Locus Robotics prepares to transform logistics industry with new automation system

locus-robot

Automation in logistics is not new, having first emerged some 30 years ago, but back then it wasn’t as widely utilised as one might imagine, probably because of the large investment required.

But even if you could afford it back then, nowadays with the new robotics and automation technologies available, what can be done with a logistics centre is way beyond what was possible in the past.

Estimates vary on how much more efficient an intelligent warehouse can be, but it’s generally accepted that the savings in costs and time which can be achieved by using robots and automated systems are significant. Continue reading Locus Robotics prepares to transform logistics industry with new automation system

Siemens provides close-up view of its electronics manufacturing plant, where the lines between human and robot workers are blurred

siemens robotic electronics factory
Picture: At Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen, Germany, the company has devised new concepts for highly flexible manufacturing systems using lightweight robots and 3D printers.

Simulation, 3D printing, lightweight robots – these are some of the innovative technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0. And they are already a reality at Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen, Germany. A key reason for the success of this plant is that people and machines work hand in hand.

siemens robotic electronics factory
Employees at Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen have the freedom to try out innovative ideas and turn them into successful projects.

Schorsch assembles small converters. Hannes does the big ones; he inserts a fan and a heat sink in the housing and fastens them with four screws – several hundred times a day. When Hannes takes a break, Schorsch keeps on working unwaveringly.

When Hannes goes home, Schorsch goes on working. Hannes is a temporary factory worker. Schorsch is a lightweight robot. Continue reading Siemens provides close-up view of its electronics manufacturing plant, where the lines between human and robot workers are blurred

Siemens gets green light for gigantic intelligent transport projects

siemens intelligent transport systems
Picture: A fully automated subway line at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Key parts of the system, including rolling stock, track-based and on-board automated systems, as well as upgrades for the operations control center, were delivered by Siemens Rail Systems.

German industrial conglomerate Siemens has won contracts to construct some of the world’s largest intelligent transport projects which will feature autonomous vehicles and connected infrastructure

intelligent transport systems
In the context of the Car2X project, roadside units along a test area communicate with test vehicles.

A 1,300-kilometer corridor between Rotterdam and Vienna in which vehicles and infrastructures communicate with one another; driverless subway trains in Paris, Budapest, and Riyadh; an autonomously-operating public transportation systems in Ulm, Germany – these are examples of how mobility will be networked and increasingly characterized by autonomous systems – developments that Siemens is deeply involved in.

With six lines and a total route length of 175 kilometers, Riyadh is planning the world’s largest subway project. Siemens is to supply the entire turnkey system for two driverless metro lines in the capital of Saudi Arabia.

The five-million city is looking for sustainable solutions for its local traffic problems. Because Riyadh is growing rapidly: since 1990, the population has doubled to more than five million inhabitants. Siemens equips Lines 1 and 2 of the six lines with Inspiro metro trains, the electrification and the signaling and communication systems for driverless operation.  Continue reading Siemens gets green light for gigantic intelligent transport projects

Ocado prepares to go global with its ‘world first’ logistics automation platform

cambridge consultants, ocado
Cambridge Consultants claims to have created an entirely new logistics automation system for Ocado

The British public’s perception of Ocado may be that it’s not a well known company outside the UK. It’s likely not the first name that would come to mind when asked about big grocery chains – what with the ubiquitous presence of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and others.

And in the logistics automation business, it could be described as an absolute beginner.

But Ocado, which claims to be the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer, has set its sights on becoming a global provider of logistics automation platforms.  Continue reading Ocado prepares to go global with its ‘world first’ logistics automation platform

Universal Robots launches in India

Universal Robots collaborative robot. Picture: courtesy Robotiq
Universal Robots collaborative robot. Picture: courtesy Robotiq.

Universal Robots has launched in India amid much fanfare and high-powered diplomacy. The Danish Ambassador to India, Peter Taksøe-Jensen, did the honours by officially launching Universal Robots during a ceremony at the Le Meridian, New Delhi.

Universal, a Danish company which was bought by US industrial giant Teradyne last year, considers itself a pioneer in collaborative robots, and its new product range was unveiled at the India launch event by Esben Østergaard, Universal’s chief technology officer, along with Pradeep David, the company’s general manager, India.

