Automation and Robotics News–April 25, 2010
Highlights: Automation around the world: India, Angola, Japan, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Automation Census, Cocaine-hunting robochopper, X-37B Robot Space Plane, 2 female androids, Important book: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, and more
# Chinese robot chef can’t walk, but it can wok
Tim Hornyak Wed Apr 14 2010
Students at China’s Yangzhou and Shanghai Jiaotong universities are developing a cooking robot that can whip up 300 kinds of Chinese dishes. Chefs are not pleased.
# Robovie R3 robot wants to hold your hand
Tim Hornyak, Wed Apr 21 2010
New humanoid robot is designed to help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks. Cheaper than earlier versions, it still costs as much as a sports car.
# Man Is No Match For World’s Fastest Pick-and-Place Robot
By Kyle VanHemert, 04/20/10
Even armed with a Wiimote, the BotJunkie junkies couldn’t shake the 300-cycle-per-minute Adept Quattro, the world’s fastest-pick and-place robot. Watch this video and imagine how quickly it could fill up one of those state quarter maps.
# German Fembot AILA Has No Mouth to Feed Bratwurst To
By Kat Hannaford, 04/23/10
As the glamor shots illustrate, fembot AILA is pretty tasty. Curvy in all the right places, big eyes not seen since Zooey Deschanel, and a modern haircut that shows she’s got an awesome music collection. Shame she has no legs.
# The Roboplant Is Coming For You(r Contaminated River)
By Mark Wilson, 04/09/10
The roboplant will not rest until it walks to the nearest source of polluted water, sips from it and tops off its microbial fuel cells.
# Smart factory’s cheap chassis: Rockwell helps keep cost of India’s Tata Nano low
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – John Schmid – April 18, 2010
AP By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel Tata Motors last month inaugurated its $417 million intelligent automation factory, where it builds the Nano. … How do they do it? In Tata’s case, a crucial element is a $417 million “smart factory” in the state of Gujarat that uses intelligent-automation hardware, software and services supplied by Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. “That plant in India is using the latest technology,” says Keith Nosbusch, chief executive of Rockwell. “The myth of these emerging countries is that they do it by cheap labor and abysmal working standards and terrible plants and abusive environments,” Nosbusch said. “These are high-tech facilities, as high-tech as they are in the U.S. And the people are very happy to be working in them.” Tata’s technology goes beyond robotics, the craze of the 1980s. While the Gujarat plant remains in ramp-up phase, it already manages every sensor, microchip and motor control. It predicts bottlenecks and breakdowns on the factory floor before they happen. It has the capacity to seamlessly order parts from its suppliers – such as seats for the Nano from the Indian subsidiary of Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. – the instant it receives a custom new car order from a dealer.
# Yokohama’s Cherry Blossom Symposium Showcases Clinical Lab Automation Breakthroughs
April 16 2010
Third-generation total laboratory automation (TLA) solutions now used by Japanese clinical labs Your Dark Daily editor is writing this e-briefing from the 7th Cherry Blossom Symposium in Japan, where it is already Saturday—one day ahead of you readers in North America! The second day of this International Conference of Clinical Laboratory Automation and Robotics is now unfolding. Yesterday’s opening sessions were chock-full of innovation, insights, and new developments in clinical laboratory automation and robotics. Representing 12 nations, a sizeable crowd of 260 pathologists, clinical biochemists, laboratory scientists, and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) vendors is in attendance. The scope and scale of medical laboratory automation was obvious from the 17 speakers who made presentations yesterday. In many of these clinical pathology laboratories, total laboratory automation (TLA) is a given. A number of presenters discussed the design and function of their clinical lab’s third generation of total laboratory automation. One common theme is the use of automated solutions to further integrate operational flow, starting at pre-analytical and flowing specimens into the analytical stage and then post-analytical steps.
# Angola: Higher Education Ministry runs debate about automation, robotics
4/13/10 Luanda – The foment of the Angolan Society of Automation and Robotics will be discussed at a workshop on April 20, in Luanda, sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. According to a press release that reached Angop Monday, the meeting will tackle such topics as “General policies on scientific research and Angola’s technological development”, and “Progress of engineering in Angola and new national reconstruction challenges”. “Automation and robotics in Angola’s sustainable development – Agostinho Neto University’s Vision” and “Automation in Angola’s oil industry-Utilised techniques” as well as “Importance of automation in the development of agile systems of production” are also topics under discussion at the event.
# Angola: Automation and Robotics Enables Society’s Wellbeing
AllAfrica.com – Apr 21, 2010
Luanda — The Angolan secretary of state of Science and Technology, João Teta, defended this Tuesday in Luanda the need to invest in automation and robotics
# Automation Census – How Many Robots, Vending Machines, Self Service Kiosks, ATMs
There were 8.6 million robots at the end of 2008. There are probably about 11 million robots now (start of Q2 2010). Automation goes beyond robots and below I discuss vending machines, self service kiosks, ATMS and more….
