Automation & Robotics News for Aug. 1, from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–Aug 1, 2010

Highlights: New Stealth Drones (US &UK), Warehouse Automation, Sugar Automation in Kenya, Poll Automation in Nigeria, Structural Unemployment, Automating the Automation, Economic Recovery for Siemens, Rockwell, ABB, iRobot, and Honeywell, Robot Vans Travelling from Italy to China, Robotic Conscience, and Developing Autonomous Surgical Robots

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Click this link for the Aug. 1 issue

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Deploying Drones in U.S. Skies
Morgan Bettex- Filed Jul 22, 2010

Nicholas Roy, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the Robust Robotics Group, discusses the challenges of incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles into commercial airspace.
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to expand flights of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, along the Texas-Mexico border for surveillance purposes. Although unmanned aircraft have been used extensively by the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, the FAA has been hesitant to issue flying rights . . . to discuss the challenges involved with flying unmanned planes across America.

BAE reveals UK’s first combat robot aircraft
Financial Times – Sylvia Pfeifer – Jul 12, 2010
Robot wars came a step closer after BAE Systems unveiled the UK’s first unmanned aircraft that can pilot itself and strike targets as far away as Afghanistan. Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is about the size of a Hawk trainer jet.

Boeing Unveils Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator
By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Jul 26, 2010
Hydrogen powered unmanned airborne system designed to fly at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet for up to four days. The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days. “Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications,” . . .
Army building robotic tentacles to handle IEDs
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
The military is developing snakelike tentacle robots to manipulate IEDs and take part in search and rescue missions. Cobra Commander would be pleased.

Robot Toyota lift truck performs unmanned tasks
Thursday, July 22, 2010 Posted by Suzanne Ashe, cnet.com
The U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency hosted demonstrations at Fort Lee, in Virginia, of an MIT-developed prototype unmanned robotic Toyota lift truck.
At iRobot, moving way beyond the Roomba
Thursday, July 15, 2010 Posted by Daniel Terdiman, cnet.com
Road Trip 2010: CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stops in on the maker of the hit robotic vacuum cleaner and learns what the company has in store for the future of military and home robotics.
Air Force Wants Drones to Sense Other Planes’ ‘Intent’
Spencer Ackerman July 23, 2010, Wired Danger Room
Unmanned aircraft, for all their utility, are fairly simple beasts. They’re good at taking direction, but they’re not so good at processing information on their own. Now the Air Force figures it’s time for drones to get a lot smarter, especially as they take off or land. As anyone who’s ever flown knows, the runway is a crowded place. Planes on the runway queue up to get airborne. Planes in the air have to coordinate with Air Traffic Control for the order in which they can safely land, taking precautions not to get in anyone’s way until it’s their turn. . . .On Tuesday, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said it’ll soon solicit engineers to design an algorithm to allow drones to “integrate seamlessly” with piloted planes

Killer Drones Get Stealthy
Noah Shachtman, July 19, 2010, Wired DangerRoom
Today’s killer drones are sitting ducks. Loud, slow-moving, and simple to spot, any air defense more potent than a militant with an AK is liable to take one of the robotic planes down. But the next generation of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) won’t be the airborne equivalent of fish in a barrel. They’ll fly faster and higher than the current drone crop. And they’ll be somewhat stealthy, as well. . . .

INDUSTRY


One union’s demise: The end of Local 1111 should prompt serious questions about the economy
John Gurda, Opinion: July 31, 2010
A union died last night. As the clock struck midnight and July became August, Rockwell Automation – a company that many Milwaukeeans still think of as Allen-Bradley – finished its final contract with Local 1111 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. The roughly 130 UE members who were still on the job – electricians, maintenance crews, cafeteria staff – have been replaced by contract workers earning much less in wages and benefits than their predecessors.

Why Warehouses are Adopting Automation
Supply Chain Digital (blog) – Ellie Duncan – Jul 30, 2010
Next generation warehousing may sound like the name of the latest Star Trek film but automated warehousing is, in fact, the future of the warehousing and storage industry as we know it. The concept actually dates back to the 1950s when the first Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) was brought to market . . .

