New poll finds majority of people would be reluctant to be a passenger in a driverless car

driverless car concept

Institution of Mechanical Engineers/ICM Unlimited survey of 2,002 people finds 55 per cent would be unlikely to want to be a passenger in a driverless car

UK Government and companies such as Google, Ford and Uber are all championing driverless car technology, but according to this latest public survey much more work is needed to convince the public of the benefits of driverless vehicles.

According to the survey, carried out by ICM Unlimited on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 55 per cent of the 2002 people surveyed said they were unlikely to want to be a passenger of a driverless car, with 40 per cent said they were very unlikely to want to be a passenger. Just 21 per cent of the people surveyed said they would be happy to ride in a driverless vehicle.  Continue reading New poll finds majority of people would be reluctant to be a passenger in a driverless car

Who is more connected – an astronaut or a sailor?

astronauts v sailors

With a strong Wi-Fi signal and your trusty smartphone, it’s easy to stay connected on land – but how do things change when you’re in the middle of the ocean or orbiting in space?

They’re both extreme scenarios, but which is better for communication? A company called Global Navigation Solutions investigated who can communicate better – crew or astronauts? And came up with a report and an infographic.  Continue reading Who is more connected – an astronaut or a sailor?

Clever idea to place eyes on robot hand helps machine to map surroundings and location

carnegie mellon uni Ada Mico hand

Before a robot arm can reach into a tight space or pick up a delicate object, the robot needs to know precisely where its hand is.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute have shown that a camera attached to the robot’s hand can rapidly create a 3-D model of its environment and also locate the hand within that 3-D world.

Doing so with imprecise cameras and wobbly arms in real-time is tough, but the CMU team found they could improve the accuracy of the map by incorporating the arm itself as a sensor, using the angle of its joints to better determine the pose of the camera.

This would be important for a number of applications, including inspection tasks, said Matthew Klingensmith, a PhD student in robotics.  Continue reading Clever idea to place eyes on robot hand helps machine to map surroundings and location

Water-based reconfigurable robot could offer new solutions to underground pipe network inspection

sheffield uni marine robot concept

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created an aquatic robot which could be used to inspect otherwise inaccessible pipe networks to deal with blockages.

The researchers revealed their findings later this week at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2016) – the world’s largest gathering in robotics, held this year in Stockholm, Sweden.

The study looks at a set of robotic modules that, similar to Lego, can be assembled into robots of arbitrary shape. This allows robots to be customised to meet the changing demands of their task.  Continue reading Water-based reconfigurable robot could offer new solutions to underground pipe network inspection

The critical role of innovative automation for fast-growing online retailers

Inside 03 backcountry warehouse small
Inside the Backcountry.com warehouse

By Thomas R. Cutler

Park City, Utah-based Backcountry.com is a great example of the powerful growth in the online e-tailing sector. Twenty years ago the company comprised of two men, a stack of avalanche beacons, and a garage in Park City; the company has grown to become one of the leading online specialty retailers in the United States, selling clothing and outdoor gear for hiking, camping, road biking, mountain hiking, rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, skiing, avalanche safety, snowboarding, fly fishing, kayaking, rafting, road and trail running, and more.

Jeff Carter, senior vice president of global fulfillment, at Backcountry.com, says: “Our mission is to connect people to their passions and enable them to get outdoors and enjoy the gear.”

When Carter started with the company in 2001, it shipped 265 packages on its busiest day. This past year, the company shipped about 60,000 on its busiest day. The journey has involved quite a transformation in material handling and distribution. The role of automation has made this all possible.  Continue reading The critical role of innovative automation for fast-growing online retailers

Robots from Mars to help reduce the environmental impact of farming

stfc ral space AgriRovers
The AgriRovers developed by STFC RAL Space, designed for Mars, could be used as farm robots on Earth

Martian robots – or more accurately, robot technology designed for use on Mars – could help improve crop yields on Earth, according to researchers. 

A system developed originally to explore Mars has been transformed into an agricultural monitoring device for testing the quality of soil. It has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of farming.

The device consists of a mobile rover platform with a robotic arm which carries a soil sensing instrument. It is based on technology developed by the UK-based Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (STFC RAL) Space, and will be used in a new project being run by a team at the University of Strathclyde.  Continue reading Robots from Mars to help reduce the environmental impact of farming

Volvo Cars to launch UK’s ‘largest and most ambitious’ autonomous driving trial

volvo cars

Volvo Cars is to begin what the company is calling “the UK’s most ambitious autonomous driving trial” next year to speed up the introduction of a technology.

Volvo says autonomous car technology “promises to massively reduce car accidents” as well as free up congested roads and save drivers valuable time.

The Swedish company, which has been known for automotive safety ever since it invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving systems globally as part of its commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.  Continue reading Volvo Cars to launch UK’s ‘largest and most ambitious’ autonomous driving trial

RE2 delivers two-armed robot to US Army

resquared robotics

RE2 Robotics has delivered a two-arm Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (HDMS) to the US Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) under an Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II extension contract. 

