Category Archives: Technology News

Kuka to build personal assistance robot business with Midea

Midea-products

Some of the products Midea manufactures

Kuka, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial robotic arms, is planning to expand into the area of personal assistance robotics. 

This is according to an article on FT.com, which quotes Kuka chief executive Till Reuter.

Reuter told the FT that he sees potential for using Midea’s reach into the household appliances market to develop more complex, intelligent machines which can help with household tasks. 

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Apple unveils home automation device and the most expensive desktop computer ever

apple ceo tim cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomes developers from 75 different countries to WWDC 2017

So the rumours were true about the home automation device. Some of the other rumours ahead of the ongoing Apple Worldwide Developers Conference were also true, but then there have been some surprises as well. 

First, the home automation device. Apple has launched what it calls HomePod – a voice assistant much like Amazon Alexa-enabled Echo and Google Home – within which Siri will live.

The question with such voice devices is always, how good are they at conversation with humans? In general, natural language processing technology is not yet able to understand human speech well enough to make such devices easy to use. 

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Denso unveils collaborative robot prototype it calls ‘Cobotta’

Denso, one of the world’s largest robotics and automation companies, has unveiled a video of the new collaborative robot it calls “Cobotta”.

The tiny six-axis prototype will be officially released towards the end of 2017 but the company has released a short video showing how it operates.

Denso, which is owned by Toyota, says Cobotta is ideal for research, testing, and learning purposes at universities, scientific institutes, laboratories, and more. 

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SPX Flow claims technical breakthrough which saves 30 per cent energy

spx flow

SPX Flow claims it has made a technological breakthrough with its new refrigerated air dryer which will enable electricity savings of 30 per cent for robotics and automation applications 

SPX Flow has launched a new refrigerated compressed air dryer which it claims can save up to 30 per cent on energy costs. 

The Flex Series lowers air system power costs and improves productivity by matching power consumption to compressed air demand. In a typical manufacturing facility utilizing automation and robotics, up to 30 per cent of electricity can be consumed for generating and treating compressed air.

To reduce total cost of operation and qualify for utility company incentive programs, proper air treatment equipment selection and application is required, says the company.

SPX says this is a breakthrough in compressed air drying technology. 

CES: What’s in it for me?

The Consumer Electronics Show will be on soon. January 5-8, in Las Vegas, US. If you’re one of the lucky people going along, send us a picture or note about your highlights of the event. 

As a preview to the show, we find out from Infineon, one of the leading chipmakers for the auto market, what their view of the highlights will be, not just at CES, but also for the year ahead.

Infineon is probably going to face much more intense competition this year, mainly because of Qualcomm’s entrance into the auto market

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Evolution of the machines: How connectivity is transforming the car

harman connected services

By Andrew Till, vice president, technology, partnerships and new solutions, Harman Connected Services

The connected car revolution is here and soon we could see these machines evolving during their own lifecycle thanks to over-the-air software updates.

Connectivity is rapidly transforming the way we consume goods. It’s even challenging the very concept of ownership, as the template set by mobile devices spreads to other aspects of our lives through the Internet of Things.

One of the biggest potential markets for this new way of doing business is the automotive industry. 

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President-elect Donald Trump meets with tech leaders for informal chinwag before inauguration

trump meets tech leaders

US President-elect Donald Trump sits with PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oracle CEO Safra Catz and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk during a meeting with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York, US, December 14, 2016. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

By Gina Cherelus and Dustin Volz, Reuters

President-elect Donald Trump and some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful executives met at his Manhattan tower in the past week, at a summit convened to smooth over frictions after both sides made no secret of their disdain for each other during the election campaign.

The meeting focused chiefly on economic issues, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely skirting the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy, according to a Trump transition team statement.

Trump proposed reconvening with the tech leaders as often as every quarter, the statement said. 

Predictions for the future of manufacturing

industrial trends

Martyn Williams, managing director of industrial software expert Copa-Data UK, examines three of the most prominent automation trends of 2017 and discusses how these trends are changing manufacturing operations

As manufacturing facilities incorporate greater levels of automation, the demand for new technologies continues to grow.

Recent years have seen several trends create a shift in the way the industry operates. 

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Industry 4.0: Comau signs deal with EII to develop predictive maintenance solutions

comau

Companies plan to jointly develop hardware and software solutions for the proactive maintenance of machines

Engineering Ingegneria Informatica and robot-maker Comau have signed a global cooperation agreement to develop and market solutions for predictive maintenance based on modular hardware and software and designed to acquire and analyze field data – through the internet of things, and big data analytics. 

