Global agriculture robots market driven by ‘high population growth and food shortages’

CNH Industrial’s autonomous tractor

The global market for agricultural robots is forecast to exceed $5 billion by 2024, according to a report. 

The Global Agriculture Robots Market Report, published by Variant Market Research, predicts the global market will reach $5,214 million by 2024 from $968 million in 2016 – growing at an annual rate of 23.4 per cent from 2016 to 2024.

By geography, Asia Pacific and rest of the world are expected to grow at 24.7 per cent and 24.1 per cent respectively, during the forecast period. 

Bharati Robotics shows off autonomous industrial cleaning robot

bharati agv crop

The Bharati autonomous guided vehicle for materials transport

Bharati Robotics Systems has been showing off its new autonomous industrial floor cleaning robots. 

The company says the small vehicle saves labour costs and increases productivity by up to 200 per cent, and cleans the floor better than humans, or the “highest quality of cleaning”.

The robot’s battery lasts up to four hours on one charge and it has a smartphone interface through which it can be monitored and controlled. 

Effects of artificial intelligence will surpass the industrial revolution, says SoftBank CEO

The chief executive of telecommunications giant SoftBank says the effects of artificial intelligence will take the world much further and have a more profound effect than even the industrial revolution. 

Masayoshi_Son

An old picture of Masayoshi Son, courtesy of Wikipedia

In an article accompanying a special edition of the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was quoted as saying the new “information revolution” is being partly driven by data collected through billions of sensors.

SoftBank has been buying up a variety of AI and robotics startups, most recently a company called Nauto, which is developing systems for driverless cars.

At the root of the technology, Son says, are microprocessors and microcontrollers. “Those who rule chips will rule the entire world,” he said. “Those who rule data will rule the entire world. That’s what people of the future will say.”

Autonomous vehicle tech developer Nauto raises $159 million in funding

nauto self-driving system

Autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto, which is developing an artificial intelligence and data platform for self-driving technology, has closed a $159 million Series B financing round, led by a SoftBank subsidiary, and Greylock Partners.

Other participants include previous strategic investors BMW iVentures, General Motors Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and the venture unit of global financial services and insurance provider Allianz Group, and Series A investors Playground Global and Draper Nexus.

The funds will fuel Nauto’s growth and the deployment of its retrofit safety and networking system into more vehicles around the globe, as well as support the expansion of the Nauto data platform in autonomous vehicle research and development across multiple automakers. 

Opinion: Augmented and virtual reality ‘open up whole new world of opportunities’

augmented-reality-glasses atheer

By Douglas Bruey, electrical engineering program lead at Synapse

At first glance, a gamer playing Pokémon Go has little in common with a surgeon saving lives in an operating theatre. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that might not be the case for much longer.

Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are poised to open up a whole new world of opportunities. We’re already seeing the effects of VR when it comes to gaming. But in future could AR add a new dimension to surgery?

AR and VR both have the ability to alter our perception of the world. AR takes our current reality and adds something to it – virtual objects or information. VR, on the other hand, immerses us in a different – virtual – world. 

Half of American jobs at risk of automation, says new report

industrial robot painting

About half of all jobs in America could be replaced by robotics and automation systems, according to a news story on CNBC.com

And as pointed out by CNBC.com, approximately one in four American jobs are at risk of being shipped overseas, which puts three-quarters of all jobs in the US at risk of disappearing or at least changing.

The study the story was based on is How Vulnerable are American Communities to Automation, which was conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

Dekra takes over Lausitzring race track to turn it into an autonomous vehicle testing circuit

lausitzring track

The Lausitzring race track has been the venue for many races

A company called Dekra will take over the Lausitzring race track on November 1, 2017, and turn it into an autonomous vehicle testing ground.

Together with the Dekra Technology Center, in immediate proximity to the race track in Klettwitz, Brandenburg, since 2003, the site will be made into the innovation center for the testing of the mobility of the future.

It will become a central component of the international testing network for connected and automated driving, which Dekra is establishing in Europe and Asia, and will bring “new, high-quality jobs to the region”, says the company. 

