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

Rethink Robotics signs ‘major distribution partnerships’ in Germany

Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer collaborative robots
Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer collaborative robots

Rethink Robotics today announced exclusive distribution partnerships with leading automation providers in Germany to continue the global expansion of the company.

Freise Automation and Hahn Robotics will deliver Sawyer to the German manufacturing community, helping companies improve production processes and implement flexible and affordable automation.

Rethink Robotics is redefining manufacturing across the globe with its family of smart, collaborative robots that can adapt to real-world variability, change applications quickly and perform tasks like people do.  Continue reading Rethink Robotics signs ‘major distribution partnerships’ in Germany

Fetch Robotics expands executive team

Peggy Fong, Fetch Robotics
Peggy Fong

Fetch Robotics has added two new faces to the company’s executive team. Peggy Fong joined as Chief Operations Officer and Dave Robson was named Chief of Staff.

Fong and Robson will help to support the rapid growth of Fetch, a pioneer in building robots for the logistics and material handling industries.

Most recently the President at Magellan GPS, Peggy Fong brings more than 20 years of experience combining emerging technologies with business know-how. Continue reading Fetch Robotics expands executive team

Two-armed robots: Baxter helps Stenner meet increased demand

rethink robotics, baxter, material handling
Rethink’s Baxter robot is capable of many type of material handling tasks, says the company
Stenner Pump Company, a maker of water treatment pumps, tanks, injection systems and more, is leveraging Rethink Robotics’ two-armed Baxter robot in its manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Fla. to increase flexibility and efficiency, allowing for quicker product development and delivery.

The team at Stenner Pump is deploying Baxter in a production cell to complete two tasks using each arm simultaneously. Baxter uses one arm to package and place finished parts from an injection molding machine into a bagging machine for final production.

Using the other arm, Baxter begins a three-step machine tending and assembly task by placing a strainer into a fixture and ensuring proper part orientation. Baxter then places a weight into the strainer and waits for the lid to be pressed on to the strainer; finally, the robot removes the finished part and places it into a bin of finished products. Continue reading Two-armed robots: Baxter helps Stenner meet increased demand

Conference calls for experts in robotics and automation

Organisers of one of Europe’s most important conferences on robotics and automation are calling for papers and articles from experts in the field in the run-up to its conference in the middle of next year.

The 13th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics – organized by Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication (INSTICC) – will take place from 29 to 31 of July 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Also known as the ICINCO conference, this is the 13th time it has been held, and is organised by the INSTICC. Continue reading Conference calls for experts in robotics and automation

Marine robots: AMS ‘Datamarans’ set to provide unprecedented insights into the world’s oceans

The total surface of Planet Earth spans some 510 million square kilometres, and the ocean accounts for more than 70 per cent. If there’s one man who would be familiar with these kind of numbers it’s Eamon Carrig, co-founder and chief roboticist at Autonomous Marine Systems (AMS), a US robotics startup which could scarcely have more compelling origins.

AMS was started by three aerospace engineers – Carrig, T.J. Edwards, and Walter Holemans, although Holemans has since left the company.

“We had all been working together on spacecraft mechanisms – TJ and Walt mostly mechanical, me mostly electrical and software – since 2006,” says Carrig in an exclusive interview with RoboticsandAutomationNews.com.

“Specifically we worked on satellite separation systems, which are the last systems that have to work to get a satellite on orbit. In my career as a sep system engineer, we produced about 15 systems for flight. I would have bet my life on every single system we delivered.” Continue reading Marine robots: AMS ‘Datamarans’ set to provide unprecedented insights into the world’s oceans

Cloud robotics: Talking cloud and saying nothing

Cloud robotics are enabling robots to access large amounts of computing power that their bodies do not have the physical space to accommodate. Hundreds if not tens of thousands of servers are potentially at the service of small robots which can be in remote locations well away from the nearest supercomputer or data centre, only being connected by, for example, Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

This allows robots to call on powerful, cloud-based applications, such as speech recognition and language, when they are interacting with their users.

At the moment, most cloud robotics systems are linked to specific robots. So, for example, SoftBank’s Pepper robot is linked to the cloud robotics artificial intelligence system developed by Cocoro, another SoftBank company.

Pepper has about 25 onboard sensors to collect a wide range of information – sight, sound, touch and movement. That covers three of the five senses that human beings generally use, the two missing are taste and smell.

Pepper can be connected to the internet through Wi-Fi or Ethernet, both of which are incorporated into the robot. Continue reading Cloud robotics: Talking cloud and saying nothing

Robotics platform: Branches of the same Redtree

Robotics enthusiasts, or makers as they are often referred to, is a global community that is growing all the time. Along with it, the demand for chipsets specifically designed for robots is also expanding. 

Compared to the large number of makers out there, there’s not many chipsets specifically designed for robots – Arduino and Raspberry Pi being the most well known. In fact, a quick search on Google yielded very few results of new chipset makers, and most of them talked of plans but no actual product in existence right now.

Top of the list, however, was Redtree Robotics. The Canadian company is the maker of the Redtree Hydra, which it says is “the definitive chipset for robotics”. The company is still building the chipset – it’s an ongoing process, with the system only available on request to select customers. Continue reading Robotics platform: Branches of the same Redtree