Human-robot collaboration has come of age with collaborative robots – also called co-bots – designed to work with humans and assist them with a variety of tasks. Continue reading Universal Robots launches in India

Do you want chips with that? How robots are threatening millions of fast food jobs

mcdonalds, fast food, robots
McDonald’s plans to open 25,000 robot-run fast food restaurants this year

Technology moves so fast there’s rarely enough time to grab a burger before the next iPhone update. And even if you do find the time to visit a fast food restaurant, it’s increasingly likely that it will be a robot that will be preparing your food and possibly even serving you, not to mention charging you for their efforts to seem human while carrying out their customer service duties.

According to Statista, almost 4 million people in the US work in the fast food industry. McDonald’s, arguably the most famous fast food restaurant chain in the world, employs around half a million people. Continue reading Do you want chips with that? How robots are threatening millions of fast food jobs

Ports and docks prepare for new phase of robotics and automation

Marlon Brando On the Waterfront
Marlon Brando as a dock worker, with hook resting on neck, in the classic film On the Waterfront

When you think of the technology at docks and ports, the first things that may spring to mind are the giant cranes that pick containers off the ships and place them somewhere on the dock.

These “gantry cranes” as they’re called stand taller than the ships at several tens of metres high and have lifting capacities of several tens of tons. But they’re all manually operated – just like the cranes you might see on construction sites.

In fact, there’s very little automation let alone machine autonomy present at the vast majority of docks and ports and ports around the world, which perhaps is not surprising given the history of docks as a massive employer of manpower. The work was always done by humans and was essentially simple – lift and move boxes. Continue reading Ports and docks prepare for new phase of robotics and automation

Autonomous car expert says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as ‘misguided’

Prof Nick Reed, TRL Academy Director
Prof Nick Reed, TRL Academy Director

One of the UK’s leading experts in the field of autonomous cars says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as premature and misguided by some people.

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News, Professor Nick Reed, academy director at Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), says he has long believed automation was the way to go.

“Technology moves on at a rapid pace and there were certainly some commentators in the early days who felt that my enthusiasm for vehicle automation as an important topic of research was perhaps a little premature, or even misguided,” says Prof Reed. Continue reading Autonomous car expert says his enthusiasm for the technology was seen as ‘misguided’

Interview with the inventors of near-field communications

Inventors of NFC: Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars
Inventors of NFC: Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars

They’re not the most famous scientists in the world, but they’re well known enough within the tech community, certainly after winning European Inventor Award recently. And the communication system they invented is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars, who both work for NXP, invented near-field communications (NFC) technology, which is enabling an ever-increasing number of people to pay for their shopping and whatever through contactless payment systems – using either their bank card or smartphone.

NFC can thought of as being like Bluetooth, but is said to be a lot simpler. Closely related to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, NFC has a range of about 20 centimetres, whereas Bluetooth has a range of about five to 10 metres. Continue reading Interview with the inventors of near-field communications

Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

boss dictates letter to secretaryOne of the many perks of being the boss of a reasonably sized company is having your own personal assistant, someone who you can dictate letters to, someone who keeps your diary updated, answers your phones and helps you organise your time so you are as efficient and as productive as you can be at work.

A good PA is often very highly paid, commensurate with the company and business sector he or she works for, and their image as super-fast typists and excellent organisers is one that is often celebrated and acknowledged.

However, the relationship between the boss and the PA could be about to change forever as a result of developments in artificially intelligent assistant technology. Already there are a number of artificially intelligent personal assistants – let’s call them AIPAs for now – on the market and according to some, they’re quite good. Continue reading Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

Study reveals how the way we live will change in the next 100 years

A team of leading academics has made a number of predictions for how we will live in the future. Many of the predictions were influenced by environmental conditions, with growing populations leading to the development of structures that are better able to cope with space constraints and diminishing resources.

Super-skyscrapers which will dwarf the Shard, underwater bubble cities and origami furniture are all likely to be reality in 100 years’ time. That’s the verdict of the new study which paints a vivid picture of our future lives; suggesting the way we live, work and play will change beyond all recognition over the course of the next century.

