Automation and Robotics News–Nov 1, 2009

Tony Zaragoza at Evergreen State U provides us with a newsletter that gives us information, all in one place, on labor replacing technology.   He provides a glimpse into the growing redundance of labor world wide — in so doing he contradicts the usual interpretation that job loss is solely due to outsourcing.  While some jobs are being exported, the automation of jobs in the lesser developed countries accelerates.  Thanks to professor Zaragoza for an extremely important resource.

Automation and Robotics News–Nov 11, 2009

All previous issues are now archived at:

Highlights: Automation in Nigeria, Good Third Quarter for Automation Companies, Robot Soldiers, Robot Elk, impacts of automation on pilots, a push to automate air traffic control in India, fastest robot, smallest robot, green automation, and drones.


# Nigeria: American Firm Unveils Manufacturing Solutions – Oct 21, 2009

Lagos — A private company with headquarters in Weston, WI, U.S.A, AJ Excel Automation, LLC, is currently setting up offices in Nigeria to provide manufacturing solutions to manufacturing concerns in the country. The company, which offers automation solutions, manufacturing intelligence implementation, continuous improvement and project management consulting services, is to unveil the manufacturing solutions at a breakfast seminar in Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 , in an effort to introduce the software to manufacturers in Nigeria. Details and demonstration on this technology, will be unveiled at the event by technical experts from the U.S.A, including the C.E.O of AJ Excel, Mr. Samuel Tayo Ajayi and the Technical Director, Mr. David Slivinski.

# Automation Companies have a good third quarter:

ABB Sees 3Q Net Pft Of $1B; Provisions Smooth

Wall Street Journal – Katharina Bart – Oct 19, 2009

Honeywell Automation vaults after good Q3 results

India – Oct 23, 2009

Rockwell Automation Up 29.9% Since SmarTrend’s Buy Recommendation Trading Markets (press release) – Oct 21, 2009

Since then, Rockwell Automation has returned 29.9% as of today’s recent price of $43.76.

Brooks Automation Up 75% Since SmarTrend’s Buy Recommendation Trading Markets (press release) – Oct 19, 2009

Since then, Brooks Automation has returned 75% as of today’s recent price of $9.02.

# Baxa Corporation Signs Exclusive Distribution Agreement With Leading Pharmaceutical Corporation in People’s Republic of China

Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:01am EDT ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Baxa Corporation, a US-based medical device company in Englewood, Colorado, has signed an exclusive four-year distribution agreement with SINOPHARM, a China National Pharmaceutical Foreign Trade Corporation, to promote sales of its products in China. While the agreement covers all Baxa products, the ExactaMix(TM) 2400 Automated Compounder and the Repeater(TM) Pharmacy Pump have been recognized as ones that will increase efficiency for the hospitals targeted by Baxa and SINOPHARM in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Due to their existing practice of manual preparation, the companies expect that more than 250 hospitals could benefit from the Baxa pharmacy automation equipment.

# For fashion-forward Gilt Groupe, robots help get the orders shipped on time Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gilt Groupe Inc., a web-only retailer of fashion apparel and home furnishings that it offers in timed sales, has found that a robot-supported fulfillment warehouse is four times as productive as its traditional warehouse, chief operating officer Jennifer Carr-Smith says.

# Expert: Wayward Flight Shows Risks Of Automation

October 29, 2009

The recent instance of a Northwest airliner flying past its destination because of the pilots’ preoccupation with their computers raises new questions about how airline crews communicate — and the risks of automation.

# After PBN, airport to go for air traffic control automation

V Ayyappan, TNN 27 October 2009

CHENNAI: After defining air routes for landing and take-off under the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) sytem, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken steps to introduce automation of air traffic control at the Chennai airport. A meeting with representatives of US-based Raytheon, which bagged the Rs 42 crore contract to automate ATC, is scheduled in the coming days to discuss the details. “They will have to study the procedures used here and then design a system that can match ours,” said a senior AAI official. Like PBN, automation is crucial for the airport here because the traffic has crossed 400 aircraft a day. In Mumbai, PBN was installed when traffic touched 350 aircraft a day. So, an automated ATC system will ease the workload of controllers, improve air safety and make handling of aircraft in the congested air space easy.

# Honeywell’s Ready for the Recovery

By David Lee Smith, October 26, 2009

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) is clearly one of the more diversified companies operating in the U.S. today. From aerospace systems, to specialty materials (primarily chemicals), and on to automation and control solutions, the company ranges far and wide. Perhaps that diversity helped the company turn in results that were better than both what the dart-throwers on Wall Street had forecast and what most business scribes seemed willing to admit.

