but local governments are doling out subsidies to encourage more factories to upgrade. Raising compensation and benefits to retain or entice workers is not the only approach China suppliers are taking to maintain output levels amid a still challenging labor situation. Many are also turning to automation. Swimwear makers that produce their own fabrics, for instance, are replacing manual knitting machines with computerized units. In addition to boosting efficiency, the advanced equipment minimizes the need to retain a large workforce.
Procuring computerized flat-knitting machines allowed Jiaxing Mengdi to cut two-thirds of its workforce.
# A robot journalist
ZDNet (blog) - Chris Jablonski - Apr 16, 2010
Move over citizen journalism, the next phase for media could be largely automated with minimal human intervention. A robot developed by researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University can execute primitive journalistic tasks by autonomously exploring its environment, detecting changes in its surroundings, determining what is relevant, and then taking pictures with its on board camera. It can even query nearby people and perform internet searches to further its understanding. As Singularity Hub reports, if something appears newsworthy, the robot will write a short article and publish it to the web.
# Cocaine-hunting robot chopper in 60kg bust seizure
By Lewis Page • 12th April 2010 12:47 GMT
An unmanned kill-chopper operating from a US Navy warship has notched up its first drug bust while still in testing, according to reports. The "Fire Scout" robocopter was engaged in sea trials aboard the US frigate McInerney earlier this month when its mothership detected a possible "go-fast" drug-smuggling speedboat on radar, according to Aviation Week. … Makers Northrop intend the droid chopper both for US Naval and Coastguard service. Two can be carried in the same space as a light maritime manned helicopter, which offers the attraction of continuous airborne presence from ships which are normally single-aircraft only such as frigates like the McInerney and US Coastguard cutters.
# Hoosier robot killers? Indiana's connections to drone warfare
by Fran Quigley
April 18, 2010
Unmanned drone technologies have changed the course of human warfare and are being developed in more than 40 countries. Purdue University and several Indiana businesses are involved in their development and testing….But this is no schoolboy experiment, and the small flying cylinder is no model airplane. It is the Voyeur UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a "drone." According to the Web site of its manufacturer, West Lafayette-based Lite Machines, Inc., the Voyeur is designed to allow military and law enforcement to conduct surveillance and "human or non-human target acquisition." The Voyeur can travel as far as 50 miles in the air and can hover over and/or touch its target…."Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes."Lite Machines is based in the Purdue Research Park, which promotes the fact that the company has received a $10.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy. The multi-million dollar military investment for a small company in Tippecanoe County represents part of a $4 billion annual Department of Defense budget for UAV technology, a highly secretive world of warcraft that is being eagerly embraced by U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes….The drones are operated remotely by computer and video display, often by Air Force personnel in Nevada or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff in Virginia, even when the drone is flying several thousand miles away. The lack of an onboard pilot eliminates direct risk to U.S. personnel and is part of a movement toward robot-izing military missions chronicled in Brookings Institution senior fellow P.W. Singer's widely acclaimed book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.
# SEC installs power automation system from China
Saudi Gazette - Joe Avancena - Apr 21, 2010
DAMMAM - China's first electric power automation system has been successfully commissioned at the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) facilities ...
# Albany-based firm acquires wind turbine monitoring capability
April 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm by Kevin Harrigan
MSE Power Systems Inc., an Albany-based electrical engineering firm, has purchased ADMS Wind SCADA and wind turbine monitoring technology from Second Wind Systems Inc. of Somerville, Mass. Details of the deal weren’t immediately available. MSE’s parent company, CG Automation, is headquartered in India. ADMS Wind SCADA allows for universal feedback and control of wind turbines according to the Second Wind Web site, while the monitoring equipment will register turbine performance. Unreliability has been one of the most plaguing issues of wind power.
# Secretive X-37B Robot Space Plane Moves to Launch Pad
By SPACE.com Staff, posted: 21 April 2010
An unmanned rocket rolled out to its seaside launch pad in Florida today carrying a secretive robotic X-37B space plane for the United States Air Force ahead of a planned Thursday launch. The Air Force plans to launch the X-37B space plane on a demonstration flight that could last months. Liftoff is set for Thursday night between 7:52 p.m. and 8:01 p.m. EDT (2352-0001 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. [X-37B spacecraft photos.] The robotic X-37B space plane looks like a miniature space shuttle and even has a small payload like NASA's orbiters. It weighs about 11,000 pounds and is just over 29 feet in length. It stands slightly more than 9 1/2 feet in height and has a wingspan just over 14 feet across. But unlike its bigger space shuttle brethren, the X-37B is designed to fly unmanned and remain in orbit for up to 270 days. NASA shuttle missions typically carry up to seven astronauts and last around two weeks….Payton said the X-37B is designed to re-enter and land autonomously, without any direction from mission controllers after starting its descent from orbit. The mini-shuttle is expected to land at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at the end of its debut test flight, he added. The X-37B was built by Boeing's Phantom Works division in Seal Beach, Calif. The Air Force has already ordered a second Orbital Test Vehicle, but whether it launches in 2011 as planned hinges on the performance of the upcoming test flight, Air Force officials said.
# Adept Technology Announces Receipt of $2.9M Order From Global Leader in Consumer Electronics
Order for Vision Guided Robotics Will Enable Increased Productivity
PLEASANTON, Calif., Apr 20, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Adept Technology, Inc., a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced it has received a $2.9 million order for high-precision robots from a major global leader in consumer electronics. The order is expected to be fulfilled and recognized as revenue over the next two quarters. The company selected Adept as its automation partner to provide high-speed vision-guided robot systems for complex, precision handling operations after conducting a thorough investigation of potential suppliers. Adept has been serving the consumer electronics and information technology industry with high-precision mechanisms and controls in both standard and cleanroom configurations for over 20 years. "The high-speed vision-guided robot systems will be installed in the highly competitive manufacturing environment of Southeast Asia," said Hai Chang, Managing Director of Asia Operations for Adept Technology. "Southeast Asian manufacturing output has rebounded more rapidly than in the U.S. and Europe, particularly in the semiconductor and electronics sectors. China has driven much of the general recovery in Asia, with much higher IT spending than in 2009. We are pleased to have this opportunity to continue serving these leading companies in the consumer electronics sector."
# Cynomy demolition robot concept: remote-controlled destruction
Technabob (blog) - Apr 22, 2010
One of the best things about robots is that they're not alive, which means choosing between a robot and a human to perform a risky task is a no-brainer.
# South Korea Developing Underwater Search-and-Rescue Robot Crawlers
Popular Science - Jeremy Hsu - Apr 19, 2010
The government announced today that it would spend about $18 million (20 billion won) over the next five years to create its creepy-crawly robot.
# Robot-run recycling system sorts up to six types of plastics
Plastics Today - Matt Defosse - Apr 20, 2010
Laser equipped and robot run, this recycling system can sort up to six types of plastics. One of the main inhibitors for increased recycling of plastics
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Geminoid F: More Video and Photos of the Female Android
Erico Guizzo // Tue, April 20, 2010
Geminoid F, the female android recently unveiled by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University and ATR famous for his ultra-realistic humanlike androids, generated a lot of interest. Several people wrote me asking for more details and also more images. So here's some good news. I got some exclusive photos and video of Geminoid F, courtesy of Osaka University, ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, and Kokoro Company.
# How Recycling Robots Could Help Us Clean the Planet
Antonio Espingardeiro // Wed, April 21, 2010
Dustbot, a garbage-collecting robot created by the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna's CRIM Lab. At the current rate of global population growth and consumption of resources, it appears clear to me where we're going to end: in a waste-covered Earth like that depicted in the movie WALL-E…. Recycling is a very promising area for robotics. Over the next few decades I imagine a future where waste-collecting robots will be moving through air, land, and water, reaching difficult areas to help us cleaning our environment. Picture WALL-E but before the whole planet becomes a landfill. In fact, there are already some recycling bot prototypes roaming around. One example is Dustbot, a robot developed at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna's CRIM Lab, in Pisa, Italy. Led by Prof. Paolo Dario, the laboratory created a robot designed specifically to collect garbage at people's homes.
|April 11, 2010: First-ever National Robotics Week takes place April 10-18, Forbes recognizes that automation means job elimination, while automation industry says automation can help keep jobs, mind reading software, automation sales recovering.
# NEC's robot cashier not much help with bagging
Tim Hornyak, Sun Apr 4 2010
NEC's partner robot PaPeRo has been put to work as a cashier. Combined with NEC's Twinpos self-checkout system, the robot can look cute while taking your cash.
# Robotic undersea vehicle draws power from ocean
Jennifer Guevin, Mon Apr 5 2010
Autonomous vehicle built by NASA, U.S. Navy, and academic researchers cruises through a three-month demo, drawing power only from variations in sea temperatures.
# Air Force prepping robot spacecraft for launch
Tim Hornyak, Mon Apr 5 2010
On April 19, the Air Force is to launch a new robotic spacecraft called the X-37B that's designed to carry out military missions and land autonomously.
# Intel demos software that reads your mind
Lance Whitney, Fri Apr 9 2010
The software uses MRI brain scans to decipher which words you're mostly likely thinking about. In highly controlled situations, it achieves perfect scores.
# Androids to bring 'Surrogates' closer to reality?
Tim Hornyak, Mon Apr 5 2010
Osaka University's Hiroshi Ishiguro has created a female android that's more lifelike and low-cost than earlier models. Geminoid F may find work as a receptionist.
# Towel-folding robot won't do the dishes
Tim Hornyak, Wed Mar 31 2010
Researchers at UC Berkeley teach Willow Garage's PR2 humanoid robot how to fold a pile of towels. It's one step toward making robots better at housework.
# New China automation fair attracts record numbers
31 March 2010 | by Reed Business Information
Over 16,000 trade visitors flocked to the inaugural edition of the SPS – Industrial Automation Fair Guangzhou, China in March. The new show held at the China Import and Export Fair Pazhou Complex from 8 – 11 March 2010 attracted 16,715 trade visitors from 40 countries and regions. According to the organisers, the fair is considered an ideal platform to launch products and gain entry to the southern China market by key players.
# Automation's Impact on Storage Administration Jobs
Posted by Ann All Apr 1, 2010 1:45:23 PM
As IT infrastructure continues to undergo major shifts, so too will the jobs of those who attempt to tame infrastructure for their employers. I've written about this topic a couple of times, mostly in respect to the increasing demand for more "white collar" skills in the data center. Server administrators, database administrators and infrastructure and network specialists are among the IT jobs most likely to change and/or shrink in numbers, say experts like Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler. Jobs related to data storage will be affected, thanks to the growth of shared Ethernet and automated storage technologies, according to a recent InfoWorld article.
# ABB Wins $50 Million Mining Order in Peru
ThomasNet Industrial News Room (press release) - Mar 31, 2010
Zurich, Switzerland, - ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won a $50 million order from Minera Chinalco Peru SA to supply electrification and automation systems for a new copper mine and concentrator plant. The delivery includes Extended Automation System 800xA for plant wide automation. The processing plant at Toromocho will be located at an altitude of 4,500 meters in central Peru, in the Morococha mining district 140 kilometers east of Lima, the country's capital. The concentrator will produce approximately 1 million tons of copper concentrate annually, as well as some silver and molybdenum trioxide.
# Further automation for Yilport
Port Strategy - Mar 31, 2010
Yilport Container Terminal and Port Operators Inc is implementing APS' container automation solutions at its facility in Gebze (near Istanbul) in Turkey. Following an increase in productivity and turnaround times resulting from the APS Automated Gate System (inaugurated in 2009), Yilport has chosen to extend its automation with additional crane and yard solutions.
# Will Chattanooga-bound VW's aggressive sales push damage profits?
The Detroit News - Apr 2, 2010
Schmidt concedes that costs in German are very high, but says they are more than offset by VW's relentless program of automation. "Certainly VW's labor costs and social costs are the highest in the industry, but this bears little relation to cost in Germany. With VW's high rate of automation, plant efficiency is among the most productive in Europe," Schmidt said. "It looks like an unfavorable location in financial terms, but if you analyze in detail, it looks totally different. There is a very high rate of automation, and it's actually cheaper than like for like VW products made in China," Schmidt said.
# Automation to Improve Post-9/11 GI Bill Processing
Department of Defense - Donna Miles - Apr 9, 2010
With 153000 veterans enrolled in the Post-9/11 GI Bill this semester, and new automation tools to arrive this month to improve processing ...
# Automation sales recovering after 40% slump
The Engineer - Apr 7, 2010
London – The global automation market is starting to pull out of a slump which saw revenues fall almost 40% in 2009, compared to the previous year, ...
# Your Job In 2020
Forbes - Martin Ford - Apr 8, 2010
Already job automation technology has had a dramatic impact on employment over the past decade. In the manufacturing sector factories that continue to ...
# Funding for Wind Hub Machining Cell
OptoIQ: Lasers for Manufacturing - Apr 8, 2010
The new Rapid Material Placement System (RMPS) brings integrated manufacturing, with automation and repeatable process control, to wind blade fabrication. Astraeus Wind Energy Inc. (Eaton Rapids, MI), a new venture of MAG Industrial Automation Systems (Erlanger, KY) and Dowding Machining LLC, a precision machine solutions provider for large components that is an affiliate of Dowding Industries Inc. (Eaton Rapids, MI), a manufacturer of progressive die stampings, metal fabrications, and welded assemblies, has received a $7 million grant to develop a revolutionary wind hub machining cell for high-volume manufacturing, as well as pursue development of carbonfiber turbine blades. Astraeus was one of only five winners chosen from 80 applicants to receive the clean energy grants from the State of Michigan, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The proprietary machining system will be developed by MAG and installed at the Astraeus facility in Eaton Rapids. Plans call for the system to be in production late 2010. The hub machining cell reportedly will increase production rates from the current standard of one per day to as many as five per day, cutting machining times from 20 to 24-hr per part to just over 4 hr.
# Sheet-folding robot puts wrinkle in labor force
Tom Abate, Sunday, April 11, 2010
Last week UC Berkeley touted a programming breakthrough that enabled a robot to fold towels of different sizes, a seemingly simple task that challenges computer scientists. But a recent visit to an industrial laundry at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco makes me ask who is helped and who is hurt by innovations of this sort. The mammoth hotel cleans and presses 7 million pounds of sheets, towels and pillowcases per year, as I wrote in a recent article that focused on a labor-management dispute (sfgate.com/ZJMB). The Hilton laundry is already automated. I saw sheets - of a uniform size - being fed into a pressing and folding machine. But as I thought about the ingenuity and resources being poured into robotics, I wondered what's in it for human laborers.The answer back when harvesting machines replaced farmworkers with scythes was that mechanization freed people to do new and less backbreaking tasks. Is that a never-ending process? Does the towel folder displaced by robotics go on to become an office worker? Or is a masseuse more likely the transferable skill and, if so, just how many back rubbers can the Bay Area support, and at what pay scale?
# On the Frontlines -- From 8000 Miles Away
FOXNews - Kelly Guernica - Apr 8, 2010
Machines are changing the face of battle: Robots and unmanned aircraft have made engaging a target much safer and far more efficient. ...
# Robots Can Help Keep Manufacturing in Michigan, Says Trade Group
Sunday, 11 April 2010 4:15PM
Manufacturing companies who want to remain globally competitive can use robotics to keep jobs in Michigan, according to the Ann Arbor-based Robotic Industries Association. “Manufacturing companies in Michigan, as well as throughout North America, are at a crossroads in determining how to remain globally competitive,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA president. “They can send jobs overseas or take advantage of robotics and other automated technologies to keep jobs here. Increasingly, we hope to see companies choose the latter option.” Burnstein said the robots are sometimes viewed as a threat to jobs, but in reality, the true threat is the loss of global competitiveness. “If you work for a manufacturing company that can’t compete anymore with companies in China, India, Mexico or somewhere else in the world, your job is definitely in danger,” Burnstein said. “But, if your company is using robotics to improve product quality, increase productivity, speed time to market, and reduce manufacturing costs, you know there’s a chance to remain competitive, keep jobs here, and grow in the future.” Every robot on the plant floor requires people to build it, program it, maintain it, and apply it, which is why robots typically do not lead to an overall reduction in jobs. Plus, robots remove people from dangerous and repetitive jobs, freeing them up for higher skilled, higher paying jobs, Burnstein asserted.
# If We Can Mine Mars Robotically Can’t We Send Robots Down Coal Mines?
Posted: 04/08/2010 Mont Coal, West Virginia is in the news after the specter of a coalmining tragedy that took dozens of lives....
# What's Cooking with Food Robotics?
by Bennett Brumson, Contributing Editor
Posted: 04/05/2010 Robotics have an increasingly important role in maintaining a food supply that is safe, efficient and cost-effective.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Celebrate! First National Robotics Week
Posted: April 08, 2010
Mark your calendars! The first-ever National Robotics Week takes place April 10-18 and it's not something you want to miss! The goal of National Robotics Week is to educate and excite the general public about the current and future impact of robotics. A host of museums, organizations, and businesses are celebrating with robot-related events, open houses, and competitions. Visit www.nationalroboticsweek.org to find out what is happening in your area.
# Drone Wars: The Legal Debate Continues
Nathan Hodge, March 31, 2010
Last week, the State Department’s top legal adviser laid out the administration’s case for using drones to fight al Qaeda and its allies. Now the drone war is starting to generate some real legal debate. In the new issue of Joint Force Quarterly, Amitai Etzioni, professor of international relations at The George Washington University, has a piece that outlines a moral and legal case for using drones to attack what he terms “abusive civilians” (his term for unlawful combatants). “To negate the tactical advantages abusive civilians have and to minimize our casualties, we must attack them whenever we can find them, before they attack us,” he writes. Drone strikes, he adds, “are a particularly well-suited means to serve this goal.”
# Pentagon: Replace Human Intel With High-Tech ‘Guard Dog’
Katie Drummond, March 29, 2010
U.S troops operating overseas face insurgent threats and affiliations that are constantly changing. Not to mention the language barriers and cultural differences that can make even minor interactions — let alone intelligence and interrogation — more difficult. Now Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm, wants to develop a foolproof system that analyzes social networks and cultural tendencies using graphs, complex algorithms and new advances in computing, to interpret and predict human actions. The agency is hosting a proposal workshop for Graph Understanding and Analysis for Rapid Detection - Deployed on the Ground (priceless acronym: GUARD-DOG). Ideally, Darpa wants a replacement for current war-zone human intelligence, called HUMINT, which involves putting trained interrogators on the ground, identifying and tracking sources, and compiling data on relevant social networks. HUMINT is effective, but it can be dogged by slow turnaround: As Darpa notes, the lag between data collection and analysis can be 48 hours. And that means more than 80 percent of information may be irrelevant by the time troops take action.
# Adept Technology Ships First USDA Accepted Parallel Robot
Milestone reached with first USDA accepted parallel robot.
Robotics Trends Staff, 03.30.2010 — Provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics has shipped the first units of the high speed Adept Quattro s650HS. The Quattro systems, specifically designed for high-speed manufacturing, packaging, material handling, and assembly applications, are to be used primarily for food handling. Adept Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, announced it has shipped the first of its USDA-accepted robots. The Adept Quattro s650HS is the industry’s only USDA-accepted parallel robot available for meat and poultry processing. The robot systems are currently bound for multiple primary food handling applications requiring high speed hygienic handling. “This shipment is significant because the world’s fastest robot now meets the strictest cleanliness and hygienic standards, which gives food processors and packagers a powerful competitive advantage,” said Rush LaSelle, director of global sales and marketing for Adept Technology, Inc. “The robot’s speed, precision and USDA acceptance make it the perfect choice for food handling applications.”
|March 28, 2010: Postal automation in England, Stimulus money for robots, Automation in China, Rio Tinto robot mining, automation and solar cells, NYC computerization: costly privatization and control of workers, robotic space shuttle, and Online grocer powered by automation.
# Boeing's robo-copter flexes its muscle
Jonathan Skillings, Mon Mar 15 2010
Unmanned A160T Hummingbird demonstrates ability to conduct autonomous resupply operations, a preview of front-line operations of the not-too-distant future.
# Britain: Communication Workers Union sells out postal workers
By Tony Robson, 16 March 2010
Postal workers should vote decisively against acceptance of “Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond,” the agreement worked out between Royal Mail (RM) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU). The CWU called off the national strike last year and has enforced a no-strike agreement ever since. For the past four months it has participated in closed door meetings with management—chaired by Trades Union Congress representative Roger Poole. Its agreement to the confidentiality clause and the drawn out nature of the talks is because RM remains unchanged in its main objectives. The problem for the CWU has been how to package an agreement antithetical to its members’ interests. Secrecy is being followed by deception. CWU Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward said in announcing the agreement, “We have always said that we couldn’t face away from change. The agreement recognises the reality of automation, competition and the financial challenges facing the company, but it does so in a way that puts the interests of CWU members at its heart. Both sides have committed to improving industrial relations and ensuring a more positive working relationship in the best interests of everyone at Royal Mail.”
# Brazil surgical robot fixes heart in Latin America first
Sydney Morning Herald - Mar 19, 2010
Brazilian surgeons used a multi-armed robot to repair a hole in a woman's heart in the first operation of its kind in Latin America, they told AFP Friday.
# Underground Robot to Blow Up Bunkers
Gizmodo.com (blog) - Mar 15, 2010
The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency wants a robot capable of navigating underground—drilling through soil and rock—to deliver an explosive load.
# Stimulus Bill Helps Pay for Robots
Posted 15 Mar 2010 at 15:58 UTC by Rog-a-matic
To encourage small businesses to invest in equipment, stimulus bills over the last couple of years have offered the "Section 179" rules. This allows a business to accelerate depreciation on equipment which deducts from their income and therefore reduces their tax burden. Rick Heflin of the 17-employee Custom Electronics Company of Maryland was faced with the question when his tax bill came up and decided to go for a new pick-and-place system. The robot can place 4000 parts per hour and improves the firm's throughput.
Stephen Moore, March 26th, 2010
China has long been seen as a nation with a massive labor force available at world beating rates, but might that be changing? Factories in export-oriented Southern China are facing labor shortages as migrant laborers return home and realize that the grass is just as green. Driven by booming domestic demand, jobs are easier to come by and though the wages may be lower, the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the city. With skilled staff at a premium, one European machine builder with a manufacturing operation in China recently told Plastics Today that it now is almost as cheap to find a decent injection machine operator in Malaysia - at a shade over $210 per month - as it is in Shanghai at rates ranging from $235-290 per month. That comes as a surprise given that outside of the city/state of Singapore, Malaysia has the highest labor costs among any Southeast Asian nation. So will we ever see a mass exodus of manufacturing from China to lower cost locales like Indonesia and Vietnam? Most likely the answer is a resounding "No." For one, domestic demand in China for all manner of commodities is growing and it makes sense to serve the local market with local production. Second, companies probably often over-estimated the cost advantage of Chinese labor, and will start looking at ways to replace labor, just as they have done in higher labor-cost regions. Sure, labor costs were a fraction in China of what they are in the West, but they might only represent a small portion of overall costs for some processing operations, and productivity might be a fraction of what it was at the processor's home base. These savings could be wiped out by higher logistics and electricity costs, for example. Thirdly, plastics processors are realizing more and more that no matter how low labor costs might be, removing the human factor from the production flow generally leads to higher quality products. After all, robotic take-out guarantees constant cycle times and no fingerprints or scratches on the products. Prompted by higher labor costs and worker shortages, Chinese manufacturers of such commodity products as cigarette lighters are reportedly now turning to automation and finding that, if coupled with the right quality of injection machine, and then productivity can be significantly enhanced. At the higher end of the scale, foreign-owned or -managed medical molders in China already boast the same level of automation as back home. Purveyors of automation equipment could be looking forward to monster returns come April when Chinaplas opens its doors in Shanghai.
# Robots, space technology run Rio Tinto's mining miracle
28 Mar 2010, 1300 hrs IST, AGENCIES
DAMPIER (Australia): The heavy clank of machinery rings out across a seemingly deserted Outback mine site as an invisible satellite signal fires Rio Tinto's production line into motion. Massive stackers and reclaimers begin the task of sifting through rust-coloured piles of rich iron ore, readying them for the rail journey hundreds of kilometres from mine to port. It's an industrious scene -- with hardly a living being in sight. "People frequently ask whether we have anyone working here at all," one miner at Rio's Dampier operations said. "Due to automation and stuff most people are pretty well tucked away from the heat. There's not a lot of manual workers." Automation has long been a part of the mining industry, but advances in satellite, motion-sensor technology and robotics have made the stuff of science fiction a fact of everyday life. Machines which scoop the ore, dump it on a conveyor belt and hose it down are now controlled from the air-conditioned comfort of Rio Tinto's Perth operations centre, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) away from the arid mine pit. Hundreds of specially trained operators who once directed machines from on-site offices watch and direct the action from afar using satellite technology, with surveillance cameras feeding into some 440 monitors.
The National Renewable Energy Lab, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has some new deputies in its push to develop cheaper, more efficient solar cells. Meet the NREL bots. In the shiny Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL) on NREL's Golden, Colorado campus, six special robots are assembling, measuring, and analyzing photovoltaic cells.
In a cover story for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez reports New York City is “paying some 230 ‘consultants’ an average salary of $400,000 a year for a computer project that is seven years behind schedule and vastly over budget. The payments continue despite Mayor Bloomberg’s admission the computerized timekeeping and payroll system—called CityTime—is ‘a disaster.’”
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Computer-Controlled Swarm of Bacteria Builds Tiny Pyramid
Erico Guizzo // Thu, March 25, 2010
Researchers at the NanoRobotics Laboratory of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, in Canada, are putting swarms of bacteria to work, using them to perform micro-manipulations and even propel microrobots. Led by Professor Sylvain Martel, the researchers want to use flagellated bacteria to carry drugs into tumors, act as sensing agents for detecting pathogens, and operate micro-factories that could perform pharmacological and genetic tests. They also want to use the bacteria as micro-workers for building things. Things like a tiny step pyramid.
#Upcoming Robot and AI Movie List
18 Mar 2010 at 03:56 UTC by The Swirling Brain
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Getting the Most Out of Foundry Robots
March 17, 2010
It is easy to typecast foundry robots. True, they are the tough ones, able to lift heavy loads in harsh, hot environments. But foundry robots are fully capable of playing other roles as well. Industrial robots prove the ideal solution for a wide range of foundry jobs - from material handling to dispensing, finishing and painting. Find out how foundry robots are well-suited for many different applications.
# Phantom of the Operating Shuttle?
Posted 16 Mar 2010 by The Swirling Brain
Dvice.com reports about a mysterious Robotic Shuttle that will be launched April 19th. This is the first time I've even heard of such a shuttle replacement. I mean, I thought NASA dumped the idea of a shuttle completely and went for the super Apollo type mission to go to the Moon or Mars? So at a time when mothballing the old Space Shuttle debate is going ballistic, what happens? Well, it looks like the Air Force pulled a fast one and went ahead and had it's own space shuttle secretly built by Boeing Phantom Works. The new autonomous robotic Space Shuttle is dubbed the X37B.
# Drone Attacks Are Legit Self-Defense, Says State Dept. Lawyer
Nathan Hodge, March 26, 2010
America’s undeclared drone war has been controversial, for any number of reasons: Pakistani politicians have cried foul over “counterproductive” strikes. Critics worry they may create more popular support for militants. And civil liberties groups have asked whether, in effect, it amounts to a program of targeted killing. Now the State Department’s top legal adviser has offered a rationale for the ongoing campaign: Legitimate self-defense. In a keynote address last night to the American Society of International Law, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said it was “the considered view of this administration” that drone operations, including lethal attacks, “comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”
# Automation Powers U.K. Grocer
PAUL SONNE, MARCH 23, 2010
HATFIELD, England—In a sprawling warehouse north of London, Web grocer Ocado Ltd. is making an expensive effort to bring high-tech methods to Internet operations that are often low tech elsewhere. British online grocer Ocado Ltd. is eyeing a possible IPO that could come this summer. A key element of the pitch to investors is the company's futuristic central warehouse in Hatfield, England. WSJ's Paul Sonne reports. Most online grocers fulfill Web orders by gathering goods from the shelf of a local supermarket and then loading them in a truck for delivery. But Ocado has developed a highly automated, centralized operation that dispatches products to 65% of British postal codes from a single warehouse. The operation is spread across 23 acres of floor space on an old airfield. Ocado has built a complex, automated system that gathers items using its own algorithm-driven system. Baskets travel along a 10-mile maze of conveyor belts, stopping at bagging stations where workers follow a computer's directions, loading products and shipping off 90,000 orders a week with close to 99.9% accuracy. Ocado labors in the long shadow left by companies like Webvan, a San Francisco-based online grocery start-up that was founded in the late 1990s and extended its footprint rapidly using venture capital but went bust in 2001. Around that time, three former Goldman Sachs & Co. bankers started Ocado in a one-room office near London's Victoria Station. Now, after 10 years of steady growth, the company is considering what could be one of the biggest IPOs on the London Stock Exchange—estimated at up to £1.1 billion ($1.65 billion)—in the next two years.
|March 14, 2010: Waitbots, Job Saving automation?, Future of Drones, Air Force's Flying Assassin, Replacing workers to save budget woes, mining robots, automated autopsies, robot first responders...
# Japan's ZMP to sell golf cart-size robot car
Posted by Tim Hornyak Sun Feb 28 2010 ZMP's RoboCar gets supersized into RoboCar G, a one-seater vehicle designed for research purposes. The car can drive itself or be driven over short distances.
# Wheelie robot brings dinner on the double
Fri Mar 12 2010, Tim Hornyak
Toshiba shows off a two-wheeled autonomous robot than can roll over ramps and balance a tray of food. Wheelie might make a decent waiter.
# Automation Alley program aims to create defense jobs
Crain's Detroit Business - Chad Halcom - March 7, 2010
Several local defense contractors, colleges and universities and trade associations formally agreed with Troy-based Automation Alley on Wednesday to launch a program in Sterling Heights that could create up to 3,000 local jobs in defense acquisition and logistics.
# Vision-Assisted Robotics, an Enabling Technology for Packaging
Automation World - Greg Farnum - Mar 5, 2010
In recent years, vision-aided robots have been showing up on packaging lines with increasing frequency. As our new century began, relatively few robots were employed in packaging when compared to other industries, with the majority of these found in palletizing/depalletizing. A strenuous and repetitive task involving stationary targets, this application has proved comparatively easy to justify for many packagers, and the number of palletizing applications has increased, at a relatively modest rate, over the course of the decade. By mid-decade, though, this picture began to change, as robots in increasing numbers started moving up the line and into product pick-and-place operations. This trend has continued despite the recession. Though orders for new robots declined by 30 percent in the first three quarters of 2009, sales to the packaging industry remained relatively healthy (precise figures at this point are hard to come by) with continued growth predicted for 2010. Why this counter-cyclic movement? The explanation can begin with two words: vision and flexibility. Vision has typically been an essential component of high-speed pick-and-place operations. It has also been expensive and difficult to apply, with the complexities of vision technology multiplied by the complexities of integrating vision systems with robots, given their different coordinate and control systems.
# An intelligent (and job-saving) approach to automation
Plastics Today - Mar 2, 2010
Employing robots to automate repetitive machine-tending tasks is nothing new to manufacturing, nor is the notion that the main reason for doing it is to reduce labor costs. But for contract manufacturer and molder Nyloncraft Inc. (Mishawaka, IN), automating enabled the company to add labor in key areas where it was needed to support growth, without having to hire new employees. This strategy was part of the company's recent push to reduce labor costs, says Nyloncraft automation engineer Carl Smith.
# The Future of Robot Drones
By Gene J. Koprowski - FOXNews.com
Drones are aircraft, but the technology that powers them has been advancing more like a rocket. Here's a look at tomorrow's drones, which are key to a modern military.
# Robots introduced as new therapy tool
Bethany Beach Wave - Liz Holland - 18 hours ago
PRINCESS ANNE -- Stroke and brain injury victims are getting help from a new brand of therapist: robots. ...
# Plastics-recycling robot uses lasers to sort
DVICE - Adam Frucci - Mar 3, 2010
Robots to the rescue! A new robot designed by Mitsubishi and Osaka University uses lasers to quickly sort through the various types of plastics.
