Automation & Robotics News for August 15 — Tony Zaragoza


Automation and Robotics News–Aug 15, 2010

Highlights: Robotics Industries Rallies in 2010, Equipment purchases not new hiring priority as firms recover, new layoffs due to automation, Robo-jouirnalists?, Special Ops Robocop in Belize, Robot to explore Great Pyramid, Robots to help children with autism, Robot discovers undersea river, Emotion chip?, Social robot, Power line robot, Underwater rescue robot and more…

Archives:
This Issue:

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE

<http://www.ajc.com/business/airport-police-use-growing-583454.html>Airport police use growing fleet of <http://www.ajc.com/business/airport-police-use-growing-583454.html>robots<http://www.ajc.com/business/airport-police-use-growing-583454.html&gt; to ferret out bombs

Atlanta Journal Constitution – <http://www.google.com/search?start=10&hl=en&client=hp&sa=N&q=author:%22Kelly%20Yamanouchi%22&tbs=nws:1&ei=LzBfTKDaDIz6swPY7LSqCw&ved=0CJIBENQHKAAwCDgK>Kelly Yamanouchi – Aug 1, 2010

API Technologies The teleMAX Explosive Ordnance Disposal robot that will be added to the fleet of bomb-detection robots at Hartsfield-Jackson International …

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/special-forces-robocopter-spotted-in-belize/>Special Operations’ Robocopter Spotted in Belize (Corrected)

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/oliviakoski/>Olivia Koski, August 9, 2010, Wired DangerRoom

Watch out, humans, the U.S. military has released an all-seeing, unmanned helicopter-like aircraft into the wild, according to <“http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3A27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3Aa5f0d01f-87e9-4e24-ac1f-6cd6adbf469e&pl>Aviation Week. The Boeing A160T Hummingbird was photographed in Belize, where it was test flying a tree-penetrating Darpa radar called <http://www.darpa.mil/ipto/programs/forester/forester.asp>FORESTER. Locals were given a heads-up thanks to a press release from the U.S. Embassy. There’s no sign of the document on the <http://belize.usembassy.gov/2010_press_releases.html>website, but <http://belizean.com/news/belize-invites-u-s-military-to-test-boeing-a160-hummingbird-drone/>local reports say that the the Belize government invited the U.S. to test the Hummingbird in a mountain range 25 miles from the Guatemalan border. A few dozen military personnel – both Belizean and American – are involved in the testing, which will last until September. U.S. Special Operations Command <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/11/special-forces/>got its new gear in November of 2008, but at the time the unmanned hovering aircraft couldn’t see through trees. The synthetic-aperture radar now onboard is designed to detect slow moving people and vehicles – even if they’re hiding in dense foliage. It enables <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/02/gigapixel-flyin/>super high resolution imaging by using the motion of the helicopter to create an artificially large aperture. As if the unmanned A160T platform, which can fly 2,500 nautical miles for 24 hours at up to 30,000 feet, wasn’t high tech enough. The Hummingbird represents a completely new approach to helicopter design, with a special adjustable-speed rotor enabling it to be super quiet.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/navy-works-to-laser-proof-its-drones/>Navy Works to Laser-Proof Its Drones

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/noah_shachtman/>Noah Shachtman, Wired DangerRoom, August 2, 2010

In May and June, the U.S. Navy sent four drones crashing into the Pacific Ocean, after <http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-07/video-raytheon-demonstrates-ship-based-solid-state-laser-weapon-incinerating-uav-flight>blasting them with a prototype laser weapon. If follow-up tests are successful, there’s a chance the ray gun <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=laser-downs-uavs>might be ready for deployment some time around 2016. Other countries’ energy weapons will come years afterward — if they ever come at all. But the Navy isn’t taking any chances. It’s pushing ahead with research to laser-proof its drones, just in case anyone else has the bright idea of using ray guns to down America’s robot planes.