# From Automation to Precision: Closing the Productivity Gap

By Marcus Ryu, Guidewir, Oct 30, 200912:47 PM ET

Observers of the insurance industry rightly identify inefficiency as one of the insurance industry’s greatest challenges. Complex, stove-piped organizations replete with manual processes call out for the benefits of automation. They also invite comparisons to the manufacturing industry and advocacy for a more “industrial” approach to insurance processing. No one would dispute that the insurance industry could gain greater benefit from automation. However, it may be worthwhile to ask how much insurers can ultimately gain through greater efficiency and what precisely they can learn from manufacturing.

# Automation Systems Help Asphalt Producers Focus on the Quality

By Lisa Cleaver, October 28th, 2009 09:31 AM EDT

Jerry McCauley, a plant superintendent with Plote Construction, has seen a lot of changes over his nearly 36 years in the asphalt industry. Probably the greatest innovation McCauley has witnessed is automation technology for asphalt production.

# Nigeria: Firm Introduces Automation Technology to Local Manufacturers

Tunbosun Ogundare, 26 October 2009 Worried by the continued closure and relocation abroad of many manufacturing firms in the country, AJ Excel Automation Incorporation has concluded plan to reverse the trend. The company said the current situation in the country’s manufacturing sector was not only counter-productive to the Federal Government’s seven- point agenda, but inimical to well-being of the citizenry, noting that technology is a major recipe to achieving economic prosperity.

# New Military Robot Walks Like Flesh-and-Blood Person

October 28, 2009 (ChattahBox)—The robot creators at Boston Dynamics have come up with a replica of a military solider robot, which can walk on its own and even crawl. The amazingly lifelike robot, dubbed Petman will be used to test chemical protection clothing used by the U.S. Army. Petman is a continuation of military robots manufactured by Boston Dynamics that most recently created BigDog, a robot with four legs, the size of a large dog, which walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads for soldiers in the field. Petman is described, as BigDog’s big brother .

# Robot soldiers By Amanda Wong, Oct 29, 2009

WITH clockwork precision, the robots screen the container for weapons of mass destruction. After the all-clear signal, it breaks open the door of the container and then moves in to take samples from the shipment, which will be sent to the laboratory for further investigation. All this is done without actual humans. Singapore is the only one of four countries in Exercise Deep Sabre II to use robots to perform such dangerous tasks. Held at Changi Naval Base, the exercise also included officers from Australia, Japan and USA. The exercise is to enhance security measures against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Some 2000 personnel from 19 countries are involved in this year’s exercise.

# Robot armies ‘will explore alien worlds’, Oct 31, 2009

Alien worlds may be explored by armies of flying, driving and sailing robots, say scientists. Robotic airships and satellites will fly above the surface of the distant world, commanding squadrons of wheeled rovers and floating robot boats, according to Wolfgang Fink of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The systems will transform planetary exploration, says Prof Fink, who envisages the cybernetic adventurers mapping the land and seascapes of Saturn’s moon, Titan – believed to have lakes of standing liquid – as well as closer planetary neighbors like Mars. At the moment robotic exploration relies on single robots controlled from Earth. That will change, according to Prof Fink, director of Caltech’s Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory.

# Elk robot to help Ore. officials catch poachers

Associated Press – October 27, 2009 12:15 AM ET

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Oregon wildlife officials will use a donated robotic elk to help catch poachers. The decoy donated by the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust will help fish and wildlife agents target nighttime or closed-season poachers. Officials say many poachers are wary of possible decoys and check for movement before shooting, making the robot a valuable resource. The anti-poaching decoy program already has some robotic deer.

# Adept Technology Announces Adept Quattro Robot Breaks 300 Cycle Per Minute Barrier

Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:32am EDT

PLEASANTON, Calif., Oct. 28, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced its Adept Quattro Robot has broken the 300 cycle per minute barrier. The record robotic performance threshold was set using the 25mm x 300mm x 25mm standard cycle. The industry has long benchmarked speeds using this quantifier and Adept has once again raised the bar. “The Quattro robot is the fastest robot in the world and its advantages over conventional robots not only include faster cycles and settling times but increased payload and more consistent performance throughout the workspace,” said Rush LaSelle, director of global sales and marketing for Adept Technology, Inc. “As Adept continues driving technology to higher levels of performance our clients benefit by realizing throughput previously only offered by conventional equipment combined with the flexibility of manual labor. We are pleased to increasingly offer manufacturers and processors means of achieving high levels of productivity and quality while enabling them to address the pressures of reduced product and packaging life cycles.” RIA

