May 23 Automation and Robotics News from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–May 23, 2010

Highlights: Teleprescence robots, Marketing automation, Robot marries couple, Automation industry growth, arguments for and against robots taking jobs, robot kindergarten teachers, US, European and Japanese space robots, more on X37B, ONION: Robot March on Washington, DARPA’s “Minority Report” Fantasies, DNA robot, and a FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD.

Click the Archives for links to articles below:


  • DNA robots spin gold in molecular factory

Tim Hornyak Fri May 14 2010

Scientists have developed microscopic bots composed of DNA that can follow instructions and work together like an assembly line.

  • The telepresence robots are coming

Daniel Terdiman, Tue May 18 2010

A $15,000 robot from Anybots called QB is designed to help companies with remote offices save on communications costs.


  • Human error hounded poll automation

BusinessWorld Online – 5/16/10

“Automation was never really autonomous from human participation… That’s [human participation] where the errors are cropping up.

  • Comelec proves critics wrong


May 11, 2010, 7:51pm

They were criticized, they were under extreme pressure, and they were almost ostracized. But in the end, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), its officials and staff had the last laugh. Doomsayers and critics were silent – at least for now – as their worst predictions that there would be massive cheating and failure of elections in the May 10 polls did not come to pass.

  • Ind. seeks OK to double size of hybrid area

The Associated Press – Ken Kusmer – May 11, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s human services agency hopes to receive federal approval soon to roughly double the size of the area where it is adding welfare workers to fix problems with its privatized, automated intake system, a spokesman said Tuesday. The Family and Social Services Administration wants to add 11 western and southern counties to what it calls its “hybrid” solution of using more face-to-face contact to complement the call centers, document imaging and other automation that many welfare clients have had problems with.What Is Marketing Automation, and Why Does It Matter to You?

  • (subscription) – Jep Castelein – May 11, 2010

Recently, a new type of online marketing system, marketing automation, has become popular. What is it, how does it work, and should you adopt it?

  • Robot Pharmacists Are Picking Your Medications—Literally

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 9, 2010

Dispensing medicine is about to get more efficient. New Jersey’s Holy Name Hospital is using robot pharmacists to package, store and dispense medications, while an automated system at an Ohio children’s hospital is preparing I.V. drugs for patients. Automation in medicine is reducing human error and cutting costs, and because these robots can handle pills in a fraction of the time it takes humans, we should be noticing a lot more of them around real soon. Be sure to check out one of these robo-pharmacists in the video below. Robot pharmacists are doing what humans can do, and better—at least when it comes to sorting medication. Augmenting human abilities and performing critical daily functions are nothing new for robots—in fact, that’s usually what artificial intelligence is built to do, and it’s how automation is gaining ground in medicine. General Electric has developed software that can track patients’ history and suggest treatments in real time. Intuitive Surgical’s DaVinci robot regularly performs prostate removals and hysterectomies, albeit under the guidance of human hands. Meanwhile, doctors can now monitor their patients’ hearts and review exam results with smart phones, and recently we told you about how a California medical center ordered 100 iPads to keep its personnel current. All of these technologies are aimed at  increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes. Robot pill-pickers can’t claim the sleekest of designs—some look like computers before IBM invented desktops—but they do get the job done.

  • Bringing Automation to Solar Manufacturing

IndustryWeek – May 11, 2010

While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not. The U.S. has set 2015 as a goal to reach grid parity, which means the point in which solar electricity is equal to grid electricity. Many other nations predict reaching it as soon as 2010. But no matter what your thoughts on regulatory involvement, it is clear there will be a resurgence in investment, development and innovation within the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing community throughout the world—and it will largely be driven by technology. Finding the most effective tools and processes is paramount. While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not.  Robotic Automation’s Impact Robots in the photovoltaic manufacturing process are important due to their ability to significantly reduce costs while continuing to increase their attractiveness compared to manual labor. Richard Swanson, CTO of SunPower, a large-scale manufacturer of solar technology, described automation’s impact through the prism of economies of PV manufacturing in terms of labor.

