International Transport Workers’ Federation calls for virtual counter-revolution against robot bosses

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Picture credit: Alper Cugun via Flickr and ITF

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is calling on all its members and affiliates worldwide to “work together” and launch a virtual revolution to counter the growing oppressive power of robots. 

Autonomous driving technology threatens to displace millions of truck drivers and cab drivers and other transport workers worldwide, and the ITF says the bosses and the elite are introducing these inhuman technologies without bothering to properly consider the “social costs” to the proletariat.

The ITF has 16 million members worldwide and almost 700 individual unions affiliated to the organisation.

In response to the robot takeover, the ITF is promoting a hashtag for people to tweet to – #futureofwork – as well as its own hashtag, #WeAreITF.

The ITF also organised a gathering in Stockholm, Sweden for the first meeting of the federation’s new automation working group.  Continue reading International Transport Workers’ Federation calls for virtual counter-revolution against robot bosses

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

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

Trump administration will be a catalytic converter for autonomous cars, says Chao

sae autonomous car illustration

Newly appointed US Transport Secretary Elaine Chao says the Trump administration will have a catalysing effect on the autonomous car industry. 

Chao made her first public remarks on the subject while speaking at the National Governors Association, as reported by Reuters.

Chao said: “This administration is evaluating this guidance and will consult with you and other stakeholders as we update it and amend it, to ensure that it strikes the right balance.”

She added that the Trump administration wanted to ensure it “is a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not an impediment. In particular, I want to challenge Silicon Valley, Detroit, and all other auto industry hubs to step up and help educate a skeptical public about the benefits of automated technology”.  Continue reading Trump administration will be a catalytic converter for autonomous cars, says Chao

Elsevier launches new journal about systems and control

New journal to be jointly published with the International Federation of Automatic Control

Elsevier, a provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and solutions, and the International Federation of Automatic Control have launched a new joint publication, IFAC Journal of Systems and Control.

The journal will publish research papers on generalizable, extensible and transferable innovations across all aspects of the field of control and automation.

The journal’s remit broadly reflects the areas of interest of IFAC’s Technical Board and dovetails with the other IFAC journals in seeking new areas of application and investigation for systems and control.  Continue reading Elsevier launches new journal about systems and control

ISO and SAE to develop technical standards for intelligent transport and vehicle systems

An illustration of an intelligent transport system which integrates road vehicles. Picture courtesy of Nissan
An illustration of an intelligent transport system which integrates road vehicles. Picture courtesy of Nissan

The International Standards Organisation and SAE International, the engineers’ association, have entered a “pilot agreement” for the joint development of new technical standards and harmonization of existing standards. 

The new Partnership Standards Development Organization (PSDO) cooperation agreement will apply in two areas, Road Vehicles (ISO TC22) and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ISO TC204).

David Schutt, CEO of SAE International, says: “This important agreement is a response to the transformational changes taking place in many global industries, including mobility engineering. Increasing technological complexity must be addressed through collaborative efforts in standardization to avoid duplication and reduce cost across the global network of automotive business partners.  Continue reading ISO and SAE to develop technical standards for intelligent transport and vehicle systems

HIT Robot Group in talks with 50 companies as a result of Automatica event

hit robot group

Chinese company HIT Robot Group says it is in negotiations with 50 companies it came into contact with during this year’s Automatica exhibition.

In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, an insider at HRG says the company is at various stages of negotiations with the potential partners, and hopes to finalise deals soon with at least eight of them.

HRG claims to be China’s leading robot producer, and says it drew “rave reviews” at Automatica 2016, an international exhibition for automation and robotics in Munich, Germany.

HRG boasts that it could play a role as a “golden partner” for overseas companies keen on exploring the huge potential of the Chinese market. China has been the biggest buyer of industrial robots in recent years.  Continue reading HIT Robot Group in talks with 50 companies as a result of Automatica event

Tokyo airport employs Cyberdyne cleaning robots

cyberdyne robots tokyo airport

Tokyo International Airport’s International Passenger Terminal is employing a cleaning robot made by Cyberdyne. 

Following its implementation in the Domestic Terminal, the Cleaning Robot will expand its operation into the International Terminal, which is also open 24 hours a day.

This is a joint-project of Cyberdyne and Japan Airport Terminal Company, and with the cooperation of Tokyo International Airport (also known as Haneda Airport).

Verification tests for the Cleaning Robot are being conducted at the International Passenger Terminal for 2 weeks, a time frame which is due to end soon.  Continue reading Tokyo airport employs Cyberdyne cleaning robots

European Space Agency building robot holiday resort on the Moon

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Artist’s illustration of ESA’s multi-dome concept… apparently it’s being constructed now

The European Space Agency is building a holiday resort on the Moon which will be mainly populated by robots –  perhaps solely populated by robots, according to ESA director general Jan Woerner 

Before the advent of steam engines and motorised travel, it could take several days to go from one city to another. Even today, if you travel by boat, you’re in for weeks of gazing across the waters of an ocean like the Atlantic.

And if you’re one of those people who’s willing to travel at leasure rather than go fast, then the idea of spending three days in a spaceship to go to the Moon for a weekend break might appeal.

There’s little or no doubt that there’s a market there – plenty of people would happily spend 72 hours stargazing on the way to the Sea of Tranquility or wherever their Moon-based holiday resort is being built. Continue reading European Space Agency building robot holiday resort on the Moon

NanoRacks to deploy QB50 Satellites from International Space Station

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NanoRacks has been selected as a launch integration and deployment partner for the QB50 CubeSat Constellation Mission. The QB50 Mission is a European Union project, supported and funded by the European Commission, to demonstrate the research benefits of deploying a low-cost constellation of small satellites.

The QB50 Mission consists of dozens of universities located around the world, from Europe to Asia, from North America to Africa. Coordinated by the von Karmen Institute, QB50 is the second-ever cubesat constellation. The CubeSats will orbit in the lower thermosphere (200-380 kilometers) collecting scientific data, in what is considered by experts a relatively unexplored part of Earth’s atmosphere.

NanoRacks will be deploying a majority of the QB50 satellites from the International Space Station (ISS) utilizing the Company’s NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. The selection of the ISS as the deployment platform for this program leverages the unique capabilities of the ISS to serve as a test-bed for numerous in-space technologies and research development. Continue reading NanoRacks to deploy QB50 Satellites from International Space Station

Honda to bring out Asimo robot for appearance at Narita airport

Asimo will be appearing at Narita airport
Asimo will be appearing at Narita airport

Honda plans to conduct demonstrations of Asimo, Honda’s bipedal humanoid robot, at Narita International Airport over a one-week period from Monday, March 28 through Sunday, April 3, 2016.

This will be the first time for any airport in Japan to hold this type of event in the area prior to where travelers begin the immigration process and formal entry into the country.

Honda will showcase its technological strengths by providing Asimo, an outstanding humanoid robot representing Japan, to welcome and offer its hospitality to travellers who just arrived.  Continue reading Honda to bring out Asimo robot for appearance at Narita airport