# Air Force's Flying Assassin Robot Enters Final Development Stage
The deadly drone could find and dispatch single-person targets, with "very low collateral damage"
By Jeremy Hsu Posted 03.05.2010
Missile strikes by Predators, Reapers, or other aerial drones usually result in messy explosions on the ground. Now the never-ending but perhaps futile quest to attain zero collateral damage may take another step forward, with a small micro-drone missile that can kill individual targets from afar. A new $1.18-million, Phase-III Air Force contract (Phase III is typically the final development phase) for the "Anubis" drone has been awarded to the firm Aerovironment, Aviation Week's Ares Defense Blog reports. A recent federal budget document references Anubis as a micro air vehicle that can track down "high-value maneuvering targets" -- also known as wanted persons running for dear life. There is also mention of "non-line-of-sight" capability with "very low collateral damage," so that someone could presumably launch Anubis from a hidden spot and let it home in on any unfortunate individual, with less risk than having a sniper do the job.
# Los Angeles Police get next-gen robot
UPI.com - Mar 4, 2010
CLINTON, Tenn., March 4 (UPI) -- Remotec and partner Autonomous Solutions announced the delivery of a next-generation explosive ordnance disposal robot to the Los Angeles Police Department. Remotec, a subsidiary of defense company Northrop Grumman, and Autonomous Solutions provided the Los Angeles police with a new Caterpillar TL1255 Telehandler.
# 'Hyundai-Kia Surpasses Toyota in Production Tech'
By Kim Tae-gyu Korea Times Correspondent
WEST POINT, Ga. — As soon as the main frame of a vehicle arrives, a dozen robotic arms mob the automotive skeleton to attach and weld doors and a roof to it in a fraction of a minute. It is dubbed the main-buck system, the key process of automatically building a body structure through combining a floor with doors and a roof with pinpoint precision at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). But KMMG, which is located in West Point, just southwest of Atlanta, is not a place featuring only robots. Human workers are ubiquitous at significant points where they can do better than their robotic companions. KMMG, which officially opened last Friday, says that the system of involving both robots and laborers offers unrivaled competitiveness to the U.S.-based factories. ``Experiences told us that 100-percent automation is not the most efficient fashion of producing automobiles. We found the human touch is essential to some extent,'' KMMG Senior Manager Richard Park said. ``We even count the robots not by units but by heads. We have 244 robots at this welding plant alone and hundreds of others on other lines. They work together with people to enable the highest productivity,'' he said. Park said that another advantage of its facilities is the low distribution costs as their plants as well as those of its subcontractors are established in line with the highway while being interconnected through conveyor belts. The conveyor belts are made of soft wood instead of hard steel in order to minimize damages to the backs of employees who work on them. Plus, the heights of the belts can be rearranged in tune with those of staff who work next to them. Most of its 1,200 employees are sent to Korea for job training sessions, which last up to half a year, after their recruitment to improve their skills and proficiency. KMMG is to continue the policy. The 2.2 million-square-foot plant produces the 2011 Kia Sorento, currently one of the best-selling crossover utility vehicles here, at a faster pace than expected thanks in no small part to the mechanics designed for the best human-robot cooperation. ``As far as the production technology and operation management are concerned, I think that we are now ahead of Toyota,'' Park said. Thus far, Toyota has been touted as an entity with the best competitive edge in operational efficiency.
# Toledo budget woes bring garbage woes
13abc.com - Mar 13, 2010
This week, the city laid off 23 sanitation workers as part of the switch to automation. Mathis was one of those workers to receive a layoff letter.
# Gap will deploy Kiva robot system
Boston Globe - Mar 10, 2010
Kiva Systems of Woburn said that Gap Inc. Direct has deployed a new Kiva robot system to help automate a Gap fulfillment center in Columbus, Ohio. The deployment follows a series of tests by Gap that concluded in the fall. Kiva's press release included a statement from Chris Black, vice president of operations at Gap Inc. Direct, who referenced Piperlime, a Gap brand. "Using a flexible, automated order fulfillment system helped our Piperlime operations scale to increased capacity over the critical holiday season," Black said. "The system freed up our employees’ time, allowing them to focus on processing a higher volume of customer orders faster and to ensure more accuracy. We’re looking forward to leveraging Kiva’s system when we expand our online business internationally."
# Robots to perform Bloodless autopsies
Pune Mirror - March 14, 2010
Michael Thali and his team also use a specialised robot in their work. They call this forensic high-tech assistant Virtobot. In the Virtopsy laboratory,
# Down on the farm with the robots
BBC News - Mark Ward - Mar 11, 2010
Dr Dudley and colleagues at NPL along with agricultural firm Vegetable Harvesting Systems (VHS) are working on robots that are as fast as humans at working. Autonomous vehicles might soon be at work on many farms.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Robosoft Unveils Kompai Robot To Assist Elderly, Disabled
Erico Guizzo // Tue, March 09, 2010
French service robotics company Robosoft has introduced a robot called Kompaï designed to assist elderly and disabled people and others who need special care. The mobile robot talks, understands speech, and can navigate autonomously. It reminds people of meetings, keeps track of shopping lists, plays music, and works as a videoconference system for users to talk with their doctors, for example.
# Kojiro Humanoid Robot Mimics Your Musculoskeletal System
Erico Guizzo // Thu, March 04, 2010
Kojiro is an advanced musculoskeletal humanoid robot under development at the University of Tokyo's JSK Robotics Laboratory. Kojiro's creators designed its body to mimic the way our skeleton, muscles, and tendons work to generate motion. The goal is to build robots that are light and agile, capable of moving around and interacting with the physical world in the same way our flesh bodies do.
WIRED Danger Room
# Pentagon Seeks Robo-EMS to Rescue Wounded Warriors
Katie Drummond, March 3, 2010
In a war zone, evacuating patients under fire is one of the most dangerous jobs there is. That’s why the Pentagon’s hoping to capitalize on recent innovations in robotics to finally create ‘bots that operate as “combat casualty extraction system[s].” And the military doesn’t just want solo robot heroes, plucking the injured from battle and rushing them to a waiting — and human-operated — vehicle. Nope. The Pentagon’s after an autonomous EMS crew, complete with an unmanned ambulance and robodocs, who can aid fallen troops “with minimal intervention by medic or other first responder operators.”
# AeroVironment Receives $37.9 Million Raven UAS Order
By Robotics Trends Staff, 03.11.2010
Contract calls for Raven unmanned aircraft systems, digital retrofit kits and support services. Orders for Raven systems, a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched visual sensor platform, represent initial portion of Raven funding from United States Department of Defense Fiscal 2010 Budget.
# Miner Digs for Ore in the Outback With Remote-Controlled Robots
BY ROBERT GUY MATTHEWS, MARCH 2, 2010
Rio Tinto is connecting its Australian mines to satellite links so workers more than 800 miles away can remotely drive drilling rigs, load cargo and even use robots to place explosives to blast away rock and earth. The company's Perth operations center, which relies on banks of high-tech equipment to manage one of the oldest and dirtiest jobs around, is a harbinger of new techniques that are allowing miners to go to more remote places, dig deeper and get ore to the market more quickly.
|Feb 28, 2010: Power industry automation, Poll Automation in the Philippines, Underwater Robots, Ag Automation, Refining Automation, The Green Jobs Myth, Auto jobs in Chattanooga?--not likely, PETA promotes robot replacement for killer whales, Robots on tour with Bon Jovi, Videos of factory robots.
# Drinking with droids at BarBot 2010
Posted by James Martin, Fri Feb 19 2010
Cocktail-making robots serve up tasty beverages in a very unique way at a San Francisco bar as part of a lead-up to the RoboGames being held later this spring.
# Korea to build magic kingdom for robots
Posted by Leslie Katz, Wed Feb 17 2010
South Korea is getting ready to build a robot theme park that features reconstructions of robot-oriented movie sets, a robot arm ride, and even robot cashiers and performers.
# Automation to Find Increased Application in the Power Industry as the Economy Recovers Finds Frost & Sullivan
NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Mountain View, CA, United States, 02/24/2010 - As various geographies gear up to deal with the hike in demand for power following the economic expansion and technology upgrade, participants in the automation sector will see a rise in demand for their products. India and China are making significant investments in various applications including thermal and hydropower, thereby creating demand for best-in-class automation solutions to meet the current and future requirements of their end users. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (industrialautomation.frost.com), World Automation and Control Solutions Market in Power Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of $6.27 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $8.97 billion in 2015.
# Robots to get sensitive with artificial skin
by Tim Hornyak, February 24, 2010
British materials firm Peratech is developing artificial electronic skin for robots at MIT's Media Lab that will allow machines to know where they have been touched and with what degree of pressure. So you could tickle, back-slap, or caress your favorite robot, and it would know the difference. Peratech is using its "quantum tunnelling composite" (QTC) material to create touch-sensitive skin for intelligent machines at MIT. QTC is a low-cost, flexible, and electrically conductive material that would give robots a new means of interacting with people.
# Most Filipinos Believe Poll Automation Won’t Address Electoral Fraud
By IBON FOUNDATION, Posted by Bulatlat, FEBRUARY 20, 2010
Results of the latest IBON nationwide survey showed that majority of Filipinos believe poll automation will not address the problem of alleged electoral fraud.
# ABB's Net Profit Jumps; Cautious on 2010
FEBRUARY 18, 2010, By GORAN MIJUK
ZURICH—ABB Ltd. on Thursday reported a sharp rise in fourth-quarter net profit due to cost cuts and a weak dollar, but remains cautious for 2010 as sluggish demand persists in Western Europe and the U.S. Although the Swiss power-transmission and automation company saw the first signs of improvement as the slump in demand slowed, Chief Executive Joe Hogan said the company will keep a tight grip on costs to meet its medium-term operational targets. "Cost will remain a key focus," he said, adding that ABB will increase its savings target to $3 billion from $2 billion. The stepped-up cost-cutting program should allow ABB to meet its medium-term goals of reaching an operating profit margin of 11% to 16% by 2011, and an 8% to 11% rise in sales. Net profit jumped to $540 million in the last three months of 2009, up from $213 million a year earlier, when legal and revamp provisions hurt earnings. Sales fell 4% to $8.76 billion from $9.14 billion, while operating margin rose to 9.1% from 5%.
# Should We Replace Workers With Robots to Save Energy?
Fast Company - Ariel Schwartz - Feb 18, 2010
ATechnology has made it easy to justify replacing some jobs with electronic counterparts for the sake of saving money, but this is the first instance we've seen of a company replacing workers with robots to supposedly save the planet. Crate & Barrel recently announced that it is installing a Kiva Mobile Fulfillment System (MFS) for automatic order fulfillment and warehouse operations at its Tracy, California distribution complex. In addition to being time efficient, Crate & Barrel also claims that the system is ultra energy-efficient. And how is using electricity-powered robots greener than having real, live humans pick, pack and ship orders? The "robot zone" can be operated without lighting, which human workers obviously need. Add in the fact that each robot only uses as much electricity as a laptop to zip around with inventory, and Crate & Barrel has a pretty good, green reason to replace us with the robots.
# Robots To Clear Baltic Seabed Of WWII Mines
Popular Science - Stuart Fox - Feb 17, 2010
And for Bactec, that means it's time to bring out the robots. Bactec, which previously worked clearing mines from around the Falkland Islands, ...
# Navy's Acquisition Methods Slow Down Deployment of Undersea Robots
National Defense Magazine - Sandra I. Erwin - Feb 16, 2010
The Navy recently experienced sticker shock when estimates for a robotic mine-hunting vehicle came in at more than $12 million apiece, or 51 percent higher than expected. The troubled “remote mine-hunting system” once again has drawn attention to the Navy’s difficulties in developing and deploying robotic systems from ships. Several programs during the past two decades were launched and then sputtered as a result of either unaffordable prices or simply inadequate technologies that weren’t suited to the demands of the fleet. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead in recent months has directed Navy planners to boost funding and to speed up the design and production of unmanned systems. But he cautioned against pouring money into technological pipedreams that the Navy can’t afford. His pitch is backed by recommendations of the Naval War College’s strategic studies group, which concluded that the Navy needs to do a better job equipping ships at sea with robotic systems to help automate tasks currently done by sailors, and to improve ships’ capabilities to detect mines and other threats.
# Robots and bees to beat the Taliban
The Sunday Times, Christina Lamb, February 21, 2010
The homemade IED is the extremists’ deadliest weapon and America is spending billions on trying to combat it. We are granted access to this secret, smart and bizarre world
# Dwarf helicopters, smart subs, robots to automate Australia
by Darren Pauli, February 17, 2010, 10:34 PM — Computerworld Australia —
Meet Hugh F Durrant-Whyte, the man who wants to automate Australia. This master of machines reckons there is an unmanned robot for every labour-intensive and dangerous job in the country. Durrant-Whyte, research director at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems (CAS), has designed robots for industries including mining, sea exploration and agriculture that can outperform human ability in a variety of specialised skills. For instance, some farmers are using his unmanned dwarf helicopter to automatically seek and destroy two plant species over a 500km area, eliminating the need to carpet-bomb crops with dangerous pesticides. The farmers may also soon be able to send out unmanned prime movers to sow fields. The Department of Defence, research scientists and oil barons are using his small submarines to search for untapped oil and gas fields and map the hostile ocean depths off the Far North coast. Miners in Western Australia's Pilbara region can leave the canary at home and send in automated drilling machines. And while some may be slightly miffed, his robotic systems are driving those colossal 300-tonne trucks in the West Angelas mine (in Central Western Australia) without human help. In fact, Durrant-Whyte says the entire Pilbara mining industry will use robots, operated remotely hundred of kilometres away in Perth. "All mines in the Pilbara will be run from the Regional Operations Centre in Perth, including the process plants, and even trains," Durrant-Whyte said, adding that mines in areas such as Mongolia and West Africa could be run remotely from cities like Sydney. "I'd like to see robots in every industry in Australia." Robots on the mines employ an arsenal of lasers, radars and 3D hyperspectral imaging to help detect minerals and guide machines in dangerous areas.
# Agriculture Automation
Friday, 26 February 2010
Over the next decade, farmers should anticipate a dramatic increase in automation in the agriculture industry. Futurist Richard Worzel shared his outlook for western Canadian agriculture at the Grainworld conference in Winnipeg. "Computer intelligence and the applications of it, such as robots, is going to expand dramatically over the next decade. Robots have been a staple of science-fiction for a long time, but now they're finally starting to emerge and they'll emerge with greater and greater speed."
# Automation in Spinning
By M. Kalidass
Innovation is a key factor to operating successfully in any market. Within the textile industry, the challenge for companies today lies in bringing to market a stream of new and improved, value-added products, in order to strengthen existing product lines, and diversify into new areas. Technology represents one critical route in doing so. In manufacturing industries, final goal that everyone strives for is to make completely automatic machinery that takes in raw material on its one end and delivers finished product from the other end. Although the cotton spinning is among the relatively modernized industries, it comprises of numerous processing stages making it far from the final goal mentioned above. But, recently, with the advent of high speed and automatic machines a continuous and automatic production became feasible by connecting these machines in series. In yarn producing technology in textile industries RING FRAME is one of the most important component. During the last two decades components of ring spinning machines have been greatly improved, changes in drafting system, drive systems and robotics have enabled large gains in productivity, flexibility and quality. Most of the technical advances in ring spinning were aimed at improving the performances on the existing technology. These are all achieved by the AUTOMATION.
# ARC study reveals growth in automation expenditures by the refining sector
By Reed Business Information on 22 February 2010
A NEW ARC Advisory Group study has revealed automation expenditures by the refining sector are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 5% over the next five years. According to authors of the study, after a challenging 2008 and 2009, which saw plummeting demand and a collapse in once lofty oil prices, the industry looks ahead as the global economy begins to come out of the recession and oil prices recover.
# The green jobs myth
By Sunil Sharan, Friday, February 26, 2010
"Green jobs" have become a central underpinning of the Obama administration's rationale to promote clean energy. But how valid is the assumption that a "clean-energy" economy will generate enough jobs to mitigate today's high level of unemployment -- new jobless claims were up 22,000 this week -- and to meet the needs of future generations? A green economy would have to spout jobs in the millions to do both. The facts challenge the prevailing thinking among some policymakers and officials that green jobs are a principal reason for transforming the economy. Let's consider just one clean-energy sector, the smart grid, for its job-creation potential. The Obama administration allocated a little more than $4 billion in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the smart grid, an unprecedented amount for a hitherto-neglected but critical piece of our national infrastructure. Much of this is to be spent installing close to 20 million "smart meters" over the next five years. … Although a surge of new digital meters will be produced, the manufacturing process is highly automated. And with much of it accomplished overseas, net creation in domestic manufacturing jobs is expected to be only in the hundreds. … In other words, instead of creating jobs, smart metering will probably result in net job destruction. This should not be surprising because the main method of making the electrical grid "smart" is by automating its functions. Automation by definition obviates the need for people.
# SeaWorld Trainer Killed: PETA Says "It Will Happen Again"
Posted by Edecio Martinez February 25, 2010
NEW YORK (CBS) Debbie Leahy, PETA's Director of Captive Animals, says the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Bran cheau didn't have to happen, and if SeaWorld keeps holding their killer whales captive "it will happen again." … How can both animals and humans stay safe in the future? One solution suggested by PETA is replacing the park's animals with giant robots.
# Just Like Mombot Used to Make: Robots that cook or serve include a robot that makes okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).
By IAN DALY Published: February 23, 2010
The culmination of two years of research and the collective expertise of 17 faculty members, undergraduates and doctoral students in the Human Robot Interaction Group, it is a robot outfitted with a $20,000 laser navigation system, sonar sensors and a Point Grey Bumblebee 2 stereo camera that functions as its eyes, which stare out from its clay-colored plastic, gender-neutral face. With Dr. Rybski looking on like a proud parent, a bearded graduate student clacked away at a laptop on a roving service cart, and the robot rolled forward to fulfill its primary function: the delivery of one foil-wrapped Nature Valley trail-mix flavor granola bar. “Hello, I’m the Snackbot,” it said in a voice not unlike that of HAL 9000, from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” as its rectangular LED “mouth” pulsated to form the words. “I’ve come to deliver snacks to Ian. Is Ian here?”
# Installation begins of VW body shop robots
By: Mike Pare, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Workers look at plans for mounting robot assembly machines onto pedestals in the body shop of the Volkswagen assembly plant under construction in Chattanooga. Volkswagen officials conducted a tour of the body shop of their Chattanooga manufacturing facility on Thursay to show the new robots that will do much of the work on the assembly line. The raising of Volkswagen's new Chattanooga assembly plant has hit a milestone as workers begin installing 398 robots inside the factory's body shop, officials said Thursday. "This spring, we'll be ready to start testing the units," said Don Jackson, president of manufacturing for VW's Chattanooga operations, as the automaker remains on track to begin making cars in early 2011. The body shop, where the robots will weld together the body pieces of the new cars, will be the most automated of the plant's operations, he aid.
# Robot to detect and decontaminate landmines
Mrigank Tiwari, TNN, Feb 26, 2010
ALLAHABAD: For war ravaged third world countries like Afghanistan and Iraq battling with casualties and serious injuries to civilians on account of undetected landmines and for security personnel taking on the naxals in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand, the news would certainly be a welcome one. The scientists from Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A) are on course to developing a robot which can detect landmines and decontaminate them easily. Moreover, what is heartening to note is that the prototype of the robot is already on the verge of completion which means that once tested successfully it would make way for the production of the said robot on a large-scale.
# Five ABB IRB 7600 Robots Take the Stage with Bon Jovi for the Band’s Historic Circle Tour
ABB Inc. Posted 02/25/2010
Patented RoboScreen™ technology delivers an unprecedented concert experience. Robots choreographed to move in sync to the music. AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Bon Jovi concert experience has always been a marvel of sight and sound and “The Circle Tour” which opened February 19th in Seattle’s Key Arena has taken this production innovation to a new level. A primary component of the visual intrigue of the show is five ABB IRB 7600 industrial robots positioned toward the back of the stage, each with a 6’ x 9’ LED video panel attached to their articulated arm. The robots and screens are integral to the concert production, moving to the rhythm and beat of the music while displaying real time video footage of the show and digital animations. At various intervals the five robot arms move into a formation where the LED panels become one continuous, five panel screen. The robots will accompany the nearly two-year long tour, which currently features approximately 60 concerts in North America and Europe, with additional dates likely to be scheduled.
IEEE SPECTRUM: AUTOMATION
# Quadcopter, Hexacopter, Octocopter ... UAVs
POSTED BY: Markus Waibel // Fri, February 19, 2010
Five years ago few people had even heard of Quadcopters (also called Quadricopters or Quadrotors). Now they seem to be everywhere, from university labs and hobbyists to UAV competitions and commercial platforms. What happened? For now most applications such as inspection of power lines, oil rigs or wind turbines, law enforcement surveillance or military reconnaissance are very real-time and do not require much autonomy beyond simple GPS waypoint navigation. However, that may soon change. Future application scenarios include robotic security guards that can rapidly react to a triggered alarm by autonomously providing surveillance of a specific site or area. Other tasks center around autonomous border patrol and perimeter search. And the military is considering sending groups of Quadrotor UAVs that can perch on powerlines, rocks and rooftop edges ahead of convoys for advanced surveillance, which may also allow automatic pin-pointing of sniper locations using sound triangulation.
Videos of Factory Robots
Posted 22 Feb 2010
Aaron Saenz over at Singularity Hub put together a short list of videos showing robots doing their stuff on the factory floor. These machines work tirelessly doing highly repetitive, and sometimes highly dangerous jobs, hour after hour, day after day. Included are a few clips from automotive assembly lines where robots have reduced human labor requirements to around 24 hours. Clips showing sorting, pick-and-place, and even a pancake stacker application are also shown.
# S-Korea to introduce Robotic Teaching Assisstants nationwide
by Markus Waibel on 26 Feb 2010, 10:06
Following a series of tests, South Korea has now decided to go ahead with introducing robotic teaching assistants nationwide. Two series of videos (including the two below) shows how the robots developed by Korea's Institute of Science and Technology KIST interact with children. Most interaction is centered around conversational examples, including such themes as: at the convenience store; at the hospital/pharmacy; in the gymnasium; using public transportation; etc. The robots ask questions and then use speech recognition software to provide feedback on children's pronounciation of pre-scripted answers. Other examples include the robot asking children to shop for specific items by passing them by the robot's onboard scanner or singing songs.
Israel’s Mega-Drone: News, or Zzzzz?
By Nathan Hodge, February 23, 2010
The latest headlines from Jerusalem are enough to make you spill your morning coffee: The Israeli military has unveiled a new fleet of drones that can stay aloft for a full day! And that can reach Iran! OMG OMG war in the Middle East!? In an official ceremony Sunday, officials rolled out the Eitan, breathlessly described as Israel’s newest and biggest drone, capable of attacking Iran. But if you’ve followed this stuff long enough, it begs another question: How many times, exactly, can you unveil a drone? The Eitan (”steadfast”) is a derivative of the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron unmanned aerial vehicle, a version with a larger wingspan and a more powerful engine. The drone, also known as the Heron TP or the Heron II, made a very public debut at the 2007 Paris Air Show. It was also featured in a media event at an Israeli air base in October 2007. What’s more, photos of the Eitan, taken during the maiden flight of the aircraft in July 2006, were published by Jane’s Defence Weekly back in May of 2007. And the aircraft made its combat debut during Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009, according to Barbara Opall-Rome of Defense News. So why the fuss over the Eitan? Well, for starters, there is some saber-rattling over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with speculation that Israel might strike the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. But Michael Tobin of Fox News also points to a more prosaic reason: Marketing. “The other motivation is commercial,” he writes. “Israel Aerospace Industries want to sell this UAV to other countries.”
|Feb 14, 2010: New RoboNaut also builds cars, Sea floor exploration, Roving WMD Detector, PackMuleBot, Robo Robin Hood?, Facebot, WSJ: Robots may cause 80% of job losses in the US, EU, Russia, China and Japan. WSJ: Lost Jobs Gone Forever
# Goldman Sachs: Shift toward cloud unstoppable
by Dave Rosenberg, February 12, 2010
The latest technology software report from investment bank Goldman Sachs confirms what IT industry analysts have been seeing as an unstoppable shift toward on-demand IT services and what we now consider to be cloud applications, especially among small businesses. According the report, e-mailed to subscribers this week, the macroeconomic downturn has likely accelerated software-as-a-service, or cloud, adoption, as customers are forced to look for lower-cost solutions to mission-critical business problems. Forty percent of survey respondents indicated that they would be more likely to use SaaS solutions in a weaker economy, due to perceived cost benefits, while only 4 percent said they were less likely to use an SaaS solution.
# Stay home, let Texas Robot attend that meeting
by Tim Hornyak February 8, 2010
If you're tired of commuting to the office and telecommuting won't cut it, the Texas Robot lets you scoot around work embodied in a robot platform while chatting with your co-workers. Willow Garage, a robot start-up in California's Menlo Park specializing in non-military applications, is developing the wheeled bots as tools to research telepresence technologies.
# GM and NASA build new robot astronaut, a 'robonaut'
With the Obama administration axing a proposed manned space flight back to the moon, this could be just the right time for a robot that's also an astronaut. Far fetched? Check out what NASA and General Motors just created. Together, they are working to accelerate development of the next generation of robots that have applications both for space flight and for building cars. Engineers and scientists at GM and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston have built a "robonaut" called Robonaut 2, or R2. It is intended to be a faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced robot than before. As you can see from the photo, it was not only made decidedly human in appearance, it's pretty darned buff. Why?: "For GM, this is about safer cars and safer plants," said Alan Taub, GM's vice president for global research and development. "When it comes to future vehicles, the advancements in controls, sensors and vision technology can be used to develop advanced vehicle safety systems." General Motors was involved in the space program in the 1960s. It says it built navigation systems for the Apollo missions and helped develop the Lunar Rover.
Automating Global Supply Chain Can Improve Profitability from 10%-40%
Study suggests automation can help improve cycle times and eliminate inefficiencies.
By Peter Alpern Feb. 12, 2010
A new study suggests companies stand to gain dramatically by implementing global trade best practices and accompanying automation, and could see improvement between 10% and 40%, according to Stanford University and TradeBeam, a provider of software that helps companies comply with global trade agreements online. The research, "How Enterprises and their Trading Partners Gain from Global Trade Automation: A New Process Model for the China-US Trade Lane," focuses on the benefits of global trade automation and provides estimates in key benefit categories based on input from supply chain practitioners from the U.S. and China.
# Can battlefield robots take the place of soldiers?
BBC News - Chris Bowlby - 3 hours ago
With 8000 robots already in use, they believe they can bring about a military revolution. Most of the robots currently deployed on land deal with non-combat...
# Canada Will Use Robot Subs to Map Arctic Sea Floor, Boost Territorial Claims
By DINA FINE MARON of Greenwire, February 10, 2010
Two robot submarines will plunge into the Arctic next month in an effort to help Canada stake a claim to a large swath of potentially mineral-rich seafloor in the polar region.
# Robot Pack Mule to Carry Loads for G.I.s on the Move
By Larry Greenemeier February 10, 2010
Within the next three years, the U.S. military will test the feasibility of sending a quadruped robot out into the field as a trusty pack mule to carry supplies for its troops, wherever they go. If the testing goes well for Boston Dynamics's Legged Squad Support System (LS3), company founder Marc Raibert will have come a long way from the one-legged hopping robots he pioneered in the 1980s.
# Robot to take starring roles in S.Korea plays
(AFP) – Feb 9, 2010
SEOUL — A South Korean-developed robot that played to acclaim in "Robot Princess and the Seven Dwarfs" is set for more leading theatre roles this year, a scientist said Wednesday. EveR-3 (Eve Robot 3) starred in various dramas last year including the government-funded "Dwarfs" which attracted a full house, said Lee Ho-Gil, of the state-run Korea Institute of Industrial Technology. The lifelike EveR-3 is 157 centimetres (five feet, two inches) tall, can communicate in Korean and English, and can express a total of 16 facial expressions -- without ever forgetting her lines.
Robots interact with humans through Facebook
Abhinav Malhotra, TNN, 12 February 2010
KANPUR: Inching a step ahead to bridge the gap between human beings and robots, the researchers have been successful in developing the world's first robot with its own Facebook page (on the social networking website-Facebook) which it can use in conversing with friends. Dr Nikolaos Mavridis, who has developed Ibn Sina (World's first Arabic speaking humanoid robot) is also the creator of Facebots robot which can use facebook information in holding conversations with friends. Dr Mavridis believes that Facebot project was undertaken to bring human beings closer to the robots which was only possible if the latter had the ability to converse as otherwise it would have been a mere piece of machine.
# North American Robot Orders Fall 25% in 2009 But Positive Signs Emerge in Fourth Quarter
Robotic Industries Association Posted 02/08/2010
ANN ARBOR, Michigan (February 8, 2010) – North American robotics companies saw orders for new robots fall 25% in 2009, but the decline slowed considerably in the fourth quarter, according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 9,451 robots valued at $569.2 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies in 2009. Unit figures were down 25% and dollars declined 36% when compared to the full year 2008 results. In the fourth quarter, the decline came to a near stop as units were flat with the same period in 2008 and dollars were down just five percent.
# Alliance of Top Industry, Academic and Non-Profit Organizations Team Up to Launch National Robotics Week
Robotic Industries Association Posted 02/03/2010
Key Academic and Industry Influencers Lead Joint Effort Celebrating the United States’ Role as a Leader in Robotics Technology; Introduce Regional Events and Activities to Allow the Public to “Experience the Possibilities”
BEDFORD, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The first annual National Robotics Week will be held from April 10-18, recognizing robotics technology as a pillar of 21st century American innovation, highlighting its growing importance in a wide variety of application areas, and emphasizing its ability to inspire technology education. Robotics is positioned to fuel a broad array of next-generation products and applications in fields as diverse as manufacturing, healthcare, national defense and security, agriculture and transportation. At the same time, robotics is proving to be uniquely adept at enabling students of all ages to learn important science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts and at inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. During National Robotics Week, a weeklong series of events and activities is aimed at increasing public awareness of the growing importance of “robo-technology” and the tremendous social and cultural impact that it will have on the future of the United States. “From schools to the workplace to healthcare, robotics will play a huge role in making life easier for everyone and will be a significant area of job growth and development in the decades ahead.”
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
# Burglars use low-noise helicopter for recon and surveillance
Markus Waibel on 12 Feb 2010, 10:35
Police in Tapai, Taiwan report on two men using a remotely operated helicopter equipped with a camera to commit more than 10 burglaries. In what sounds quite similar to much current research on UAVs, the burglars used a low-noise helicopter to fly to the window of an apartment and send surveillance photos back to their computer. If the photos revealed there was no one in the apartment, the men would allegedly break in and carry out the burglary. Following the arrest of one man, police are still searching for the second burglar.
# New Commissioner responsible for Robotics
February 11, 2010 The new European Commission has been formally approved by the European Parliment and took office as of February 10, 2010. Ms. Neelie Kroes was appointed as the new Commissioner for Digital Agenda responsible for the Directorate General Information Society and Media (INFSO) which includes Robotics. Ms. Neelie Kroes is the successor of Ms. Vivian Reding who was confirmed as the new Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.
# QinetiQ North America Developing Roving, Early-Warning WMD Detector
Project underway at Jordan Valley Innovation Center of Missouri State University
Feb 11 By Robotics Trends
02.11.2010 — QinetiQ North America partners with Brewer Science and Applied Systems Intelligence to develop a mobile chemical and biological sensor for the military and for homeland defense. QinetiQ North America (LSE: QQ) announced that it is working with Brewer Science and Applied Systems Intelligence on a program to develop an autonomous, self-deploying sensor that will serve as a roving, early-warning detector of biological warfare activity.
# Robots may cause 80% of job losses in the US, EU, Russia, China and Japan.
Wall Street Journal - Sahit Muja - Feb 3, 2010
Robots, automation and new vastly more powerful products will reduce the need for workers while maintaining economic growth.