The SmartThings Future Living Report was authored by a team of leading academics including TV presenter and one of the UK’s leading space scientists, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, award-winning futurist architects and lecturers at the University of Westminster Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess, as well as pioneering urbanists Linda Aitken and Els Leclerq. Continue reading Study reveals how the way we live will change in the next 100 years

Kuka palletising robot becomes art exhibit

Kuka robot as art exhibit
Paratissima art fair: the palletizing robot from Kuka gives an excellent performance, even as a work of art

After 14 years of continuous operation, a Kuka palletizing robot took up a new function recently, appearing as an art exhibit at the Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.

The palletizing robot used to be in charge of keeping things orderly: untiring, meticulous and reliable, the KUKA robot spent 14 years sorting boxes of hinges used in furniture production.

In November 2015, it gave up its role as a diligent organizer, embracing creative chaos instead. For this, professional body painters applied their skills to transforming the robot into a work of art.

The Kuka robot was on display at the renowned Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.

“The project was an unusual opportunity for us to share our modern robot technology with a group of people with whom we would otherwise rarely come into contact,” enthused Gian Luca Branca, CEO of Kuka Italy.

Robot vision: Mine eyes have seen the glory of three dimensions

Euro NCAP has been conducting tests to see how well autonomous cars can see pedestrians
Euro NCAP has been conducting tests to see how well autonomous cars can see pedestrians

Exclusive interview with Claude Florin, CEO of Fastree3D, on helping robots finally see the light just that little bit better than they did before

How do robots see the world? Until now, most of them have had to make do with conventional digital cameras for eyes. In technological terms, these cameras are much like those available to consumers in the shops and, increasingly these days, in their smartphones. As clever as they are, and as high quality as the images turn out to be, these cameras only capture the image as a two-dimensional arrangement of pixels.

This means that a robot using such cameras would not able to perceive the three-dimensional space its “eyes” are looking at. This problem of perception – of perceiving 3D space as 2D space – is solved, or at least tackled, at the coding stage.

To program the robot to translate the flat image into a three-dimensional space, and infer such things as depth, distance and geospatial location, is really quite difficult if approached from a purely computer programming – as in, coding – standpoint.  Continue reading Robot vision: Mine eyes have seen the glory of three dimensions

Chicago Auto Show: Robots rev up their engines in preparation for final victory over human drivers

Chicago Auto Show
Chicago Auto Show

Autonomous cars have already taken over the world and are on the verge of making their final, decisive manoeuvre to eject humanity out of the driving seat. The machines have achieved their domination by using the humble and unsuspecting traditional car as their primary instrument of deception.

That’s according to David Sloan, Chicago Auto Show general manager, although he may not have put it in those exact words. Speaking to Chicago Sun-Times, Sloan says: “People might be surprised to know that most of the technology that will be used to make car autonomous in the future is already in cars today on our show floor.”

Surprised? Try shocked and terrified.

Sloan goes on to say: “All the safety technology that allows cars to automatically brake or park, even adaptive cruise control, is there. Vehicles are now safer, cleaner and more efficient than they have ever been and automakers are still able to make them perform really well. The technology is rapidly advancing, and we’re ready for it.”  Continue reading Chicago Auto Show: Robots rev up their engines in preparation for final victory over human drivers

The Floow of traffic is about to change forever

Exclusive interview with Dr Sam Chapman, of The Floow, about autonomous cars and intelligent transport systems of the future   

Dr Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer, The Floow
Dr Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer, The Floow

You might think driverless cars are a long way off, and anyway you wouldn’t even dream of even getting into one let alone allow one to drive you somewhere. Perhaps you’re a control freak. It’s a widely known fact that people who have phobias such as a fear of flying suffer these maladies mainly because they get stressed out when they’re not in control, especially at times when their life is at stake.

Most people probably reacted with some incredulity to pictures on the news media about five years ago of Google’s first driverless cars. They looked like your everyday family cars, except they looked as if they’d been pimped up by Frank Spencer, with what looked like glorified car radios stuck to the roof and on the dashboard, probably with sticky tape.  Continue reading The Floow of traffic is about to change forever