The companies say these solutions are targeted at the manufacturing industry and in particular, and companies operating in the automotive, industrial manufacturing, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and white goods sectors, and conform to the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

From a technical point of view, the solutions developed by the two partner companies seek to predict the potential occurrence of malfunctions or a full stop of the machines, and to intercept negative trends in production process quality, or predictive maintenance system. 

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BMW to start research with IBM Watson artificial intelligence system

Auto giant to locate research team at IBM’s Munich Watson IoT HQ, as computing colossus explores conversational interfaces in BMW i8 hybrid sports cars

IBM has entered into a new collaboration with the BMW Group, through which the companies will work together to explore the role of Watson cognitive computing in personalizing the driving experience and creating more intuitive driver support systems for cars of the future.

As part of the agreement, the BMW Group will collocate a team of researchers at IBM’s global headquarters for Watson Internet of Things (IoT) in Munich, Germany and the companies will work together explore how to improve intelligent assistant functions for drivers.

IBM recently pledged to invest $200 million to make its new Munich center one of the world’s most advanced facilities for collaborative innovation as part of a global investment of $3 billion to bring Watson cognitive computing to the Internet of Things. 

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Nasa places order with SSL for robotic spacecraft which will fix satellites in orbit

New craft will be used to service satellites out in space 

Nasa has placed an order with Space Systems Loral for a robotic spacecraft which will go and fix satellites while in orbit. 

Nasa calls it the Restore-L servicing mission, and it is designed to demonstrate the ability to extend the life of a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. Scheduled launch is in 2020.

The Restore-L spacecraft will use robotics to grasp, refuel and relocate an existing US government satellite already in LEO orbit with the goal of demonstrating tools, technologies and techniques that can be implemented on future government and commercial missions. 

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Brains trust: The impact of robotics on neurosurgery

Renishaw’s Neuroinspire surgical planning software

A screenshot from the newest version of Renishaw’s Neuroinspire surgical planning software

In this exclusive article, Stuart Campbell, clinical sales development manager of the neurological products division at Renishaw, discusses key trends on the use of robotics in neurosurgery

The curious case of Phineas Gage is one of the earliest and most well known cases of serious brain injury. On September 13th, 1848, Gage was working as a railway foreman in Vermont when an explosion caused a three foot long iron rod to be propelled straight through his skull.

At the time, doctors thought it impossible to survive such an injury and his remarkable survival and reported personality changes affected the study of neuroscience forever. In recent years, a new technology is changing the face of neuroscience – robotics, which offers high precision access to a complex and sensitive region.

Industrial environments are rife with automation and robotic systems. The upwards trend is only increasing, with the International Federation of Robotics predicting that by 2018, 1.3 million industrial robots will be entering service in factories across the globe. 

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Connected cars: Driving the future

By Andrew Till, vice president, technology, partnerships and new solutions, Harman Connected Services

Of all the day-to-day aspects of our lives, transport looks set to experience some of the most dramatic changes as the Internet of Things progresses.

It will impact everything from the driving experience to the very concept of car ownership. And with those changes comes a huge amount of opportunity for car manufacturers, cloud providers and telecommunications companies.

The potential that the IoT holds for the automotive market is only going to increase as new technology reaches the market. It’s set to come into its own once we see vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems and cars with true “hands off” autonomous driving capabilities hitting the road, but even now the fundamentals are in place. 

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Raspberry Pi partners with RS Components to expand manufacturing operations to Japan

raspberry pi starter kit

New manufacturing hub in Japan complements UK production operation and expands capacity for famed Raspberry Pi microcomputer

RS Components and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have agreed a deal which will see the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi 3 credit-card-sized single-board computer being manufactured in Japan under a local contract manufacturing arrangement.

This increase in global production of Raspberry Pi is to serve large and increasing demand for the popular platform in the Asia Pacific region.

William Chong, head of product, supplier, inventory and pricing management, Asia Pacific, RS Components, says: “Existing models of the Raspberry Pi will continue to be manufactured in South Wales, UK, with the dual manufacturing locations in place to cater for future demand growth globally.

“Asia Pacific is a significant growth market for Raspberry Pi, and this new ‘Made in Japan’ element means that we are now geared up for this growth.” 

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Video: Latest list of the world’s leading industrial robot manufacturers

Mitsubishi currently has 70,000 industrial robots installed worldwide, Robotics and Automation News has learned.

As a result, the company is now included in the Robotics and Automation News list of the world’s top industrial robot manufacturers.

Other companies in the new list are Stäubli and Universal, which makes collaborative robots. 

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