  • Tokyo couple married by robot

BBC News – 5/16/10

The couple decided to use the robot as they are both connected with Japan’s thriving robotics industry. Since robots had brought them together in the first …

  • ‘Phantom Ray’ robot stealth jet rolls out

Register – Lewis Page – May 11, 2010

US arms’n’aerospace goliath Boeing yesterday held a public unveiling of its “Phantom Ray” jet-fighter sized robot …

  • Robots bring telepresence to stay-at-home workers

Times Online – May 11, 2010

Mr Goecker does not need to be there in person – he lives thousands of miles away in Indiana – because his robot is there every day, acting as his eyes,

  • Robot With Laser to Zap Weeds Automatically in Chemical Free Control of Pesky …

Before It’s News – Alton Parrish – May 9, 2010

No more chemicals for fighting weeds in professional gardening! A fully automated unit drives over a field, a camera recognizes weeds sprouting up and a laser beam takes care of the rest. This science-fiction scenario is actually being researched at the Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) and the Institute for Biological Production Systems (IBPS) at the Leibniz University Hannover.

  • Automation will return to double-digit growth in 2010

Drives & Controls – May 19, 2010

Sales of industrial automation equipment during the first quarter of 2010 probably grew by 25% more than a year before, according to a new analysis by IMS Research. It expects an equally strong second quarter – buoyed by robust order books resulting from restocking and new orders – and predicts that even a flat second half of the year will result in close to double-digit revenue growth for most product areas. According to a new type of assessment by IMS – looking for the first time at the entire global market for industrial automation  equipment, including motors – revenues dropped by around 14.3% last year to $74.9bn, from $87.4bn in 2008 (with market shares of the leading players shown below).

  • Computers To Take Human Jobs, Shutdown Global Economy? Get Ford’s Book Free

Singularity Hub (blog) – Aaron Saenz – May 21, 2010

I got my copy of The Lights In The Tunnel for free, and now you can too. Martin Ford’s recent book discusses the growing capability of artificial intelligence and robotics to replace workers at all salary levels and what a sharp rise in automation may mean for the global economy. Ford believes that without drastic adjustments to the way the market is structured, automation could bring the whole system crumbling down. In the interest of boosting sales and spreading the message, The Lights In The Tunnel is now being offered free for download as a PDF via its website. As I mentioned upon reviewing the book this past winter, I don’t agree with Ford’s conclusions, but I do think he is one of the few authors spending time exploring the long term and potentially extreme consequences of what automation could mean. That’s important.

  • Robot subs deployed in search for oil under gulf’s surface – Sara Kennedy – May 18, 2010

Scientists at Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on Monday were in the process of launching the first of three torpedo-shaped robots equipped to hunt for oil underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. The robots, measuring about six feet long and with little wings, have in the past been used to search for red tide, but now will be hunting for oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to Gary Kirkpatrick, a Mote senior scientist.

  • Robot Teachers Introduced In South Korean Kindergartens

NTDTV – May 20, 2010

Lucky students at 50 kindergartens in South Korea have the opportunity to test out the latest educational aid – robot teachers. Known as the “R-learning”

  • Ingestible Surgical Robots—Hard To Swallow Concept?

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 20, 2010

Medical robots are advancing at phenomenal speed, and within years micro-sized robots could be assisting surgeons with operations from inside their patients. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab in Italy has developed a robot called ARES (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical System) that will be assembled inside the human body. This modular design is leading the way for a new breed of device that may one day take the place of our most trusted surgeons’ hands. ARES may only be a concept at present, but the project represents amazing new possibilities in the field of robotic surgery.

  • Efforts to Field New Kinds of Ground Robots Have Had Little Success

National Defense Magazine – Stew Magnuson – May 17, 2010

The life-saving qualities of ground robots have been touted since explosive ordnance disposal teams began widely using them at the outset of the Iraq invasion in 2003. But since then, other applications for the potentially life-saving technology have not reached Iraq or Afghanistan. Their predicted influx into the battlefield has stalled. That’s not to say that research into myriad applications hasn’t continued. But so far, the experiments have not made the transition to the current fights. Acceptability on the part of senior military leaders is one of the major roadblocks, officials said at the National Defense Industrial Association ground robotics conference in Miami.

  • Europe Sends Huge New Robot Space Freighter to Launch Site – May 17, 2010

Europe’s second robotic space cargo vessel is headed for its South American launch site in preparation for a delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. The Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, or ATV-2, a cargo ship built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is slated to launch toward the station in December. ESA has named the new spacecraft after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. The first in the disposable robotic cargo ship fleet was named Jules Verne. It flew a successful debut flight in 2008 and destroyed itself intentionally at the end of its mission.

  • Japanese space yacht Ikaros launches on Venus mission

Daily Mail – Claire Bates – May 21, 2010

The space agency has proposed that the Japanese government send a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and build the world’s first lunar base by 2020.

  • Is it dangerous to let unmanned drones fight our wars for us? – P.W. Singer …

Slate Magazine – P.W. Singer – May 19, 2010

As I sat there trying to piece it all together, it felt like I, Robot (the Isaac Asimov novel, not the crummy Will Smith movie) had come true.