# KUKA Systems Offers North American Solar Producers Best of Two Worlds

KUKA Robotics Corporation Posted 10/26/2009

Anaheim | Detroit | Augsburg – KUKA Systems offers North American solar manufacturers two world-class businesses in one: a major global supplier of advanced solar production technologies and a US-based integrator with demon-strated expertise in adapting those technologies for local use. KUKA Systems’ product lineup covers almost every aspect of photovoltaic manufacturing – from the most sophisticated wire saw machines for slicing ingots into wafers to robotic cells to perform every task associated with assembling and testing PV panels. KUKA Systems also is a major integrator of robotic and other automation technologies for automakers, solar manufacturers, aerospace and logistics companies and can design and install partial or complete turnkey manufacturing lines. # ABB Introduces its Smallest Ever Robot, Designed for Cost-effective Material Handling and Assembly of Smaller Parts

ABB Inc. Posted 10/20/2009

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robots, has introduced its smallest ever multipurpose robot, the IRB 120. The new six-axis robot has all the functionality and advanced design features of ABB’s larger robots in an economical, lightweight model that will provide agility, accuracy and speed to a broad range of applications where a smaller footprint and profile are required. Weighing just 25kg (55 lbs), the IRB 120 has a standard payload of 3kg (6.6 lbs), a vertical wrist payload of 4kg (8.8 lbs), a reach of 580mm, a best-in-class stroke of 411mm and the ability to reach 112mm below its base. The IRB 120 is available with a new compact version of the industry-leading IRC5 controller, making it easy to program and control for a variety of tasks. The Compact IRC-5 is fully compatible with the standard and panel mount IRC-5 controllers.

# A Little Green in Every Robot by Brian Huse , Director, Marketing & PR Robotic Industries Association Posted 10/19/2009

Robots are among the most efficient machines available to manufacturers and can be part of any company’s strategy for green manufacturing. Faster cycle times, improved quality and less scrap contribute directly to a greener footprint, and robots are well known for these advantages. If you use robots you have a green manufacturing story already. When green manufacturing surfaced as a corporate strategy there were many who believed there was little or no payback. Isn’t it cheaper to pump waste out of the factory than it is to recycle it? And who can really afford to cultivate an eco-roof on top of their factory? Despite the skeptics, more companies now do such things and are able to show there is a return on investment.


# iRobot Launches Healthcare Robotics Division

POSTED BY: Mikell Taylor // Thu, October 29, 2009

During the TEDMED conference taking place in San Diego this week, iRobot announced the creation of a new product unit: healthcare robots. CEO Colin Angle said the overall goal is to add “one million hours of independent living” to seniors’ lives. This is not at all a surprising move. Eldercare robots development has lagged in the US. Japan and South Korea have dedicated many more resources – including government dollars – to that development. So iRobot is well-positioned to take advantage of the relatively empty US market.


# Introduction to Swarm Intelligence

Posted 22 Oct 2009 at 17:46 UTC by steve

Sabu M. Thampi has posted a very short introduction to Swarm Intelligence (PDF format). In his paper, he describes the biological origins of swarm intelligence in flocks of birds, schools of fish, and swarms of bees. He goes on to describe the importance of swarm intelligence to robotics, using the computational models of ant colony optimization (ACO) and particle swarm optimization (PSO). Pseudo code for the ACO algorithm is included. CC licensed image of swarming grackles by flickr user AlphaTangoBravo


# 30 Days, No Landing: Darpa Aims for Drone Endurance Record

By Noah Shachtman, October 28, 2009

The idea, ultimately, is to build a drone that will stay in the sky for five years or more. But in the meantime, Pentagon wild research arm Darpa will just have to settle for a solar-powered robotic aircraft that flies for a month a time. Not bad, considering that’s nearly 10 times the current drone endurance record of 3 days, 10 hours. Darpa just launched the $155 million second phase of the project, dubbed “Vulture.” The idea is to build a drone that can carry a thousand-pound payload for at least thirty days.

# U.S. Drones Back Pak Offensive Against Taliban

By Noah Shachtman, October 23, 2009

The Pakistani Army is getting help from U.S. spy drones, in its offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan. “For months the United States and Pakistan have been sharing information from Predator flights in the volatile border regions” between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the L.A. Times’ Julian Barnes and Greg Miller report. “but until now the Pakistanis had not accepted help for their major military operations.” These flights aren’t the same as the killer drone attacks, under the CIA’s operational control, which have left slain up to 1,000 people, including several top leaders of the Pakistani Taliban.


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