# Economists Expect Shifting Work Force Increased Automation and Relocations Overseas Means a New Employment Mix Will Take Hold When Hiring Resumes
FEBRUARY 11, 2010 By PHIL IZZO
About a quarter of the 8.4 million jobs eliminated since the recession began won't be coming back and will ultimately need to be replaced by other types of work in growing industries, according to economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.
PM Report: Many Lost Jobs Gone Forever: The Wall Street Journal's latest forecasing survey showing economist believe about a quarter of the 8.4 million jobs eliminated since the recession began won't be coming back. Economics editor David Wessel and Barrons.com's Bob O'Brien discuss the results. While the job market is constantly shifting as some sectors fade and others expand, this recession threw that process into overdrive. Thousands of workers lost jobs as companies automated more tasks or moved whole assembly lines to places like China. As growth returns, so will job creation—just with a different emphasis in the mix of jobs being created. Economists in the survey are predicting a slow upswing for the economy as a whole. Respondents on average expect economic growth to settle at about 3% in 2010, off sharply from the powerful 5.7% seasonally adjusted annual growth rate in the fourth quarter. This is why job creation has become such a worrisome issue: Based on that growth projection, over the next year economists estimate the U.S. will add about 133,000 jobs a month. That sounds good and it's certainly better than more job losses. But with about 100,000 new jobs a month needed just to soak up new entrants to the work force, that pace of job creation will only slowly reduce the high unemployment rate.
|Jan 31, 2010: Service robots, Surgical Robot Profits, Welfare automation, Skyscraper window cleaning robots, robotics industry predictions, labor market predictions 2010, pentagon master plan, increases in equipment spending, and much more…
# Korean housemaid robot does laundry
by Dong Ngo, January 20, 2010 1:10 PM PST
A recently married co-worker told me that what's even worse than having to do laundry is when your significant other complains that you don't enjoy doing it. I'm single and didn't really know what he was talking about. However, now there's something to help do the laundry that I think I would really enjoy, and it comes from South Korea. According to the Korea Times, scientists at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have created a domestic robot that can help with the laundry and even heat up food in the microwave. The scientist says that the robot, called "Mahru-Z," is a human-like machine with arms, legs, a rotating head, and it has the capability to "see" objects in three dimensions and recognize chores that need to be done. This is amazing for a machine of just taller than 4 feet and weighing about 120 pounds. I am 6 foot tall and often find myself not knowing what to do standing right in the middle of a messy room.
# PETA wants Groundhog Day, the robot way
Thu Jan 28 2010 Posted by Leslie Katz
Concerned about animal cruelty, the animal rights group wants to replace the weather-forecasting Punxsutawney Phil with an animatronic version.
# Robots evolve to learn cooperation, hunting
Posted by Tim Hornyak · Sat Jan 30 2010
Scientists in Europe have described experiments in which robots evolve through natural selection, learning to cooperate, hunt, and even be altruistic.
# Predicting a New Class of Robot
Heartland Robotics, Inc. Posted 01/21/2010
Is the world edging closer to a new class of robot? Rodney Brooks thinks so. He brought us the Roomba robotic vacuum and now says we are on the verge of a new category of robot as hundreds of top industry executives gathered for the Robotics Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida. His comments came on the first day of Robotic Industries Association’s annual event (January 20-22, 2010), and provided some insight into his new venture called Heartland Robotics. Few people know what is going on at Heartland Robotics and Mr. Brooks was careful to avoid specifics, but he showed video of robots that faintly resemble Star Wars’ C-3PO. He spoke of how a world dominated by the Wal-Mart style of business (which he says relies heavily on cheap Chinese labor) might assimilate new types of robotics into the workforce and eliminate the need to outsource. He’s not the first to predict that robots will be able to see, touch, handle and move product just like laborers in a warehouse, but unlike most he has a track record of success when it comes to selling robots that people use in their homes. He tells us five million Roombas have been sold without a single lawsuit over injuries (to people or their pets), which is an important consideration for the type of robot he proposes.
# Intuitive Surgical profit far exceeds expectations
Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:15pm EST By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Intuitive Surgical Inc (ISRG.O) reported far better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on Thursday, with profit up more than 50 percent on increased demand for its da Vinci surgical robot systems and higher instruments and accessories sales. For 2010, Intuitive expects revenue to grow by 25 percent with procedures growing by 35 percent over 2009 levels. Total revenue in 2009 was $1.05 billion.
# Robots taking over everyday life of Japanese
Jan 21, 2010, 16:24 GMT
Tokyo - Shopping in Japan has become very high-tech. One supermarket in the central city of Kyoto has a robot that looks like it was an extra in a Star Wars film. It races between the shelves, collecting items on a shopping list given to it by an elderly lady. As she entered the supermarket the robot greeted her and even gave her a few suggestions on what to buy. The robot is just one of the latest shopping assistants developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) in Kyoto. It is also an indication that Japan's robot revolution has extended beyond its factory floors into supermarkets, homes and hospitals. Japan has about half of all the 800,000 factory robots in the world. Japanese robots clean floors, mix drinks, serve sushi, chop vegetables and even go on patrol as security guards.
# Robots Get a Sense of Touch
Charles Bates, 01/19/2010
Sensors at their wrists measure forces and torque to give robots a sense of touch, and thanks to a coordinated effort by ATI Industrial Automation and Staubli Robotics, ATI’s Networkable Force/ Torque Sensor System (Net F/T) is now fully compatible with Staubli robots to allow them a “sense of touch.” The joint effort provides true plugand- play connectivity via Ethernet to Staubli CS8 robot controllers. The Net F/T transducer, with Net Box, interfaces to the robot controller via a TCP/IP socket and optional VAL3 library, which reads force values to enhance manufacturing automation. Together, the cost-effective robot and sensor let shops automate difficult assembly, machining and finishing tasks that previously required skilled personnel or complex assembly machines.
MarketWatch - Matt Andrejczak - Jan 27, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Rockwell Automation on Wednesday raised its profit and sales outlook for fiscal 2010…
Business Wire (press release) - Jan 28, 2010
Siemens is a global leader in automation systems, power conversion and control systems. As part of its environmental portfolio, …
By KEN KUSMER Associated Press Writer, INDIANAPOLIS January 26, 2010 (AP)
Indiana's human services agency said Tuesday the state's third try at effectively enrolling and keeping people on food stamps and other welfare benefits has begun rolling out, but one affected caretaker said the frustrations keep mounting. The Family and Social Services Administration said it has begun implementing what it's calling a hybrid welfare intake system, involving caseworkers and some automation, in 10 southwestern Indiana counties. It follows the agency's aborted bid to turn over highly automated welfare intake to private vendors — a plan designed to replace an outdated, paper-based casework system — that remains in 33 counties.
by Gerhard Hope on Jan 31, 2010
Serbot systems combine all the cleaning kit into one robotic unit. Robotic cleaning systems for windows and façades on high-rise buildings have been launched in Dubai by Swiss company Serbot AG. “We are bringing this new technology to the UAE, where we have seen a lot of potential, especially with all the skyscrapers and the various architectural designs, which are very hard to clean using conventional methods,” said Serbot business development manager Bas Schmit Phiferons. Gekko and CleanAnt from Serbot are cleaning robots for high-rise buildings combining robotic engineering, cleaning engineering and a fall arrestor system and media supply in one complete system. The robots can be used on the widest variety of façade types, and do not require any devices such as guide rails.
Published: Jan. 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM
NEW DELHI, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The Defense Ministry has challenged engineering students to come up with a robot vehicle platform to help in its fight against terrorists in urban environments. Thousands of dollars for the winners are being offered in the "autonomous ground vehicle" competition set up by the Defense Research and Development Organization in New Delhi, which has put details of requirements on its Web site.
# Business Results and Trends for 2010
By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association
Where is business headed in 2010? We got some of the answers during the Robotics Industry Forum. Robotic material handling is in generally good shape, but of course choosing a specific industry is critical. Food looks like a growth opportunity for robots and don’t count out automotive (especially spot welding) but what else can we deduce?
by Bennett Brumson , Contributing Editor
Robotic Industries Association Posted 01/18/2010
The robotics industry, like the world economy, is slowly emerging from the most trying economic times since the 1930s. The automotive sector, traditionally the core of the robotics industry, is depressed requiring robot manufacturers and integrators to find substitute markets in North America and beyond. “My outlook for the robotics industry in 2010 is cautiously optimistic and unsettled. Some projects are coming back alive that have been dead a long time,” says Joseph Campbell, Vice President Sales and Marketing of ABB Robotics. (Auburn Hills, Michigan). “Industry analysts are trying to gauge if fourth quarter activity is by companies who have not done any capital investment in 2009 or is it the start of a true recovery.” Orders for new robots declined 30 percent through the third quarter of 2009, with the automotive industry slipping at approximately the same rate. Automotive-related companies typically account for about 60 percent of robots ordered in North America.
The U.S. military already has plans in the works to grow its fleet of Predators and Reapers, the long-loitering, armed surveillance drones that have become a defining feature of the air war over Central Asia and the Middle East. Now, according to a draft version of the Pentagon’s new master strategy plan, the military wants to dramatically up the number of “orbits,” or air patrols, of the unmanned aircraft.Courtesy of Inside Defense (subscription only), we’ve taken an early look at a “pre-decisional” copy of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, due for release on Monday. According to that draft, the Department of Defense is “is on track” to field and sustain 50 drone orbits by Fiscal Year 2013. What’s more, the Pentagon “will continue to expand the force to at least 65 orbits by FY 15.” Just to give a sense of how significant this is, some context. On a visit to an “undisclosed location” in Southwest Asia last year, Noah got the inside scoop on current Predator and Reaper operations: The Air Force, he reported, has a total of 39 orbits in the Central Command region. And those orbits include the CIA’s controversial drone operations over Pakistan, which are technically compartmentalized from — but overlap with — the military’s efforts in Afghanistan. (“There are 39 orbits, that’s it. No wink, wink,” a military officer memorably told Noah.)The Fiscal Year 2010 budget calls for funding to field and sustain a 50-drone orbit by 2013. But the addition of another 15 orbits by 2015 won’t be the end of it. According to the draft QDR, the Pentagon is also “exploring ways to enhance the effectiveness of its fleet of ISR aircraft by developing innovative sensor technologies, support infrastructures and operating concepts.”
A U.S. drone reportedly crashed in Pakistan on Sunday. The Associated Press calls it “a rare mishap for a program Washington has increasingly relied on to kill Taliban and al-Qaida militants.” But that’s not quite right; American unmanned aircraft go down all the time. They’ve even gone down before in Pakistan. According to U.S. Air Force statistics, Predator and Reapers drones have suffered at least 85 “class A mishaps” — accidents which caused a million dollars’ worth of damage or more. Typically, 14 of these accidents takes place for every 100,000 hours a Predator flies.
A controversial CIA contractor has found new work in Haiti, flying drones on disaster recovery duty. When last we heard from Evergreen International Aviation, the Oregon-based firm was offering to post sentries at local voting centers during the 2008 election, ”detaining troublemakers” and making sure voters “do not get out of control.”Now, company vice president Sam White tells Aviation Week that the firm is flying at least one ScanEagle surveillance drone over Haiti. ”The company has a fleet of 747s and a fleet of large and small choppers, and has begun ferrying in supplies to Port au Prince,” the magazine’s Paul McLeary notes. “White wouldn’t say who the company is moving cargo for, saying only that ‘we’re working with different agencies, and we have one plane coming in tomorrow full of humanitarian supplies.’” Over the years, Evergreen has had all sorts of interesting clients over its five-plus decades in operation. Back in the late ’80s, the company “acknowledged one agreement under which his companies provide occasional jobs and cover to foreign nationals the CIA wants taken out of other countries or brought into the United States.” In 2006, Evergreen’s parent company flew Bill O’Reilly into Kuwait in 2006, according toSourceWatch. Last April, the company won a $158 million contract to supply the Air Force with helicopters in Afghanistan.
# Growth Hits 6-Year High --- Gains Fueled by Stabilizing Inventories; Employers Remain Cautious About Hiring
Justin Lahart. Wall Street Journal. Jan 30, 2010. pg. A.1
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in six years in the last three months of 2009, expanding at a 5.7% yearly rate over the previous quarter, as businesses drew less from their stockrooms and stepped up purchases of equipment and software. Hit during the downturn, many guitar shops cut the number of instruments they had on hand, and Collings saw orders drop. …One sign from the GDP report of improved confidence at companies was a annualized 13.3% increase in spending on equipment and software -- the biggest gain in nearly four years. In the past, rises in capital spending have tended to signal an increased willingness to hire. When it reported results for its most recent quarter on Wednesday, Rockwell Automation Inc., a leading producer of factory-automation equipment and software, said it expects revenue of $4.4 billion to $4.6 billion for its fiscal year ending September, better than the $4.1 billion to $4.4 billion it previously forecast. "We believe we are at the start of a recovery," said Rockwell CEO Keith Nosbusch. "Our goal is to be very successful as it returns." But the company is cautious, and has increased hiring only slightly despite its expectation for better sales.
By GENE EPSTEIN | Barron’s 1/25/2010
Plenty of professional jobs await you in 2018. WITH THE JOB OUTLOOK BETWEEN NOW and next year looking dismal, what about between now and 2018?
According to the recently released projections of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in a wide range of fields will be plentiful. But in many fields, the key factor for job seekers isn't so much the number of positions that will be added as the number that will need to be replaced, due to the gradual exit from the labor force by aging baby boomers. Details in the BLS study often remind you of the old joke about economists showing their sense of humor by putting decimal places in their forecasts. But the study (at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2009/11/art5full.pdf) still serves as a tonic in these dark times for those who believe that the U.S faces a jobless future. For 750 separate occupations, the agency gives detailed projections on growth and on replacement needs due to retirements. … For example, the study lists, as of 2008, 4.6 million (actually, "4,583.7" thousand) jobs under the broad heading of "material-moving occupations," which include "crane and tower operators" and "tank car, truck and ship loaders." It plausibly projects that the job total will suffer a 1% decline by 2018, given the upward march of automation. But, especially since people tend to retire early from these fields, it still lists nearly 1.4 million openings by 2018, a "replacement rate" of nearly 30%.
|Jan 17, 2010: Roxxxy first of its kind sex robot, Oil automation, Robot Movies, Automation Panel Discussion in the Rustbelt, Rescue Robots in Haiti, and Military applications galore.
# Hummingbird bot could track crooks, explore Mars
by Tim Hornyak, December 29, 2009
Researchers at Japan's Chiba University are developing a hummingbird-style flying robot that could be used to find people trapped in collapsed buildings, search for criminals, or even explore other planets. Engineering professor Hiroshi Liu said the micro air vehicle, or MAV, is equipped with a mini motor that allows it to flap its wings up to 30 times per second--roughly in the same range as a hummingbird. The remote-controlled ornithopter is nearly 4 inches long and weighs about 0.09 ounces. Its rechargeable battery allows for six minutes of flying time, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
# Military is awash in data from drones
Mon Jan 11 2010 (From The New York Times)
So much video intelligence is coming out of Afghanistan that military analysts are finding it hard to keep up. Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007--about 24 years' worth if watched continuously. That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions.
# Friday Poll: Perfect date with Roxxxy the sex robot?
Fri Jan 15 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak
This week we met a life-size, artificially intelligent, and fully functional sex robot billed as the first of its kind. And it made some of us wonder what it would be like to finally date an artificial lady programmed to make us feel good.
# Afraid of outsourcing? What if robots take our jobs?
San Francisco Chronicle (blog) - Dec 30, 2009
Self-employed software engineer Martin Ford wonders whether technology is advancing to the point where automation will replace so many jobs that society ...
Martin Ford also has a new book out: The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (Volume 1)
# Refinery upgrades electrical and process control infrastructure
Control Engineering - Peter Welander - Dec 31, 2009
ABB to provide integrated electrical and automation solutions to optimize production at Elefsina refinery in Greece. Hellenic Petroleum SA has awarded an order worth $26 million to ABB to provide an integrated power and automation system for its Elefsina refinery, west of Athens. The environmentally friendly facility aims to improve its ability to manufacture products in accordance with best-in-class technology and global standards to minimize environmental impact. ABB says it will design, supply, install, and commission the electrical and automation system to power the refinery. The turnkey electrical solution intends to strengthen the reliability and quality of power to the refinery, while improving energy efficiency and reducing overall electricity consumption and costs. The project is expected to be completed in 2010.
# Robots to shape wars of the future
USA Today - Matthew Cox - Dec 28, 2009
By Michael Guillory, Army By Kathleen Curthoys and Matthew Cox, Army Times Robots may one day be more effective than human soldiers on the battlefield and they may have a sense of ethics — even a sense of guilt, says a robotics expert who has done a study with the support of the Army's research office. Ethical robots that can use lethal force on the battlefield would adhere to international law and rules of engagement, Ronald C. Arkin told Army Times on Dec. 15. Arkin describes how this could work in his 2009 book "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots." He is with the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
# Rockwell Automation Downgraded to “Sell” at Deutsche Bank (ROK)
Dividend.com (blog) - Jan 11, 2010
By Dividend.com Staff Industrial automation experts Rockwell Automation (ROK) saw its rating cut on Monday by analysts at Deutsche Bank.
# Manufacturers' Confidence In The Economy, Business Prospects Rise Dramatically In Managing Automation Media's Reader Poll
NEW YORK, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Managing Automation Media, the leading information resource for manufacturing management, today released the results of its annual Managing Automation Media Outlook Poll, 2010. The survey, of nearly 400 manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe, shows significantly improved levels of confidence in the economy and in manufacturers' business prospects in 2010.
Manufacturers across the U.S. and Europe say that their feelings about the health of their economies and their own business prospects going into 2010 have improved by a wide margin since late 2009. The new poll, fielded last month, shows that a strong majority of manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe – 57% and 55%, respectively – expect their economies to improve moderately in 2010. Last year, this key measure of confidence dropped to 26% in the U.S. and nearly collapsed in Europe at 13%. Nevertheless, manufacturers express significant caution about the shape of the recovery. In the U.S., 50% of respondents say they expect a gradual and consistent recovery to unfold, but 40% believe that the recovery could be bumpy. In Europe, the split isn't as dramatic, with 64% expecting a gradual and consistent improvement and 23% anticipating further problems.
And feelings of caution are even more evident when it comes to hiring plans. Fifty-four percent of U.S. respondents and 52% of European companies said they have no plans to re-start hiring soon. Of those that will be hiring – about a quarter of respondents in each group – the first and second quarters are the expected timeframes.
# Automation At Its Best
Cost, ease of use, technical support, third-party integration, and flexibility are driving the development of new laboratory automation efforts.
Laboratory Equipment - Tim Studt - Jan 5, 2010
Laboratory automation is an integral part of the modern research lab, with increasing integration in processes for sample preparation, analysis, imaging, labeling, library management and more. As manpower, productivity, and throughput assume more importance in the lab, so do lab automation systems. Manual processes in many clinical and hospital/medical facilities have all but disappeared. When specimens arrive in these labs, they’re placed in an automation line, and the robotics and software systems take over.
# The State of Innovation In Automation
Automation World - Alex Anderson - Jan 8, 2010
Together, these typologies of innovation are the lifeblood of any technology industry, and the automation arena is no different. Changing approaches now can provide a foundation for future prosperity. The technology business has always been the world of cool ideas.
# ABB wins metals order in Saudi Arabia
Al-Bawaba - Jan 6, 2010
ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order to provide electrical and automation equipment and related services for a new seamless-tube mill and pipe production plant in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The project is a joint venture between ArcelorMittal and the Saudi-based Bin Jarallah Group.
# Anti-Terrorism Robot to Stand Guard at Logan Airport
FOXNews - Jan 12, 2010
BOSTON — State Police at Logan International Airport are getting a new anti-terrorist robot that will help them disarm bombs safely from a distance. The robot scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday was inspired by and will be dedicated to Massachusetts soldiers who died in the war on terror. The manufacturer is Black-I Robotics in Tyngsborough, co-founded by Brian Hart, whose son Pfc. John Hart was killed in a roadside attack in Iraq in 2003.
# US Army's robot kill-chopper chopped
Register - Lewis Page - Jan 15, 2010
A pilotless helicopter gunship and droid ground vehicles intended to carry supplies and clear mines have been axed: however a robot tank project and other automated weaponry will proceed. Aggrieved by the demise of its whirlybird buddy, the droid tank wrought terrible vengeance. Wired magazine reports on the cuts, affecting the interlinked series of tech programmes once known as "Future Combat Systems". This was intended to deliver a panoply of robotic and manned aircraft, vehicles and equipment linked together by a high-capacity, totally secure wireless networking system.
# Honda Debuts Living with Robots Documentary At Sundance Film Festival
I4U - Luigi Lugmayr - Jan 13, 2010
Honda goes to the movies. Japanese technology company and car maker Honda shows Living With Robots, an all-new short documentary film, will debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 22nd. Following the premiere of the documentary is a live 10-minute demonstration of Honda's famous ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot. This is actually already the sixth film release in Honda's Dream the Impossible Documentary Series. Living With Robots was directed by award-winning filmmaker, Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Crude, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster).
# Robots: a lesson in US history
Nina Ying Sun | PLASTICS NEWS STAFF, Posted January 4, 2010
Plastics News’ China Web site recently published two automation-related stories: “North American robot sales shrink in 2009,” and “Fanuc building new factory in Shanghai.” The stories made me think about the relationship between U.S. jobs, China and robots. When I joined Plastics News, my first impression of U.S. manufacturing was of an industry filled with complaints and sometimes rage about China. That certainly hasn’t changed over the years. But the reason why people in our industry get upset isn’t as simple as I thought it was — China taking manufacturing business away from the U.S. The truth is, people interpret the term “business” in their own ways. In many cases, the business entity stays, the profit stays, and the ownership and top management stay. Just the manufacturing jobs go away to lower-cost regions — like China. Soon enough, I started to hear and write about U.S. manufacturers managing to beat “the China price,” so to speak. The trump card usually is the utilization of automation equipment. That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If China’s advantage lies in low-cost labor, you beat it by minimizing labor in the equation. Highly automated domestic manufacturing has other benefits: better quality, higher consistency, lower freight costs, shorter lead times, etc. For a while, I truly believed automation was the solution for U.S. manufacturers suffering with the “China problem.” It’s simple: Robots defeat cheap Chinese workers. Problem solved. But as time went by, China has remained a “problem” for U.S. manufacturing. Every once in a while, we write about companies moving manufacturing from China back to the United States. But the volume of such events isn’t significant enough to claim a trend, let alone victory. Then, I realized my original thinking was naïve. Robots outperform and replace not only Chinese workers but also American workers. If the goal of U.S. manufacturing is to keep domestic jobs, ultimately robots are not the solution.
# Robot border guards may patrol future frontiers
ANI Saturday, January 9, 2010 15:24 IST
London: If scientists have their way, then robot border guards would be patrolling the frontiers in the near future. Amid the ever-present angst over illegal immigration, cross-border terrorism and contraband smuggling, some nations are turning to novel border-surveillance technologies, potentially backed up by robots. According to a report in New Scientist, the idea is to scatter arrays of sensors in a border area in ways that give guards or robots plenty of time to respond before their targets make good an escape. The need to secure borders is evident across the globe, from India, which is constructing a 3400-kilometre, 3-metre-high barbed-wire and concrete border wall to close itself off from Bangladesh, to Libya, where foot patrols are being augmented with new people-sensing technologies. Libya has an agreement with the European Union to try to limit the flow of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa traversing its borders before crossing the Mediterranean and entering Italy. To help it enforce this deal, Libya is spending 300 million euros on technology for what it calls a "large border security and control system", made by Selex Sistemi Integrati, part of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica. Selex says its command, control and communication technology will include all the computers and software necessary to make sense of the data gathered by a raft of different sensors on the Libyan border. Elsewhere, the US Department of Homeland Security, along with Boeing Intelligence and Security Systems, is fielding sensors on the border with Mexico, in an 8 billion dollars project called the Secure Border Initiative network.
# FANUC Robotics Hosts Panel Discussion Focused on Ohio’s Labor And Manufacturing Crisis
FANUC Robotics America, Inc. Posted 01/15/2010
FANUC Robotics America, Inc. will host business, economic and political leaders on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at its facility in Mason, Ohio to discuss the jobs and manufacturing crisis in Ohio, and recommend innovative strategies to attract high-tech companies to the state. “This is an excellent opportunity for a wide range of leadership to exchange ideas on how we can create jobs and restore prosperity in Ohio,” said John Roemisch, General Manager, FANUC Robotics Eastern Region.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# New Fanuc Robot: M-3iA
Posted: January 05, 2010
Following close on the heels of the tiny M-1iA, Fanuc has released the M-3iA, another parallel link robot - this time with a larger payload capacity. The M-3iA can lift up to 6kg. It is designed for speedy, steady, and sophisticated assembly and material handling. This parallel link model is meant for ceiling installation. It provides a cylindrical work envelope and uses an R-30iA controller.
# Robots Aid Rescue Teams in Haiti
Posted 14 Jan 2010 at 20:19 UTC by steve
We're not surprised to see robots aiding in disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Beale Air Force Base has dispatched a Global Hawk UAV that will provide aerial imagery to support humanitarian efforts. But it looks like ground-based search and rescue robots may not be as useful as in past disasters. Dr. Robin Murphy of CRASAR says they are unlikely to send a ground-based search and rescue robot team as their robots are primarily useful in large building collapses, not in residential areas, "dogs smell much faster than the most agile robot can get in the rubble."
# Ferropaper Robots
Posted 7 Jan 2010 at 18:49 UTC by steve
According to a Purdue University news release, researchers there have created a magnetic material they call ferropaper which they believe can be used to create tiny, low-cost micromotors, speakers, and even robots. To make the material, they start with conventional paper and impregnate it with ferrofluid, a mixture of mineral oil and magnetic nanoparticles made of iron oxide. The paper is then coated with a "biocompatible plastic film" to make it water resistant. Newspaper and tissue paper have proven best for creating ferropaper.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
# 2010 - And already some robotics milestones!
by Markus Waibel on 15 Jan 2010, 09:47
The year has just begun, but it can already lay claim to some important robotic milestones: First of all, this month marks the sixth anniversary of NASA's Spririt and Opportunity Mars robots. As you may remember from last year's interview with Julie Townsend, the rovers were originally designed to explore Mars for about three months - but have now already lasted more than 6 Earth yearsin the severe Martian environment. Second, following last year's successful navigation of Willow Garage's PR2 robot, the robot has now further extended its skill set to include learning new motor skills from human demonstration. Third, sales of home robots by Massachussets based company iRobot have now surpassed five million units since its debut in 2002.
# Afghan Drone War Spikes Under McChrystal
Noah Shachtman, January 14, 2010
Since taking over as top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal has dramatically scaled back the traditional air war, cutting in half the number of munitions dropped from the sky. The unmanned air war, however, has escalated under McChrystal’s watch, reports Spencer Ackerman. Since July 2009, there have been 89 drone strikes in Afghanistan, compared to 61 during the same period last year.
# Court to Cops: Stop Tasing People into Compliance
David Hambling, January 4, 2010
The use of Tasers has become increasingly controversial over the last year, following high-profile cases such as the Tasering of a 10-year-old girl who had refused to take a shower and video of a 72-year-old great-grandmother who was Tasered following a driving offense. Now a federal appeals court in San Francisco has set down new rules for when police officers are allowed to use Tasers. In particular, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tasers can’t be used simply to force a non-violent person to bend to an officer’s will. The court’s reason was that Taser’s X26 stun gun inflicts more pain than other “non-lethal” options: The physiological effects, the high levels of pain, and foreseeable risk of physical injury lead us to conclude that the X26 and similar devices are a greater intrusion than other non-lethal methods of force we have confronted. The ruling followed a case in which an officer Tasered a man named Carl Bryan after pulling him over for driving with an unbuckled seat belt. Bryan was verbally abusive, but obviously unarmed and non-violent. The use of Tasers as compliance tools — means for compelling behavior — has generated a huge amount of protest. For many, the famous “Don’t Tase me, bro” incident, in which student Andrew Meyer was Tasered at a political debate, signaled an alarming new form of oppression. (Others have accused Meyer of setting the whole thing up as a stunt.) Perhaps the distinguishing feature of the Taser, compared with other forms of enforcing compliance, is that it can be used with one finger. Police have always been able enforce their wishes using batons or manual force, but a Taser is a much easier option, and perhaps this makes it more prone to abuse. Whether it’s zapping an unruly student protester, an uncooperative 11-year-old or an abusive driver, the trite observation that power corrupts may have some truth here.
# 10 Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist
Aaron Rowe, January 4, 2010 Sure, the gear may look like it came straight out of Avatar or Battlestar Galactica. But all of the laser weapons, robots, sonic blasters and puke rays pictured here are real. Some of these weapons have already found their way onto the battlefield. If the rest of this sci-fi arsenal follows, war may soon be unrecognizable.
# Danger Room’s Top 10 Stories From a World Gone Nuts
Noah Shachtman, December 30, 2009
The past year took Danger Room’s team of reporters from Afghanistan to Israel to Georgia, and from the Pentagon to a clandestine air base in Southwest Asia, in what has to be one the wildest years ever on the international stage. Here are our choices for the most important stories of 2009. First up: The drone war over Pakistan. This time last year, it was most definitely underway. But in 2009, it kicked into high gear. The Obama administration launched more than 50 reported robotic strikes, killing several hundred people. Compare that to 2008, when there were just 36 drone attacks. The character of the drone war changed, too. A year ago, the Pakistani government was denying any connection with the attacks. So was the U.S. military. And the idea that Blackwater was somehow mixed up in the whole thing was a plot twist worthy of Hollywood. But that was before Google Earth spotted U.S. Predators parked on a Pakistani runway; before the Air Force let slip that their drones were running missions east of the Durand Line; and before the CIA publicly announced that it was cutting Blackwater’s contract for rearming the drones. By May, the unmanned attacks had become such an open secret that CIA director Leon Panetta confessed that the robotic campaign was “the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership.” (This, despite the militants’ apparent understanding of how the drones were targeted, and how to see through the robotic planes’ eyes.) That view was shared by some in the White House, who wanted to recast the Afghanistan fight along the lines of the drone-heavy effort in Pakistan. But counterinsurgency experts continue to worry that the robotic attacks could destabilize the region as they continue into 2010 and expand to a new front: Yemen.
# Air Force Completes Killer Micro-Drone Project
David Hambling, January 5, 2010
The Air Force Research Laboratory set out in 2008 to build the ultimate assassination robot: a tiny, armed drone for U.S. special forces to employ in terminating “high-value targets.” The military won’t say exactly what happened to this Project Anubis, named after a jackal-headed god of the dead in Egyptian mythology. But military budget documents note that Air Force engineers were successful in “develop[ing] a Micro-Air Vehicle (MAV) with innovative seeker/tracking sensor algorithms that can engage maneuvering high-value targets.”
# Evolution Robotics Introduces Mint – The Evolution of Floor Cleaning.
01.07.2010 — Evolution Robotics partners with renowned industrial designer Yves Behar to deliver appliance-grade floor cleaner that exploits Evolution’s low-cost NorthStar localization solution. Evolution Robotics, Inc., a robotics technology company, announced Mint, a fundamentally new type of automatic floor cleaner – and a dramatic leap forward in robotics for the consumer market. Mint automatically dusts and wet mops hard surface floors using popular cleaning cloths, such as Swiffer brand Dry and Wet Cloths and other similar products. Mint also works with washable microfiber cloths that which Evolution will make available with the product.
# Kiva Systems’ Double Digit Growth Defies 2009’s Recession Economy
Record expansion of robotic warehouse automation solutions bucks material handling industry trend.
01.06.2010 — Despite the 2009 “Great Recession”, Kiva Systems, a producer of order fulfillment robotics solutions, had a banner year in 2009, doubling the number of its customers and expanding into Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. Kiva Systems, a developer of game-changing mobile-robotic solutions that automate order fulfillment and warehouse operations, announced 2009 was a record year for the company. Kiva Systems grew business organically, significantly outperforming industry expectations in the face of a challenging economy by closing 2009 with increases in both revenue and bookings for new orders compared to 2008.