AGRICULTURE
Chemelil eyes automation in bid to boost efficiency
Business Daily Africa – Steve Mbogo – Jul 14, 2010
Chemelil Sugar Company plans to automate its cane processing unit to boost efficiency in cane crushing, extract more sucrose and cut operating costs as it prepares for competition from imports from the COMESA region in less than two years. “We have given automation of our boilers the priority,” said Managing Director Edward Musebe. It was however not clear how much money the company plans to use for the project. Kenya’s sugar millers are partially protected from competition from cheaper imports . . .

JOB DISPLACEMENT
Secondary Sources: Basel III, Structural Unemployment, Securitization
By Phil Izzo, July 27, 2010 – Real Time Economics: Economic insight and analysis from The Wall Street Journal.
–Structural Unemployment: The Economist hosts a debate over whether the U.S. is facing structural unemployment. Daron Acemoglu writes: “Yes, US structural unemployment is up. But this is not a recent turn of events. It is the continuation of an ongoing process… US employment and demand for labour have been undergoing profound changes over the last 30 years.
Manufacturing Journalist TR Cutler Looks at Overall Equipment Effectiveness by Memex Automation
Burlington, Ontario — (SBWIRE) — 07/23/2010 — Memex Automation Inc., http://www.memex.ca, a unit of Astrix Networks Inc., was created to leverage the research and development of Memex Electronics, which was founded in 1992. Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology.

GOVERNMENT
Automation is key to credible elections in 2011 , SALISU
Jul 20, 2010, Vanguard, Nigeria
While the debate on electoral reforms is going in the national assembly, how best to  realize  a stable democratic political system in Nigeria through IT tools and strategies has continued to be a major concern of stakeholders in the Nigerian IT industry, especially the Nigerian Computer Society. For many observers, electoral reform is not feasible without deployment of robust IT infrastructure.

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Siemens Alerts Customers to Virus in Its Automation Software
New York Times – Kevin J. O’Brien – Jul 22, 2010
The company, based in Munich, is the world’s largest maker of industrial automation equipment and software, with sales of €6.8 billion, or $8.7 billion, …

Rockwell Automation 3Q Profit More Than Triples
JULY 28, 2010, 3:21 P.M. ET
CHICAGO (Dow Jones)–Rockwell Automation Inc.’s (ROK) fiscal third-quarter earnings more than tripled as the factory-automation equipment and software company benefited from the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry. Sales for the quarter increased 25% and Rockwell’s operating margin nearly doubled, prompting the Milwaukee company to raise its full-year guidance. “Industrial production has been growing the last three or four quarters,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Keith Nosbusch during an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. “We had solid growth in Europe, the U.S. and …

ABB reports lower net, but cites signs of upturn
JULY 23, 2010, 4:59 A.M. ET, By Goran Mijuk Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
ZURICH — ABB Ltd. posted an 8% drop in second-quarter earnings on Thursday, but said a market recovery is emerging as demand improves for industrial and infrastructure projects. Europe’s largest electrical-engineering company by sales said net profit fell to $623 million from $675 million a year earlier amid continued pricing pressure and restructuring costs. Cost cutting limited the decline, ABB said.
Siemens Returns To Growth As Order Intake Surges
JULY 29, 2010, 5:50 A.M. ET
MUNICH (Dow Jones)–Siemens AG (SI) Thursday posted a 12% rise in third-quarter net profit and increased sales and order intake for the first time in seven quarters, marking a return to growth after the demand slump brought about by the recession. Siemens posted especially strong results in its short-cycle businesses, which are closely linked to the economic cycle, such as industry automation and lighting unit Osram. But big-ticket spending also returned. Siemens’ third-quarter order intake was up 22%, bringing the order backlog to a record level of EUR89 billion, driven by new orders for Siemens’ renewable division.