<http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50093412-75/robot-climbing-efficiency-engineers.html.csp>U. engineers’ robot climbs efficiently — like an ape

Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug 13, 2010

A gibbon moves through the forest so efficiently, swinging from branch to branch in a motion called brachiation, because it captures the energy from each swing to drive the next one, while keeping its body almost still. University of Utah engineers applied that same principle to enhance the efficiency of climbing robots in a breakthrough that could lead to new remote-controlled surveillance and inspection technologies. The U.’s Oscillating Climbing Robot, or ROCR (aptly pronounced “rocker”), holds potential for evaluating the safety of bridges, nuclear reactor cooling towers, dams and other structures with inaccessible faces, according to lead developer William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

<http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2010/08/09/is-this-flying-drone-googles-next-privacy-controversy/>Is This Flying Drone Google’s Next Privacy Controversy? Update: Google Says No

Andy Greenberg

Update: A Google spokesperson writes that Google hasn’t purchased and is not testing any Microdrones: “This was a purchase by a Google executive with an interest in robotics for personal use.” If you felt that Google Street View violated your privacy, wait until you’ve got one of these hovering over your back porch. The German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche <http://www.wiwo.de/technik-wissen/zivile-drohnen-fuer-google-437756/>reported over the weekend that <http://www.microdrones.com/en_home.php>Microdrones, a company based in the city of Siegen, Germany, has sold at least one of its flying surveillance robots to the search giant for testing. Sven Juerss, Microdrones’ chief executive, told the magazine that the radio-controlled devices–four rotor helicopters about a meter across–could be helpful in Google’s mapping projects, and that he think there’s a good chance Google will buy more of the airborne bots.

INDUSTRY

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Trends-in-Automation:-The-Emerging-World-of-Robotic-Materials-Handling/content_id/2294>Trends in Automation: The Emerging World of Robotic Materials Handling

Robotics Online (press release) – Aug 6, 2010

A new generation of stationary and mobile robots, coupled with software and materials handling automation, is emerging. These new technologies are creating …

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION

<http://www.buzzblab.com/technology/00380/wine-robot-modernizes-wine-industry.html>Wine Robot Modernizes Wine Industry

Buzz Blab – <http://news.google.com/news/search?cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Honeylynn+Inocencio%22&scoring=n>Honeylynn Inocencio – Aug 8, 2010

A vine-pruning robot has been labeled as the next invention to revolutionalize New Zealand wine industry.This robot is presently developed in Christchurch …

<http://tech2.in.com/india/topstuff/general/modern-agriculture-through-robotics/135402/0>Modern Agriculture Through Robotics

Tech2 – Jul 28, 2010

AGRIBOT is a self-directed agricultural robot powered by solar energy. It can control various aspects of farming like ploughing and leveling, seed sowing, …

<http://www.controlenguk.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=35719>Czech meat processor calls in Cryovac

Control Engineering UK Online – Aug 10, 2010

A Czech meat company claims to have dramatically improved quality and sales by overhauling packaging systems at its processing plant. Kostelecké uzeniny turned to Cryovac for packaging automation to meet a demand to package its products in shrinkable films.Located in the Vysočina region, Kostelecké uzeniny is the largest meat and meat products manufacturing company in the Czech Republic with a market share of approximately seven per cent. The company’s product range includes fresh pork, beef and poultry. The flagship product is fermented salami covered with fine natural mould. The company’s annual sales amount to approximately €150 million, with ten per cent for export to Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. It supplies multinational chains, as well as retail associations and traditional markets. Recently, the company upgraded from standard shrink bags to high performance shrinkable films and automation. Sealed Air Cryovac provided the solution with Cryovac RS2000 film running with the innovative Cryovac Ulma Flow-Vac system. Kostelecké installed the FV45 that is based on horizontal form-fill-seal technology operating at very high speeds and loading into Cryovac vacuum equipment. The new packaging system immediately provided various advantages. The low impact investment in automation adding to an already existing flat belt vacuum chamber allowed a user-friendly and flexible change with substantial benefits, such as improved meat quality, longer shelf life thanks to shrinking and vacuum properties, or better pack appearance due to the Flow-Vac automatic adaptation of bag length to product length.