# Israeli Robots Remake Battlefield
Nation Forges Ahead in Deploying Unmanned Military Vehicles by Air, Sea and Land
JANUARY 13, 2010 By CHARLES LEVINSON
TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel is developing an army of robotic fighting machines that offers a window onto the potential future of warfare. Sixty years of near-constant war, a low tolerance for enduring casualties in conflict, and its high-tech industry have long made Israel one of the world's leading innovators of military robotics. WSJ's Charles Levinson reports from Jerusalem to discuss Israel's development of robotic, unmanned combat systems. He tells Simon Constable on the News Hub how they are deploying unmanned boats, ground vehicles and aerial vehicles. "We're trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield for each platoon in the field," says Lt. Col. Oren Berebbi, head of the Israel Defense Forces' technology branch. "We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk."
|Dec. 27, 2009: Ford Testing Robot, Robot Teachers, Mail Automation in Bangladesh, WarBots, WaterBot, SexBot, Strawberry Inspection Robot, Drones Hacked |
# Neato's auto vac gets down and dirty with Roomba
by David Carno, December 16, 2009
Roomba has been king of the robotic vacuum market for a while, but Neato Robotics, a start-up out of Menlo Park, California, will be trying to usurp the throne in February with a new automated vacuum that will cost $400. While the company expects to have multiple robotic housekeeping products in the future, its debut product is called the Neato XV-11. What makes it better than Roomba vacuums? Neato says it's smarter because it features a high-tech laser-powered Room Positioning System (RPS) to map your room and avoid most obstacles. And since it's smarter, it cleans a room in a more efficient manner, allowing it to finish the job more quickly.
# Ford's RUTH robot gets touchy-feely with interiors
Tim Hornyak, December 16, 2009
Ford has been working with a tactile robot arm to evaluate the feel and appearance of surfaces and controls in its vehicles in a bid to make the testing process less subjective and more scientific. The Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics, or RUTH, has been used for several years at the automaker's European Research Center in Aachen, Germany, to check the interiors of the European versions of the new Focus and Fiesta, versions of which are coming to the United States in 2010. Ford says it's the first carmaker to use a robot like RUTH, which is a modified consumer packaging arm, to scientifically test interiors. Work by the machine is now being seen in production models around the world.
# Humanoid robot to teach software class
by Tim Hornyak, December 22, 2009
Classrooms in Japan may soon welcome a new 4-foot-tall educational humanoid robot unveiled by Nippon Institute of Technology and other groups. It will be used to teach software programming and hardware engineering to students, but will also be demonstrated in elementary schools and nursing homes. It will act as a "teacher" in class along with a human teacher.
# Korea introduces English-teaching robots
Korea Herald - Dec 22, 2009
Korea introduced a pilot program using English-teaching robots at local schools Tuesday, hoping to better educate students in provincial cities, the government said and Yonhap News reported. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said two robots were brought into elementary schools in Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul, and one robot to an elementary school in the port city of Masan on the southeastern coast. The robot in Masan is an "autonomous" unit that can detect its surrounding and has voice-recognition features. The two at the schools in Daejeon are "tele-presence" robots that are remotely controlled by an English teacher who can speak with students via a microphone and move the machine using a built-in camera.
# Automation Alley to aid international businesses
JOSEPH SZCZESNY, Of The Oakland Press, December 19, 2009
Automation Alley has secured a grant to construct an international business center at its headquarters in Troy. The organization received $394,800 in federal funding for the project when President Barack Obama signed the Omnibus Appropriations for fiscal 2010. The project will create a soft business landing center for international companies looking to conduct business in Southeast Michigan. “It’s not uncommon to see an international business begin with a small presence here in Southeast Michigan,” said Ken Rogers, Automation Alley’s executive director. “The new expansion will allow those international companies to become familiar with the open business culture, technical workforce and quality of life we have in our community. We anticipate that once they become established, their business will grow and new jobs will be created,” he said.
# San Miguel Brewery taps Siemens’ automation for Mandaue plant upgrade
December 17, 2009, 3:40pm
Siemens, Inc., Philippines, a ubit of Siemens A.G. of Germany, an electrical engineering conglomerate and global leader in the field of automation systems, has revolutionized San Miguel Brewery, Inc.’s Mandaue brewery with the installation of Braumat process control system, a powerful, technology-oriented process management and information system specifically designed by Siemens for the beer brewing industry. … When it relied heavily on manual processes, the Mandaue brewery’s former production capacity was at one to four brews per day with an average of 600 hectoliters per brew. At present, with its new system the brewery is now producing six to eight brews a day at 1,400 hectoliters per brew. At about 80% automation, the new system minimizes human intervention, thereby allowing greater flexibility in production volume, tremendous cost-savings, and a smoother management of data, which lead to higher quality control of the brewery’s product portfolio.
# Deal Talk Drives Rockwell Action
By TENNILLE TRACY And BRENDAN CONWAY, DECEMBER 16, 2009
Options traders rallied around Rockwell Automation after analysts said they thought the company would make a good acquisition target for General Electric. As Rockwell shares hovered near their 52-week highs on Tuesday, options traders made a beeline for bullish contracts in the Milwaukee-based company, picking up 10,200 calls that allow them to buy the stock and 400 puts that allow them to sell it, according to Track Data. Traders showed particular interest in Rockwell's December $50 calls, as well as its January $50 calls, hoping the stock could breach new highs in coming weeks and months. The January calls are priced at 85 cents and make money if the company's stock climbs above $50.85 before Jan. 15. The shares closed trading at $46.62, losing 3.1%. The activity followed a research note from J.P. Morgan Chase, which said that GE should make a bid to buy Rockwell Automation for $60 a share, calling such a deal a "potential strategic win/win for both companies."
# Honeywell Forecasts Sales Rise in 2010
by Emily-Sue Sloane, MA Editorial Staff, December 16, 2009
Honeywell today provided revenue and earnings guidance for 2010 based on a kernel of optimism that recent signs of global economic improvement will strengthen over the year. The automation technology vendor anticipates sales in the range of $31.3 billion to $32.2 billion, up 1% to 4% from 2009 levels, and net income ranging from $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion, a decline of 13% to 21%. The company predicted earnings per share at $2.20 to $2.40, down 16% to 23%. … Throughout the downturn, Honeywell continued to invest in new products and services, as well as expanding its global footprint, he said. Half of the company’s sales are now outside the United States, compared with 30% in 2003. And of those overseas sales, about one-third come from emerging regions. The Automation and Control Systems group, in particular, is expected to reap the benefits of expanding into emerging markets, Anderson said, as well as rising demand for energy efficiency, safety, and security products. ACS’ revenue is anticipated to rise 1% to 3% in 2010, to a range of $12.7 billion to $13 billion. More than 60% of ACS’ revenue is tied to energy-efficiency programs, he noted.
# Postal Dept to undergo Automation
UNB, Dhaka, 12/16/09
The government has decided to install automation system in post offices across the country for modernizing the postal department and providing better services. At initial phase, the automation system will be installed in 84 post offices at a cost of Tk 32 crore within next 15 months, said Bangladesh Post Office sources. Later, rest of post offices will be brought under this system.
# Jobs have to get done, even at Christmas
Jean Lundquist, The Free Press , 12/23/09
MANKATO — A holiday isn’t a day off for everyone. In a 24/7 world many people will be making plans for Christmas around their work schedules. If emergencies arise, especially with the winter storm forecast, people who can help will be available. If we are alone on Christmas because of the storm, or for any reason, there is help for that, too. Barry Wortel will be behind the microphone at KTOE Radio on Christmas morning, bright and early at 5 a.m. He has hosted every Christmas morning show on KTOE for the last 30 years. “When I started doing this, I was program director, and I had to do it because no one else wanted to be here on Christmas. Now, I look forward to it.” Automation for radio stations has become very advanced, and Wortel says, “You can make it sound like you’re there, but you’re not.” Wortel believes it is important to be live on the radio on Christmas. “A lot of people are with friends and family, but many are not. But they can turn on their radio and hear a friendly voice, and get current news, weather and sports reports.”
# Rutgers glider robot a sleek ocean explorer
By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer Staff Writer, 12/21/09
The sea was heaving, the skies gray. The captain of the research ship was worried about the weather. About 120 miles off the coast of Spain, three Rutgers University scientists had a narrow window of opportunity to find and retrieve their prize - an 8-foot, torpedo-shaped yellow robot that they had launched seven months earlier off the coast of New Jersey. They could grab it and learn from it, or in the rough seas accidentally ram it and sink it. After an hour of pitching in the 20-foot waves, the shipmates let out a cheer. Having spent 221 days at sea on a voyage of 4,604 miles, the robot dubbed Scarlet Knight was safely aboard. With that came the completion of a mission that made oceanographic history.
# Sony's Robot-Cam: Partying Without a Photographer
TIME - Adam Rose - Dec 22, 2009
American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams once said, "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." He didn't say anything about robots. But Adams, who died in 1984, could not have anticipated a new device from Sony designed to replace human shutterbugs by making its own decisions about when to take a photo. Called the Party-shot, Sony's $150 accessory is a camera dock — not much bigger than a palm-sized paperweight — that enables users to enjoy themselves at gatherings without worrying about who is documenting the event. Attach a compatible camera (sorry, Sony only), and the Party-shot will take over, panning and tilting, zooming in and out, and snapping shots of any people who pause in front of it long enough to be detected. The Party-shot was released in September without much fanfare, even though it's the first robo-cam on the market aimed at consumers. The obvious question is, have digital cameras, nowadays equipped with a considerable amount of artificial intelligence, come so far that they make human photographers obsolete? We tried out the Party-shot at a recent office potluck, and came away thinking it's less a substitute for a human photographer, and more a supplement.
# Battlefield robot had security hole: Insurgents could steal video before local firm made fix
By Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe Staff / December 19, 2009
The same security weakness that allowed Iraqi insurgents to record video from unmanned US surveillance aircraft might also have let them spy on American battlefield robots produced by a local firm. For years, Talon robots, made by Qinetiq North America Operations LLC in Waltham, transmitted analog video images without the encryption that scrambles signals to prevent them from being intercepted. As a result, videos from the robots could have been viewed and recorded by anybody with a laptop and a television receiver, including adversaries. The US military has purchased more than 3,000 Talon robots. Many are used for video surveillance patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan.
# Special Ops robots now do psychological warfare
By Lewis Page, 18th December 2009
US arms globocorp Boeing has announced yet another military robot demonstration - but this time, one with a difference. Rather than spying on meatsacks or mowing them down with the traditional array of automated weaponry, the war-bots in this trial sought to win over their fleshy opponents using psychological warfare. The demo was carried out for the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the organisation which runs the noted Green Berets, Rangers etc. "Working with USASOC, we were able to pull together a team to demonstrate this integrated, multimodal operation in just 45 days," says Boeing bigwig Vic Sweberg. "We brought together hardware and software from five different contractors into a single system that allowed the control of different unmanned systems capabilities to accomplish a particular mission." Apart from its legions of hardy throatcutters, USASOC is also in charge of the US Army's active psychological-warfare troops. It seems that a small robot helicopter and an unmanned R-Gator jeep/buggy affair from John Deere were selected to deliver a blistering onslaught of pro-US propaganda. Boeing says the two machine warriors carried out an "electro-optical/infrared, audio, and leaflet drop mission". Translated, that means that infrared nightsight video of the target area was taken, propaganda announcements were played through speakers (probably on the R-Gator) and leaflets were dropped (probably from the copter). Actually, robots of a sort have already carried out leaflet drops in Afghanistan - SnowGoose robo-paramotor rigs, to be specific. So there's nothing terribly new going on here.
# Robots to shape wars of the future
NavyTimes.com - Kathleen Curthoys, Matthew Cox, 12/27/09
Robots may one day be more effective than human soldiers on the battlefield and they may have a sense of ethics — even a sense of guilt, says a robotics expert who has done a study with the support of the Army’s research office. Ethical robots that can use lethal force on the battlefield would adhere to international law and rules of engagement, Ronald C. Arkin told Army Times on Dec. 15. Arkin describes how this could work in his 2009 book “Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots.” He is with the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Here’s what the future of robots may hold: Human soldiers eventually may not be up to speed compared to “humane-oids” in the battle space, Arkin says. Future developments may lead to robotic sensors better equipped than soldiers to maintain situational awareness and process information quickly about situations in which lethal force might be used.
# Israel's military avatar: Robots on the battlefield
Ora Coren Israel news, 12/27/09
With self-detonating grenades, thinking bullets and robot warriors, humans on the frontline could soon be a thing of the past. When armies clash in the not-too-distant future, remotely-operated robotic weapons will fight the enemy on land, in the air and at sea, without a human soldier anywhere on the battlefield. The first robotic systems are already being used by the Israel Defense Forces and other armies across the world, and only budgetary constraints seem to be keeping science fiction from becoming reality. In places where there is no choice but to send in troops, constantly improving broadband technologies, developed from the civilian communications industry, will serve as an essential part of the infrastructure for all modern military forces. A helicopter that spots suspicious movement on the ground will, for instance, be able to relay a command to a drone aircraft to photograph the site and transmit the picture in real time to troops on the ground and to the command posts in the rear.
# Russia To Send Monkeys, Robots To Mars
Air America, 12/22/09 Megan Carpentier
Russian scientists today unveiled a plan to send the first earthlings to Mars: monkeys. The round-trip to the Red Planet would take about a year and a half, and scientists have no intention of cleaning up a 520 days worth of monkey mess when the spaceship returns, so Urmee Khan reports that they plan to build robots to do it for them. The Institute said a robot would accompany the first primate to Mars to feed and look after the ape.
# Robots Could Repair Nation's Water Mains, Save $245 Billion
Treehugger - Jaymi Heimbuch - Dec 21, 2009
Thanks to seed money granted by the US Department of Commerce's Technology Innovation Program for small businesses, two companies - Fibrwrap Construction, Inc. and FYFE Company - and robotics experts at the University of California are creating a team of robots that will help the US keep a handle on its +2 million miles of aging water pipes and infrastructure. By deploying robots, the team hopes that the country can both boost its water conservation efforts as well as minimize the expense of maintaining and upgrading mains systems. The team figures it could mean a massive savings for taxpayers. The Robotic Rehabilitation of Aging Water Pipelines project received nearly $8.5 million to go towards the $17.5 million project cost. The project duration is 5 years, during which the team hopes that they'll develop a prototype robot to apply carbon fiber reinforcement inside water transmission pipes.
# Alexis is first in the world with a robot 'play date'
Pilot News - Rusty Nixon - Dec 24, 2009
ARGOS — Alexis Hicks has a unique distinction of being the first in the world.
The little girl from Argos was invited to be part of a groundbreaking new therapy for those with cerebral palsy at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The program is in the planning stages and involves the use of space-age robotics to help patients. MIT developed the robots for use in therapy for victims of strokes and doctors have now adapted the ro-bots to help cerebral palsy patients.
# First female sex robot to be unveiled at the Adult Entertainment Expo 2010 in ...
Examiner.com - Dec 22, 2009
True Companion is set to unveil the first female sex robot at the upcoming Adult Entertainment Expo at the Sands Convention Center Jan 7-10,2010. This female robot from True Companion is described as an artificial intelligence robot which was been specifically engineered to completely gratify the owner. The robot is said to be fully equipped with the capabilities to carry on a conversation or to have an intimate encounter. I told my husband about this new artificial intelligence female sex robot and all he could say was, "they made one mistake when they equipped it to talk." http://www.truecompanion.com
# Aussie Hovering Drone is Straight Outta Avatar
David Hambling, December 17, 2009
Jamers Cameron’s Avatar opens this week, with trailers featuring some funny-looking aircraft that resemble helicopters, but with ducted fans instead of the traditional rotor blades. While there are no full-size aircraft employing this technology, it’s already in use on small unmanned drones. And it has distinct advantages over the older approach. Last month, an Australian company, Cyber Technology (WA) Pty Ltd, used a drone with ducted fans in an actual operation. Their Cyber Quad vertical take-off drone carried out an extended survey of an offshore drilling platform and an oil rig damaged by fire. The drone flew around, under and inside the two structures, which are joined by a gantry, as well as landing on them for a better look.
Army Tests ‘Universal Remote’ for Future Troopers
Nathan Hodge, December 16, 2009
On future battlefields, the Army wants to have an all-seeing array of drones, robots and sensors that will be tied together over a common network. But the real challenge will be bringing all that digital information down to the lowest level: the individual soldier. That’s the idea behind a recent series of tests pairing Land Warrior, a controversial array of infantry gadgets the service has trialed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the Common Controller device, a developmental system that functions something like a “universal remote” for different robotic devices.The Common Controller controls the Class I Unmanned Aerial System (aka the “flying beer keg“), the Multifunctional Utility/Logistics Equipment vehicle (a robotic cart) and the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (a portable, tracked bot). It can also connect to Urban Unattended Ground Sensors (U-UGS), which are a fancy, networked version of the intrusion detection sensors you might find in your household alarm system. Problem is, this networked central controller works only at the battalion level and above. This new experiment — called the Common Controller & Man packable Network Interoperability and Network Evaluation Experiment — is supposed to bring sensor data from these unmanned systems to smaller units equipped with Land Warrior gear.
# Carnegie Mellon Engineers Develop Machine That Visually Inspects and Sorts Strawberry Plants
Machines exceed throughput of human workers and have comparable error rates.
12.20.2009 — CMU researchers combine machine vision and intelligence to develop agricultural solution that formally could only be accomplished manually. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) have developed a plant-sorting machine that uses computer vision and machine learning to inspect and grade harvested strawberry plants and then mechanically sort them by quality — tasks that until now could only be done manually. In a successful field test this fall, the machine classified and sorted harvested plants more consistently and faster than workers could, with a comparable error rate.
# Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones: $26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing
By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE
WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations. Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.
|Dec 13, 2009: Border drones, Healthcare, New Investments in Automation, New Drones
# Successful emergency room automation is possible
Posted by Dana Blankenhorn, 11/9/09
The case studies are starting to come in. The naysayers are wrong. You can automate hospital operations and improve results. Even in the toughest environments, like the emergency room.
# With Payments a Big Part of Health-Care Costs, Automation Efforts Arise
(November 30, 2009) Low-hanging fruit it’s not, but health care still remains one of the biggest untapped markets for electronic payments. A new report from Celent LLC estimates that $11 billion could be saved by automating just part of the health-care payments process. And a new industry group is forming to marshal the growing interest in medical payments among banks, payments processors, and technology vendors into revenue-generating business. The report from Boston-based Celent, “Paper-to-Electronic Processing in Healthcare,” looks mainly at the complicated processes by which medical providers, insurers, and their vendors trade patient and payment information so that insurance claims may be paid and patient data linked to the correct remittance documents. While part of this process is electronic, much of it is still paper-based and highly inefficient. “In short, it’s a mess,” says the report.
# Scientists, lawyers mull effects of home robots
By BROOKE DONALD (AP) – 12/6/09
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Eric Horvitz illustrates the potential dilemmas of living with robots by telling the story of how he once got stuck in an elevator at Stanford Hospital with a droid the size of a washing machine. "I remembered thinking, `Whoa, this is scary,' as it whirled around, almost knocking me down," the Microsoft researcher recalled. "Then, I thought, `What if I were a patient?' There could be big issues here." We're still far from the sci-fi dream of having robots whirring about and catering to our every need. But little by little, we'll be sharing more of our space with robots in the next decade, as prices drop and new technology creates specialized machines that clean up spilled milk or even provide comfort for an elderly parent.
# DNR: Man in jammies poached robot Bambi
By Gus Burns | The Saginaw News, December 06, 2009, 4:30AM
After three shots struck the deer in the chest and it still didn’t drop or run, a would-be poacher knew something was wrong, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer says. That’s when the man fled, said Sgt. Ron Kimmerly. Firearm deer season lasted from Nov. 15 through Nov. 30. About 9 a.m. Nov. 22, Kimmerly said, two DNR officers were ready to pull the man over. The Taymouth Township scene was an example of high-tech rules enforcement for an age-old pastime. Kimmerly’s department hasn’t completed tabulating the arrests for the season, though he said they are “about the same” as past years.
# After Tough 2009, Signs of Uptick in Investment in Material Handling Automation Going Into 2010
Cliff Holste, : December 9, 2009
While 2009 was Largely a Bust, Food, Beverage, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Parts Distribution Now Showing Strong Activity, System Providers Say; Retrofits and Upgrade Projects also Active
2009 will go down as one of the worst ever for materials handling equipment and DC automation system sales. Beyond the recession that crimped budgets and left companies hoarding cash where they could, distribution volumes dropped for most companies, reducing the volume pressures that are often the catalyst for distribution center automation projects.
ScienceDaily (Dec. 10, 2009) — The Scarlet Knight, the first submersible robot glider to cross the Atlantic, made its formal entrance into the port of Baiona Dec. 9, received by Spanish and American government officials, school children and the people of the town.
# Robot Planes To Patrol California-Mexico Border
Monday, Dec 7, 2009
(Palmdale, CA) -- The U.S. Border Patrol will unveil some drone aircraft today, that will soon take to the skies of Southern California, scouting out smugglers and illegal immigrants with radar and long-distance video cameras. The "San Diego Union-Tribune" reports the Maritime MQ-9 Predator B Guardian drones are already in use along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas. They will be based at a private airport run by General Atomics east of Lake Los Angeles, in the Mojave Desert about 160 miles north of the Mexican border.
December 10, 10:35 PMJapan Headlines ExaminerJoshua Williams
Does grandma need an extra hand shopping these cold winter months, but you’re sadly unable to help? How about receiving the help of a robot? A supermarket in Kyoto, Japan is carrying out live tests of a robotic shopping helper for the elderly and the disabled for the next several months. Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), the robot’s creator, announced in a press release on Dec. 10th that the robot, named Robovie-II, will be tested at the Apita-Seikadai supermarket in Kyoto through March of 2010. Around 20 elderly testers will have the privilege of seeing how well the Robovie-II interacts with them, as well as how useful the robot actually is.
Lincoln Electric, Automation Division Posted 12/10/2009
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced that 25 Ohio solar and wind projects will receive more than $13 million in grants funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's State Energy Program. The announcement was made Nov. 29 at Lincoln Electric's Automation Center of Excellence in Cleveland, highlighting the Company's welding solutions for wind tower fabricators. Among those projects was $1 million awarded to Lincoln Electric to help install a wind turbine at its Cleveland manufacturing facilities. The plans call for a 2.5-megawatt turbine that will generate approximately 10 percent of the electrical needs for Lincoln's Cleveland manufacturing operations.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Industrial Robots Take On Distribution Centers
Posted: December 10, 2009
If asked to name new markets for industrial robots you'd likely say alternative energy or pharmaceuticals. But you probably wouldn't mention distribution centers (DCs). Strangely enough, DCs are one of the hottest new frontiers for robotic automation. According to an article in Material Handling Management (Nov.'09), distribution centers and warehouses used to be hesitant to incorporate robotic automation, but that's quickly changing. Today's material handling robots are more advanced, flexible, and cost-effective - the ideal fit for DCs.
The headquarters for the American military’s air war in Central Asia and the Middle East is located in a converted medical warehouse on an undisclosed base in a country the U.S. Air Force would rather not name. The lights are turned down low, so the troops can clearly see the giant screen at the far end of the in this cavernous, classified facility. On that glowing screen is a digital map of Afghanistan, showing the position of every U.S. Air Force drone, every fighter jet, every bomber and every tanker aircraft with a teal dot. Most of the dots are positioned near the hotspots of the Afghanistan war — places like Kandahar, Helmand and Nangarhar provinces. But there are three dots, representing Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles, that aren’t above Afghanistan at all. These dots have moved to the east of the Afghan border; these drones are flying missions over Pakistan.
David Hambling, December 4, 2009
Earlier this year, blurry pictures were released by the French magazine Air & Cosmos of a previously unknown stealth drone taken at Kandahar in Afghanistan. The photos, snapped in 2007, prompted a wave of speculation about the classified aircraft. That speculation grew even more intense this week, when a blog belonging to the French newspaper Libération released an even better photograph. But while the new picture may answers some questions, it also creates a heap of new mysteries. Chief among them: Why use such a fancy, stealthy aircraft in Afghanistan? The Taliban have neither the radar to spot the plane, nor the weaponry to shoot it down. The lines of the drone clearly indicate a stealth design slightly reminiscent of the B-2A Spirit bomber, but smaller. Over on Ares, veteran aviation expert Bill Sweetman describes the wingspan as being perhaps eighty feet, and notes “One important detail: the overwing fairings are not B-2-like inlets, but cover some kind of equipment - satcoms on one side, perhaps, and a sensor on the other.”
Noah Shachtman, December 4, 2009
The most important escalation of the war might be the one the President didn’t mention at West Point. The White House “has authorized an expansion” of the CIA-lead killer drone campaign in Pakistan, to “parallel” the troop surge in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports. “American officials are talking to Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan [province] for the first time… because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.” You bet U.S. officials are talking. They’re talking right on the Times’ op-ed page. Seth Jones is a RAND Corporation analyst who now works in Kabul for Brigadier General Edward Reeder, the head of Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command. In an opinion piece in today’s Times, Jones argues that “the United States and Pakistan must target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan.”
# Next-Generation of Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft Takes Flight
Dec 06, By Robotics Trends Staff
Northrop Grumman and U.S. Air Force's Block 40 configuration RQ-4 of Global Hawk has successfully completed its first flight. The Block 40 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft will carry an advanced, all-weather multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) sensor that will help warfighters detect, track and identify stationary and moving targets. World’s first fully autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, the Global Hawk will carry the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) active electronically scanned array radar making well suited for designed for persistent ISR.
# ABB Receives South African Order Worth $54M
DECEMBER 9, 2009, 5:38 A.M. ET
Nov 29, 2009: Mini-focus on Michigan, Automation companies (Rockwell, ABB, Honeywell, Panasonic) automating hospitals, robotics and law, International (Japan, Afghanistan, South Africa, England, India), Robotic Fruit picker in New Zealand, Robotic Dentists?, Green Drones, Missle Spy Bots
# IBM: Computing rivaling human brain may be ready by 2019
by Daniel Terdiman, November 18, 2009 12:01 AM PST
Computers capable of mimicking the human brain's power and efficiency could be just 10 years off, according to a leading researcher at IBM. According to the researcher, Dharmendra Modha, the manager of IBM's cognitive computing initiative, scientists from his company and some of the world's most prestigious universities have already managed to simulate the computing complexity of the feline cortex, a feat that could augur a day not too far off when it will be possible to ramp up to what the human brain can accomplish. Last year, IBM and five universities were awarded a DARPA contract to work on a cognitive computing project aimed at eventually achieving that goal. Just a year later, Modha said, his team, working in conjunction with the universities' scientists, have achieved two major milestones. The first was a real-time cortical simulation that achieved more than 1 billion spiking neurons, as well as 10 trillion individual learning synapses. According to Modha, that exceeds what a cat's cortex is capable of. Second, the scientists created a fresh algorithm they're calling BlueMatter that is aimed at spelling out the connections between all the human brain's cortical and sub-cortical locations. That mapping is a critical step, Modha suggested, for a true understanding of how the brain communicates and processes information.
# Speakers at Future of Michigan event see opportunities in economic crisis
By Tom Henderson, Nov. 20, 2009
The mood was considerably upbeat Thursday afternoon at the annual Crain’s Future of Michigan event at the Somerset Inn in Troy. A year ago, with the economy in free fall and credit markets frozen tighter than a schooner trapped in Arctic ice, speculation about the future meant wondering if it held a another Great Depression. This year, the theme was: The glass is half full, and thank goodness. While speakers didn’t sugarcoat the state’s business climate and where they think it’s heading, they had plenty of good news to talk about. Ken Rogers, executive director at Troy-based Automation Alley, gave a rapid-fire bullet-point presentation of good news.
• Just in alternative energy, alone: Xtreme Power of Texas is spending $475 million on a facility at the former Ford Motor Co. Wixom site; Clairvoyant Energy of California is spending $857 million on a photovoltaic fabrication plant at the same site, which will make it the largest renewable energy tech park in the country; and A123 Systems Inc. out of Massachusetts is spending $600 million on advanced battery facilities in Livonia, Romulus and Brownstown Township.
• The state is becoming a recognized hub for life sciences, with former ex-Pfizer Inc. employees having spun off dozens of companies involved in drug discovery; the growing MichBio trade organization, the CMU Research Corp. in Mt. Pleasant to commercialize nanotech-related drug discovery and Western Michigan University’s Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center in Kalamazoo. In all, Rogers said, there are 540 life science companies in the state with 32,000 employees.
• TARDEC, TACOM and the National Automotive Center are bringing in billions of dollars for tens of thousands of contracts and tens of thousands of new jobs. The U.S. Army and the Marines are consolidating their national robotics research and manufacturing facilities in Macomb County. To support something called the Diminished Parts Program, which finds new suppliers to replenish military equipment made by suppliers no longer in business, Automation Alley is opening an office in Warren.
# Automation boosts Hillsdale area factories
By Amy Bell, Staff Writer, Hillsdale Daily News, Nov 19, 2009
Hillsdale, Mich. — Striving to keep labor costs down and remain competitive with foreign firms, local manufacturing companies are embracing automation as a saving grace. Reb Turner, executive director of the Hillsdale County Industrial Development Commission, said the use of automated machinery is an industrial trend he has been seeing and expects to accelerate in the future. “A lot of the companies are using automation because it increases the production of the existing workforce and they also do not have to deal with firings and layoffs,” he said. Both of these factors allow the businesses to compete with overseas counterparts in the manufacturing industry, he said.
# Cherry Bags Israeli Deal, Automation Alley Says Successful Too
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 4:40PM
State officials this week announced that Lt. Gov. John D. Cherry Jr. this week secured commitments from two Israeli companies, EPC Ltd. Onsite Wastewater Solutions and EMEFCY, while on a trade mission to Israel. EMFCY technology involves energy generation directly from wastewater, which can be used in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants, in the food-processing industry, and in the agricultural community for confined animal feeding operations. During his visit, Cherry met with more than 20 CEOs from Israeli water technology companies while making the case for locating operations in Michigan. It's part of the state's Green Jobs for Blue Waters initiative. “This water technology initiative is an important part of the state’s economic development efforts,” said Greg Main, CEO of the MEDC and a member of the Michigan/Israel joint task group established under a memorandum of understanding signed by Governor Granholm last year and co-chaired by Cherry. EMEFCY is working on the commercialization of microbial fuel cells. This technology, which generates energy directly from wastewater, will reduce the high energy costs associated with wastewater treatment as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the operation.
# Industrial Production in U.S. Probably Climbed for Fourth Month
By Bob Willis, Nov. 17 (Bloomberg)
Industrial production in the U.S. probably rose for a fourth consecutive month in October, signaling manufacturing is leading the rebound in the world’s largest economy, economists said before reports today. … Growing demand for U.S. exports and a rebound in consumer spending are driving orders at factories, helping pull the economy out of its worst recession in seven decades. Rockwell Automation Inc. is among companies seeing a pickup in investment and less urgency to pare inventories, which will help add to economic growth this quarter.
#ABB to reorganize automation division
Nov. 27, 2009 LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Swiss power and automation technology group ABB said Friday that it's reorganizing its automation divisions to align activities more closely with its customers. These changes will enable ABB to better tap growth opportunities in service, expand its presence in the discrete manufacturing sector and better respond to the increasing demand for energy efficient solutions, it said. Effective Jan. 1, the business units currently in the firm's automation products and robotics divisions will be regrouped into two new divisions - discrete automation and motion, and low voltage products.