Honeywell 2Q Profit Up 4% Amid Improving Sales; View Raised
JULY 23, 2010, 8:44 A.M. ET
Honeywell International Inc. (HON) on Friday delivered one of the second-quarter season’s most upbeat reports, beating its internal forecasts and raising full-year guidance. The U.S. industrial and aerospace group said it was seeing improvements in early-cycle businesses such as auto parts, while longer-cycle operations were also seeing sales momentum. “We believe the recovery is happening,” said …

Let’s Get Ready To Roomba! iRobot Posts Blowout Q2 Results
Eric Savitz, Tech Trader Daily, 07/28/10
iRobot (IRBT), which makes the Roomba vaccum cleaner robot and other robots for both the consumer and military markets, posted better-than-expected Q2 results, triggering a rally in the stock after hours. For the quarter, the company posted revenue of $98 million and profits of 20 cents a share; the Street had been expecting $92.2 million and 8 cents. For Q3, the company projects revenue of $91 million to $94 million, and profits of 5-6 cents a share; the old Street consensus was $93.2 million and 7 cents. But for the full year, iRobot sees revenue of $385 million to $390 million, with profits of 51-54 cents a share; the Street has been forecasting $380.6 million and 44 cents.

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
CMU’s Walking Robot “Ranger”
by Sabine Hauert on 30 Jul 2010, Robotspodcast.com

The CMY walking robot "Ranger"

Carnegie Mellon University’s walking robot “Ranger” has set a new world record for distance walking. In a bit over 11 hours, Ranger walked 23km (or 14.3 miles) to beat the former world record of 20.6km (or 12.8 miles) set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog. Unlike the BigDog, the Ranger uses two pairs of swinging legs that do not have knees but actuated feet to finish its step.  The design allows the robot to use gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward, which allows to optimize energy efficiency while walking. The researchers hope that insights gained from the dynamic walker can be applied to rehabilitation, prosthetics, and for improving our understanding of athletic performance.

CMU Launches $7 Million Educational Initiative
Posted 28 Jul 2010 at Robots.net by steve
The CMU Robotics Institute, with the help of a seven million dollar DARPA grant, has announced the launch of a four year educational initiative called Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE). The goal is to use student interest in robotics to encourage computer science education, and to steer students toward science and engineering careers.

<>3D designer envisions C.R.A.B. robot revolutionizing London’s police force
July 31, 2010 – Robot World News
The C.R.A.B. (Cybernetic Autonomous Remote Barricade) robot may currently be just a 3D design concept, but it’s an inspiring look at the potential abilities of future defense robots.

Check counterfeiting using botnets and money mules
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Posted by Elinor Mills, cnet.com
SecureWorks uncovers bizarre criminal operation that uses digital techniques to aid in old-school check counterfeiting.

Robot vans begin 3-month Italy-China journey
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
Two self-driving robot vans have started a three-month, 8,000-mile journey from Italy to China. What would Marco Polo say?

Japanese rescue-bot can sniff out disaster survivors
AFP – Jul 30, 2010
TOKYO — Japanese emergency services are to trial a small tank-like rescue robot that can search rubble for survivors and deliver water, food or cellphone

The world’s first robot with conscience
Economic Times – Jul 29, 2010
MADRID: Spain has designed the world’s first robot with its own “conscience” and “life”, which will “entertain, teach and be a companion” to humans who purchase it.  The AISoy 1, which will go on sale in August, is the first social android developed by Spanish firm AISoy Robotics, which is now bringing its creation out of the laboratory.  “It almost seems like science fiction, but it’s a reality,” said Diego Garcia, one of the “fathers” of the robot and head of AISoy’s product engineering and development division. AISoy 1 was conceived to entertain and provide company to the user, but its main objective is “to live,” just like any other being that “senses, has emotions and makes decisions”. . . . The robot is capable of learning from experience and modifying “its behaviour, values and actions it can undertake at specific times,” he said.

New Robot Surgeons Can Operate Without Human Assistance
Fast Company – Austin Carr – Jul 21, 2010
Bioengineers at Duke University announced yesterday that they’ve created a robot that can “locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session,” all without a doctor’s supervision. Researchers hope these developments could one day lead to robots working autonomously on basic surgical operations. Nicknamed the Biopsy Bot, the robot relies on 3-D and ultrasound technology for its movement. The ultrasound scans serve as the robot’s “eyes,” enabling the doc bot to locate its target. With advanced artificial technology, the robot processes the 3-D data and sends out specific commands to its mechanical “arm” and “hand,” devices that examine lesions and are able to take samples.

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