Nidec to acquire SV Probe in sign that electronics manufacturing is heating up

Industrial technology company Nidec is to acquire SV Probe, which manufactures what are called “probe cards” and testing equipment for semiconductors. 

The deal would give Nidec subsidiary Nidec-Read 100 per cent of SV Probe’s shares.

Nidec-Read’s main business is the development, manufacturing and sales of inspection equipment for semiconductor package substrates and printed circuit boards, as well as inspection fixture.  Continue reading Nidec to acquire SV Probe in sign that electronics manufacturing is heating up

Nidec to launch factory automation robots

Nidec is to start selling factory automation and robotics systems some time this year, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review

Japanese company Nidec already has a strong presence in the industrial space, and is a huge supplier of motors.

In the company’s own words, it specialises in and handles motor application products based on “everything that spins and moves”, and says its business is “centred on motors”.  Continue reading Nidec to launch factory automation robots

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

Government incentives driving growth of Malaysian automation and control systems market, says report

malaysian factory robot
A factory in Malaysia. Picture courtesy of The Malay Mail Online

Government incentives and adoption of new technologies are driving the growth of the Malaysian automation and control systems market, according to a new report.

The Malaysian automation and control systems market, one of the biggest for suppliers, is stable and growing, says the study by Frost & Sullivan, which projects the market to be worth more than $409 million in the next four years.

Government incentives to aid manufacturing and infrastructure spend, as well as an established end-user base of sophisticated automation systems, are driving growth in the region.  Continue reading Government incentives driving growth of Malaysian automation and control systems market, says report

South Korea’s largest airport has hired robots made by LG to assist travellers

lg electronics robot for airports small
The LG Airport Guide Robot

South Korea’s largest airport – Incheon International Airport, in Seoul – has given jobs to a number of robots made by LG Electronics. 

The mobile machines are designed to enable travellers to scan their tickets to get flight information and they can escort them to the flight gates.

Alternatively it can just provide directions to locations within the airport, complete with walking distances and times, or information about the traveller’s eventual destination, such as weather and other details.  Continue reading South Korea’s largest airport has hired robots made by LG to assist travellers

Baidu opens up its software to accelerate development of self-driving technology with 50 other companies in ‘autonomous driving ecosystem’

Baidu self-driving car
Baidu self-driving car being showcased at a recent company conference

Baidu, which is China’s equivalent of Google, has accelerated the development of its self-driving technology by opening up its software to outside companies. 

The Chinese internet search giant has been building its autonomous vehicle operating system for quite some time, testing it on a variety of vehicles in China.

Now it will give away that software for free, probably in an effort to steal a march on global competitors such as Google, Apple and a growing number of other tech companies which are developing artificial intelligence systems which can drive cars all by themselves.  Continue reading Baidu opens up its software to accelerate development of self-driving technology with 50 other companies in ‘autonomous driving ecosystem’

German robotics and automation market set for sales of $15 billion this year

vdma article

The German robotics and automation market is forecast to grow by 7 per cent this year compared with last year, with sales volume projected to reach a massive $15 billion. 

Germany is one of the world’s leading buyers of industrial robotics and automation systems, and purchased approximately $14 billion worth in 2016.

These are figures which German engineering association VDMA has suggested as a result of its research into the market.  Continue reading German robotics and automation market set for sales of $15 billion this year

Chinese robotic spacecraft completes second refuelling test, as Russia launches robotic cargo ship to International Space Station

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The Progress spacecraft

China and Russia have both launched robotic spacecraft on cargo missions recently, according to reports in the media. 

Chinese state news agency Xinhua says the Tiangong-2 space lab and Tianzhou-1 completed a second refuelling test which “cemented technical results from the first refuelling”.