# Rockwell Automation, Inc. - Financial And Strategic Analysis Review - New Report Published
Nov. 29, 2009-Rockwell Automation, Inc. - Financial and Strategic Analysis Review is an in-depth business, strategic and financial analysis of Rockwell Automation, Inc.. The report provides a comprehensive insight into the company, including business structure and operations, executive biographies and key competitors. The hallmark of the report is the detailed strategic analysis of the company. This highlights its strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats it faces going forward. Rockwell Automation, Inc. (Rockwell Automation) is one of the leading providers of industrial automation power, control and information solutions that help manufacturers in achieving a competitive advantage for their businesses. Rockwell Automation's operations are organized under two reportable business segments, namely, Architecture & Software; and Control Products & Solutions. The company also offers power and energy management solutions in the areas of biofuel, wind, and solar power generation. The company's operations are spread across the US, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Canada, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
# Rockwell Provides Sustainable Manufacturing Solutions
By Anuradha Shukla, November 17, 2009
Rockwell Automation, a global company focused on manufacturing industrial automation and information products, is reportedly making efforts to make its customers more productive and the world more sustainable. In a release, Keith Nosbusch, Rockwell Automation chairman and CEO, said this year the company will help customers to make the most of their investment in automation and information technology. The company will also focus on improving its competitiveness -- and ensuring that it is well-positioned to capitalize on the economic recovery. Nosbusch sees plant-wide optimization representing a new era in manufacturing. He believes companies making the investment will be able to address new sustainability objectives in a better manner and quickly respond to changes in consumer demand.
# Honeywell gets $11.4 million smart-grid grant
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - by Holly Dolezalek, November 17, 2009
The Department of Energy has awarded an $11.4 million grant to Honeywell for energy grid modernization, the company announced Tuesday. The technology company’s Automation and Control Systems division in Minneapolis will use the money, which was awarded under the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to develop a peak pricing response system that reduces energy use during periods of peak demand. The system will be used in the Southern California Edison (SCE) service territory. SCE is beginning to offer rate discounts to customers who reduce power usage during these periods in the summer. The Honeywell system will get signals from SCE during peak periods, and instruct building automation systems to turn off lights, raise temperature set points in buildings, or turn equipment on or off.
# Panasonic Making Aggressive Robot Push
By Peter Alpern, Nov. 18, 2009
Panasonic is getting serious about robots and has set its sights on sales of $1.1 billion by 2015. Since Panasonic launched its robotics unit last year, the biggest headlines to emerge have been that of a robot with arms so sensitive it can wash dishes without so much as a scratch. Beyond the rush of glee from husbands around the world, the development is significant for another reason. Panasonic is getting serious about robots and has set its sights on sales of ¥100 billion (U.S. $1.1 billion) by 2015. Panasonic is seeking to accomplish its aims through a line of home and industrial robots. One recently developed model, specified for hospital and industrial use, is a porter robot that can be used to assist workers in pulling heavy objects, such as medical carts, or helping hospital staff pull beds or wheelchairs.
# Automation at Jacksonville port will test union resolve
Jacksonville Business Journal - by Mark Szakonyi , September 25, 2009
Plans for a highly automated shipping terminal in Jacksonville are driving negotiations between longshoremen and a South Korean shipper over how much work the union will get. Meanwhile, the International Longshoremen’s Association recently rejected a two-year contract extension for Atlantic and Gulf dockworkers largely because the extension didn’t restrict the use of computer-based technology, which allows ships to be unloaded with fewer union workers. This concern over how much work union workers get at more technologically advanced terminals led to a work slowdown by the union’s West Coast counterparts and an eventual 10-day lockout in 2002.
# Robotics -Health Robotics Launches 'i.v. Room of the Future' Concept
By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor, November 19, 2009
Health Robotics, a global supplier of life-critical intra-venous medication preparation, compounding and dispensing robots, has announced the worldwide launch of its revolutionary vision for "The i.v. Room of the Future" concept at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' (ASHP) Mid-Year Meeting December 6-10 in Las Vegas. The i.v. Room of the Future concept is a "Patient-Aware (News - Alert), All-Digital" vision, according to Health Robotics. It depicts a common visual and operational framework that elevates the overall understanding of the patients' i.v. Medication needs – its clinical, logistics, quality, costs, and procedural structures. In a release, Werner Rainer, Health Robotics' CEO, said the i.v. Room of the Future is not a product; it is a concept to fulfill the last frontier in hospital automation after many recent advances to other life-critical areas such as Operating Rooms and Intensive Care Units.
# Updating Asimov: Engineers say new laws needed to govern human-robot relationships
By Doug Caruso, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, November 22, 2009
If robots someday turn on humans, David Woods knows who he'll blame.
Humans. How do we keep this from happening? Laws. Sound familiar? Author Isaac Asimov created a list of them when he wrote I, Robot, his 1950 collection of nine robot-themed short stories. But Woods, an Ohio State University engineering professor, says Asimov focused on the wrong side of the equation. Those laws were all about the robot. People and robots make up a system, Woods says, and designing that system so that it works well is up to humans. "People say: 'Robots will be self-aware eventually.' That's a retreat from responsibility," Wooods said. "Once something goes wrong, it's a device. Who programmed it? Who directed it?" Woods and Robin Murphy, who designs rescue robots at Texas A&M University, have written their own set of robot laws that focus squarely on our responsibility to design and program robots that work with people.
# As robots become more common, Stanford experts consider the legal challenges
Stanford Report, November 23, 2009, BY ADAM GORLICK
Stanford scholars are among the first in the country to ponder the potential legal questions facing the emerging field of personal robotics. The issues go beyond claims of personal injury and property damage, touching on criminal and civil rights laws as well. They already detect and defuse bombs, control traffic patterns and do some basic household chores. And scientists predict that pretty soon, robots will be using artificial intelligence to play a larger role on the battlefield, operate our vehicles and take care of us in old age. But who will be to blame if a robot-controlled weapon kills a civilian? Who can be sued if one of those new cars takes an unexpected turn into a crowd of pedestrians? And who is liable if the robot you programmed to bathe your elderly mother drowns her in the tub?
# Robot shop assistants in Japan
Japan is experimenting with robot shop assistants in Tokyo.
By Hunter Skipworth, Published: 12:11PM GMT 18 Nov 2009
Shopping in Tokyo can reach unparalleled levels of stupidity, with people often queuing for days to try to grab the first copy of a new video game or mobile phone. Newly-opened department stores in Japan are often swamped with crowds of middle-aged women desperate for the biggest discounts on the latest crockery and washing machines. In an attempt to make it easier to deal with Tokyo’s masses of shoppers, department store Takashimaya decided to enroll the services of a speech-recognising robot for a week. Enter Saya, the latest frightening fembot to haunt Tokyo’s streets.
# Army of humanoid robots takes Tokyo by storm
Latest models can flip pancakes or spot-weld, and the industry is worth £6bn to Japan
Justin McCurry Sunday 29 November 2009
In an age when multi-skilling is at a premium, Motoman may prove to be the model employee. When he's not spot-welding on a car production line, he's flipping pancakes – with not a drop of spilled batter in sight – and can even be called on to perform routine blood tests. Motoman is one of hundreds of cutting-edge robots exhibited during the past week at the industry's biennial showcase in Tokyo. The robot industry in Japan was worth $6bn (£3.65bn) last year, a figure that manufacturers hope will reach $10bn by 2016. Japan's recent contributions to the robot population owed much to the wacky and whimsical: interactive pets and humanoids that dance, teach and act as unfailingly polite office receptionists. But – judging by the machines on display in Tokyo – the precarious state of the economy and Japan's ageing population have led to a new emphasis on their commercial and practical uses. Robots may one day be our friends, but for now they are in more urgent demand as hired hands, performing the dirty, difficult and dangerous work humans cannot or will not do: packing, lifting, welding, bricklaying and sifting through the aftermath of natural disasters.
# More Robots Being Sent To Afghanistan To Defeat Roadside Bombs
By Christopher Szabo, Nov 20, 2009
The number of portable robots deployed in Afghanistan is set to increase with the British Ministry of Defence ordering devices that can operate in caves, courtyards and which can help dismantle Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Defenceweb reports the lightweight, tracked and manipulator arm-equipped Dragon Runner can be carried in a soldier’s backpack as it weighs no more than 20 kilograms (45 pounds). The UN says about 200,000 people have been disabled by landmines and similar devices in Afghanistan, so the robots will be particularly useful there. The Dragon Runner can pick up visual and audio signals, as well as send back video images to soldiers, allowing them to accurately assess the safety of a house or a cave, for instance. A spokesperson for the manufacturer, QinetiQ’s Mary Carver said most of the robots are being used to disable roadside IED bombs, which have caused so much damage to troops of the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
# Alstom to Install Its Latest Automation System on the World's Largest Coal ...
WELT ONLINE - Nov 23, 2009
The contract confirms Alstom as a recognised leader in the supply of large-scale automation systems for large power plants.
# Eskom May Secure a $3.75 Billion World Bank Loan by Early 2010
By Carli Lourens, Nov. 23 (Bloomberg)
The World Bank may agree to lend Eskom Holdings Ltd. as much as $3.75 billion by early next year to help reduce an 80 billion rand ($11 billion) funding shortfall, South Africa’s National Treasury said.
# Robotics -U.K.'s Northern Foods Plans to Deploy Robots for Packaging
By Jayashree Adkoli, TMCnet Contributor, November 25, 2009
Northern Foods, a food producer based in U.K., reportedly is planning to invest approximately $44.07 million, in order to implement robotics at three of its facilities. Already, the company has utilized robotics in some of its units. The company’s units will have new machines for packaging, including a new production line for Fox’s Melts and Moulded chocolate at the Batley facility. However, the new decision or the plan to deploy robots will probably result in approximately 300 job losses, according to sources.
# Overview on Textile Machinery Business & Need of Automation
By : Ashok Juneja and Jayesh Sivan , Nov 24, 2009
The fourth edition of Texcellence 09, a conference focused on textile and allied sector was hosted in Ahmedabad between November 13th -14th at the premises of the Ahmedabad Management Association, which was attended by a host of dignitaries from the government as well as the private sector. Mr. Ashok Juneja, Vice President, The Textile Association (India) and General Manager (Marketing), Kirloskar Toyoda Textile Machinery Pvt. Ltd shared his views on Overview of Textile Machinery Business & Need of Automation. Throughout the presentation he covered the Overview of Indian Textile Machinery, About Kirloskar toyoda Textile Machinery Pvt. Ltd. (KTTM) and Automation in Ring Spinning Technology.
# Massey man's robots pick of the crop
Manawatu Standard, 28/11/2009, SAM BAKER
PROFOUND CHANGE: New Zealand's engineering innovator of the year, Rory Flemmer, of Massey University, in the workshop with part of an apple packer. New Zealand's engineering innovator of the year is Massey University senior lecturer Rory Flemmer, of Palmerston North. Dr Flemmer won engineering's top award, presented last night by the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, for designing and building automated robots to pollinate, pick, sort and package fruit. The wheeled robotic picker was developed to pollinate and pick kiwifruit, but can be modified for other fruit. The packer uses artificial machine vision to detect blemishes and soft spots in fruit, and was developed for apples. The savings for the labour-strapped horticultural industry potentially runs into millions of dollars. In kiwifruit's 13-week season, 100 million kiwifruit have to be picked, and labour is hard to get. Spoiled fruit costs the horticultural industry about $20 million each year.
# PETA wants Georgia mascot Uga replaced with robot
Los Angeles Times - Nov. 29, 2009
After the death of the University of Georgia's mascot Uga VII, the animal rights group says hot or humid weather can be deadly for purebred bulldogs.
# Robotic spy planes go green
Such drones could also help monitor the earth or wildlife as well
By Charles Q. Choi, Fri., Nov . 20, 2009
Robot spy planes are harnessing alternative energy to make them more covert and longer lasting than ever. Such drones could also find use in civilian life to help monitor the earth or wildlife as well, researchers noted. Increasingly, the military is deploying unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as eyes in the sky to scan the ground for targets and threats, especially for missions that are too dangerous for manned aircraft.
# Up to 400 robots to build VWs at plant
By: Mike Pare, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
As Volkswagen starts assessing skills of potential production workers, officials Tuesday approved an array of equipment for VW's training center including robotic systems. Keith Kingston of EBZ Engineering told the city's Industrial Development Board the plant probably will hold between 300 and 400 robots in the production of new vehicles.
# GeckoSystems Discusses Elder Care Robot Manufacturability to Address Pent Up Demand
November 24, 2009: 12:05 AM ET
GeckoSystems Intl. Corp. (PINKSHEETS: GCKO) (http://www.geckosystems.com/) -- announced today that since their first annual "Mobile Robots in Motion" conference earlier this month, they have been solicited by another first tier contract manufacturer interested in the high volume manufacture of their product line. GeckoSystems is a dynamic leader in the emerging Mobile Service Robot industry revolutionizing their development and usage with "Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security and Service(TM)."... GeckoSystems' first commercial product, the CareBot(TM), has been carefully designed for manufacturability for over ten years.
# Obama on lookout for rogue robots
By Kim Hart - 11/24/09 01:15 PM ET
Yesterday Hillicon Valley wrote about President Obama's initiative to boost science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. A lot of big tech companies are involved in making the "Educate to Innovate" partnerships happen. Obama said: As president, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering. I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything.
# Robot dentists: not far off, doctor says
HACKENSACK, N.J. (MCT) - Robots may practice dentistry one day, but there will always be humans telling you to open wide, said a teacher on the cutting edge of tooth care. Dr. Nicolas Elian, an oral surgeon, said that while robots might even perform his specialty, dental implants, they won't be able to replace a dentist's years of education and hands-on experience.
# Seven Robots with Green Jobs
by Tina Casey, November 25th, 2009
The new green economy is putting more robots to work in green jobs, especially in environmental research and related fields. In a sustainability twofer, many of the new machines are powered by solar energy and other green alternatives.
ROBOT WORLD NEWS
# Top Robotics Labs Featured at EXPO21XX
November 23, 2009--Robots from Robogames are some of the many robots that can be seen at the Universities Robotics Platform. If you want to stay up to date on current robotics projects taking place in university robotics laboratories, you can find many of them at the e-exhibition called the Universities Robotics Platform. The online exhibition, hosted by EXPO21XX, is especially designed for universities to display videos, photos, and descriptions of their robotics projects to the industry and the public. The Universities Robotics Platform currently features more than 90 of the top university robotics labs from around the world, including labs from MIT, CMU, Oxford, ANU, Cambridge, and many German, Canadian, and Asian universities. Robotics projects include androids, submersible, rovers, and more.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
Robots in Popular Science and TIME Magazine's "Best of 2009"
by Admin on 20 Nov 2009
Finally, with the year 2009 slowly but surely drawing to an end, magazines are starting to compile their "Best of 2009" lists - featuring some of this year's most memorable robots. 'Popular Science' magazine's annual list of top 100 innovative products includes two robots: The whisker-sensing SCRATCHbot, which we just discussed in detail in our episode on Active Touch, and Robin Murphy's Survivor Buddy, which ROBOTS featured as part of its Best Robots Of 2008 list. TIME magazine's list of 50 best inventions includes three robots: A Cyborg beetle developed at the University of Berkeley and the world's first Robot Fashion Model HRP-4C, which you may both remember from previous Robots news, as well as FESTO's robot penguin, which was the topic of our podcast on Animals and Automation this July.
# 10 Unbelievable Robots Transforming Medicine
Markus Waibel on 20 Nov 2009
Amber Johnson over at onlinenursingprograms.net has posted an article on 10 Unbelievable Robots Transforming Medicine. Here's an extract: “Stereotaxis Magnetic Navigation System: This is an emerging technology in interventional cardiology. Catheters with magnetic tips can be steered within the patient, without the need for an electrophysiologist to maneuver the catheter or guidewire placement manually. Unlike other robotic navigation techniques, the catheter is controlled by steering the distal tip with a magnetic field, making perforations virtually impossible.” The article also includes info on the Da Vinci Surgical System, Stereotaxis Magnetic Navigation System, Hansen Medical Sensei Robotic Catheter System, NeuroArm, CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, Twendy-One (the Nursebot), CAVEman 3-D Virtual Patient, Laser-Beam Psychiatry, Turbo Power Physical Therapy, Fluorescence-Assisted Resection and Exploration.
# Army Eyes Missiles Filled With Flying Spy Bots
Noah Shachtman, November 17, 2009
The Army wants to instantly get eyes in the sky to watch over a potential enemy. But spy drones or satellites or even fighter jets can be too slow to handle the job. The answer: missiles that carry surveillance drones inside.
|Nov 15, 2009: IT workers fear the cloud (and other forms of labor-replacement), Robot Olympics, Third Quarter Productivity Soared but automation profits and orders down, Automating Oregon Farms, Gujarat Textiles and Toledo Garbage Collection, Ocean Robots, and of course plenty of new military applications...
# Meet Ibn Sina, the Arabic-speaking robot
Posted by Tim Hornyak, Thu Nov 5 2009
An Arabic-speaking android built in the UAE could enter mass production to work in shopping malls. The robot is billed as the first of its kind in the world.
# Military looks for better touch with PacBots
Posted by Mark Rutherford, Sun Nov 1 2009
Novint Technologies wins military contract to develop a remote touch kit for the iRobot PacBot that will allow soldiers to "feel" robot's grip.
# Army shows more than one way to look under a car
Posted by Mark Rutherford, Mon Nov 2 2009
TARDEC to showcase autonomous robotic systems designed to perform under-vehicle inspections for explosive weapons, while keeping soldiers out of harm's way.
# Cloud to suck money out of market, report says
by Matt Asay, November 11, 2009 7:20 AM PST
A recent survey suggests that CIOs are loosening the purse strings on IT spending. IT vendors may want to hold off their celebrations, though, because much of the spending appears to be headed for deflationary forces like cloud computing, virtualization, and their kissing cousin, open source. An economic rebound never looked so dire. That's unless you're an IT buyer, of course, suggests a new report from Goldman Sachs. In this week's report, titled "A Paradigm Shift for IT: The Cloud," Goldman Sachs said it expects that pent-up IT dollars will flow in the short term to building out next-generation data centers (e.g., cloud computing). But in the long term, less money is expected to find its way into fewer wallets.
# Automation: Modern to host virtual conference
Virtual tradeshow on Dec. 7 will look at trends in materials handling automation
Staff -- Modern Materials Handling, 11/6/2009
Modern Materials Handling is hosting a virtual conference “Trends in Automation” on Monday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. The event will include a number of topical Webcasts as well as virtual tradeshow booths, an exhibit hall, opportunities for networking and a resource center for attendees to download more information. You can register and learn more now at: www.mmh.com/automationvc. While many warehouse and DC improvement projects have taken a hit during this economic downturn, Modern continues to reveal a growing number of innovation mavericks that are making the most of this time and reinventing their operations to improve productivity. And in this virtual event, warehouse and DC professionals will meet some of the thought leaders who are turning to highly automated systems, improved data collection technology, and dynamic software solutions in an effort to gain ground on their competition and prepare for the inevitable upturn.
# Process Automation or Offshoring: Either Way, You Lose Jobs
Posted by Ann All Nov 5, 2009 11:22:40 AM
While lots of people get worked up about offshoring, automation will likely eliminate just as many jobs, a point I made yesterday in a post about cloud computing's impact on IT jobs. I cited an interview on globalization with The Hackett Group's Erik Dorr and Michel Janssen, in which Dorr told me "the biggest competitor to globalization is automation." He elaborated: "So if you have a process that is highly automatable, then there may not be enough work left to cost-effectively ship offshore. If you go through a list of industries, you will definitely find some that are so inherently structured and repeatable, that 95 percent automation is the ticket. That’ll make the whole globalization question a moot point." Of course, as Dorr explained, automation is capital intensive and offshoring is labor intensive. So rather than making the up-front investment in automation, some companies send work offshore. But with the allure of labor arbitrage diminishing and as the economy recovers, more companies will likely invest in automation to streamline processes and boost efficiencies.
# (Mail)Man Vs. Machine
By Aliya Sternstein 11/06/09 01:26 am ET
Federal auditors on Thursday reported that workforce costs at the U.S. Postal Service decreased only slightly this year, despite automation at USPS.
# Some IT Jobs Will Vanish into Cloud's Mist
Posted by Ann All Nov 3, 2009 2:19:57 PM
By reducing the need for internal IT staff, the cloud will eliminate some IT jobs. I wrote about this back in July, noting that the cloud could threaten the livelihoods of server administrators, database administrators, and infrastructure and network specialists. Several experts cited in my post advised developing skills in areas less likely to suffer under the cloud, including analytics and mobile applications, and/or beefing up broader business skills with an eye toward becoming involved in supplier management and other less tech-intensive areas. So the worry of the cloud eliminating the need for at least some IT jobs isn't new. But the fuzzy fear was brought into sharp focus yesterday at the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., thanks to some remarks from a Unisys executive during what was probably an otherwise innocuous presentation. According to an InfoWorld report, Richard Marcello, president of technology, consulting, and integration solutions at Unisys, said: "We were able to eliminate a whole bunch of actually U.S.-based jobs and kind of replace them with two folks out of India to serve a 1,200-person engineering organization."
# Automating responsibly to increase efficiencies
4 November 2009 | by Katherine Crichton
Once a decision has been made to use robotics, it can be tempting to automate as much as possible. However, without carefully evaluating production goals and matching the right tool for the job, automation or robotic installations can often create more work than it alleviates. So then when does automation help, and when does it hurt?
# Laser-powered robot aiming for space
BBC, Thursday, 5 November 2009
A laser-powered robot, which could signal the future of space travel, has climbed a wire dangling from a helicopter almost a kilometre above the Mojave Desert in California. LaserMotive's vehicle reached the top of the wire in just over four minutes. The robot receives power remotely. A laser beam is aimed at solar cells on the base of the vehicle which power on-board motors. Scientists believe that one day the same principles could be used to reach a point in a geostationary orbit.
# Personal Robot Sales to Exceed $5 Billion by 2015, According to ABI Research
Tue Nov 3, 2009 10:03am EST
OYSTER BAY, N.Y.--(Business Wire)--
Recent years have seen the development of a significant personal robot market beyond just toys, although even in entertainment robots (toys), there has been substantial improvement over the wind-up robots of the past. A wider range of task robots is on the market and in development, and entertainment robots have
expanded in capability and fallen in price as well.
# Robot takes over small dairy farm in northern Minnesota
November 5, 8:51 AMKittson County Top News ExaminerKen Korczak
Early depictions of robots were often menacing, but today, real robots are our friends. The new farm hand on a small dairy farm in northern Minnesota may not be R2d2 or C-3PO of Star Wars fame, but this robot knows how to milk cows, never gets tired, doesn't complain and gets the job done every day. Jim and Sue Steinmetz of Mahnomen, a tiny town with a big casino about 35 miles north of Detroit Lakes, knew they needed to get some hired help, or they would have to sell their cows and retire. Sue's arthritis was making it tougher every day to handle the milking chores. But they never dreamed that hired help would be a robot.
#Want a solution? Try offering a prize
US government joins soaring use of contests to engage innovators
By Bina Venkataraman, Globe Correspondent / November 2, 2009
The $10 million Ansari X Prize proved that to be true five years ago, when its winners launched a private manned vehicle into space. The prize spawned a resurgence of high-profile competitions, with private foundations and companies putting up hundreds of millions of dollars to solve technological challenges as urgent as building more efficient cars, and as trivial as predicting what movies people would like. Recently, prize fever has also breached the thick walls of government bureaucracy, and more federal agencies are using competitions as a strategy to spur innovation. The competitions leverage modest amounts of taxpayer money to attract inventors and investors to certain scientific and technological problems.
# Only Robots Allowed at China's Next Olympics
Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service, Nov 4, 2009 6:40 pm
China plans to hold a robot Olympics next June with events including combat, dancing and track and field, state-run media said late Wednesday. Organizers expect more than 100 universities from 20 countries to send entrants to the first International Humanoid Robot Olympic Games, which is limited to humanoid robots with two arms and two legs, the official Xinhua news agency said. Wheeled robots will be barred.
# Productivity Soared in Third Quarter
Jobless Claims Decline in Latest Week
By JON HILSENRATH and LUCA DI LEO, NOVEMBER 6, 2009
The productivity of U.S. workers surged in the third quarter, as the economy resumed growing even as employers pushed forward with layoffs and cuts in working hours across a wide range of industries. The Labor Department said the output per hour of nonfarm workers rose at an annual rate of 9.5% in the quarter, more than four times the average productivity growth rate of the past quarter-century. When taken together with the second quarter's 6.9% rise, it was the strongest productivity growth rate over a six-month period since 1961.
# Why Dilbert is doomed
The jobs of tomorrow are not what you'd expect
By Michael Lind, Monday, Nov 2, 2009 17:30 PST
Where are tomorrow's jobs going to come from? The question is more urgent than ever, with official unemployment hovering around 10 percent and with nearly one in five Americans unemployed, if you count part-time workers who want full-time jobs and people so desperate that they have given up looking for work entirely. Most popular discussion about jobs focuses on the effects of offshoring of manufacturing jobs to China and other countries, many of which, like China, manipulate exchange rates and use subsidies to promote their industries. Combating predatory trade practices and rebalancing global trade by means of higher U.S. exports is important, in the short and medium term. But in the long run technologically driven productivity growth is the most important factor in shaping employment in the U.S. and every country in the world. Productivity growth substitutes machinery or more efficient techniques for physical labor (engines) and mental labor (computers). Even if the U.S. had a completely closed economy, over time inventors and investors would figure out ways to replace people with machines.
Stable farm labor seems elusive in global economy
By Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian, November 07, 2009
Labor has always been the Achilles' heel of U.S. agriculture. But today, globalization is causing the ultimate strain. In the past two decades, U.S. producers of labor-intensive crops have not kept up with the growth in the market. They have lost both global and domestic market share to foreign competitors, primarily because of cheap labor and lower production costs overseas. That's particularly true in regions that produce fruits, vegetables and nursery products. Six states -- Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Texas and North Carolina -- account for half of all hired and contracted farmworkers. Growers depend on them to increase productivity and get fruits and vegetables to our plates.
# Rockwell Automation Profit Plunges 77% On Decline In Margins
November 09, 2009: 07:49 AM ET, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Rockwell Automation Inc. (ROK) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings fell 77% on a decline in revenue and profit margins, but the bottom line widely beat analysts' predictions. Chairman and Chief Executive Keith D. Nosbusch said while year-over-year results for the maker of factory-automation equipment and software were weak, the company saw sequential revenue growth, indicating stabilization in demand and economic conditions. Strength in emerging economies in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region has failed to offset weakness in its two largest markets, Europe and North America. Rockwell's sales and profit declined sharply in the recession as
# Assembléon and Valor alliance brings complete factory automation to electronics assembly
Posted by hglackey on 11 November 2009 at 11:24
In an industry-first partnership, Royal Philips Electronics subsidiary Assembléon is joining forces with Valor Computerized Systems to bring full factory integration to Assembléon’s pick & place equipment. The companies have chosen Productronica in Munich (November 10-13, Hall A2, Booth 477) to announce the introduction of a complete suite of software and tools for electronic equipment assembly. These will automate machine-, line- and factory-level workflows and business processes. The result is a complete and lean manufacturing operations management framework that is open, modular, and flexible. “A key benefit of the new software suite is to integrate business planning and logistics systems with systems on the shop floor,” says Assembléon’s CEO André Papoular. Real-time machine data communicates transparently with the line- and factory-level controls in the Valor Manufacturing Execution System (“MES”) suite. Papoular: “That breaks the tradition of pick & place machines being merely “islands of automation”, so slimming down the whole manufacturing operation. It also helps to eliminate bottlenecks, and improves parts management, logistics and quality improvement systems.”
# A'bad: One-stop textile shop
Team DNA / DNA, Monday, November 16, 2009 8:57 IST
Ahmedabad: The coming year will see Gujarat's textile industry undergo a major transformation. Automation will be introduced at various levels to tackle labour crisis and churn out quality products. More automation, cluster approach in the offing
The Gujarat textile industry, especially in Ahmedabad and Surat, is poised for greater automation in the coming year. "An acute shortage of workers is the main reason for the textile units in Surat opting for automation. This will reduce the requirement of workers and simultaneously improve the quality of the output," said Pramod Chaudhary, president of the South Gujarat Textile Processors' Association. The industry is shifting towards value addition in embroidery. While this sector may not be peaking, experts said that the trend will gather pace in 2010, with the industry also moving towards digital printing, jacquard and garment manufacturing. "Modernisation in the industry will get a boost in 2010, but the government should ensure that subsidies are released on time," said Nilesh Mandlewala, president of the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
# The Dawning of the IT Automation Era
by Ken Jackson, UC4, Nov 10, 2009
Over the next five years, IT automation will overtake offshoring as the next major efficiency trend in IT. For many companies, offshoring has been a way to reduce IT costs by lowering the cost of labor and facilities. However, offshoring is demonstrating diminished returns as IT infrastructure grows in complexity and service levels become more demanding. The decline in offshoring is already happening. According to the BDO Seidman 2009 Technology Outlook Survey, an annual survey of CFOs conducted in January of 2009, only 42 percent of the 100 CFOs surveyed said they have operations outside the U.S., compared to 79 percent last year. Despite this, cost problems are not going to go away and companies will still need a way to achieve cost savings in IT operations.
# Toledo city workers to be laid off: Automated trash program will eliminate need for some refuse collectors
Friday, November 13, 2009
The city of Toledo tells us one of its union jobs is being eliminated. The layoffs could come as early as December. City officials tell us a letter was sent to the Teamsters local 20-- the union for trash collectors. That letter told the union the city will begin its automation program December 7 and jobs will be eliminated as the program moves forward.
# Swarms of tiny robots to monitor the oceans
By Moises Velasquez-Manoff | 11.13.09
Oceans cover about 71 percent of the earth’s surface. Much of what happens in this watery world — and by extension, almost three-quarters of the planet’s surface — remains maddeningly beyond humanity’s ability to easily measure it.
Scientists have so far used their understanding of physics and fluid dynamics, combined with what direct observations are available, to infer how the ocean works. These inferences remain, in many cases, best guesses – albeit very well-informed best guesses. But scientists inevitably dream of a day when they can directly observe the goings-on of the ocean. That day, it seems, is moving closer and closer to actuality. Various ongoing projects are enhancing our ability to monitor, in real time, what happens in the ocean. An improved ability to peek into this previously hidden realm will aid in several important endeavors — fishery management, understanding the impacts of climate change on ocean dynamics, and forecasting tsunamis among them.
# Underwater robot probes depths for Istanbul quake clues
By Michel Sailhan (AFP) – 11/13/09
ISTANBUL — A state-of-the-art underwater robot called BOB may hold the key to protecting millions of people around Turkey's biggest city against a massive earthquake scientists say is all but inevitable. Submersed into the dark waters of the Marmara Sea off Istanbul, BOB is a sophisticated turning sonar device similar to the kind of equipment used to detect shoals of fish. Working at a depth of around 1,200 metres (3,960 feet), its mission however is not to track the movements of fish but to observe the expulsion of bubbles of gas, notably methane, from the seabed. BOB -- which stands for Bubbles OBservatory module -- is the key piece of equipment on board the Suroit, an oceanographic vessel of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER).
# Robot surgeon starts operations
The da Vinci machine speeds up recovery times
Surgeons at a Devon hospital have been conducting their first operations with the help of a robot. The £1.5m da Vinci machine at Torbay Hospital makes surgery more precise, and recovery times quicker.
# Robots to Care For Japanese Elderly; Questions, Cost Issues Remain
Michael Barkoviak - November 13, 2009 2:15 PM
Researchers hope the aging Japanese population can be cared for by robots and other unassisted technologies. Japan leads the world in robotic innovation and research, with researchers one day hoping to use their creations to assist the aging Japanese population on a larger scale. For example, the Hybrid Assisted Limb (HAL) robotic suit can increase the strength of the person wearing it 10-fold, researchers claim, showing off the type of technology that is currently available. The Japanese government is working closely with universities and research firms, as the number of citizens over the age of 65 years old continues to increase. Researchers in the United States also are involved in home assistant robots, but the technologies being developed in Japan still remain relatively untouched.
# Army Interested in Robots Requiring Little Human Interaction
Michael Barkoviak - November 10, 2009 7:00 PM
The U.S. Army hopes to upgrade its robot fleet, so they won't require as much human interaction during operations. The United States Army plans to develop innovative new robots that can carry out basic instructions without being tele-operated by human operators."There is a push toward increased intelligence and autonomy," Army robotic systems project office manager Jeff Jaczkowski said in a statement. In the next 18 months, Army officials outlined goals that indicate the robots will be able to clear dangerous zones, take pictures and replay them back to base, turn corners, and will also be able to travel with convoys as they are out on patrol. The ability to use robots to capture images prior to infantry units arriving could prove to be a vital tool -- troops may be able to detect insurgent activity prior to arrival. Furthermore, robots can be used as devices to remove explosive ordinance devices if troops are unable to diffuse the bombs themselves. The use of robotics and unmanned technology in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to increase as the new alternatives prove to be reliable during testing. The U.S. government is shifting troops towards Afghanistan, where the robots also are expected to help clear out well sheltered caves located in rugged areas difficult for troops to secure quickly. The realistic outline for deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan remains unknown, but the army is expected to move as fast as possible to roll out the upgraded robots.