Robotic systems for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) typically include a single manipulator to perform critical tasks such as inspection, detection, and neutralization of explosive devices. These manipulators are often limited in their dexterity, reach and lifting capacity.  Continue reading RE2 delivers two-armed robot to US Army

IdeaHub launches robotics challenge with ABB

abb yumi

IdeaHub is recruiting robotics and software innovators worldwide to take on the challenge of improving the way humans work and interact with the next generation of industrial robots.

Working on behalf of ABB Robotics, IdeaHub will help successful applicants pitch their ideas and secure uniquely tailored support packages to maximise their venture’s commercial potential, including investment, mentoring and access to cutting edge hardware.

IdeaHub is a cross sector, open innovation platform that connects visionaries worldwide with funding and support from global corporations.  Continue reading IdeaHub launches robotics challenge with ABB

Logistics robots market set to grow more than 30 per cent in the next four years, says study

aethon logistics robot

The market for logistics robots is set to grow by more than 30 per cent by the end of this decade, according to a report by Big Market Research.

The analysts listed the prominent global logistics robots market players, business environment and industry scenario.

The most noteworthy factors assessed during the study includes market overview and top vendor offerings in the sector for 2016-2020.

“As the robotic sector experiences more competition than ever and new enterprises keep popping up worldwide, the report captures some key drivers, restraints as well as opportunities shaping the industry’s future,” the authors of the report.  Continue reading Logistics robots market set to grow more than 30 per cent in the next four years, says study

Kuka reports record sales for first quarter of 2016

kuka industrial robots

Industrial robot manufacturer Kuka says it has received a record number of orders during the first quarter of 2016. 

The company has reported its results at a time when its share price was fluctuating somewhat, and the positive financial statement could steady or increase the company’s market value.  Continue reading Kuka reports record sales for first quarter of 2016

Computer model of how bees view the world could be a breakthrough for robotics

sheffield uni Bee vision

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have created a computer model of how bees avoid hitting walls – which could lead to a breakthrough in the development of autonomous robots. 

Researchers from the Department of Computer Science built their computer model to look at how bees use vision to detect the movement of the world around them and avoid crashes.

Bees control their flight using the speed of motion – or optic flow – of the visual world around them, but it is not known how they do this. The only neural circuits so far found in the insect brain can tell the direction of motion, not the speed.

This study suggests how motion-direction detecting circuits could be wired together to also detect motion-speed, which is crucial for controlling bees’ flight.

“Honeybees are excellent navigators and explorers, using vision extensively in these tasks, despite having a brain of only one million neurons,” says Dr Alex Cope, lead researcher on the paper.  Continue reading Computer model of how bees view the world could be a breakthrough for robotics

Cisco Jasper publishes study on industrial internet of things

cisco jasper iiot study

Cisco Jasper has conducted a study based on usage data of more than 3,500 enterprise customers on its IoT service platform to determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of IoT both before and after implementing an IoT service platform.

The company has released the results of its TCO for Industrial IoT report, focused specifically on the data from industrial enterprises using its platform.

Cisco Jasper’s blog post on the results says: “You can’t truly calculate ROI until you understand the comprehensive cost of ownership of delivering an IIoT service.”

Most people don’t know what a smart city is, say engineers

future world
What the future might look like

IET calls for public engagement campaign around benefits of new technology

Only 18 per cent of the British public has heard of a “smart city”, according to research carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The research is reported in a new IET report, Smart Cities – Time to involve the people, which also reveals low interest in the technologies typically associated with smart cities. For example, only 8 per cent saw a value in being able to order driverless or electric transport from their smart phone.

Cities’ adoption of new technologies has traditionally involved little consultation with consumers. As a result, the report suggests that the public has yet to buy into the idea of smart cities – and be convinced of the value and benefits that technology, delivered on a city-scale, could bring to their daily lives.

New disruptive technologies and applications such as Uber (on-demand taxi services) and Airbnb (online accommodation service) may help to change hearts and minds, but the findings suggest there is still some way to go.  Continue reading Most people don’t know what a smart city is, say engineers

Audi opens research facility to study bees with a robot

audi smart hobos robot bee research
The robot arm in the Smart Hobos high-tech beehive is fitted with state-of-the-art camera systems: 3D sensors as well as infrared and heat-sensitive cameras record the bees and their activities

Audi is using robots to help bees from going extinct 

Bees pollinate about 80 percent of our agricultural plants and wild vegetation, so life without bees is almost impossible.

Too little pollination would have severe consequences – both environmental and economic. With the worldwide unique “Smart Hobos” (HoneyBee Online Studies) project, the Audi Stiftung für Umwelt (Audi Environmental Foundation) and the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg are working to protect these vital and fascinating insects.

Audi today opened a research station at its production site in Münchsmünster. The first bees will soon move into their new home. Continue reading Audi opens research facility to study bees with a robot