PACKING AND SHIPPING

<http://www.packworld.com/article-30176>Robotics rallies in 2010; packagers automate for profit

Packaging World – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Anne+Marie+Mohan%22&scoring=n>Anne Marie Mohan – Aug 8, 2010

After the past couple years’ serious sales slump, the industrial robotics industry is beginning to rebound, with food and consumer goods applications showing strong gains. Recent packaging installations testify to the value of automation. As the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) recently reported, North American-based robotics manufacturers emerged from nearly two years of declining sales to see new orders jump 16% in units and 30% in dollars in the first quarter of 2010 as compared with the same quarter in 2009. During that time, North American manufacturing companies ordered a total of 3,069 robots valued at $208.1 million. Further positive indicators show that the first quarter of 2010 was also 35% better in units and 45% ahead in dollars over the last quarter of 2009. “Nearly every major user industry increased its purchases in the opening quarter of 2010,” RIA reports. “Especially strong gains were seen in robot sales to the semiconductor/electronics/photonics industries as well as food and consumer goods.” Recent installations in packaging plants worldwide—from food to pharmaceuticals—provide examples of the many ways in which automation is being employed to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and improve product quality.

<http://www.designworldonline.com/articles/6303/19/Hull-Cleaning-Robot-for-Large-Ships.aspx>Hull Cleaning <http://www.designworldonline.com/articles/6303/19/Hull-Cleaning-Robot-for-Large-Ships.aspx>Robot<http://www.designworldonline.com/articles/6303/19/Hull-Cleaning-Robot-for-Large-Ships.aspx&gt; for Large Ships

Design World Network – Aug 10, 2010

A Florida company designed a robotic crawler to navigate around the underwater portion of a ship and remove accumulated biofilm layers.

ENERGY

<http://www.isa.org/InTechTemplate.cfm?template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=83040>Cover Story Automating one of North America’s largest pipelines

InTech – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Steve+Pulsifer%22&scoring=n>Steve Pulsifer, <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Jim+Nelson%22&scoring=n>Jim Nelson – Aug 5, 2010

It is very important automation system suppliers and engineering partners provide necessary equipment and control technology support with maximum speed, …

<http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/ABB_bags_USD_20_million_Sadaf_contract/160381.html>ABB bags USD 20 million Sadaf contract

SteelGuru – Aug 15, 2010

Trade Arabia reported that automation technology group ABB has won USD 20 million contract from Saudi Petrochemical Company to implement a power factor correction and power management solution at its Jubail manufacturing complex. As per the deal, ABB will deploy solution to help Sadaf improve its network efficiency and, accordingly, significantly reduce the electricity losses while improving the stability of its power supply. Owned jointly by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and Shell Chemicals Arabia, Sadaf was established in 1980 and began commercial operation in 1986. The company operates from one of the worlds largest and most competitive petrochemical complexes in Al Jubail industrial zone on Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast.

JOB DISPLACEMENT

<http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704164904575421403221676016.html>Equipment Purchases Make Up for Recession Cutbacks, Not to Raise Production

Justin Lahart

Companies in the U.S. are stepping up purchases of equipment and software at the fastest pace since the late 1990s. But much of the spending is aimed at replacing older equipment after recession-related postponements or to improve efficiency—not to raise production or boost hiring. After one of the sharpest declines in spending on equipment and software, companies in the U.S. boosted their spending on such products at a 21.9% inflation-adjusted annual rate in the second quarter, after the first quarter’s 20.4% increase, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

<http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129195308&ft=1&f=1003>The Recession, Round Two?

NPR Staff, August 14, 2010

There were more signs this week that the sluggish economy is persisting. Will the nation’s economy keep lurching slowly forward, or will it slip backward and lead to a double-dip recession? NPR’s Scott Simon talks with Professor Danny Boston of Georgia Tech. Prof. BOSTON: What corporations did was to take advantage of the downturn to undertake enormous downsize in their workforce. And that was in response to global competition. So some of the dynamics that we see in the labor market today actually are in response to events that have been taking place for the last 10 to 15 years. As a result now, what they’re doing is keeping the workforce that they have, investing a lot in technology, and trying to meet these same or new levels of output with the same workforce. And so you’re getting increased profitability, no new hiring.