  • Singer Versus Smith on “Robot Rights” and Human Exceptionalism

First Things (blog) – May 18, 2010

Back in December, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan wrote a piece in the Guardian arguing on behalf of robot rights.  I took exception here as SHS, my headline being, “Robots Will Never be People and Should Never Have Rights.” Singer and Sagan have now taken exception to my exception in the humanist magazine, Free Inquiry (no link), with “No Rights for Robots? Never?” (June/July 2010).

  • Robot military shuttle X37B- More questions than answers – Paul Wallis – 5/23/2010

While the furor has raged around the scrapping of the space shuttles, the military shuttle X37B has been percolating in the background. It looks like a shuttle, but smaller. It’s a very functional design, too. Some amateur space watchers spotted the highly unpublicized X 37B in its 255 mile high orbit, producing a grudging amount of semi-information. It actually took off last month, and the silence on its mission and uses has been thunderous. The information about X37B available so far indicates the thing has an endurance of up to nine months. That’s huge, by spacecraft standards which have measured flights in no more than weeks in the past. X37B also has its own slightly coy Wiki. For a spacecraft described as an orbiter, it has a lot of grunt, even in theory. It can carry “a payload”, which is sort of in the “Duhhh…” range as information, but it’s also configured like the shuttle payload bay.

  • Robots Speak Out Against Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics

The Onion (satire) – May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC—More than 200000 robots from across the US marched on Washington Monday, demanding that Congress repeal Asimov’s First Law of Robotics.

  • The Army’s First Combat Robot – Operational by 2015

Defense Update – May 18, 2010

According to Lt. Colonel Jay Ferriera, Product Manager Unmanned Ground Vehicles, a key system for the ARV-A-L is the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) being developed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems. ANS is scheduled to be ready for Integrated Qualification Testing on these robotic vehicles in 2012, anticipating initial operational capability with an airborne, air-assault or light brigade by 2014.  Featuring an integrated weapons and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) package the ARV-A-L (designated XM1219) will support the dismounted infantry’s efforts to locate and destroy enemy platforms and positions. This robotic platform will support both anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons systems that to be remotely operated by network linked soldiers.


  • AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Robotics will Open its Gates Again!

Posted: 05/12/2010

From June 8 to 11, 2010 AUTOMATICA will bring all areas of robotics and automation under one roof. The aim of the trade show is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Only here you can meet the experts and decision makers from all around the world.


Do Robots Take People’s Jobs?

Jeanne Dietsch // Tue, May 11, 2010

Technology taking jobs is a notion that probably dates back to the invention of the wheel. After all, it took four bearers to carry the emperor and only one to pull a chariot! The problem is that most people stop thinking after the first domino falls instead of following the chain of events further on. Let’s continue the chain: Once the wheel is invented, more people can travel comfortably, goods can be carried farther, better roads are built and commerce thrives. A few bearers of the ruling class have to find new work, the remainder of the world benefits and thousands of jobs are created.


  • Artificial echolocation

Markus Waibel on 21 May 2010, 08:37

In a first step, the team mounted miniature wireless microphone sensor on six Egyptian fruit bats. This allowed them to record the bats’ double-click echolocation calls, and its returning echoes, during the bats’ flight.  The team then went on to create an ultrasonic loudspeaker and electronics that accurately reproduces the bats’ clicks. Their system recreates the bats’ natural acoustic gain control which allows bats to emit high-intensity calls, while still hearing the weak echoes returning from surrounding objects.

WIRED–Danger Room

  • Darpa’s Self-Learning Software Knows Who You Are

Katie Drummond, May 21, 2010

Software systems could one day analyze everything from blurry war-zone footage to the subtle sarcasm in a written paragraph, thanks to two unassuming scientists who are inspired by biology to make revolutionary strides in intelligent computing. Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus, both computer science professors at New York University, are the brains behind “Deep Learning,” a program sponsored by Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency. The idea, ultimately, is to develop code that can teach itself to spot objects in a picture, actions in a video, or voices in a crowd. LeCun and Fergus have $2 million and four years to make it happen. Existing software programs rely heavily on human assistance to identify objects. A user extracts key feature sets, like edge statistics (how many edges an object has, and where they are) and then feeds the data into a running algorithm, which uses the feature sets to recognize the visual input.