Process changes and other Job Impacts
There is concern that robots and automation displace human jobs
Better and more robots and artificial intelligence are not the only ways for humans to lose jobs
Going down the list of jobs and looking at how many people have different jobs which are the jobs that are safe from displacement ? Even if a class of jobs is not completely eliminated could demand be severely reduced ?
23.3 million jobs in the USA for office administration and support. (New business systems that require fewer people. Web 2.0 companies only need a handful of people or one person to do what took hundreds only a few years ago).
14.3 million jobs in the USA for sales and related work. (Automation and new sales processes)
11.3 million jobs in food preparation and serving. (Improved frozen meals, more elaborate food vending machines)
10.1 million jobs in production. (Automation and process re-engineering, shifts of jobs to other places – jobs still done by people but they are other people, better additive manufacturing and printable electronics and components)
9.6 million jobs in transportation and material moving. (more local production : high rise farming, rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems)
8.3 million jobs in education, training and library. (online learning, MIT recordings of the best professors.)
6.9 million healthcare practitioners and technical. (Biomarker tracking with cheap devices to catch and treat diseases early or in the developing stages. Keep people healthier and avoiding the need for more costly and people intensive intervention).
6.7 million jobs in construction and extraction (pre-fab buildings and panels).
6.0 million Management. Re-engineering to flatten organizations and take out layers of management. Web 2.0’ing a business. Reinvent it where a lot fewer people are needed.
5.4 million Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. Redesign things where the quality is better and it does not break or does not need service or is simple to install.
# Automation Anywhere Announces 70% Growth and Record Year
Newswire Today (press release) – Apr 17, 2010
Automation Anywhere, a global leader in automation software, today announced record numbers as the company continues to grow in both business process …
# Worker deficit spurs automation
Global Sources – Apr 12, 2010
Prohibitive costs limit adoption to tier 1 enterprises, but local governments are doling out subsidies to encourage more factories to upgrade. Raising compensation and benefits to retain or entice workers is not the only approach China suppliers are taking to maintain output levels amid a still challenging labor situation. Many are also turning to automation. Swimwear makers that produce their own fabrics, for instance, are replacing manual knitting machines with computerized units. In addition to boosting efficiency, the advanced equipment minimizes the need to retain a large workforce.
Procuring computerized flat-knitting machines allowed Jiaxing Mengdi to cut two-thirds of its workforce.
# A robot journalist
ZDNet (blog) – Chris Jablonski – Apr 16, 2010
Move over citizen journalism, the next phase for media could be largely automated with minimal human intervention. A robot developed by researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University can execute primitive journalistic tasks by autonomously exploring its environment, detecting changes in its surroundings, determining what is relevant, and then taking pictures with its on board camera. It can even query nearby people and perform internet searches to further its understanding. As Singularity Hub reports, if something appears newsworthy, the robot will write a short article and publish it to the web.
# Cocaine-hunting robot chopper in 60kg bust seizure
By Lewis Page • 12th April 2010 12:47 GMT
An unmanned kill-chopper operating from a US Navy warship has notched up its first drug bust while still in testing, according to reports. The “Fire Scout” robocopter was engaged in sea trials aboard the US frigate McInerney earlier this month when its mothership detected a possible “go-fast” drug-smuggling speedboat on radar, according to Aviation Week. … Makers Northrop intend the droid chopper both for US Naval and Coastguard service. Two can be carried in the same space as a light maritime manned helicopter, which offers the attraction of continuous airborne presence from ships which are normally single-aircraft only such as frigates like the McInerney and US Coastguard cutters.
# Hoosier robot killers? Indiana’s connections to drone warfare
by Fran Quigley
April 18, 2010
Unmanned drone technologies have changed the course of human warfare and are being developed in more than 40 countries. Purdue University and several Indiana businesses are involved in their development and testing….But this is no schoolboy experiment, and the small flying cylinder is no model airplane. It is the Voyeur UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a “drone.” According to the Web site of its manufacturer, West Lafayette-based Lite Machines, Inc., the Voyeur is designed to allow military and law enforcement to conduct surveillance and “human or non-human target acquisition.” The Voyeur can travel as far as 50 miles in the air and can hover over and/or touch its target….”Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes.”Lite Machines is based in the Purdue Research Park, which promotes the fact that the company has received a $10.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy. The multi-million dollar military investment for a small company in Tippecanoe County represents part of a $4 billion annual Department of Defense budget for UAV technology, a highly secretive world of warcraft that is being eagerly embraced by U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes….The drones are operated remotely by computer and video display, often by Air Force personnel in Nevada or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff in Virginia, even when the drone is flying several thousand miles away. The lack of an onboard pilot eliminates direct risk to U.S. personnel and is part of a movement toward robot-izing military missions chronicled in Brookings Institution senior fellow P.W. Singer’s widely acclaimed book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.