# UK to build robot stealth raygun jet/copter
Bids for droid tail-sitter with pop-out chopper
By Lewis Page, 10th November 2009 14:17 GMT
Aerospace firms are competing for a "classified" UK MoD contract to build a robotic military stealth aircraft which would be able to hover like a helicopter or fold its rotors and fly as an aeroplane. The "novel air concept" would be able to operate "within urban canyons" and deploy radical new weapons such as microwave or laser rayguns.
# Robot Orders Down 30% Through September
Robotic Industries Association Posted 11/11/2009
Ann Arbor, MI – North American robotics companies saw orders for new robots decline 30% in units and 43% in dollars in the first nine months of 2009, according to new figures from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 7,172 robots valued at $425.8 million have been ordered by North American manufacturing companies through September, compared with 2008 nine month totals of 10,279 robots valued at $743.4 million. Steep declines are evident in sales to automotive OEMs and their suppliers, historically the largest purchasers of robots, with units off 29% and dollars 44% through September compared with 2008. Orders by non-automotive customers are also down sharply – 32% in units and 41% in dollars. “The North American robotics industry is facing its stiffest test in more than two decades right now as it intensifies its efforts to reach a wide-range of non-automotive customers to offset the cutbacks by the automotive industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA.
# Robots for the Battlefield: 12 Finalists in Worldwide Competition Go for the Prize in 2010
Robotic Industries Association Posted 11/02/2009
DETROIT ARSENAL, WARREN, MI - Twelve of the world’s most technologically-savvy universities and several innovative companies have teamed up and are now finalists in an international robotics competition with a U.S. $1.6 million purse. In addition to the prize money, winning teams will have a unique opportunity to work with American and Australian military organizations to develop the advanced robots that will work alongside – and instead of – Soldiers on future battlefields. The Multi-Autonomous Ground Robotics International Challenge (MAGIC) 2010 is being co-hosted by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Australian Department of Defence’s (ADOD’s) Defence Science and Technology Organisation. TARDEC is the core of ground robotics development for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and U.S. Department of Defense. The MAGIC 2010 competition, the first of its kind in the world, has been established to attract entries that will further the development of fully autonomous robots for military, commercial and civilian emergency applications. Competing teams will ultimately field squads of unmanned vehicle prototypes that autonomously coordinate, plan and execute a series of timed tasks including classifying and responding to simulated threats and exploring/mapping diverse terrains.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# MonoCopter Modeled After Maple Leaf
POSTED BY: John Palmisano // Sun, November 15, 2009
Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the aero-dynamics of a maple leaf and used their findings to create and optimize a high-performance Micro Air Vehicle. Early results show that this 2 DoF MAV can potentially outperform more complicated helicopter and ornithopter style MAVs. (VIDEO)
# Can Killer Drones Land on Carriers Like Human Top Guns?
By Jason Paur, November 3, 2009
The Navy’s top admiral told a think-tank audience yesterday he wants more unmanned aircraft in the sea service, and he wants ‘em in a hurry. In particular, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead said he’d like a robotic attack aircraft that can land and take off from a carrier. As it happens, I saw a full-scale mock-up of just such a plane a few weeks ago. The X-47B is expected to make its first flight by the end of the year and could be making autonomous carrier landings as soon as 2011. In the meantime, drone-maker Northrop Grumman decided the show the thing off to the press at Edwards Air Force Base. It’s no secret that unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming the preferred eyes in the sky and weapons platform for the military when it comes to combat zones. But so far the drones have been limited to operating from established air bases and flying relatively slow and easy, high above the action. The X-47B has the potential to change all that.
Nov 1, 2009: Automation in Nigeria, Good Third Quarter for Automation Companies, Robot Soldiers, Robot Elk, impacts of automation on pilots, a push to automate air traffic control in India, fastest robot, smallest robot, green automation, and drones.
# Nigeria: American Firm Unveils Manufacturing Solutions
AllAfrica.com- Oct 21, 2009
Lagos A private company with headquarters in Weston, WI, U.S.A, AJ Excel Automation, LLC, is currently setting up offices in Nigeria to provide manufacturing solutions to manufacturing concerns in the country. The company, which offers automation solutions, manufacturing intelligence implementation, continuous improvement and project management consulting services, is to unveil the manufacturing solutions at a breakfast seminar in Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 , in an effort to introduce the software to manufacturers in Nigeria. Details and demonstration on this technology, will be unveiled at the event by technical experts from the U.S.A, including the C.E.O of AJ Excel, Mr. Samuel Tayo Ajayi and the Technical Director, Mr. David Slivinski.
# Automation Companies have a good third quarter:
ABB Sees 3Q Net Pft Of $1B; Provisions Smooth
Wall Street Journal- Katharina Bart- Oct 19, 2009
Honeywell Automation vaults after good Q3 results
India Infoline.com- Oct 23, 2009
Rockwell Automation Up 29.9% Since SmarTrend's Buy Recommendation
Trading Markets (press release)- Oct 21, 2009
Since then, Rockwell Automation has returned 29.9% as of today's recent price of $43.76.
Brooks Automation Up 75% Since SmarTrend's Buy Recommendation
Trading Markets (press release)- Oct 19, 2009
Since then, Brooks Automation has returned 75% as of today's recent price of $9.02.
# Baxa Corporation Signs Exclusive Distribution Agreement With Leading Pharmaceutical Corporation in People's Republic of China
Mon Oct 19, 2009
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Baxa Corporation, a US-based medical device company in Englewood, Colorado, has signed an exclusive four-year distribution agreement with SINOPHARM, a China National Pharmaceutical Foreign Trade Corporation, to promote sales of its products in China. While the agreement covers all Baxa products, the ExactaMix(TM) 2400 Automated Compounder and the Repeater(TM) Pharmacy Pump have been recognized as ones that will increase efficiency for the hospitals targeted by Baxa and SINOPHARM in the People's Republic of China (PRC). Due to their existing practice of manual preparation, the companies expect that more than 250 hospitals could benefit from the Baxa pharmacy automation equipment.
# For fashion-forward Gilt Groupe, robots help get the orders shipped on time
Thursday, October22, 2009
Gilt Groupe Inc., a web-only retailer of fashion apparel and home furnishings that it offers in timed sales, has found that a robot-supported fulfillment warehouse is four times as productive as its traditional warehouse, chief operating officer Jennifer Carr-Smith says.
# Expert: Wayward Flight Shows Risks Of Automation
October 29, 2009
The recent instance of a Northwest airliner flying past its destination because of the pilots' preoccupation with their computers raises new questions about how airline crews communicate and the risks of automation.
# After PBN, airport to go for air traffic control automation
V Ayyappan, TNN 27 October 2009
CHENNAI: After defining air routes for landing and take-off under the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) sytem, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken steps to introduce automation of air traffic control at the Chennai airport. A meeting with representatives of US-based Raytheon, which bagged the Rs 42 crore contract to automate ATC, is scheduled in the coming days to discuss the details. "They will have to study the procedures used here and then design a system that can match ours," said a senior AAI official. Like PBN, automation is crucial for the airport here because the traffic has crossed 400 aircraft a day. In Mumbai, PBN was installed when traffic touched 350 aircraft a day. So, an automated ATC system will ease the workload of controllers, improve air safety and make handling of aircraft in the congested air space easy.
# Honeywell's Ready for the Recovery
By David Lee Smith, October 26, 2009
Honeywell (NYSE: HON) is clearly one of the more diversified companies operating in the U.S. today. From aerospace systems, to specialty materials (primarily chemicals), and on to automation and control solutions, the company ranges far and wide. Perhaps that diversity helped the company turn in results that were better than both what the dart-throwers on Wall Street had forecast and what most business scribes seemed willing to admit.
# From Automation to Precision: Closing the Productivity Gap
By Marcus Ryu, Guidewir, Oct 30, 2009
Observers of the insurance industry rightly identify inefficiency as one of the insurance industryís greatest challenges. Complex, stove-piped organizations replete with manual processes call out for the benefits of automation. They also invite comparisons to the manufacturing industry and advocacy for a more ìindustrialî approach to insurance processing. No one would dispute that the insurance industry could gain greater benefit from automation. However, it may be worthwhile to ask how much insurers can ultimately gain through greater efficiency and what precisely they can learn from manufacturing.
# Automation Systems Help Asphalt Producers Focus on the Quality
By Lisa Cleaver, October 28th, 2009 09:31 AM EDT
Jerry McCauley, a plant superintendent with Plote Construction, has seen a lot of changes over his nearly 36 years in the asphalt industry. Probably the greatest innovation McCauley has witnessed is automation technology for asphalt production.
# Nigeria: Firm Introduces Automation Technology to Local Manufacturers
Tunbosun Ogundare, 26 October 2009
Worried by the continued closure and relocation abroad of many manufacturing firms in the country, AJ Excel Automation Incorporation has concluded plan to reverse the trend.
The company said the current situation in the country's manufacturing sector was not only counter-productive to the Federal Government's seven- point agenda, but inimical to well-being of the citizenry, noting that technology is a major recipe to achieving economic prosperity.
# New Military Robot Walks Like Flesh-and-Blood Person
October 28, 2009
(ChattahBox)The robot creators at Boston Dynamics have come up with a replica of a military solider robot, which can walk on its own and even crawl. The amazingly lifelike robot, dubbed Petman will be used to test chemical protection clothing used by the U.S. Army. Petman is a continuation of military robots manufactured by Boston Dynamics that most recently created BigDog, a robot with four legs, the size of a large dog, which walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads for soldiers in the field. Petman is described, as BigDogís big brother.
# Robot soldiers
By Amanda Wong, Oct 29, 2009
WITH clockwork precision, the robots screen the container for weapons of mass destruction. After the all-clear signal, it breaks open the door of the container and then moves in to take samples from the shipment, which will be sent to the laboratory for further investigation. All this is done without actual humans. Singapore is the only one of four countries in Exercise Deep Sabre II to use robots to perform such dangerous tasks. Held at Changi Naval Base, the exercise also included officers from Australia, Japan and USA. The exercise is to enhance security measures against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Some 2000 personnel from 19 countries are involved in this year's exercise.
# Robot armies 'will explore alien worlds',
Oct 31, 2009
Alien worlds may be explored by armies of flying, driving and sailing robots, say scientists. Robotic airships and satellites will fly above the surface of the distant world, commanding squadrons of wheeled rovers and floating robot boats, according to Wolfgang Fink of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The systems will transform planetary exploration, says Prof Fink, who envisages the cybernetic adventurers mapping the land and seascapes of Saturnís moon, Titan - believed to have lakes of standing liquid - as well as closer planetary neighbors like Mars. At the moment robotic exploration relies on single robots controlled from Earth. That will change, according to Prof Fink, director of Caltech's Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory.
# Elk robot to help Ore. officials catch poachers
Associated Press - October 27, 2009 12:15 AM ET
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon wildlife officials will use a donated robotic elk to help catch poachers. The decoy donated by the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust will help fish and wildlife agents target nighttime or closed-season poachers. Officials say many poachers are wary of possible decoys and check for movement before shooting, making the robot a valuable resource. The anti-poaching decoy program already has some robotic deer.
# Adept Technology Announces Adept Quattro Robot Breaks 300 Cycle Per Minute Barrier
Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:32am EDT
PLEASANTON, Calif., Oct. 28, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced its Adept Quattro Robot has broken the 300 cycle per minute barrier. The record robotic performance threshold was set using the 25mm x 300mm x 25mm standard cycle. The industry has long benchmarked speeds using this quantifier and Adept has once again raised the bar. "The Quattro robot is the fastest robot in the world and its advantages over conventional robots not only include faster cycles and settling times but increased payload and more consistent performance throughout the workspace," said Rush LaSelle, director of global sales and marketing for Adept Technology, Inc. "As Adept continues driving technology to higher levels of performance our clients benefit by realizing throughput previously only offered by conventional equipment combined with the flexibility of manual labor. We are pleased to increasingly offer manufacturers and processors means of achieving high levels of productivity and quality while enabling them to address the pressures of reduced product and packaging life cycles."
# KUKA Systems Offers North American Solar Producers Best of Two Worlds
KUKA Robotics Corporation Posted 10/26/2009
Anaheim | Detroit | Augsburg ñ KUKA Systems offers North American solar manufacturers two world-class businesses in one: a major global supplier of advanced solar production technologies and a US-based integrator with demon-strated expertise in adapting those technologies for local use. KUKA Systemsí product lineup covers almost every aspect of photovoltaic manufacturing ñ from the most sophisticated wire saw machines for slicing ingots into wafers to robotic cells to perform every task associated with assembling and testing PV panels. KUKA Systems also is a major integrator of robotic and other automation technologies for automakers, solar manufacturers, aerospace and logistics companies and can design and install partial or complete turnkey manufacturing lines.
# ABB Introduces its Smallest Ever Robot, Designed for Cost-effective Material Handling and Assembly of Smaller Parts
ABB Inc. Posted 10/20/2009
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. ñ ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robots, has introduced its smallest ever multipurpose robot, the IRB 120. The new six-axis robot has all the functionality and advanced design features of ABBís larger robots in an economical, lightweight model that will provide agility, accuracy and speed to a broad range of applications where a smaller footprint and profile are required. Weighing just 25kg (55 lbs), the IRB 120 has a standard payload of 3kg (6.6 lbs), a vertical wrist payload of 4kg (8.8 lbs), a reach of 580mm, a best-in-class stroke of 411mm and the ability to reach 112mm below its base. The IRB 120 is available with a new compact version of the industry-leading IRC5 controller, making it easy to program and control for a variety of tasks. The Compact IRC-5 is fully compatible with the standard and panel mount IRC-5 controllers.
# A Little Green in Every Robot
by Brian Huse , Director, Marketing & PR
Robotic Industries Association Posted 10/19/2009
Robots are among the most efficient machines available to manufacturers and can be part of any companyís strategy for green manufacturing. Faster cycle times, improved quality and less scrap contribute directly to a greener footprint, and robots are well known for these advantages. If you use robots you have a green manufacturing story already. When green manufacturing surfaced as a corporate strategy there were many who believed there was little or no payback. Isnít it cheaper to pump waste out of the factory than it is to recycle it? And who can really afford to cultivate an eco-roof on top of their factory? Despite the skeptics, more companies now do such things and are able to show there is a return on investment.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# iRobot Launches Healthcare Robotics Division
POSTED BY: Mikell Taylor // Thu, October 29, 2009
During the TEDMED conference taking place in San Diego this week, iRobot announced the creation of a new product unit: healthcare robots. CEO Colin Angle said the overall goal is to add ìone million hours of independent livingî to seniorsí lives. This is not at all a surprising move. Eldercare robots development has lagged in the US. Japan and South Korea have dedicated many more resources ñ including government dollars ñ to that development. So iRobot is well-positioned to take advantage of the relatively empty US market.
# Introduction to Swarm Intelligence
Posted 22 Oct 2009 at 17:46 UTC by steve
Sabu M. Thampi has posted a very short introduction to Swarm Intelligence (PDF format). In his paper, he describes the biological origins of swarm intelligence in flocks of birds, schools of fish, and swarms of bees. He goes on to describe the importance of swarm intelligence to robotics, using the computational models of ant colony optimization (ACO) and particle swarm optimization (PSO). Pseudo code for the ACO algorithm is included. CC licensed image of swarming grackles by flickr user AlphaTangoBravo
# 30 Days, No Landing: Darpa Aims for Drone Endurance Record
By Noah Shachtman, October 28, 2009
The idea, ultimately, is to build a drone that will stay in the sky for five years or more. But in the meantime, Pentagon wild research arm Darpa will just have to settle for a solar-powered robotic aircraft that flies for a month a time. Not bad, considering thatís nearly 10 times the current drone endurance record of 3 days, 10 hours. Darpa just launched the $155 million second phase of the project, dubbed ìVulture.î The idea is to build a drone that can carry a thousand-pound payload for at least thirty days.
# U.S. Drones Back Pak Offensive Against Taliban
By Noah Shachtman, October 23, 2009
The Pakistani Army is getting help from U.S. spy drones, in its offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan. ìFor months the United States and Pakistan have been sharing information from Predator flights in the volatile border regionsî between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the L.A. Timesí Julian Barnes and Greg Miller report. ìbut until now the Pakistanis had not accepted help for their major military operations.î These flights arenít the same as the killer drone attacks, under the CIAís operational control, which have left slain up to 1,000 people, including several top leaders of the Pakistani Taliban.
|Oct 16, 2009: Shorter than usual, but lots on automating war, including Chinese drones. Also released this month is the new World Robotics 2009 Report. World Robotics 2009 Report. You can find the Executive Summary and press releases; one of there key lines: "The trends in the manufacturing industries can be summarized in one term: 'Green Automation'.”
# SnackBot: Polite host, research platform, vending machine
by Matt Hickey, Oct 16, 2009
Cravers, I'd like to introduce you to SnackBot. He is exactly what he sounds like: a robot that brings you snacks. He wanders around a place, say a hotel lobby during a convention, with a tray of sweets. This, people, is what robots are for: Bringing me food. Or beer. Or making sure I don't have to wait in line at the counter for something. This has always been the promise of full robotics--they are made to be servants. They'll happily navigate crowds doing jobs nobody else wants to do (could you imagine this guy answering your door on Halloween?").
# Ninety-foot drop can't stop robot cockroach
by Tim Hornyak, October 15, 2009
Researchers in California are developing a simple robot cockroach that can be assembled in an hour, move quickly, and survive 92-foot falls. The Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod, or DASH, is a neat example of the insectile robotics from UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. Robot cockroaches have been designed before, but DASH seems relatively simple to put together before it can be used to creep everyone out. The 4-inch, 16-gram bug is put together by folding cardboard and polymer sheets. A DC motor runs the six legs while a servomotor bends the frame to induce left or right turns.
# NSA to host Security Automation Conference
Posted by Doug Hanchard @ October 15, 2009
From October 26 - 29, the National Security Agency / Central Security Service will host the Security Automation Conference and Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. In their press release of October 2, key note speakers will be Tony Sager, NSA; Phil Reitinger, DHS; Richard Hale, DISA; and John Thompson, Symantec. Established by NIST five years ago with an attendance of less than 50 people, the conference is now jointly sponsored by NIST, NSA, DISA and the DHS. More than 1,000 attendees are expected at the conference. To review the full agenda visit the NSA website.
# Are grocers ripe for automation?
After years of holding out, a few big grocers have reversed course and begun automating their DCs. Now the question is, will others follow suit?
By James A. Cooke, October 14, 2009
When it comes to warehouse automation, the U.S. grocery industry has long been the final frontier. For decades, grocers' warehouses and distribution centers remained untouched by the wave of automation sweeping through the nation's DCs. While pharmaceutical, electronics, and consumer goods facilities all around them installed the latest automated material handling systems, grocers clung to their manual ways. Although there were some technical concerns, the reasons were largely financial. In a business known for its paper-thin margins, automation simply wasn't seen as a justifiable expense. "[Grocers] have such a low-margin business, they tend not to put their investment in warehouse technology," says Jeff Waller, president of the Atlanta consulting firm Waller & Associates. "They put it in the storefront."
# Tel Aviv exhibition features anti-hooligan robots
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, Oct 12, 2009 19:59 | Updated Oct 13, 2009 11:14
The Third Israel Defense security exhibition being held in Tel Aviv's Fairground this week had a number of nifty platforms put on display by international and Israeli companies, including a remote-controlled vehicle designed to deal with street riots. The three-day exhibition, which kicked off on Monday, is aimed at offering the Israel Police, Prisons Service and the IDF new hi-tech solutions. The turbo engine-powered riot control Bozena armored vehicle, created by the Slovakian War Industry company, is controlled by a radio transmitter and equipped with a massive shield that provides a moving shelter for riot police dealing with violent mass disturbances. With police safely behind the shield and out of the way of bottles, bricks, and Molotov cocktails, the vehicle is gradually pushed toward the rioters, dispersing them, its makers say.
# Should robots be our soldiers?
By Hugh Lessig, October 12, 2009
NEWPORT NEWS - Taliban fighters are hiding inside a hospital, surrounded by sick and wounded children. An American soldier knows not to fire. What if the "soldier" is a machine? Policymakers are contemplating invading a foreign country. Is the decision made easier if unmanned drones lead the attack? Today's fight in Iraq and Afghanistan is as much about winning hearts and minds as it is about controlling territory. In a fight waged increasingly with robots, is that job harder or easier? These questions signal a profound new direction in warfare that some have compared to the development of the A-bomb, says P.W. Singer, the author of "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century." "Whether we're talking about military tactics or ethics and law, you have this set of new questions that we'd never thought we'd have to ask before," he said Monday. "That's what signals we have a revolution."
# Robots working at Marriott Library at the University of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News, 10/16 4:39 pm
Imagine having a robot deliver the book you want to read at your next library visit. It could happen at the University of Utah. The Marriott Library has been going through a renovation to make it safer in the case of an earthquake. In addition, several state-of-the-art features have been added... including an automated retrieval center or ARC for short.
# Tiny Robot Trash Harvesters to Clean Streets of the Future
by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York 10.15.09
Move over Roomba, you've just met your match. It's called the Scarab, and it's an automated robot that's been designed to efficiently and quickly clean much larger areas, like shopping centers and neighborhood streets. Could these little robots be the future of urban waste collection?
IEEE SPECTRUM AUTOMATON
# iRobot's Shape-Shifting Blob 'Bot Takes Its First Steps
Anne-Marie Corley // Tue, October 13, 2009
This is by far one of the coolest and weirdest robot prototypes we at IEEE Spectrum have ever seen. Meet iRobot's soft, shape-shifting robot blob. It rolls around and changes shape, and it will be able to squeeze through tiny cracks in a wall when the project is finished. Researchers from iRobot and the University of Chicago discussed their palm-sized soft robot, known as a chemical robot, or chembot, at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems yesterday.
ROBOTWORX –INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Prepare for Economic Recovery with Robots
Posted: October 16, 2009
Will you be ready when the economy bounces back? Take a look at why buying robots now will save your company's future. Gain an Edge: Automation is one of the best ways to beat out the competition. Robotic systems provide dependable, quick, and efficient production. Many companies have recognized these robotic automation benefits and begun to invest in spite of the economy's sluggishness. Don't fall behind by ignoring what robots can do for your company. Fall in step with your competition and gain an advantage over those who aren't automating. If you haven't invested in robots, it is time you joined the party.
# China’s Unmanned, Knock-Off Air Force
By Noah Shachtman, October 15, 2009 |
America’s robotic air force gets all the attention — especially with U.S. drones continuing to blast suspected militants in Pakistan. But China is developing its own fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. High-flying spy drones, unmanned attackers, and handheld mini-bots are in Beijing’s arsenal. DefPro has a rundown of China’s UAV programs. Many of them appear to be knock-offs of U.S. drones. The Xianglong (”Sour Dragon”) is shaped like the American Global Hawk, and is supposed to fly almost as high: 60,000 feet. The Yilong looks awfully like one of those Predators the U.S. is now flying over Pakistan.
# General: Iraq’s Robot Lack Killed 122 G.I.s
By Noah Shachtman, October 13, 2009
Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch lost 155 men in combat. 122 might have lived, if only the U.S. had sent a bigger, badder, better-capable robot army in Iraq. “80 percent of those soldiers didn’t have to die,” he told a recent trade conference. To start with, Lynch would like to see some remote-controlled infantry-bots deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Manufacturers started making the gun-toting machines years ago. But there’s been a reluctance to send the things to war, because of safety and command and control concerns. Lynch, the new chief of the Army’s Installation Management Command, lead the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq and has a masters in robotics from MIT. He told National Defense magazine that the robo-fears are unfounded.
Oct 4, 2009: This is a large issue and there are many important in-depth stories about the future of automation and the impacts on the global economy. These include “Beware, Humans. The Era of Automation Software Has Begun,” “The future of Bay Area employment,” “Understanding how new economy works is key,” “Rodney's Robot Revolution,” and “Robotics and the Big Trends.” And there is an article on poker robots...There are also two stories sent in by readers of the digest. Please send in anything of interest you may find.
# USAF Shoots Down Out-of-Control Reaper Over Northern Afghanistan
By Matthew Harwood, 09/16/2009 -
The United States Air Force (USAF) shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Sunday morning after it lost control of the aircraft over a remote area in Northern Afghanistan. The USAF does not know how or why operators lost control of the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System. "We do not speculate on the cause of an aircraft mishap," Captain Frank Hartnett, a spokesman for the Air Force, told Security Management. An investigation, however, will be conducted to find an answer, he said. The Reaper was flying a combat mission when operators lost "positive control" of the UAV, or the ability to establish connections and send control inputs to the remote-controlled aircraft. When operators noticed the UAV was bound to exit Afghani airspace and all efforts to reestablish communication with the machine failed, the Air Force deployed an F-15E Strike Eagle to destroy it.
# NASA Can Now Create Objects Using Electron Beams
By Jesus Diaz, Gizmodo Tue Sep 29 2009, Instead of using traditional 3D manufacturing, NASA has developed an electron beam fabrication system capable of creating any object. And hey, if it uses electron beams that means it's awesome, no matter what.
# EcoATM pays you for used gadgets
by Leslie Katz, October 3, 2009
You know that old Motorola Razr that's been sitting in your nightstand for the last year? If you live near Omaha, Neb., you can march up to the EcoATM at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, toss it in, and automatically get an in-store trade-up coupon or gift card. The self-serve e-cycling station electronically inspects phones, assigns them real-time secondary market value, and provides in-store payment--if the handset still has any monetary worth. If not, consumers can choose to assign the device to the recycle bin, and then it's on its way to getting recycled or refurbished.
# Nissan's robot cars mimic fish to avoid crashing
by Tim Hornyak, October 2, 2009 4:38 PM PDT
Nissan has developed a mini robotic car that can move autonomously in groups while avoiding crashing into obstacles (including other cars).
The Eporo, Nissan says, is the first robot car designed to move in a group by sharing its position and other information. The aim is to incorporate the technology into passenger cars to reduce accidents and traffic jams.
# Power Loader exoskeleton gives superhuman strength
by Danny Allen, September 30, 2009 3:56 PM PDT
The Power Loader "dual-arm power amplification robot" uses 18 electromagnetic motors that let the wearer lift 220 pounds without blinking. It gets its name from the exoskeleton from "Aliens" ("Get away from her, you bitch!"), and even has force-feedback. It's being developed by a Kyoto, Japan-based Panasonic subsidiary called Activelink, which say it doesn't expect to see it being used for things like disaster relief efforts until around 2015.
# Sixty-foot Gigantor bot towers over Japan
by Tim Hornyak, September 29, 2009 3:04 PM PDT
Workers in Japan have built a 60-foot statue of famous cartoon robot Gigantor in the city of Kobe. The statue is an actual-size replica of the hulking robot depicted in numerous manga and anime. It's known as Tetsujin 28 in Japan.
# Transforming robot kicks butt, carries creator
by Tim Hornyak, September 28, 2009 4:25 PM PDT
Japanese robot builder Takeshi Maeda is blowing minds with an exciting demo of the latest version of his OmniZero robot. The ninth generation of OmniZero can transform from bipedal fighting machine into a rolling vehicle as well as a walking seat (See it in action in the video below). The shape-changing robot is 3.4 feet tall and weighs in at 55 pounds.
# Beware, Humans. The Era of Automation Software Has Begun
By Ashlee Vance, September 28, 2009, 3:43 pm
The dominant story in the technology services industry in recent years has been the rise of massive, low-cost Indian workforces. And, now, according to Hewlett-Packard, we’re ready for a new mega-trend in services: the rise of automation software. “The last five years have had a heavy component of labor arbitrage,” said Ann M. Livermore, the executive vice president in charge of H.P.’s vast enterprise business. “You could move work anywhere in the globe where you find good quality labor at a good price.”
# Market2Lead Includes Call Center Operations in Marketing Automation
New Module Enhances Lead Nurturing and Qualification via Telephone, 10/1/09
SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Companies can now fully integrate their telemarketing, tele-qualification and/or inside sales operations with marketing automation and sales force automation (SFA) systems, with the new call center module in Market2Lead’s on-demand marketing automation software. Market2Lead, a leading provider of marketing automation software and services, announced today the availability of version 4.04 of its software, which includes the call center module.
Westwego speeding-ticket automation tool set on fire
By Allen Powell II, The Times Picayune , October 02, 2009, 6:54PM
An automated vehicle that writes speeding tickets in Westwego was set on fire last week, the second act of vandalism against the vehicle in two months.
# Toyota Partner Robots plays musical instruments
Posted on Oct 4, 09 07:37 PM PDT
Toyota's Partner Robots are able to play the drums and the tuba, thanks to a handful of wheels that have been hidden under its floor-hugging hood for added stability. The tuba player and the drummer stand at 100cm tall, where each individual will come with a special head design so that we humans can tell the difference at a glance. Richie will be the one who handles the Yamaha drum set, where he is capable of handling the beat with a couple of fully articulated arms and hands alongside a footless foot pedal (ironic, isn't it?), boasting a total of 16 degrees of freedom.
# iRobot looks to upgrade battlefield robots
By Chris Reidy, Globe Staff, October 1, 2009 02:53
Bedford's iRobot Corp. said it moving ahead on research to improve its battlefield robots after receiving a grant from the Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise, a unit of the US Department of Defense. The company declined to disclose the amount of that grant.
In 2007, iRobot was awarded a $286 million military contract to make up to 3,000 battlefield robots, or unmanned ground vehicles, for the Army over the next five years.
# Robot Play Accused In Fulltilt Poker Case
10/2/09 - The US entertainment publication TMZ.com reports that two Californian players, Lary Kennedy and Greg Omotoy, have launched litigation against the giant online poker website Full Tilt Poker.com and various top players alleged to be associated with the company.The duo claim that they opened an account at Full Tilt and were skilled and fortunate enough to win $80 000. However, when the time came to cash out, the winnings were denied on the grounds that the two men had used robots in their play, specifically forbidden in the terms and conditions which all players are required to accept before playing on the site.
# Robot helps end police standoff with former IUE student
26-year-old Guard member, Iraq war veteran surrenders
STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS • October 2, 2009
Well into the fifth hour of a standoff with Indianapolis police this week, communication with the man inside a ground-floor apartment near the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus stopped. Police knew the Iraq war veteran with ties to Richmond had a rifle, and he had threatened to hurt himself. But until then, Indiana National Guard Sgt. Jason Carrera, 26, who is assigned to the Guard's Richmond unit, had been cooperating with a negotiator from the Indianapolis metropolitan police SWAT team. So they called Rick Turner, who operates three camera-equipped robots for the Marion County Emergency Management Agency. Sending in the robot quickly defused a tense situation that had disrupted campus traffic and parking for hours. "He (Carrera) wasn't too surprised," Turner said. "Being in the military, he was used to seeing robots and to talking to them."
# The future of Bay Area employment
Michael Bernick, Sunday, September 27, 2009
The latest numbers show unemployment in California at 12.2 percent, its highest level since World War II. Bay Area counties are only slightly lower, in the range of 9 to 12 percent, and way above their rates of around 5 percent in December 2007. To be sure, since 1970 state unemployment has soared near or over double digits several times, and each time the economy came back. In the early 1980s, amid a downturn in heavy manufacturing, state unemployment reached 11 percent in February 1983, only to come back down to near 8 percent within a year. In 1993, with major cuts in defense and aerospace jobs, state unemployment reached 9.9 percent in January, but the figure came down to near 8 percent by November 1994. During those recessions, unemployment seemed endless, but employer and consumer confidence returned, and hiring commenced in significant numbers. The current California recession differs from those in the past in at least two major ways. One is its severity. The 12.2 percent rate (affecting more than 2.2 million workers) is not only the highest, but it does not cover the roughly 1.3 percent of the California workforce (more than 200,000 workers) classified as discouraged workers or marginally attached or the roughly 5.8 percent (nearly 1 million workers) employed less than full time for economic reasons. Second, this recession is across all sectors and occupations. The Employment Development Department divides California employment into 11 nonagricultural sectors, and with the exception of educational and health services, all sectors have been job losers over the year. The construction sector in California is the biggest loser and continues to be in free-fall, losing more than 140,000 jobs over the year (18.5 percent of the total) and over 300,000 jobs since December 2006. Business and professional services (loss of 133,000 jobs over the year, 5.9 percent), and trade, transportation and utilities (loss of 191,000 jobs, 6.7 percent) also have seen dramatic cutbacks.
