The rise of the robots – a networking perspective

ale networking

A recent article by MIT Technology Review highlighted the inevitable growth in robotics, automation and AI in 2016 after a year of advancements in smarter learning and knowledge-sharing which broaden the ability of individual robots to adapt to unfamiliar situations and tasks. Manish Sablok, head of field marketing at ALE, discusses the impact that large-scale adoption of robotics and automated units will have on vital sectors such as healthcare, education and hospitality as existing networks encounter inevitable further strain.

Cutting-edge robots and other advanced smart machines are set to be added into the rapidly expanding Internet of Things, which is projected to reach 25 billion devices by 2020. Robotics has already been used in manufacturing to great effect for over a decade, performing delicate and precise tasks with a higher success rate than humans. With advancements such as ‘deep learning’ robots, delivery drones and ubiquitous knowledge-sharing between machines, widespread robotics adoption is becoming far more feasible.

In healthcare, there are already robotic services in operation with automated pharmacy dispensing and robotic trolleys – robots that can navigate between floors and even call the lift using a Wi-Fi sensor. The hospitality sector has also been a keen adopter of robotics to deliver services and in education, robots are being deployed successfully as a tutor, tool or peer in learning activities, providing language, science and technology education.  Continue reading The rise of the robots – a networking perspective

SSL developing robotic sample handling assembly for NASA Mars 2020 Project

ssl mars-surface

Space Systems Loral (SSL) says it will design and build a robotic Sample Handling Assembly (SHA) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA, managed by SSL.

The arm will be used on a rover vehicle exploring Mars to process and store samples acquired from the planet’s surface.

“Our space-proven technology positions SSL well to help support JPL’s robotic space exploration activities,” said Nick Zello, director, emerging markets operations.

“As an industry partner we bring cost-effective solutions and a highly responsive and flexible environment to assist NASA in its mission to bring the world new insights and discoveries.” Continue reading SSL developing robotic sample handling assembly for NASA Mars 2020 Project

Airbus to develop humanoid robots with Japanese and French partners

Kawada Industries’ HRP-4 humanoid robot
Kawada Industries’ HRP-4 humanoid robot

Airbus Group Innovations (AGI), the global research and technology network of Airbus Group, has agreed a joint robotics research programme with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The programme will be dedicated to the research and development of humanoid robotic technology to perform complex manufacturing tasks in factories. The majority of research will be conducted at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (JRL), which was established in 2004 on the AIST campus in Tsukuba, Japan.

Satoshi Sekiguchi, Director General of the Department of Information Technology and Human Factors at AIST, inaugurated the new project together with Jean-Yves Marzin, Head of the CNRS Institute for Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS), and Sébastien Remy, Head of Airbus Group Innovations. Continue reading Airbus to develop humanoid robots with Japanese and French partners

Investment in manufacturing robotics could boost British economy by £60bn within a decade, says Barclays

manufacturing in the uk

Investing an additional £1.2bn into manufacturing processes, to increase robotics and automation over the next decade, could add as much as £60.5bn to the UK economy over the next decade, forecasts new research from Barclays. This is equivalent to nearly two fifths of the manufacturing sector’s value to the economy today.

The “Future-proofing UK manufacturing” report reveals that investing in automation technology will help to increase the international competitiveness of the UK’s manufacturing sector through increased manufacturing productivity and efficiency. As a result of additional investment, the manufacturing sector will be worth £191bn in 2025, £8.6bn more than currently projected and a 19.6% increase on today.

Furthermore, increased investment in automation will help to soften the expected long-term decline in manufacturing sector jobs by safeguarding 73,500 additional workers in 2025, due to the creation of a larger, more productive and competitive UK manufacturing sector. Continue reading Investment in manufacturing robotics could boost British economy by £60bn within a decade, says Barclays

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

Sony becomes first UK buyer of YuMi, as ABB launches its first Scara robots

sony uk, abb yumi
Sony becomes first UK customer for ABB’s YuMi

Sony has become the first company in the UK to purchase ABB’s YuMi, the collaborative robot which has been making the headlines since its launch last a few months ago.

Sony’s UK Technology Centre manufactures broadcast and professional cameras and camera systems.