<http://www.roboticstrends.com/industry_manufacturing/article/precise_automation_introduces_low_cost_vision_guided_motion_control_system>Precise Automation Introduces Low Cost, Vision-Guided Motion Control System

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 10, 2010

Accommodating remote access, Guidance System D4/D6 includes all electronic components necessary to operate robotic mechanism: 4- or 6-axis motion controller, motor and logic power supplies, fans and filters for cooling, and connectors. Software includes complete set of motion commands and machine kinematics as well as continuous path motion planner and trajectory generator. Precise Automation has introduced the Guidance System D4/D6, a complete four or six-axis vision-guided motion control system in a compact enclosure. The Guidance System D4/D6 (GS-D4/D6) is the latest in Precise Automation’s extremely powerful and compact Guidance Motion System series. This unit includes all of the electronic components necessary to operate a robotic mechanism: a four or six-axis motion controller, motor and logic power supplies, fans and filters for cooling and easy-to-use standard connectors. This hardware is combined with Precise’s modern, full-featured programming language and kinematic library. Therefore, the GS-D4/D6 integrates easily with third party mechanisms such as the DENSO Robotics HS series SCARA or VP series 6-Axis Articulated Robots. For customers who wish to use third party robots, but desire the features of a Guidance Controller, this system provides a convenient, ready-to-use alternative to purchasing, mounting and wiring all of the motion control components necessary for a complete system.

<http://www.darkdaily.com/more-clinical-pathology-laboratories-are-buying-total-laboratory-automation-811>More Clinical Pathology Laboratories Are Buying Total Laboratory <http://www.darkdaily.com/more-clinical-pathology-laboratories-are-buying-total-laboratory-automation-811>Automation

DARKDaily.com – Laboratory News – Aug 11, 2010

Worldwide, growing numbers of clinical pathology laboratories and medical laboratories are purchasing total laboratory automation (TLA) systems

<http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Screen-Savers-Will-Online-wallstreet-3971065370.html?x=0&amp;.v=2>Screen Savers: Will Online Financial Planning Catch On?

Jason Zweig, AUGUST 7, 2010

With the “flash crash” seared into investors’ minds, would they trust a financial planner who climbs out of a computer? New online financial-planning services, led by a Philadelphia-based startup called <https://www.veritat.com/>Veritat Advisors, aim to replace the traditional in-person approach with a faster, cheaper beam-me-into-your-living-room model. Here, you feed details about your income and net worth into a secure website. Aided by advanced software, an adviser then generates a comprehensive financial plan and investment recommendations, followed by live video chats. Cheap, trustworthy advice is in desperately short supply. The economist Robert Shiller of Yale University has estimated that roughly 50 million Americans with no access to professional advice could benefit from it. But the typical financial adviser can serve only about 70 to 90 clients at a time, reckons Mark Tibergien, managing director of Pershing Advisor Solutions. It would thus take well over 550,000 advisers to cater to the needs of everyone who needs help with saving, borrowing, investing, retirement, taxes and estate planning.

<http://www.twst.com/yagoo/China_Ishida4.html>Japanese Factory <http://www.twst.com/yagoo/China_Ishida4.html>Automation<http://www.twst.com/yagoo/China_Ishida4.html&gt; Companies Positioned To Take Advantage Of Rising <http://www.twst.com/yagoo/China_Ishida4.html>&#8230;

The Wall Street Transcript (blog) – Aug 9, 2010

One thing about Japanese companies, they are very good at providing factory automation equipment to Chinese manufacturers.

<http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/diversified-information-technologies-announces-unspecified-number-of-layoffs-1.939210>Diversified Information Technologies announces unspecified number of layoffs

Scranton Times-Tribune – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Jim+Haggerty%22&scoring=n>Jim Haggerty – Aug 10, 2010

Diversified Information Technologies Inc. will shed some employees as it moves toward more automation, the company’s top administrator said Tuesday. “Change is never easy, but it is important that we stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry, and the industry is moving toward a new automated environment,” said Scott Byers, president and chief executive of the Scranton-based information-management company. “We are changing the business model where there will be some staffing changes,” Mr. Byers said. He declined to say how many of the company’s 600 employees will be affected. Diversified employs about 350 people in Northeast Pennsylvania.