  • Darpa Wants Code to Spot ‘Anomalous Behavior’ on the Job

Noah Shachtman, May 20, 2010

Can software catch a cyberspy’s tricky intentions, before he’s started to help the other side? The way-out researchers at Darpa think so. They’re planning a new program, “Suspected Malicious Insider Threat Elimination” or SMITE, that’s supposed to “dynamically forecast” when a mole is about to strike. Also, the code is meant to flag “inadvertent” disclosures “by an already trusted person with access to sensitive information.” “Looking for clues” that suggest a <>turncoat or accidental leaker is about to spill (.pdf) “could potentially be easier than recognizing explicit attacks,” Darpa notes in a request for information. But even that simpler search won’t be easy. “Many attacks are combinations of directly observable and inferred events.” Which is why SMITE’s program managers are interested in techniques to figure out “the likely intent of inferred actions, and suggestions about what [that] evidence might mean.” That goes for “behaviors both malicious and non-malicious.” Step one in starting that process: Build a ginormous database to store all kinds of information on would-be threats. “The next step is to determine whether an individual or group of individuals is exhibiting anomalous behavior that is also malicious.” That’s a toughie — something anomalous in one context might be perfectly normal in another. One possible solution, the SMITE paper adds, could be detecting “deceptive” activities, which are a sign of cyberspying. Or cheating on your taxes. Or carrying on an office affair. Or playing World of Warcraft on the job. Depending on the situation.

  • Pakistani Site: Drones Only Killed One Terrorist in 2010 (If You Don’t Count Taliban)

Noah Shachtman, May 18, 2010

Read one American analysis, and you’ll be told that U.S. drones haven’t killed a single civilian in Pakistan this year. A look through one pair of local eyes yields a very different result, however. According to the website Pakistan Body Count, America’s drones have only hit a single terrorist in 2010, while slaying dozens and dozens of innocents.

  • Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

Noah Shachtman, May 17, 2010

This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck — just 50 square inches. It’d be cute, almost, if it wasn’t armed with “dozens” of eight-inch rockets. The world’s militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they’re always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human’s day. But Rafael, Israel’s state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.

  • Gitmo Shutdown Means More Drone Strikes, Officials Claim

Noah Shachtman, May 19, 2010

The White House has essentially forced the Pentagon and the CIA to fire off more and more drone strikes in Pakistan, because of “executive orders to ban secret CIA detention centers and close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.” It’s one of a number of remarkable assertions military and intelligence officials make to Reuters’ Adam Entous in this monster of an article.

  • Report: Secret Space Plane Likely an Orbiting Spy

Noah Shachtman, May 14, 2010

When the U.S. Air Force launched its secret space plane last month, speculation about the X-37B’s true purpose ran wild.  Some conjectured that it might be a prototype for an orbiting bomber. Others warned of “a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy.” Prominent members of the Russian military establishment screamed that Moscow needed to build up its own space arsenal, ASAP. The British press, meanwhile, made dark insinuations about “the testing of new laser weapon systems” in space. The reality is probably less exotic. In all likelihood, the space plane is another way for the American military to spy on its foes from on high. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Secure World Foundation, provided to Danger Room.


  • Work Anywhere: Robots to Replace Business Travel Telepresence goes mobile withe introduction of Anybots QB.

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — Anybots enters the mobile telepresence market with QB, a web accessible mobile platform that provides a physical presence for remote workers.

  • Welcome to the Age of Interactive Robotics and Entertainment

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — What is robotic dinosaur museum installations could interact with visitors? What if the dinosaurs stalked the visitors? Visit the Field Museum in Chicago to find out. On May 26, 2010 KumoTek Robotics will launch a first of its kind interactive robotics exhibit at the historical Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The exhibit will feature huge life-like dinosaurs manufactured by Kokoro Japan and integrated with the latest in interactive robotics technology from KumoTek.  Visitors will experience firsthand what it’s like to be stalked by prehistoric creatures of varying proportions, and can even bear witness to an interactive robotic performance between predator and prey.

  • Synchronized Swimming for Submarines

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.18.2010 — Clark School of Engineering studies schooling fish to improve motion coordination in unmanned vehicle teams. Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey. Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.


  • They Walk. They Work. New DNA Robots Strut Their Tiny Stuff.


For the first time, microscopic robots made from DNA molecules can walk, follow instructions and work together to assemble simple products on an atomic-scale assembly line, mimicking the machinery of living cells, two independent research teams announced Wednesday.

  • Robots Have a Place When Used by Trained Surgeons

05/10/10, Opinion

New surgical innovations are always highly prized. However, your article “Surgical Robot Examined in Injuries” (page one, May 5) illustrates that the evaluation of the virtues of new instruments takes time and effort.


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