# SEC installs power automation system from China
Saudi Gazette – Joe Avancena – Apr 21, 2010
DAMMAM – China’s first electric power automation system has been successfully commissioned at the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) facilities …
# Albany-based firm acquires wind turbine monitoring capability
April 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm by Kevin Harrigan
MSE Power Systems Inc., an Albany-based electrical engineering firm, has purchased ADMS Wind SCADA and wind turbine monitoring technology from Second Wind Systems Inc. of Somerville, Mass. Details of the deal weren’t immediately available. MSE’s parent company, CG Automation, is headquartered in India. ADMS Wind SCADA allows for universal feedback and control of wind turbines according to the Second Wind Web site, while the monitoring equipment will register turbine performance. Unreliability has been one of the most plaguing issues of wind power.
# Secretive X-37B Robot Space Plane Moves to Launch Pad
By SPACE.com Staff, posted: 21 April 2010
An unmanned rocket rolled out to its seaside launch pad in Florida today carrying a secretive robotic X-37B space plane for the United States Air Force ahead of a planned Thursday launch. The Air Force plans to launch the X-37B space plane on a demonstration flight that could last months. Liftoff is set for Thursday night between 7:52 p.m. and 8:01 p.m. EDT (2352-0001 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. [X-37B spacecraft photos.] The robotic X-37B space plane looks like a miniature space shuttle and even has a small payload like NASA’s orbiters. It weighs about 11,000 pounds and is just over 29 feet in length. It stands slightly more than 9 1/2 feet in height and has a wingspan just over 14 feet across. But unlike its bigger space shuttle brethren, the X-37B is designed to fly unmanned and remain in orbit for up to 270 days. NASA shuttle missions typically carry up to seven astronauts and last around two weeks….Payton said the X-37B is designed to re-enter and land autonomously, without any direction from mission controllers after starting its descent from orbit. The mini-shuttle is expected to land at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at the end of its debut test flight, he added. The X-37B was built by Boeing’s Phantom Works division in Seal Beach, Calif. The Air Force has already ordered a second Orbital Test Vehicle, but whether it launches in 2011 as planned hinges on the performance of the upcoming test flight, Air Force officials said.
# Adept Technology Announces Receipt of $2.9M Order From Global Leader in Consumer Electronics
Order for Vision Guided Robotics Will Enable Increased Productivity
PLEASANTON, Calif., Apr 20, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — Adept Technology, Inc., a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced it has received a $2.9 million order for high-precision robots from a major global leader in consumer electronics. The order is expected to be fulfilled and recognized as revenue over the next two quarters. The company selected Adept as its automation partner to provide high-speed vision-guided robot systems for complex, precision handling operations after conducting a thorough investigation of potential suppliers. Adept has been serving the consumer electronics and information technology industry with high-precision mechanisms and controls in both standard and cleanroom configurations for over 20 years. “The high-speed vision-guided robot systems will be installed in the highly competitive manufacturing environment of Southeast Asia,” said Hai Chang, Managing Director of Asia Operations for Adept Technology. “Southeast Asian manufacturing output has rebounded more rapidly than in the U.S. and Europe, particularly in the semiconductor and electronics sectors. China has driven much of the general recovery in Asia, with much higher IT spending than in 2009. We are pleased to have this opportunity to continue serving these leading companies in the consumer electronics sector.”
# cynomy demolition robot concept: remote-controlled destruction
Technabob (blog) – Apr 22, 2010
One of the best things about robots is that they’re not alive, which means choosing between a robot and a human to perform a risky task is a no-brainer.
# South Korea Developing Underwater Search-and-Rescue Robot Crawlers
Popular Science – Jeremy Hsu – Apr 19, 2010
The government announced today that it would spend about $18 million (20 billion won) over the next five years to create its creepy-crawly robot.
# Robot-run recycling system sorts up to six types of plastics
Plastics Today – Matt Defosse – Apr 20, 2010
Laser equipped and robot run, this recycling system can sort up to six types of plastics. One of the main inhibitors for increased recycling of plastics
IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
# Geminoid F: More Video and Photos of the Female Android
Erico Guizzo // Tue, April 20, 2010
Geminoid F, the female android recently unveiled by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University and ATR famous for his ultra-realistic humanlike androids, generated a lot of interest. Several people wrote me asking for more details and also more images. So here’s some good news. I got some exclusive photos and video of Geminoid F, courtesy of Osaka University, ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, and Kokoro Company.
# How Recycling Robots Could Help Us Clean the Planet
POSTED BY: Antonio Espingardeiro // Wed, April 21, 2010
Dustbot, a garbage-collecting robot created by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab. At the current rate of global population growth and consumption of resources, it appears clear to me where we’re going to end: in a waste-covered Earth like that depicted in the movie WALL-E…. Recycling is a very promising area for robotics. Over the next few decades I imagine a future where waste-collecting robots will be moving through air, land, and water, reaching difficult areas to help us cleaning our environment. Picture WALL-E but before the whole planet becomes a landfill. In fact, there are already some recycling bot prototypes roaming around. One example is Dustbot, a robot developed at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab, in Pisa, Italy. Led by Prof. Paolo Dario, the laboratory created a robot designed specifically to collect garbage at people’s homes.