# Automation Socialism
Roy Fischler, Socialist WebZine, September 17, 2009
I'd like to tell about a variety of socialism that doesn't even seem to have a name, despite the fact that many socialists such as myself advocate it. I call it automation socialism.
# Rob Godbey: Understanding how new economy works is key
September 26, 2009, The Herald-Dispatch
A recent AP article focused on the short-term economic picture suggested that most economic indicators point to the end of the worst recession since World War II, but that improvement will be slow and companies are unlikely to quickly hire back employees.
Another way to look at this is that many of these jobs will never come back. This recession may be an employment contraction that comes with transition from the old to the new economy. Experts warn that we might be in for a new kind of unemployment where positions are open at the same time lots of people are out of work. The unemployed don't have the skills for new economy jobs and unskilled jobs are gone. We were warned for decades to stay in school, get a good education, and then we could get a good, fulfilling high-paying job. Time may be up for people who ignored that advice.
Now what? I suggest we stop looking backward, wishing for the good old days, trying to avoid change, and instead, try to understand what is going on in the world.
# Growth predicted in medical automation
24 Sep 2009
The US market for medical automation technology is forecast to grow from €8.8 billion ($13.1 billion) this year to €15.7 billion ($23.2 billion) in 2014, according to a new report. A burgeoning market, with a compound growth rate of 12%, is predicted for medical automation technologies and products as the US healthcare system looks to harness automation technologies to reduce costs and speed up processes. Medical automation technologies are defined as technologies for the electromechanical control or operation of diagnostic or therapeutic processes, which result in a reduced need for human intervention or no such need at all. The report also covers systems for training medical and health staff. Examples of automated medical technologies given include health monitoring kiosks, automated X-rays, e-learning systems and surgical robots.
# Humanoid robot Nao wants to be friends
by Tim Hornyak, September 22, 2009 11:42 AM PDT
Aldebaran Robotics is showcasing the skills of its pint-size humanoid robot Nao ahead of its planned mass market release in about a year. Nao is definitely one of the coolest humanoids around that stands a chance of making it into households as a real product. Aldebaran envisions it as "an autonomous family companion." Fully programmable, the 23-inch bot boasts 25 degrees of freedom, affording it an impressive range of motion. Check it out in Nao's new promo vid after the jump.
# Queen's robots closing in on 1,000 surgeries
Devices let patients recover faster, with fewer
The Queen's Medical Center today will perform its 1,000th operation using a da Vinci surgical robot, which results in shorter recovery times and fewer complications for patients. Queen's two da Vinci robots — purchased in 2007 and 2008 — also help attract physicians to Hawai'i who are trained in robotics, Queen's officials said yesterday.
# 'Robot' computer to mark English essays
• Exam board denies system will be extended to GCSEs
• Union fears 'a disaster waiting to happen'
The owner of one of England's three major exam boards is to introduce artificial intelligence-based automated marking of English exam essays in the UK from next month.
# Rodney's Robot Revolution
Australian Rodney Brooks is an internationally renowned roboticist. He was the head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab for a decade. His mission is to do to robots what Bill Gates did to the computer -- make them so affordable and personal that they will be an integral part of our work and home lives.
# Humanoid robot to give campus tours
by Priya Saxena, news staff writer, Monday, September 21, 2009; 10:37 PM
The Department of Mechanical Engineering is working to create Virginia Tech's most wanted tour guide, CHARLI, a humanoid robot. Dennis Hong, director of Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, also known as RoMeLa, said CHARLI should be nearing completion in November.
# 5 robots that will save your life
Robots help us build cars, explore the deepest oceans and farthest regions of space, and even take one for the team when it comes to bomb disposal. Now, we've got another trick to teach them: keeping us alive longer. The field of robotics offers limitless possibilities when it comes to improving our quality of life, or even — you know — making sure we're around long enough to enjoy said quality of life.
#Robotics and the Big Trends
by Jeff Burnstein, President , Robotic Industries Association
Robotic Industries Association Posted 09/21/2009
I’ve been thinking and reading quite a bit lately about how robotics ties in with the big trends impacting our society. If the robotics industry is to fully reach its potential, we’ll have to find new applications, new users, and new ways of helping society achieve important goals. While there are many important trends, I’ll discuss just three in this article that I believe create significant opportunities for robotics in the decades ahead.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Industrial Robots and the Future:
September 29, 2009
What does the future hold for the industrial robot industry?
Take a closer look at some of the recent emerging trends:
Robots Off the Shelf Industrial robots are more accessible and affordable today than ever before. Now standard robot models are mass produced. There are more available to meet the ever-increasing demand. This in turn has led to a steady price drop for new robots. At the same time, a burgeoning used robotics market offers still more opportunities for low-cost models. Integrating Made Simple Today, robotic integration is more straightforward, more conducive to plug and play installation. Peripherals, robot models, and controllers are designed to communicate more easily with one another. This compatibility not only makes for easier workcell building, the resulting systems are more reliable and flexible. Standardization Six-axis industrial robots have become more uniform. When comparing robots from a variety of different manufacturers, it's easy to notice the basic similarities in style and usability. Market competition has brought about nearly interchangeable robot series (think payloads and work envelope ranges).
Increased Flexibility Current robotics components and models can handle more. They are built to offer complexity and durability in different settings. Welding guns have greater longevity. Welders can handle more variety. Robot technology continues to advance - creating robust, capable product.
Sept 20, 2009: Urban Hopper, Rockwell Automation provides high-tech irony by adding jobs, space, deep sea, sex, tax breaks for robotic purchases, robot statue, new drones, and more...
# Fri Sep 18 2009 Panasonic's Robotic Bed transforms into wheelchair Posted by Tim Hornyak
Company develops a bed-shaped robot that transforms into a wheelchair, allowing people with disabilities or the elderly to get up without help.
# Fri Sep 18 2009 Deep Green pool-playing robot ready to hustle Posted by Danny Allen
The impressive system of cameras and robotic gantries from the computer vision lab at Queens University is already at a "better-than-amateur level."
# Thu Sep 17 2009 Urban Hopper robot can leap over 25-foot walls Posted by Tim Hornyak
DARPA shows off the Precision Urban Hopper, a small wheeled robot that can leap over tall obstacles. It's designed for urban surveillance operations.
# John Hart Robotics and Automation release Fanuc M-2000iA
21 September 2009
John Hart Robotics and Automation released the Fanuc M-2000iA ‘super heavy payload robot’ in Australia. The heavy payload robot has the capacity to transport loads of 1,000kg up to 1055mm from the roll face of the wrist, which is 14700 nm and IP-67-rated. Weighing almost 10 tonnes, the M-2000iA is available in 900 kg payload and 1200 kg payload versions. The 900kg version has a maximum reach of 4.7 m with a vertical stroke of 6.7 m....The M-2000iA robot series is suitable for heavy load applications such as heavy machine tending, handling of heavy zinc ingots, heavy brick load palletising and automotive body transfer.
# Rockwell Automation to Present at J.P. Morgan Conference
Wed Sep 9, 2009 10:57am EDT
Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) Chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch will present at the J. P. Morgan Diversified Industries Conference in New York on Wednesday, September 16. The presentation will be webcast beginning at approximately 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time and will be available on the company`s website at www.rockwellautomation.com. Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), the world`s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, makes its customers more productive and the world more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., Rockwell Automation employs about 19,000 people serving customers in more than 80 countries.
# In Wisconsin, Hopeful Signs for Factories
By PETER S. GOODMAN, Published: September 12, 2009
MEQUON, Wis. — At the Rockwell Automation factory here, something encouraging happened recently that might be a portent of national economic recovery: managers reinstated a shift, hiring a dozen workers. Diane Sullivan, an employee of Rockwell Automation, working with a circuit board. The company recently hired a dozen workers. After months of layoffs, diminished production and anxiety about the depths of the Great Recession, the company — a bellwether because most of its customers are manufacturers themselves — saw enough new orders to justify adding people.
# SpeedLine intros restaurant management automation tools,
16 Sep 2009
Restaurant point-of-sale developer SpeedLine Solutions Inc. has announced the addition of a range of management automation tools to the SpeedLine POS software. The new release helps restaurant managers serve customers more efficiently during rush times — without manager intervention — by providing automatic updates to quoted delivery and ready times, based on the current kitchen production load and daily trends. Staff management is faster and easier with a one-stop employee dashboard that gives managers instant access to employee tools. Managers can see who's on the clock and who's on break, send employee messages, edit the time clock or print an employee's schedule — all from one dashboard screen.
# Robot Arm to Grab Robotic Ship -- A Space Station First
Andrew Fazekas for National Geographic News September 17, 2009
For the first time, a robotic arm attached to the International Space Station (ISS) will capture an unmanned spaceship for docking on Thursday. The bus-size Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, was launched on its maiden flight September 10. The remote-control ship is carrying more than four tons of equipment, food, clothes, and other essentials for the six astronauts currently aboard the space station.
# Deep-Sea Robot Roves the Unexplored Ocean Depths
By Hadley Leggett September 11, 2009
While Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity get all the press, there’s another intrepid robot venturing where human scientists can’t: The Benthic Rover, a robot that crawls along the ocean floor, has just completed its first month-long mission. About the size of a compact car, the new robot carries equipment to measure the amount of oxygen being consumed by organisms on the ocean floor, as well as the amount of food that filters down from surface waters. For the first time, scientists will be able to track how changes on the surface of the ocean affect marine communities down below.
# Let's talk about sex ... with robots
Jack Schofield, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 September 2009 18.00 BST
David Levy came to fame with chess programs, but now has ambitions to use his prize-winning chatbot software to spice up robots. People often talk to machines, including computers and robots, and a growing number of AI (artificial intelligence) researchers are working to enable them to talk back. And soon, human-computer interactions may include having sex with them. That's the view of David Levy, who has just won the 2009 Loebner prize for the most human-like chatbot.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Buy Robots This Year and Save on Taxes
Posted: September 18, 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has some incredible tax incentives for buying robotic equipment this year. Take advantage of these offers now because everything changes next year. All companies who have purchased $800,000 or less of new and used equipment in 2009 are eligible for a $250,000 tax deduction. However, starting in 2010, the reach of this incentive shortens - only those companies purchasing up to $510,000 will be eligible for a deduction of $128,000.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
# Korea's RobotLand Theme Park to have 111 high robot statue,
Markus Waibel on 11 Sep 2009, 08:29
You may remember our previous report on Japan's 18 meter high "Gundam" robot erected in the centre of Tokyo. In what seems to be a serious case of envy, Korea's robotic themepark "Robot Land" currently under construction in Incheon, some 30km west of Seoul, has now announced plans to construct a robot statue more than 6 times higher. At 111 meters, Korea's robot statue will stand more than twice as high as Statue of Liberty. The "Robo Land" themepark is set to open in July 2012.
# AIST has created a new "fitness instructor" robot,
Chroino on 11 Sep 2009, 00:06
AIST (Japan's Advanced Institute of Science & Technology) has just unveiled a new humanoid robot that it hopes will promote fitness to the elderly. The robot will also be sold without the humorous exterior for around $8000 to universities - which is a lot less than one might expect to pay for such an advanced humanoid robot.
WIRED DANGER ROOM
# Lockheed Debuts Concept for a Stealthy Drone
By Sharon Weinberger, September 15, 2009
Lockheed Martin is publicly stepping back into the drone market with plans for a fast, stealthy unmanned aerial vehicle. The concept aircraft, which the defense megalith quietly debuted at an Air Force convention this week, was spotted by Flight’s Steve Trimble, who snapped a picture of the concept art on display.
# GE Aviation Signs Research Agreement with FAA for Unmanned Aircraft
AUG 18 By Robotics Trends Staff
08.18.2009 — GE to work with the FAA on research and flight management technology that supports the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into national air space.
# Heartland Robotics Closes $7 Million in Series A-1 Funding
By Robotics Trends Staff, 09.09.2009 — Charles River Ventures joins Bezos Expeditions in backing robotics start-up Founded by Rodney Brooks. Heartland Robotics, Inc. announced it has secured $7 million in Series A-1 funding, led by Charles River Ventures. The new funding comes less than one year after the company, which develops robots to increase productivity and efficiency in manufacturing environments, closed Series A funding of $5 million from Bezos Expeditions—which also participated in the current round—and BrooksLab, LLC. Rodney Brooks, Heartland Robotics’ Founder, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer, is also a co-Founder of iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ: IRBT) and the former Director of the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Dr. Brooks founded Heartland Robotics in July 2008 with a vision to reinvigorate American manufacturing: “Our robots will help revitalize this important sector of the economy by offering efficiencies and versatility where traditional industrial robotic solutions are cost prohibitive or insufficiently flexible.”
Sept 7, 2009—Special Labor(less) Day Edition: Replacing Healthcare workers, covoy soldiers, financial analysists; argument against automation replacing labor; Replacing elder care workers; Robot movies; Could a Robot Do Your Job?
# iRobot CEO: Robot nurses to cut health care costs
by Erica Ogg, September 4, 2009 6:53 AM PDT
BERLIN--In the midst of America's raging debate on the future of health insurance, one man says he has a solution to out-of-control health care costs: more robots. Of course, this is coming from Colin Angle, a roboticist and CEO of iRobot, the company that makes both robotic vacuum cleaners and bomb-defusing gadgets currently in use by the U.S. military. At IFA here on Friday, he said that robotic telepresence devices, which would act like nurses in a person's home, could reduce the $2.2 trillion, or 17 percent of the U.S. GDP, currently spent on health care every year.
# U.S. Army gets demo of new supertoy
by Suzanne Ashe, September 4, 2009 10:29 AM PDT
Oshkosh Defense recently demonstrated the latest in unmanned ground vehicle technology at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Fort Hood, Texas. Oshkosh Defense is an industry leader in the development of autonomous vehicle technology. The Oshkosh TerraMax autonomous vehicle system incorporates the latest in advanced robotic hardware and software.
# Robotics Rodeo: En route to safer convoys
by Mark Rutherford, September 4, 2009 6:00 AM PDT
FORT HOOD, Texas--Click briefly through the parade of cautionary fireballs that make-up the Iraq/Convoy category on any video-sharing Web site and the message is clear; in war, people get killed making deliveries. The military wants to do something about that--namely, get soldiers out of the driver's seat. To help move things in the right direction, a Robotics Rodeo at the sprawling Army installation here in the heart of Texas gave some companies a chance to show what they have to offer. The rodeo, which ended Thursday, was sponsored by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and by III Corps.
# The Coming Age of Financial Automation
Addis Fortune, Published On Sep 06, 2009
Traditionally, banks were 'black boxes' concealing activities from customers while giving advice to corporations on mergers and acquisitions. However, the great financial innovation of the 1990s, brought with it the genius of securitization explains Harold James, professor of History and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. In this commentary provided to Fortune by Project Syndicate he insists that in the long term, finance will become less prone to problems of asymmetrical information. Public debate, especially during economic crises, focuses on growth statistics, which becomes a kind of fever thermometer. But the readings are unreliable and change constantly, prompting statisticians to think about different ways of measuring an economy's very different products.
# Robots on the March: The Supply Chain Gang
By Erika Morphy, CRM Buyer, 09/07/09 4:00 AM PT
The concern that robots may take away the jobs of their human counterparts has been around as long as automation itself, but that's not likely to happen, says a maker of supply chain robotics systems -- and the companies that use them echo that reassurance. There are legitimate concerns, however, that have more to do with refining the technology. Still, the benefits are likely to be great.
# Workers Of The World, Meet Your Robot Replacements
by Erick Schonfeld on September 7, 2009
Industrial robots are nothing new, but they are getting more and more sophisticated. Watch the video above of the swarming robot warehouse pickers made by Kiva Systems. They are like orange industrial Roombas that go out and find inventory in a warehouse and bring it back to human workers to pack for shipping. Don’t fear them. Really, they are just here to help. Zappos and Staples use the systems, which are dispatched and controlled by a central computer, and can also detect each other to avoid collisions.
Warren Riddle (RSS feed) — Sep 7th 2009 at 7:20AM
When scientists need to research a frigid, barren wasteland so inhospitable that humans stand no chance of survival, what do they do? Dispatch enslaved, persecuted, and voiceless robots, of course. With its excessively dry climate, low wind, and low atmospheric turbulence, Antarctica provides ideal star-gazing opportunities, but its negative-130-degree temperatures and geographical inaccessibility obviously make the job incredibly difficult for people. Last year, under the leadership of the Polar Research Institute of China, scientists in Antarctica constructed the automated PLATeau Observatory (PLATO), a research station equipped with seven telescopes. Because of the success of PLATO, the National Science Foundation is constructing another unmanned, robot-controlled astronomical viewing station in an area known as Ridge A.
# Japan looks to robots to fill jobs
By Robin Lustig, BBC News, Tokyo 3 September 2009 03:07 UK
One of the biggest questions hanging over the newly elected Japanese government is what it intends to do about its rapidly diminishing workforce. Japan's population is both ageing and shrinking at a dangerous rate. It will have halved by the end of the century, according to one estimate. So who is going to do the work as the country gets steadily older?
# Robot caregivers for elderly could debut in three years
September 04, 2009
Robot helpers for the elderly could be available in as little as three years, recent reports from the University of Illinois at Chicago suggest.
# The Swirling Brain's Robot & Sci-Fi Upcoming Movie List!
30 Aug 2009
Well, it's time again for The Swirling Brain's upcoming Robot (& Sci-Fi) robot movie news! This year there seems to be more robot movies than ever. Here it is late summer and still it seems there are bunches of sci-fi and robotic sci-fi movies still yet to be seen! Let's see what's left for this year's robot movies!
# ReconRobotics Introduces Recon Scout XT Reconnaissance Robot
ReconRobotics Throwable 'Bot Transmits Real-Time Video
Aug 27 By Robotics Trends Staff
08.27.2009 — Lightweight, throwable robot will enable military and police reconnaissance of rugged environments.
ReconRobotics, Inc. announced the introduction of the Recon Scout® XT throwable reconnaissance robot that will allow military personnel and police tactical teams to conduct immediate visual reconnaissance of challenging indoor environments and rugged outdoor landscapes of dirt, sand and rocks. Equipped with large motors, powerful drive trains and aggressive wheels, the throwable Recon Scout XT can be directed to quietly move through a building, bunker or cave and transmit real-time video back to the warfighter’s handheld operator control units. This video can be used to locate civilians, enemy combatants or explosive devices, and enable the warfighter to gain situational awareness during urban warfare operations or remote reconnaissance missions. In police tactical operations the Recon Scout XT can provide real-time reconnaissance during operations involving high-risk warrants, barricaded suspects and hostage rescues.
# Could a Robot Do Your Job?
By Brian Cronk, August 28, 2009, 9:28 AM ET
Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal’s personal-technology columnist, has reviewed an automated service that he says is “in essence…a robotic, low-cost adviser.” Mossberg writes, “The service, called Cake Premium, automatically imports your investment and 401(k) account information from any of 65 major investment companies, analyzes and categorizes your holdings, and then proposes how best to reallocate your positions. It uses its own proprietary formula to rate funds, both on their performance and on their fees, and suggests substitutes that it believes would be better.
Aug 25, 2009: Robocops, Robofish, Robodocs, Robococos, Roboevolution, Robohands, Robospiders, and Factory leaves China to Produce in Texas.
# August 21, 2009 6:00 AM PDT
DARPA 3D reasoning engine to identify urban threats by Mark Rutherford
DARPA is spending millions of dollars to identify trash cans, which may have raised a few eyebrows, except these and other common urban objects could in the course of today's combat missions prove to be tactically significant. BAE Systems received a $7.1 million contract to work on Phase II of the Urban Reasoning and Geospatial Exploitation Technology (URGENT) program, which is designed to improve the quality and timeliness of geospatial intelligence U.S. troops receive when facing enemy threats in urban environments. This phase of the program's goal will be to "develop a 3D reasoning engine to query over object shapes, locations, and classifications for rapid urban mission planning, mission rehearsal, and situation analysis," according to DARPA.
# New robots mimic fish's swimming (w/ Video)
August 24th, 2009 by Anne Trafton
Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado, a research affiliate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, works in his lab on a robotic fish he created with Professor Kamal Youcef-Toumi. The robot is designed to more easily maneuver into areas where traditional underwater autonomous vehicles cannot go. Photo / Patrick Gillooly/MIT News Office
(PhysOrg.com) -- Borrowing from Mother Nature, a team of MIT researchers has built a school of swimming robo-fish that slip through the water just as gracefully as the real thing, if not quite as fast.
# Sanitation automation on its way: City Council votes to upgrade all residential garbage collection in Stillwater
Monique Headley August 25, 2009 11:29 am
The City Council voted Monday to go ahead with plans to automate residential garbage collection in Stillwater. Councilors approved $1.8 million in financing to automate the largely manual system of solid waste collection. The new program will save the city about $240,000 in service costs, councilors heard, and the average annual savings to customers is estimated at about $16. With a required lead time of 120 days, the program will be phased in over 15 months. The automated system will reduce costs and increase workers’ safety, while reducing their exposure to hazardous materials, said Public Works Director Ralph Kinder.
# Robot Doc on Duty at Texas Army Hospital
SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 23, 2009
5-Foot-Tall Robot Provides Eyes, Hands for Human Doctor 1,500 Miles Away
(AP) Staff Sgt. Juan Amaris laid in intensive care recovering from life-threatening burns when he got a peculiar visit from his doctor. Dr. Kevin Chung - rather, a 5-foot-tall camouflage-clad robot with Chung's face on a monitor - rolled in to check on him. With his proxy's cameras zooming and wireless antennas beaming, Chung stood in a kitchen in Virginia and examined Amaris from 1,500 miles way, providing a connection between doctor and patient even as Chung was on vacation. Use of the robot began as an Army telemedicine pilot project several years ago. But its success in allowing Chung to check on patients while deployed and in training nurses far away means the Chungbot - as it's been nicknamed around Brooke Army Medical Center - is here to stay.
# Touchy Feely Robot Promises to be Gentle (and Check for Cancer)
By Danny Allen, 4:00 AM on Tue Aug 25 2009, 2,332 views
This won't hurt a bit! Researchers have developed a prototype robot that, through key-hole surgery, can detect cancer tumors in half the time, with less tissue damage, and with 40 percent more accuracy than clumsy humans.
# Sioux Falls hospital makes use of robots as workers
By: Jon Walker, Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The new workers in the halls at Avera McKennan Hospital will be dependable, uncomplaining, a little on the slow side, but manageable and courteous. They are robots. They will arrive in Sioux Falls as a labor-saving tool to run errands and make deliveries that until now have required human feet and time. The robots are 3-foot-8 and move close to 2 mph. They use laser vision to stop and start and will defer to others if about to collide with someone in the hallway.
# Robot could solve coconut climber problem
26 Aug 2009, 0202 hrs IST, Joe A Scaria, ET Bureau
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As coconut growers around the world throw up their hands in despair unable to cope with the scarcity of palm climbers, a solution is in the making in Kerala in the form of a robot. Branded the Hanumanoid Coconut Harvester, the project is still in a nascent stage but the entrepreneur behind the idea, TK Velayudhan is convinced that the product would be a money-spinner when launched, though venture capitalists remain sceptic about funding the idea. “India alone needs about 2 lakh coconut climbers and if you add all the major coconut growing countries, the figure is about 8 lakh. That presents a huge opportunity for the robot idea, considering the sheer number of robots to be manufactured. It would be the most mass-produced robot in any sector,” Mr Velayudhan told ET. He points out that apple-harvesting robots are available but they are not an attractive business proposition considering the low numbers that are required, making the per capita cost of robots too steep to bear for growers. Mr Velayudhan has floated Akshaya Agrobotics in partnership with three others and they have a two-person staff team but it has been tough going for the firm. “We came close to signing a $0.5 million venture funding from a Saudi Arabia-based investor to develop a robot for date palm and oil palm harvesting, but it fell through partly because the economic crisis intervened,” he says.
# Super-fast robot hand developed in Japan
By ninemsn staff, Tue Aug 25 2009
A nimble-fingered robotic hand that can catch objects, bounce balls and twirl a rod between its fingers at incredible speed has been developed by Japanese scientists. The machine was created as part of a mission by the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory to develop robots "which can manipulate dynamic changing objects". A video of the robot shows their newest creation possesses extraordinary reflexes that far exceed that of humans.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Robots evolve to exploit inadvertent cues
POSTED BY: Markus Waibel // Fri, August 21, 2009
Human interaction heavily depends on inadvertent cues: A competitor's sweaty handshake before a negotiation, a girl blushing when introducing herself, or the trace of a smile crossing the face of a poker player all convey important information. Sara Mitri and colleagues at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (disclaimer: my former lab) at the EPFL in Switzerland have now shown that it is not just humans who can develop, detect and use inadvertent cues to their advantage (PNAS: "Evolution of Information Suppression in Communicating Robots with Conflicting Interests"). The researchers set up a group of S-bots equipped with omnidirectional cameras and light-emitting rings around their body in a bio-inspired foraging task (see picture above). Like many animals, the robots used visual cues to forage for two food sources in the arena. Rather than pre-programming the robots' control rules, the researchers used artificial evolution to develop the robots' control systems. As expected, robots capable of efficiently navigating the arena and locating food sources evolved in a matter of a few 100 generations. This is when things became interesting: Due to the limited amount of food, robots now began to compete for resources. Robots began to evolve strategies to use light inadvertently emitted by their peers to rapidly pinpoint food locations, in some cases even physically pushing them away to make room for themselves. As evolution progressed, the exploited robots were soon all but extinct. A new generation of robots ensued that could conceal their presence by emitting confusing patterns of light or by ceasing to emit light altogether. I think this research highlights an interesting point: Robots have applicability far beyond engineering. As a leading evolutionary biologist involved in the study put it: "Robots can be quite useful to get a better understanding of the interaction between organisms". While still in its infancy, watch out for robots boosting research in biology, psychology or medicine.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Cutting with Robotic Arms
Posted: August 24, 2009
Stay on the cutting edge with robotic arms. Because of their speed, efficiency, and accuracy, robotic arms are the ideal solution for cutting applications. Without using robotic arms for cutting, companies grow to expect a certain level of waste. Mistakes are normal and parts/materials lost. However, with robotic arms every cut is performed just as programmed. This results in less wasted product and less wasted energy. This robotic cutting accuracy improves product quality and reliability. Because they move with consistency and speed, robotic arms are capable of increasing throughput while decreasing cycle times. They streamline the entire process.
# New to Web: Examples of Systems Integration
Posted: August 24, 2009
Looking for examples of successful automation? You're in luck! RobotWorx just added a Project Summary Section to its website. This collection of case studies provides many examples of systems integration - from arc welding and material palletizing, to flame and adhesive spraying. There are even case studies about robots sold to educational institutions. Find out exactly how RobotWorx solved real-life systems integration challenges.
# Your Friendly Neighborhood SpiderBot
Posted 25 Aug 2009 at 19:09 UTC by steve
An interesting video from the Ben Gurion University Deparment of Mechanical Engineering Robotics Lab turned up on YouTube today. It shows an "underconstrained cable suspended robot capable of maneuvering from one stance space to another by clinging to new contact points." The robot actually shoots "webs" like Spiderman that adhere to surfaces and allow the robot to move around while suspended. There's not a lot of information to be found but what we do know is that the researchers are interested in motion planning.
# Motoman Partners With Agile Planet on Dual-Arm Robots
By Robotics Trends Staff, 08.19.2009
Provider of industrial robots partners with developer of advanced control software on robotic solutions for unstructured environments. Motoman Inc., a leading industrial robot manufacturer, and Agile Planet, Inc., developers of advanced robotics software, have entered into a partnership that will provide commercial users with a leading-edge hardware and software solution for dual-arm robots. The technology partnership will integrate a customized version of Agile Planet’s state-of-the-art, robot-independent manipulation software, KinematixTM, and Motoman’s high-dexterity dual-arm and other robots “To date, advanced dual-arm and highly dexterous robot arms were available only from boutique firms,” says Roger Christian, vice president of marketing for Motoman. “Motoman’s entry in to this area provides industrial-grade quality, performance and worldwide availability. Combining this with Agile Planet’s Kinematix software offers the best of intelligent software and hardware to our robotics customers.” The Motoman and Kinematix offering provides users with a family of leading-edge robotic hardware and validated software featuring high-speed control, sensor integration, collision avoidance, telerobotics and motion planning capabilities. As a result, a new set of applications for unstructured environments is now possible that cannot be addressed with the “teach and repeat” capabilities offered in existing robot control systems.
# Coming Home: Appliance Maker Drops China to Produce in Texas
By TIMOTHY AEPPEL, AUGUST 24, 2009
HOUSTON -- Farouk Shami, a Palestinian-born hairdresser who built a $1 billion manufacturing company around a popular line of hair irons, is moving all of his production of hand-held appliances from China to a sprawling new factory here. The move flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which says gadgets like this are best made in a low-cost country. But, he says, outsourcing has led to a loss of control over manufacturing and distribution. ... It remains to be seen whether Mr. Shami can produce cost-effectively in the U.S. The company is using automation to reduce the number of workers needed to assemble its tools and is redesigning products to make them easier -- and therefore cheaper -- to snap together.
Aug 18, 2009: Chinese Pneumatic Components Automation, automating financial industry, Ag state fair FH hands-on robotics exhibit, harvesting robots, “bum bots” in Atlanta, Sex-bot prositutes, turmoil in robotics industry.
# A soldier's eye in the sky
Wed Aug 12 2009 Officials say smaller technologies and robots could make a difference for the soldiers who take on some of the most dangerous missions hunting out insurgents.
(From The New York Times)
# Research and Markets: Automation Holds the Key for Improved Quality and Productivity in the Chinese Pneumatic Components Market
DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Research and Markets has announced the addition of Frost & Sullivan's new report "Chinese Pneumatic Components Market" to their offering. This research pays attention to the Chinese pneumatic components market growth as well as the market segments of the pneumatic actuators, valves, and electropneumatics. It analyzes the market structure, competition structure, market trends, application trends, technology trends and the market dynamics caused by the policies and regulations and industry development in related application fields, briefly discusses world economy dynamics, and evaluates the influences of these dynamics on this market. It is not only helpful for decision makers in manufacturing industries to have an overview and fundamentally clear map of these markets, but also attractive for investment institutions to conduct investment research and maker further decisions.
# Glory Technology Provides Innovative Automation Strategies for the US Banking and Financial Industry
August 17, 2009
WEST CALDWELL, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Glory Ltd, parent company of Glory (U.S.A.) has been working together with top Japanese financial institutions for decades. During the Japanese banking crisis in the 1990s, Glory technology helped to provide the banking automation necessary to improve productivity and efficiencies. Learning from years of global banking experience, Glory has concentrated on providing the ultimate in automation by using both hardware and software integrated solutions.
# Missouri State Fair Kicks-Off Science With a New Show Me Robots Exhibit
By Missouri State Fair
(August 17, 2009, SEDALIA, MO) ---- A first ever Show Me Robots exhibit will kick-off the Missouri State Fair's new three day focus on science starting at noon on Thursday, August 20 at the Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall. The exhibit will provide hands-on experiences for 4-H youth as well as fairgoers in regards to science and technology and its relationship to agriculture.
