Smartphones have created a whole new world of opportunities, says Hillcrest Labs boss

Even for Apple, selling 60 million units of anything would be a big deal. For most small and medium sized companies, just six units might be the start of a wonderful voyage in the world of enterprise. 

For Hillcrest Labs, the journey started more than a decade ago, and over that time, the company has reached the milestone of having sold 60 million units.

Having started out selling software, the company moved into bundling that software into chips, which have become more elaborate over time and found an increasing number of applications.

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News, Chad Lucien, senior vice president of business development at Hillcrest Labs, tells the company’s story.  Continue reading Smartphones have created a whole new world of opportunities, says Hillcrest Labs boss

Video: Stäubli Robotics investing in software for the future

One of the first industrial automation companies in the world, Stäubli, is investing in the next generation of technology for the future. 

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News (video above), Stäubli Robotics group division manager Gerald Vogt says the company is “investing and developing in the software side”.

A range of Stäubli robots
A range of Stäubli robots

However, he added that hardware remains fundamental to the company’s business. “I think mechanics will still be the basis on which software is built, meaning that if you don’t have good mechanics, the software will not help.”

Vogt says this is an exciting time for the robotics and automation sector because “we have the technology” to see what the applications of Industry 4.0 technologies are going to be.

Video: Siemens predicts small number of companies will dominate industrial internet

Only a small number of companies will dominate the industrial internet, according to a business development executive at Siemens, who was speaking to at Hannover Messe. 

The German engineering giant recently launched its MindScape IoT platform and more than 50 individual apps for a variety of scenarios in industry.

Matthias Lutz, business development manager, digital factory division, Siemens, says: “I personally do see a couple of platforms co-existing in future, and maybe a couple of very specialised ones.

“But in the end, in my opinion, I think it’s a matter of two to three large platforms.”  Continue reading Video: Siemens predicts small number of companies will dominate industrial internet

Controller area network: No need for a computer

audi r8

In this exclusive guest article, Kent Lennartsson, research manager at Kvaser, highlights a crucial technology – reliable, hassle-free controller communication 

A “controller area network” – or CAN, also known as a CAN bus or vehicle bus – is most well known for its use in automotive design.

In this system, a vehicle bus allows microcontrollers and other devices to communicate with one another without the need for a central computer.

This concept is akin to our use of the Internet of Things in everyday life.

This means when you’re driving down the highway in your Audi R8, your cruise control system can quickly communicate with your anti-lock brakes, disengaging the gas pedal and activating emergency brake assist, helping to make a fast stop if debris drops from a truck into your lane.  Continue reading Controller area network: No need for a computer

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


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

Beyond Moore’s Law: Human-plus-machine computing

d-wave processor

By Adam Devine, vice president of marketing, WorkFusion

How do we move forward in a world where Moore’s Law no longer holds true? For five decades, Gordon Moore’s famous prediction about processing power doubling about every two years held firm.

It was a reliable sort of constant as innovators continued to increase the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits.

But all good things must come to an end, and Moore’s Law has been confounded by another, more immutable law: physics.  Continue reading Beyond Moore’s Law: Human-plus-machine computing

All’s well that ROS well: Robot Operating System taking over the world

PR2 robot, willow garage
The PR2 robot, developed by Willow Garage, practises its alien greeting

lockIf aliens from beyond our solar system or even our galaxy were to land on Earth and wanted to communicate with intelligent machines that can move around and shake hands, chances are that one of the first in line to greet our otherworldly visitors will be a robot with a brain built using the Robot Operating System

The simple reason for this is that ROS is one of the most ubiquitous platforms for robotics in the world today, helped largely by the fact that it is an open-source project, in contrast to the majority of robot operating systems which are proprietary and closed.

Described as a collection of frameworks for robot software development, ROS was originally developed in 2007 at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. ROS was then extended by Willow Garage, and that’s when it really started taking off.  Continue reading All’s well that ROS well: Robot Operating System taking over the world

New flavour of Robot Operating System launched

A new version of the Robot Operating System has been launched, and this is one for the machines. 

Officially called the Hardware Robot Operating System, the new solution is described as “a standardized software and hardware infrastructure to easily create reusable and reconfigurable robot hardware parts”.

Writing on, Victor Vilches, CTO of Erle Robotics and a researcher at the Open Source Robotics Foundation, says H-ROS means “constructing robots will no longer be restricted to a small elite with high technical skills”.

H-ROS was initially funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency through the Robotics Fast Track program in 2016 and developed by Erle Robotics.

Lowe’s store bosses hire Fellow robot workers

LoweBot, a NAVii autonomous retail service robot by Fellow Robots

Lowe’s, the home improvement and hradware store chain, has hired a robot shop assistant it developed with Fellow Robots. The company says LoweBot will enhance the shopping experience for customers.

LoweBot was developed through a partnership between Fellow Robots and Lowe’s Innovation Labs, and the companies say it explores how intelligent help can meet the needs of customers and employees.

Lowe’s will introduce LoweBot in fall, later this year.

LoweBot is part of the Navii autonomous retail service robot series by Fellow Robots, and will be in 11 Lowe’s stores throughout the San Francisco Bay area.  Continue reading Lowe’s store bosses hire Fellow robot workers