<http://www.designworldonline.com/articles/6282/11/Automated-Welding-Machines-Improve-Product-Quality-and-Safety.aspx>Automated Welding Machines Improve Product Quality and Safety

Design World Network – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Laura+Carrabine%22&scoring=n>Laura Carrabine – Aug 9, 2010

Manual welding can be slow, cumbersome, and risky. Typically, welders must precisely position an object on the welding table, lower the cylinders that weld the object together, and move the completed product to the next stage of the manufacturing process. The welded piece is often heavy and the repetitive lifting motions pose many ergonomic and safety risks to employees. Some manufacturers, however, recognize these negative factors and are migrating to automated welding processes. For example, Janda Company, Inc. recently updated the control system on its resistance welding machinery to help its customers eliminate physical safety issues, produce higher quality parts faster with fewer people, and reduce scrap. Before the welding automation update, Janda’s machinery was based on relay logic and cam timers. This type of control system was sufficient when customers needed tolerances of one-eighth inch. However, some of Janda’s customers need tolerances as small as one-ten thousandth inch.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/us/15lighthouse.html>With Keepers Obsolete, Lighthouse Duties Fall to New Set of Stewards

New York Times – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Susan+Saulny%22&scoring=n>Susan Saulny, Aug 14, 2010

As GPS units and the automation of navigational tools have rendered traditional lighthouse keepers obsolete, the government has been decommissioning the properties it owns, nearly 50 over the last 10 years, and transferring ownership to new stewards at no cost, preferably nonprofit groups. When it cannot find a proper caretaker, the properties are auctioned to the highest bidder, which has happened 15 times.

<http://www.thinq.co.uk/2010/8/12/robot-journalists-set-write-news/>Robot journalists set to write the news

THINQ.co.uk – Aug 12, 2010

Computers could soon be writing your daily news, if a scientist interviewed on the BBC’s Today programme has his way. Dr Kristian Hammond of the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois <http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8907000/8907258.stm>told Radio 4 listeners this morning that <http://infolab.northwestern.edu/projects/stats-monkey/>Stats Monkey, a piece of software developed by his lab, can produce sports reports based on ball-by-ball data from baseball games, without any human intervention. The results, according to Hammond, are indistinguishable from those of a ‘real’ journalist (whatever one of those is).

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS

<http://www.zdnet.com/blog/service-oriented/three-reasons-why-automation-doesnt-quite-cut-it/5464>Three reasons why automation doesn’t quite cut it

ZDNet (blog) – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Joe+McKendrick%22&scoring=n>Joe McKendrick – Aug 6, 2010

Julian Sammy provided a thoughtful response to my recent piece on when processes are beyond the reach of automation, illustrating the three reasons why …

<http://www.robots.com/blog.php?tag=440>Good News: Robot Sales Up 40%

August 09, 2010

Mid-year robot sales data compiled by the <http://www.robots.com/robots.php>Robotics Industries Association (RIA) proves the robot industry is doing well. According to the RIA statistics, North American robot unit sales have increased a full 40% during the first six months of 2010. Which Industries Purchased the Most Robots: While orders from the automotive sector rose 30%, non-automotive companies demonstrated the highest increase – 51%. The first half of 2010 saw increases in robots purchased by companies within the food, plastics, and electronics industries, to name a few.Which Applications Saw the Most Robot Orders: Not surprisingly, the greatest percentage of robots were purchased for <http://www.robots.com/applications.php?app=arc+welding>arc welding applications. However, <http://www.robots.com/applications.php?app=material+handling>material handling robots also saw a dramatic increase in unit sales. The RIA said it expects to see this trend continue as distribution and <http://www.robots.com/applications.php?app=packaging>packaging industries begin to incorporate more robots.