The company says YuMi is ideal for use in small parts assembly. Sony UK Technology will use ABB’s dual arm robot solution to pick and place circuit board parts. Continue reading Sony becomes first UK buyer of YuMi, as ABB launches its first Scara robots

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

Carnegie Mellon demonstrates autonomous helicopter and ground vehicle technology to US military

Carnegie Mellon demonstrated how autonomous aerial and ground vehicles can work together
Carnegie Mellon demonstrated how autonomous aerial and ground vehicles can work together
Robotics and automation experts at one of the world’s leading universities have demonstrated autonomous ground vehicles and aircraft with “new collaborative capabilities for keeping warfighters safe”.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company, using a UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopter enabled with Sikorsky’s Matrix Technology and CMU’s Land Tamer autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), recently participated in a joint autonomy demonstration that they say proved the capability of new, ground-air cooperative missions.

Such missions could prevent warfighters’ exposure to hazardous conditions, such as chemically or radiologically contaminated areas, say the experts. Continue reading Carnegie Mellon demonstrates autonomous helicopter and ground vehicle technology to US military

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

North American robotics market sets new records in 2015

Robots at Tesla auto factory
Robots at Tesla auto factory
Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2015, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 31,464 robots valued at $1.8 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2015, an increase of 14% in units and 11% in dollars over 2014.

Robot shipments also set new records, with 28,049 robots valued at $1.6 billion shipped to North American customers in 2015. Shipments grew 10% in units and nine percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2014. Continue reading North American robotics market sets new records in 2015

Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot steps up a gear

MotoBot, Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot
MotoBot, Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot

Yamaha Motor Company says the company’s humanoid riding robot – MotoBot – has moved into the second phase of its development, and that the current partnership in joint development with SRI International is set to continue.

Presentations on the MotoBot headed by Yamaha Motor and SRI representatives took place at the last month’s CES, the global consumer electronics and technology trade show being held in Las Vegas, where in recent years, fields such as autonomous driving and robotics have been featured.

Being an automated humanoid robot able to ride a non-modified motorcycle, the MotoBot became a hot topic of conversation when it was exhibited at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show in 2015. Continue reading Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot steps up a gear

euRobotics appoints new secretary general

Reinhard Lafrenz, new secretary general of euRobotics
Reinhard Lafrenz, new secretary general of euRobotics

The European robotics association – euRobotics – has appointed a new secretary general.

Reinhard Lafrenz was previously vice-president industry and takes over from current acting secretary general Uwe Haass.

Lafrenz signed his contract at the euRobotics board meeting after the board decided to select him based on a suggestion by the search committee. Continue reading euRobotics appoints new secretary general

Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners

Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners
Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners

Cruise liner company Costa Group has signed an exclusive agreement with the French company Aldebaran for a pilot project with Pepper robots.

Aldebaran, which is a subsidiary of the SoftBank Group through SoftBank Robotics Corp, said the contract was worth more than a million euros.

Pepper is the world’s first robot that reads main human emotions, says the company, adding that it is ideally suited to help and delight guests on board of cruise ships. Aldebaran adds that Pepper will improve guest experience and provide help and entertainment on board the ships of the Costa Group’s cruise brands: AIDA and Costa.  Continue reading Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners

US Navy orders five ship inspection robots from Bluefin

Bluefin Robotics’ EOD HULS MK19 System
Bluefin Robotics’ ship inspection system

The US Navy has awarded five delivery orders to Bluefin Robotics for vehicles that will increase the Navy’s capability to remotely inspect ship hulls.

The robots can also search and investigate harbor sea floors, and other underwater infrastructure for limpet mines, Improvised Explosive Devices and other objects of interest.

The delivery orders, valued at $5 million, are to be used in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System (EOD HULS) Program of Record.  Continue reading US Navy orders five ship inspection robots from Bluefin

Robots take fruit-picking route to global domination

Chris Roberts, head of industrial robotics at Cambridge Consultants, gives Robotics and Automation News an exclusive interview 

For those of us fortunate enough to spend our time shopping, and perhaps think of ourselves as discerning shoppers, one of the more pleasant experiences when buying fruit is evaluating them on a number of factors, such as colour, texture, firmness and aroma.

chris roberts, cambridge consultants
Chris Roberts

This final selection process tends to happen at the store, after the fruit supplier has already played its part in initially choosing the most suitable produce for the shops it supplies.

A large amount of automation technology is already used in the fruit-picking industry, from robots picking fruit off trees and plants to huge automated fruit sorting machines, but things could be about to take a quantum leap with the advent of fruit-picking robots that can use the same criteria as the most discerning of shoppers. Continue reading Robots take fruit-picking route to global domination