According to Space.com, the refuelling procedure requires 29 steps to complete and lasts for several days.  Continue reading Chinese robotic spacecraft completes second refuelling test, as Russia launches robotic cargo ship to International Space Station

Renesas working on new products for self-driving cars

renesas soc v3m

Renesas, one of the leading suppliers of electronics to the automotive sector, says it is developing a new range of products which it plans to launch towards the end of this year, according to a report in Automotive News

The company plans to market the new range of products under the label of “Renesas Autonomy”, and it will include such things as an image-recognition system which works with automotive cameras, around-view monitors and lidar systems.

The market for automotive electronics has been accelerating at a fast rate and is seeing consolidation in the chipmaking business, with Qualcomm having bought NXP, which previously bought Freescale.  Continue reading Renesas working on new products for self-driving cars

Chinese e-commerce giant starts delivering orders using robots

jd robot

One of China’s largest online shopping companies has started to deliver goods to its customers using robots, according to a report in QZ.com

The four-wheeled autonomous vehicle (pictured above) is about the size of a washing machine and was developed by Jingdong, or JD.com as it’s also known in China.

And although the robot was used for the first time earlier this week, JD’s chairman, Liu Qiangdong, says the company could completely roboticise its entire logistics process within a few years.

The company already uses small autonomous vehicles in its logistics warehouses to move goods around (pictured below).  Continue reading Chinese e-commerce giant starts delivering orders using robots

China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump

China is planning to create what looks like will be the largest, longest and most complex logistics network in history – at a cost to itself of almost $1 trillion. 

The so-called Belt & Road Initiative will virtually encircle China, most of Asia and much of Europe, and will mostly consist of interconnected roads, but will also include sea lanes and railways, and possibly some airways.

In total, it will connect approximately 60 countries, and cost anything between $4 trillion and $8 trillion. And the timescale is anyone’s guess.

The northern parts of the Belt & Road network will include the revival of the ancient Silk Road, which connected China to Persia and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and India, Indonesia and Arabia via sea lanes to the south.  Continue reading China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump

Americans split on impact of automation in the workplace

hitachi emiew
Picture credit: Hitachi via IEEE

Automation in the workplace is a polarizing issue for Americans, according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor survey conducted online by Harris Poll.

About equal percentages of respondents say that automation – for example, robots or artificial intelligence – will be a good or a bad thing for the future world of work.

Specifically, 34 per cent of Americans say automation will be a positive development for the workforce in the next 10 years or more—compared with 31% who say it will be negative. A plurality (35 per cent) are neutral on the matter or just don’t know.  Continue reading Americans split on impact of automation in the workplace

Daimler orders millions of dollars worth of industrial robotics tech from Kuka

KR FORTEC 360

The robotics division of Kuka has received what the company describes as “a major new order in the double-digit million euro range” from a German premium car manufacturer.

The framework agreement with the Daimler encompasses the supply of multiple industrial robots of the KR Quantec generation and the integrated KR C4 controller, as well as robots from the KR Fortec heavy-duty series.

The robots will be used primarily for joining and handling applications in body-in-white production.  Continue reading Daimler orders millions of dollars worth of industrial robotics tech from Kuka

UNSW scientists unveil a giant leap for anti-aging

researchers

University of New South Wales researchers have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing, improves DNA repair and could even help NASA get its astronauts to Mars.

In a paper published in Science today, the team identifies a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA.

Their experiments in mice suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission.  Continue reading UNSW scientists unveil a giant leap for anti-aging

Physicists design a device inspired by sonic screwdriver

physics researchers

Physicists have designed a handheld device inspired by the sonic screwdriver in Doctor Who and the tricorder in Star Trek that will use the power of MRI and mass spectrometry to perform a chemical analysis of objects.

The sonic screwdriver is a tool used in Doctor Who to scan and identify matter, among other functions, while the multi-purpose tricorder in Star Trek can provide a detailed analysis of living things.

Lead researcher Dr Marcus Doherty from The Australian National University (ANU) said the team had proven the concept of a diamond-based quantum device to perform similar functions to these science fiction tools and would now develop a prototype. Continue reading Physicists design a device inspired by sonic screwdriver