# Robotics -Intelligent Harvesting Robots to Save $165,000 per Farm Annually
By Vivek Naik, TMCnet Contributor, Aug 13, 2009
The National Physical Laboratory reportedly announced that its research scientists have successfully developed imaging technology that will be used in intelligent harvesting robots that can save each farm more than $165,000 per year. Officials at the lab claimed that the robot is under design and is intended to minimize wastage, which currently stands at 60 percent every year, and simultaneously crack an almost assured, upcoming farm-help labor shortage in and around the UK. Researchers say that one problem is a consequence of the other since every succeeding year there are fewer and fewer migrant laborers available to help collect harvest ready crops, and therefore more than 50 percent of the crops either rot or are harvested too early resulting in gross and unfortunate wastage.
# ‘Bum Bot’ Robot Plays Sheriff on the Streets of Atlanta
By Priya Ganapati, August 17, 2009 Could Bum bot, a homemade robot that acts as a private security guard, be the future of neighborhood watch? Atlanta, Georgia’s mayoral candidate Rufus Terrill created the remote-controlled robot with three wheels to watch the lot around his pub O’Terrills. The robot has a live video feed, a communications system so it can blare out commands and infrared cameras on it.
# The Future of Tourism is…Robot Sex?
By Danny Allen, Tue Aug 18 2009
Forget robot marriages, the future could be filled with robot hookers! At Australia's Tourism Futures conference, futurologist Ian Yeoman (of New Zealand's Victoria University) forecast that artificial resorts with robot staff, and, yep, even robot prostitutes could become a reality.
# Tear gas is fired into car in failed bid to end standoff [Updated]
August 13, 2009 – LA TIMES
Tear gas has been fired into a man's car in an unsuccessful effort by Los Angeles police to end a five-hour standoff in Westwood with the suspect, who allegedly made threats against the White House. Officers used a robot to toss the tear gas into the Volkswagen Beetle outside the Federal Building on three separate occassions.
# Human-Robot Relationships, August 18, 2009 | Scientific American
How will human-robot interaction affect our culture? A psychologist and artificial intelligence researcher share their predictions. Christie Nicholson reportsi n this month’s issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science a psychologist and artificial intelligence researcher speculate on the psychological impact of relating to incredibly humanlike robots, if they exist, 50 years from now. If we imagine that we’ve solved the remaining challenges facing artificial intelligence and robotic function—like computer vision and locomotion, among others—what sort of life will we have?
# iRobot receives $5.1M order from US Army
Associated Press, 08.12.09, 09:10 AM EDT
BEDFORD, Mass. -- Robot maker iRobot Corp. said Wednesday it received a $5.1 million order from the U.S. Army for its bomb-disposal robots. The order calls for 14 of the company's iRobot ( IRBT - news - people ) PackBot 510 robots with spare parts. The robot is used by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to help investigate dangerous areas where explosive devices might be present. It is the company's eleventh order under its $286 million xBot contract. Shares of iRobot closed Wednesday at $10.89.
# High cost puts value of surgical robots in doubt
Christina Rogers / The Detroit News, Thursday, August 13, 2009
Detroit -- In a dark operating room at Henry Ford Hospital, Dr. Craig Rogers sits before a high-definition 3-D monitor, performing a difficult kidney surgery without a scalpel in hand. Rather, he sits several feet from the operating table, remotely piloting the arms of a surgical robot and using tiny instruments inside the patient's body to make micro-incisions deeper into the abdominal cavity.
# GE, Fanuc dissolving joint venture by year's end, August 18, 2009
AP - CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—General Electric Co. said Tuesday its GE Fanuc Automation Corp. joint venture with Japan-based Fanuc Ltd. will be dissolved by the end of this year. GE Fanuc Automation, which began in 1986, supplies hardware and software, services, automation and embedded computing systems as well as computer numerical control products. GE will retain the software, services, embedded systems and control systems businesses globally in a unit known as GE Intelligent Platforms.
# Robot Orders Down Sharply in First Half of 2009
Robotic Industries Association Posted 08/13/2009
Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American based robotics companies saw orders for new robots decline 36% in units and 47% in dollars through the first half of 2009, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. The second quarter alone saw declines of 43% in units and 51% in dollars over the same period in 2008. The quarter was also down 29% in units and 26% in dollars from the first quarter of 2009. Weakness in orders received from the automotive industry OEMs and suppliers is the major factor in the decline, said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s President.
# Robot Three-Way Portends Autonomous Future
By David Axe, August 13, Wired Danger-room
In the military these days, robot-human relationships are usually strictly monogamous and definitely subservient: one bot, one human operator — with the human calling most of the shots. But we’re rapidly approaching the day when robots will be able to “think, learn and perform human tasks,” according to Dr. Thomas Killion, the Army’s top scientist. Killion spoke at the annual Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade show in D.C. on Wednesday, on a panel with Army Col. Greg Gonzalez, program manager for Army aerial robots. Growing robot autonomy means humans controllers are increasingly able let robots think for themselves … and they can bring more, self-directing bots into the mix, too. In the near term, we’ll see single human operators controlling multiple, highly autonomous robots. After that, the robots will be fully autonomous and control themselves, without any human intervention. Even farther in the future, autonomous robots will control other autonomous robots. That, we might call “unmanned teaming.”
Aug 10, 2009: Important look at Robotics and Unemployment with nice graph on unemployment, robot orders down, and the introduction of cheap industrial robots.
# "Success through the lens: Automotive company tells vision success story, gives advice to vision systems newcomers"
August 2009, Factory Automation By Evan Wollak and Brian King
Industrial vision systems are versatile; so versatile, in fact, Borg Warner Automotive Systems in Bellwood, Ill., uses vision systems to detect visual defects, define parts for a robotic pickup, confirm unique identification markings, and, most importantly, stop assembly lines when defects are present. If there is not an easy way to mechanically or electrically detect the defect or process variation, consider a vision system. There are many products targeted toward specific applications (low-cost simple cameras, high-resolution cameras, or cameras with serious processing power). Using the right camera for the job will help bring the solution to the plant floor quickly and under budget.
# IRobot wins contract from Naval Sea Command
(AP) – Aug 10, 2009
BEDFORD, Mass. — The Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded iRobot a $13.5 million contract for robots capable of identifying and disabling improvised explosive devices. The PackBot MTRS (Man Transportable Robotic System) will be similar to the PackBot 500 robot — more than 2,500 of those are already in use by the military. Work under the contract is scheduled to be completed by next July. In addition to designing robots for the military, Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot also builds products for the consumer market, including the Roomba vacuum cleaner.
# Aug 10 2009, 9:55 am by Mike Konczal, in The Atlantic
Robots and the Future of Unemployment
As production in the United States evolves to include more machines, programming, and robots, will that have a negative long-term impact on unemployment? Economist Greg Clark says yes, and recent evidence suggests that it may already be happening.
# Austin City Council OK's robot purchase for pool
By Sarah Doty Post-Bulletin, Austin 8/10/2009 8:10:01 AM
Children won't be the only ones in the Austin Municipal Pool after the city council approved a $4,000 robot last week. The robot would vacuum the pool each morning, while everything else is being set up. Previously the city council voted not to spend money on the robot, however, recently the manual vacuum broke, and would require $1,000 to fix.
# Robot takes centre stage at Frimley Park Hospital
By Clare Alexander Get Hampshire, August 10, 2009
SURGEONS at Frimley Park Hospital are among the first in the country to perform potentially life-saving operations using robots. And a woman from Windlesham is one of the first to have received treatment at the hands of the da Vinci robotic system.
# Rise of the RFID Robots
These next-generation machines could lend a hand in your home or warehouse.
By Kevin Ashton, RFID Journal
Aug. 10, 2009—Terminator Salvation may be a hit at movie theaters this summer, but a recent breakthrough in robotic development by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology is bound to have a more lasting impact. Sure, Hollywood's Terminators are more powerful (albeit malicious), but the Georgia robots are real. And what makes them so interesting—even fascinating—is that they are capable of perception. They have the ability to find objects among a random group of similar-looking things and reach out and grab them, no matter which way they're facing.
# Robot Orders Down Sharply in First Half of 2009
Robotic Industries Association Posted 08/06/2009
Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American based robotics companies saw orders for new robots decline 36% in units and 47% in dollars through the first half of 2009, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
The second quarter alone saw declines of 43% in units and 51% in dollars over the same period in 2008. The quarter was also down 29% in units and 26% in dollars from the first quarter of 2009. Weakness in orders received from the automotive industry OEMs and suppliers is the major factor in the decline, said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s President.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Innovative New Paint Robots, Posted: August 05, 2009
Paint by robot. Robotics manufacturers such as Fanuc, ABB, and Motoman are designing new paint robots that are anything but standard. These wide sweeping wall-mount robots and nimble sprayers turn painting and dispensing into art form. The Fanuc Paint Mate 200iA is a compact model capable of LEAN (light/efficient/accurate/nimble) automation. This particular new paint robot is safeguarded for hazardous environments. Plus, it can be installed in a variety of locations - floor, tabletop, angle, and ceiling. Speedy and quite adaptable, the Paint Mate 200iA offers high quality dispensing.
# Cheap Robotic Arm: Staubli Under 10k, Posted: August 06, 2009
Prices are plummeting! Now's the time to snap up a cheap robotic arm from RobotWorx' Robots Under $10,000 list. The versatile Staubli RX130L robot, for example, is available for a dramatically low price. This particular extended-reach model is a newbie to the under 10k sale. It offers incredible versatility for low-payload assembly and material handling needs. The longer reach RX130L forearm extends a full 1660m horizontally. This cheap robotic arm provides a spherical work envelope and mounting flexibility.
Aug 2, 2009: Surveillance, war, and border patrol, impacts of recession, India, Resale of used robots, firefighter bots and pharmacist bots.
# Flying surveillance robots coming soon from Aeryon
by Rafe Needleman, July 29, 2009
Your local police may soon be packing flying surveillance bots. At the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit, Aeryon Labs President Dave Kroetsch gave a compelling pitch on his company, which makes a two-pound robot helicopter that has enough on-board intelligence and stability control to allow it to be flown by people who just point to locations on a Google Map-based interface.
# Jacobs Automation wins high-tech funds from state
Business First of Louisville, Friday, July 31, 2009
Jacobs Automation LLC will receive up to $150,000 from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Finance Authority’s High-Tech Investment Pool to develop a new technology for the packaging and material handling industry.
# Demand for Industrial Automation Down Markedly in Recent Quarter
by Stephanie Neil, MA Editorial Staff, Friday, July 31, 2009 4:43:40
Abstract: Schneider, Siemens, and Mitsubishi Electric all feel the pinch as new orders for automation technology dwindle.
* Siemens Loses €2.42 Billion in Q4 as Sales Stagger and Cleanup Continues
* Schneider Feels the Economic Pinch in Q1
* Mitsubishi, IBM, and ILS Team Up to Make Integration Easy for Automakers
# Siemens lays off 25% of Norwood work force
Business Courier of Cincinnati, Friday, July 31, 2009
Siemens Energy and Automation on Thursday cut 103 positions at its plant in Norwood, or about 25 percent of its work force.
The company said in a statement that it eliminated the positions to "reduce costs and align them with current business volume." Siemens said it will offer severance pay, health benefits and outplacement services to the laid-off workers.
# What's Behind Japan's Love Affair with Robots?
By Lisa Thomas, Time Magazine, Sunday, Aug. 02, 2009
If Japanese engineers had their way, we might soon be cheering on a robotic World Series. Every year or two, Japanese researchers roll out a new robotic invention — the latest to grab headlines earlier this month was a mechanized baseball duo of a batter and pitcher that can throw 90% of its pitches in the strike zone. And while the majority of Japanese robotic inventions — from the dazzling to the horrifying —have largely been unable to break into the mass market, Japanese scientists aren't likely to short-circuit their robotic ambitions anytime soon: Robotic technology plays a larger role in Japan than anywhere else in the world.
# NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS: NI Week this year is all about robots
By AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Monday, August 03, 2009
Three thousand technophiles from around the world — and plenty of robots they have built — are set to converge on the Austin Convention Center from Tuesday to Thursday for the annual NI Week 2009 will involve robotic demonstrations, technical sessions, speakers and technical training by developers and researchers from Austin-based National Instruments Corp. Much of the discussion will be on innovation, particularly in the areas of robotics, military and aerospace.
# Toyota Humanoid Robot Gives Asimo a Run For Its Money
By Jack Loftus, 11:00 AM on Sun Aug 2 2009,
Shown here is Toyota's running robot. At 7 km/h it's not going to win any wind sprints in the Olympics, but nevertheless this thing is airborne for 100ms between strides as it skirts across the floor (i.e. genuine running). For comparison's sake, Honda's Asimo robot can only manage a meager 6 km/h. We assume Toyota was able to squeeze the extra kilometer per hour out of their robot with a strict training regimen and what can only be described as a mild dose of physical abuse—their robot can re-balance itself when pushed lightly, as you can see in the video.
#In London, a team of robots joins the fire brigade
By Amy Farnsworth | 07.30.09 | Christian Science Monitor
When a fire breaks out in London, a few remote-controlled robot firefighters could be dispatched to quash the blaze. A team of robots is now being used to fight fires along with the London Fire Brigade (see one of the ‘firebots’ here). The unique firefighting team is part of a two-year project funded by Network Rail, the Highways Agency, and Transport for London. These remote controlled robots, once used for bomb removal in Afghanistan, are equipped with high-pressure hoses and thermal-imaging cameras, which can be used to fight city blazes. In this year alone, during a trial-period, the robots have been called upon to fight 10 fires, according to BBC News.
# Impressed customer becomes dealer of robot lawn mowers
Aug 02, 2009 (Billings Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It's just about every homeowner's dream: an automatic lawn mower. No pushing, no noise, no exhaust, no grass catcher to empty, no groaning kids. You wouldn't even have to be home.
# Good News Friday: GDP Hints at Recovery; RIA Helps Members Bounce Back
Robotic Industries Association Posted 07/31/2009
The latest U.S. GDP numbers (second quarter 2009) suggest a recovery is in sight and RIA has developed benefits for its members to help them bounce back. RIA’s Director of Market Analysis, Paul Kellet, is preparing a new RIA report of quarterly statistics for the robotics industry, and is available to offer observations on what to expect in terms of a recovery.
# New Adept Robotics Centre Inaugurated by PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore, India
Adept Technology, Inc. Posted 07/29/2009
PLEASANTON, Calif., Jul 29, 2009 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX News Network) -- Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced a new Adept Robotics Centre will be inaugurated by PSG College of Technology, a pioneer in technical education, August 5-6th in Coimbatore, India. The inauguration will take place at the National Seminar on Robotics and Intelligent Automation in Manufacturing and Services event hosted by PSG.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Therapeutic Robots Paro and Keepon Are Cute But Still Costly
POSTED BY: Erico Guizzo // Fri, July 31, 2009
Spectrum editor and producer Josh Romero just posted this entertaining video, "The Invasion of Cute, Therapeutic Robots," on two robots that are, well, cute and therapeutic. They are Paro, a robotic seal used to treat elderly patients with dementia, and Keepon, a yellow, rubbery robot that researchers have used to interact with autistic children.
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Selling Your Surplus Fanuc Robot
Posted: July 27, 2009
Upgrading to a new Fanuc robot model or stuck with a Fanuc robot from an auction? Don't let an extra robot drain finances and take up precious floorspace. Take action! Sell your surplus Fanuc robot and make a profit! RobotWorx offers competitive prices on new and used Fanuc robot models. In fact, we promise to pay 10% more than any other buyer. RobotWorx is always in the market for Fanuc robots. Our online Fanuc robot listing gives sellers a good idea of the variety of models we're interested in purchasing.
# Robots: Smart Homes
Posted 31 Jul 2009 at 09:22 UTC by mwaibel
As we've noted previously, robots may well be the future of aging. But mobile robots are not the only option - integrating sensors and actuators into buildings to create smart homes may offer different, complementary benefits. In the new episode of the Robots podcast, Roger Orpwood, director of the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering in the UK, explains how smart homes can be used to help dementia patients stay independent and receive better care. In a second interview Andrew Sixsmith, Professor of Gerontology at the Simon Fraser University in Canada, then shares his insights into the problems and some smart home solutions for dementia patients from a medical perspective.
WIRED DANGER ROOM
# Commando Subs Sending Drones, Robo-Torpedos into Combat
By David Axe, July 28, 2009
SSGN UAVThe U.S. Navy’s four Special Forces-optimized submarines are using a wide range of robots in combat in coastal areas, the Navy’s top officer for irregular warfare said in a surprisingly candid interview. The Ohio-class guided-missile subs, modified from surplus ballistic-missile boats, have been outfitted with robotic mini-subs and at least two types of unmanned aerial vehicle, according to Rear Adm. Mark W. Kenny. It seems Kenny’s comments, to Special Operations Technology reporter Scott Gourley, just barely slipped under a descending veil of secrecy. “These get classified real fast because we’re using these vehicles in operations,” Kenny admitted.
# Air Force Plans for All-Drone Future
David Axe July 17, 2009
An Air Force study, released without much fanfare on Wednesday, suggests that tomorrow’s dogfighers might not have pilots in the cockpit. The Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Plan. which sketches out possible drone development through the year 2047, comes with plenty of qualifiers. But it envisions a radical future. In an acronym-dense 82 pages, the Air Force explains how ever-larger and more sophisticated flying robots could eventually replace every type of manned aircraft in its inventory — everything from speedy, air-to-air fighters to lumbering bombers and tankers.
# Anti-Immigration Robot Secures Britain's Borders
By Sean Fallon, Tue Jul 22 2008
Much like the United States, Britain has a bit of an illegal immigration problem. Tens of thousands risk their lives to cross into Britain each year by clinging underneath trucks transported on ferries. To combat this problem, BAE systems has provided the border agency with a robot dubbed "Hero" that is capable of ferreting out these stowaways using a combination of cameras and sensors. The device can check underneath vehicles and even detect heartbeats when fitted with the proper equipment. It can also be used to identify chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials being smuggled into the country. Some of you may be wondering when the US going to get something like the Hero robot. Interestingly enough, the military has been testing a similar robot called Odis in Iraq and Afghanistan for some time now—but whether we will see one patrolling our borders in the States anytime soon remains to be seen.
# Pansonic Announces Pharmacist Robot, Plans for $300M Robo-Business
Rolling medicine cabinet runs drugs from pharmacy to patient floor in half the time of human pharmacist. Panasonic's non-humanoid pharmacist assistant contains medical records and is designed to carry injectible drugs to patient floors.
07.14.2009 — Executives at Panasonic Corp. have said the company is developing a robot designed to reduce the amount of time pharmacists spend dispensing injectible drugs to the wards of the hospitals in which they work.
The robot, which looks like a rolling medicine cabinet, according to a Panasonic spokesperson, contains the medical records of patients and orders from doctors for their medication. It’s designed to allow pharmacists to dispense drugs for each patient, and store them in the robot, which will travel to patient floors and put the drugs in drawers designated for each patient. Nurses or doctors on patient floors then dispense to patients directly or through intravenous drip tubes.
July 26, 2009: More on Automation and Greening the Economy, gov recognizing importance of automation, robots and war
# Robots to brand the moon?
Posted by Tim Hornyak Thu Jul 23 2009
An inventor wants to create ads on the moon by using robots to plow the lunar dust into enormous corporate messages visible from Earth.
# Easy riding with the robot biker dude
Posted by Leslie Katz Tue Jul 21 2009
Castrol, a maker of motorbike engine oils, is leaning on a robot rider to test its products' performance. And he's pretty studly.
# Solar Cells, Automation and Green Jobs
New York Times - R.M. Schneiderman - Jul 20, 2009
Analysts suggest that the production of solar cells will need to become more automated if the industry is to become truly competitive. Aside from its environmental benefits, solar energy is frequently touted for its job creation potential. But for solar manufacturers themselves, machines — not employees — may be the key to their long-term survival. Take, for example, photovoltaic solar panels — the most common form of solar technology. As Roger Efird, the managing director of the United States branch of Suntech Power, a solar energy company based in China, the process of making these cells is already largely automated. But, he added, the process of taking the individual solar cells and connecting them to create a solar panel is sometimes done by machines, and sometimes by hand, depending on the company and the factory.
# ABB Battered by Recession as Sales, Profits Fall, and Workers Are Cut
Managing Automation Magazine - Mark Halper - Jul 23, 2009
The recession battered Swiss automation and engineering giant ABB in the second quarter, as revenue fell 12% to $7.9 billion…
# Government gives recognition to automation profession
Reliable Plant Magazine - Jul 22, 2009
The Automation Federation reports that the automation profession has been recognized by two groups within the United States government. The first occurred on June 30, 2009 when the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations included language in their 2010 Congressional budget report that recognizes the importance of automation for the future of manufacturing in the United States. [For example:] “Supporting the Nation’s manufacturers, especially small businesses, is critical to keeping America innovative in a global marketplace. ITS [Industrial Technology Services] provides a bridge for advancing cutting-edge technologies with cost-saving measures. The Committee is encouraged by the administration’s healthy request for ITS, which shows a genuine intention to partner with industry for the benefit of the Nation’s future. The Committee supports NIST’s requested allocation of funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program [MEP] and the Technology Innovation Program. Within MEP, NIST, and its partners are directed to consider the importance automation plays in accelerating and integrating manufacturing processes. The topic of automation cuts across all levels of industry, rather than serving as a stand-alone technology, and particularly affects the fields of control systems cyber security, industrial wireless sensors, systems interoperability, and other basic automation technologies necessary for the success of industrial enterprises. NIST is encouraged to consult and collaborate with independent experts in the field of automation to support the agency’s efforts in working with industry to increase innovation, trade, security, and jobs.”
# Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man
By JOHN MARKOFF July 25, 2009
A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.
# Robot Model Hits the Runway
By Bill Christensen , Technovelgy.com—25 July 2009 12:09 pm ET
What appeared to be petite woman in an elaborate wedding dress walked slowly down the runway in an Osaka fashion show earlier this week. The twist is that this was no blushing bride; this was the HRP-4C female robot.
# High-tech robot allows doctors to treat soldiers remotely
CNN International - Jul 23, 2009
Dr. Kevin Chung appears on the screen of the robot that helps him treat soldiers from afar. A revolutionary robot mounted with a high-tech camera is helping physicians treat and save soldiers -- from just about any location in the world.
# How robot drones revolutionized the face of warfare
CNN International - Nic Robertson - Jul 23, 2009
Conservative estimates say that fighting from home and putting robots in to war has saved hundreds of millions of dollars. At Creech the demand for Predator pilots is so intense that it is mobilizing Air National Guard and reservists. It has also introduced an experimental training program for air force cadets from the videogame generation.
# TARDEC to Support Southeastern Michigan Automotive-Robotics Initiative
Robotic Industries Association Posted 07/20/2009
DETROIT ARSENAL, WARREN, MI - In efforts to partner Michigan’s automotive-based companies with Department of Defense (DOD) robotic requirements, several organizations are coming together to create an Automotive-Robotics Cluster July 28 and 29 at Oakland University, Rochester, MI. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Great Lakes Chapter (AVUSI-GLC) is hosting the event at the Oakland Center to initiate business planning for a Robotics Cluster Initiative. TARDEC to Support Southeastern Michigan Automotive-Robotics InitiativeThe Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) are co-hosting the event. Other organizations involved include the DOD Office of Small Business Programs, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Automation Alley.
# RMT Robotics Delivers Lean Manufacturing Solution to Otis Technology Inc. Using an Intelligent AGV, ADAM™
RMT Robotics Ltd. Posted 07/20/2009
Grimsby, Ontario, July 9, 2009 … RMT Robotics, a world-leading robotics manufacturer and integrator in the field of materials handling automation, today announced that they have secured a contract to provide their revolutionary AGV, ADAMTM, for seamless work in process materials delivery in Otis Technology’s Lyons Falls manufacturing facility.
# What's New with Robots in Pharmacies and Laboratories?
by Bennett Brumson , Contributing Editor; Robotic Industries Association Posted 07/20/2009
Robotics have become an element of mainstream production in heavy industry for decades, but flexible automation is rapidly becoming commonplace in laboratories and pharmacies. Robotic medical device manufacturing, courtesy Stäubli Corp.“Stäubli has seen an increase of activity in life science applications, especially in drug discovery. We have sold over 150 robots for laboratory automation in the past five years. Drug discovery is one of our most important markets and this segment will increase,” asserts Sylvie Algarra, Life Science Activity Manager at Stäubli Corp., Duncan, South Carolina.
ROBOT WORLD NEWS
# Robotic power trowel under development—July 23 2009
For the past few years, R & D division specialists of Lithuanian company "ROBOTUS" have been working on a single project. The aim was to create a robotic power trowel, which can operate with minimal human supervision, make the floor finishing process more efficient, less burdensome, and requiring less human resources. Current industrial floor finishing process takes a several or even more hours for workers to use trowels while hardening and finishing screed of concrete. Therefore, the work is difficult and tiresome. During the process, people are exposed to vibration and in consequence, muscle diseases may develop.
July 19, 2009: Corpse Eating Robot Hoax, Recession and Automation, Green Jobs for Robots and "Save your factory" an answer to outsourcing
# Wed Jul 15 2009 Dawn of the corpse-eating robots?
A military contractor in Maryland is working on an Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot--EATR--that will, according to a report, eat corpses.
Posted by Chris Matyszczyk
# Fri Jul 17 2009 EATR creators: Our robots won't eat corpses
In a response to a Technically Incorrect story Wednesday, the creators of the EATR robots claim that their creations are "strictly vegetarian." Should we believe them?
Posted by Chris Matyszczyk
# ABB Could Still Engineer an Upside
Barron's - Goran Mijuk - July 19, 2009
Automation and robotics are suffering now, but once the recession ends, these businesses will grow again." The company's annual revenue of about $35 billion ...
# Automation: A Lube Job for a Sluggish Economy
CRM Buyer - Mihir Shukla - Jul 14, 2009
Automating a slew of cumbersome processes is key to long-term success. Companies are now in the third stage of "economic downturn syndrome. ...
# Solar Manufacturers: More Solar Robots, Less Green Jobs
Reuters - Katie Fehrenbacher - Jul 14, 2009
Everyone and their mother are touting the benefits of more green jobs on the world’s economies. That is, unless you happen to be part of a clean power or energy efficiency firm that is actually making a product — then more automation in the production i.e., fewer employees, ultimately means lower costs. While the process of manufacturing solar systems is mostly automated, solar companies at the Intersolar conference in San Francisco on Monday emphasized that solar production needs to incorporate even more automation technology, which would eliminate jobs and bring down the price of solar systems.
# New Study Released on Market Opportunities in the Wind Turbine Industry
Posted: 07/15/2009 A new market study from Robotic Industries Association examines the opportunities for automation in the fabrication of wind turbines used ...
“Save Your Factory”
Competition in the manufacturing industry is escalating as North American corporations struggle to compete in the global marketplace. A variety of outside pressures, including a difficult economy and increased customer demand has forced the industry to look closely at reducing operating costs. In recent years, the trend has been to abandon existing facilities and ship operations overseas. Unfortunately, an option that is often not even considered is improving the efficiency of current facilities and streamlining the manufacturing process. “Save Your Factory” urges North American manufacturing companies to recognize automation, robotics and efficiency measures such as lean manufacturing as more cost-effective and profitable alternatives to off shoring. It implores corporations to examine all the factors associated with manufacturing success – not just the initial short-term investments.
July 12, 2009: Automated Waiter, Teacher, Surgeon and Social Worker. Robot attacks co-worker. And impacts of recession and greening automation.
# Tue Jul 7 2009 A car for drunkards
Design firm Mike and Maaike show renderings of the Autonomobile, an electric driverless car. Posted by Wayne Cunningham
# Sun Jul 5 2009 Ramen robots invade Japanese restaurant
A noodle shop in Japan has employed robots to make your soup. Next, they'll assume your identity and steal your car. Posted by Dave Rosenberg
# Wed Jun 17 2009 Recession trips up the robot revolution
Yes, our robot companions are still coming. But a report from NextGen Research shows that consumer-bots are vulnerable to macroeconomic potholes. Posted by Jonathan Skillings
# Tue Aug 5 2008 Checkout scale identifies produce by sight
An automated supermarket checkout scale incorporates a camera to identify produce. An algorithm compares the image with a database to determine the price. Posted by Brian Krepshaw
# Fri Mar 11 2005 Automation a bigger deal than offshoring?
Coining "offpeopling," consultant's blog says technology displacing workers is more dramatically affecting the economy. Posted by Ed Frauenheim
# Mon Jul 19 2004 BEA muscles into process automation
Company's new product could be used to automate a multistep business function, such as handling an insurance claim. Posted by Martin LaMonica
# Wed Mar 10 2004 Invasion of the robots
Machines that can perform tasks usually reserved for humans are finally starting to creep into mainstream society and could become a multibillion-dollar market in a few years. Posted by CNET Staff
# French paper goes global, risks ridicule with robot translation
eTaiwan News - Jul 12, 2009
A leading French business newspaper is launching a multi-lingual version of its website using automatic translation, dispensing with journalists but ... http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1000941á=eng_news
# Automation group opens new Midrand training college
Creamer Media's Engineering News - Darren Parker - Jul 9, 2009
Automation and control company Honeywell has opened its Automation Train-ing College at its head office in Midrand, Johannesburg. ...
# KUKA's Heavy Payloads Industrial Robots Launched in India
TMC Net - Anuradha Shukla - Jul 6, 2009
KUKA Robotics has launched its new heavy payloads industrial robots in India. The heavy duty palletizing Robots KR 1000 1300 titan PA ...
# Japan: Automation Nation?
Newsweek - Jun 30, 2009
The world's most efficient economy still employs lots gas station attendants and elevator operators. Why? By Daniel Gross | Newsweek Web Exclusive http://www.newsweek.com/id/204656
# Going Green with Robotics
by Bennett Brumson, Contributing Editor Posted: 06/02/2009
As the world reaches its peak of energy production along with increasing concerns about the health of our planet, manufacturers...
# Top Ten Reasons to Buy an Industrial Robot Today
by Ted Wodoslawsky, VP Marketing, ABB Robotics North America Posted: 05/18/2009
The economy may be off to a slow start in 2009, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead for... Click to read more.
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Personal Robots Market Will Grow To Over $5 Billion by 2015, Telepresence Next Big Thing POSTED BY: Erico Guizzo // Tue, June 16, 2009
The global personal robots market will grow from US $1.16 billion in 2009 to $5.26 billion in 2015, according to a new study by NextGen, an arm of ABI Research.
ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM
# 2008 Robot ReviewPostby Markus Waibel on 02 Jan 2009, 11:11
The past year was a good year for robotics with significant advances across many fields. http://www.robotspodcast.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=243
ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS
# Motoman Industrial Robots - Cheap! Posted: July 07, 2009
Get the robots you need at unbeatable prices.
RobotWorx just slashed the cost of six Motoman industrial robots - four Motoman SK6 and two Motoman SK16 models. These reliable industrial robots are on sale for under 10k. They come complete with MRC controllers and teach pendants and a 30-day warranty.
ROBOT WORLD NEWS
# Robot-Assisted Endoscopic Thyroid Surgery with No Neck Incisions
June 13, 2009
On June 9, 2009, Ronald B. Kuppersmith, MD, FACS, of Texas ENT and Allergy, successfully performed a Robot-assisted endoscopic thyroid lobectomy at the College Station Medical Center in College Station, Texas. http://www.robotworldnews.com/100683.html
# Robot assaults employee
April 28, 2009
A company's robot unexpectedly attacked and seriously injured an employee. The company has since been found responsible for the accident and fined 25,000 SEK (about $2800 USD.) http://www.robotworldnews.com/100680.html
# Japanese School ‘Hires’ World’s First Robot Teacher
March 8, 2009
A robot teacher will soon be teaching students at a primary school in Tokyo. The robot, named Saya, was designed by Hiroshi Kobayashi, a professor at the University of Tokyo. http://www.robotworldnews.com/100668.html
# Toy Robot Helps Get Homeless Kids Off the Streets
February 16, 2009
New York (PRWEB) February 16, 2009 -- Kauzbots, along with internationally-known supermodel Emme, will premiere "Kalvin Kauzbot," a plush toy robot benefiting Hearts of Gold, Inc., a New York based non-profit organization whose purpose is to improve the lives of mothers and their children living in New York shelters. http://www.robotworldnews.com/100658.html