Brain Corp raises $114 million to develop self-driving technology for robots

Brain Corp, an artificial intelligence company specializing in the development of self-driving technology for robots, has raised $114 million in a Series C funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Brain has developed AI and self-driving technology to enable robots to perceive their environment, learn to control their motion, and navigate using visual cues and landmarks while avoiding people and obstacles.

The investment will be used to further develop AI technology and create brains for multiple types of commercial and consumer robots. 

Interest and fascination grows about robots’ artistic talents

Captives #B04 from Quayola on Vimeo.

Industrial robots which are normally seen in factories making cars or some other heavy industrial object are increasingly shown as drawing or painting like artists. 

These days, with ever-more powerful artificial intelligence software driving the robots, it’s difficult to say if there’s anything left that robots cannot do.

The big question is probably, “Is there anything that humans can do that robots cannot?”

China’s electric car market given a jump-start by government and looks set to boost lithium industry

open pit lithium mine

An open pit lithium mine. Picture courtesy of The Future of Energy

The market for electric cars in China is huge already and it’s growing at almost an exponential rate annually. 

Commentators in the country include electric cars in the category called “new energy vehicles”, which also refers to hybrid energy vehicles, and are saying the market will be further accelerated as a result of government backing.

Edward Tse, CEO of Gao Feng management consultancy, says: “With the issuance in April 2017 of the Automotive Industry Mid to Long Term Development Plan, the Ministry for Industry and Information Technology provides guiding principles for the development of China’s auto industry for the next decade. 

TheConstruct launches new training courses for Robot Operating System

construct ros industrial

TheConstruct has launched several new courses for people who want to learn to use the Robot Operating System. 

The online simulation environment provider has two courses, in particular, which may interest readers of this website.

One of them is called ROS Autonomous Vehicles 101, and the other is ROS-Industrial 101. Both are available through the website, TheConstructSim.com

Roborace shows off its driverless electric racing car in the US

roborace new york 2 small

Roborace has been showing off its driverless electric racing car in New York, in the US, after organising similar exhibitions in other countries. 

Roborace organises what is believed to be the world’s first driverless electric car racing series, using vehicles based on Nvidia’s Drive PX2 artificial intelligence platform.

The car incorporates technologies such as lidar, radar, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, optical speed sensors, GNSS positioning, and others, according to Engineering.com

Rethink Robotics signs up nine new distribution partners in Europe and the US

rethink-robotics-baxter

Rethink Robotics has signed deals with nine distribution partners throughout the United States and Europe to extend the availability of its smart, collaborative robots.

With an extensive network throughout the world – including partners in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, China, Korea, Japan, Mexico and Australia – these distribution deals are part of Rethink’s efforts to meet growing demand across the globe, bringing flexible automation to the global manufacturing market.

With the launch of the Intera 5 software platform and ClickSmart family of gripper kits earlier this year, Rethink says it now offers a complete range of products and services to “help manufacturers around the world improve productivity“. 

3D printing startup Desktop Metal raises another $115 million in funding

desktop metal 6 DM Studio System-2

Additive manufacturing startup Desktop Metal has raised another $115 million in funding, bringing the total amount of financing to more than $200 million.

The company’s backers include Google, General Electric, and Techtronic Industries, the holding company for vacuum cleaner brands Hoover and Dirt Devil.

Desktop Metal was founded by four MIT professors, according to TechCrunch.com, which says its metal 3D process is “probably the most efficient” on the market. 

You could be seeing things that aren’t there: Google Glass finds new home in old industries

google glass with manual

On the left is an assembly engine manual that GE’s mechanics used to consult. Now they use Glass Enterprise Edition on the right. Picture: Google X

About four years ago, when Google first showed off its Glass product – a pair of hi-tech spectacles capable of running augmented reality apps – it was met with some scepticism, incredulity even. 

Few people thought it would take off, as interesting as the idea was. Maybe people generally couldn’t see themselves walking around wearing glasses which could be seen as intrusive.

Theoretically, Google Glass could display images on pretty much everything and everyone you looked at while wearing them – and would people in your eyeline appreciate that? 

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