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Trends-in-Automation:-The-Emerging-World-of-Robotic-Materials-Handling/content_id/2294>Trends in Automation: The Emerging World of Robotic Materials Handling

08/06/2010, <http://www.robotics.org/company-profile-detail.cfm/company/319>Robotic Industries Association Posted 08/06/2010

In this special webcast, Executive Editor Bob Trebilcock, Group Editorial Director Michael Levans and Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association, will explore the range of exciting new robotic solutions now available and where they may fit in your materials handling operations. This program airs online August 12, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. (<https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=registration.jsp&eventid=231887&sessionid=1&key=0EE5EF9BB2966D614D7C382FE161991F&partnerref=scmrlandingpage&sourcepage=register>Register for this webcast.) For years, industrial robotics has been relegated to repetitive processes, like spot welding or palletizing at the end of the manufacturing line. That’s beginning to change. A new generation of stationary and mobile robots, coupled with software and materials handling automation, is emerging. These new technologies are creating opportunities to streamline traditional picking processes and to develop highly-automated mixed SKU palletizing solutions.

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20012482-1.html>Roboscooper tidies up your room, whacks objects

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

WowWee’s Roboscooper is a snarky little home robot that can autonomously pick up junk on your floor and cart it away. “One step closer to a cleaner world,” says the Wall-E-style droid.

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20012359-1.html>Telenoid R1 bot meant to be ‘minimalistic human’

Monday, August 02, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Robot wizard Hiroshi Ishiguro’s latest creation comes with a high creep factor. But if you hug it, the creepiness goes away. Maybe.

<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/robot-to-explore-mysterious-tunnels-in-great-pyramid-2046506.html>Robot<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/robot-to-explore-mysterious-tunnels-in-great-pyramid-2046506.html&gt; to explore mysterious tunnels in Great Pyramid

Independent – <http://www.google.com/search?start=20&hl=en&client=hp&sa=N&q=author:%22Andrew%20Johnson%22&tbs=nws:1&ei=aDBfTOWHF43msQOG0uiqCw&ved=0CGQQ1AcoADAGOBQ>Andrew Johnson – Aug 7, 2010

Now technicians at Leeds University are putting the finishing touches to a robot which, they hope, will follow the shaft to its end. …

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/linescout-robot-climbs-on-live-power-lines-to-inspect-them>LineScout Robot Climbs on Live Power Lines to Inspect Them

Samuel Bouchard  /  Fri, August 13, 2010

Canada’s <http://www.hydroquebec.com/en/>Hydro-Québec Research Institute started the LineScout project after the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_ice_storm_of_1998>1998 North American ice storm that led to massive power outages and left millions of people without electricity for several days. The idea was to have a small mobile robot that could be able to roll on high-voltage transmission lines and de-ice them. The first line scout was a little rover that would hang head down like a sloth and was equipped with claws to break the ice. The new generation, featured in a recent <http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/industrial-robots/robotic-tightrope-walkers-for-highvoltage-lines/2>IEEE Spectrum<http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/industrial-robots/robotic-tightrope-walkers-for-highvoltage-lines/2&gt; article, is larger and equipped with cameras and a thermo-infrared imager. The remote-controlled robot has been used dozens times to do inspection and maintenance on high-voltage lines (2000 amps, 735 kilovolts). It uses cameras to inspect line conditions and discover irregularities, while also employing a smart navigation system to pinpoint locations in need of attention.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/social-robot-olivia>Singapore Researchers Unveil Social Robot Olivia

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, August 13, 2010

<http://www.asoro.a-star.edu.sg/robots_olivia.html>Olivia, a <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/social+robots>social robot from Singapore, loves to talk — and gesticulate with its sleek 6-degrees-of-freedom white plastic arms. Designed as a research platform for human-robot interaction, Olivia is a creation of the <http://www.asoro.a-star.edu.sg/>A*STAR Social Robotics Laboratory, or ASORO, part of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research. The researchers plan to use the robot, unveiled at RoboCup 2010 in June, as a receptionist to greet visitors and provide information, and later, as a personal assistant and companion in people’s homes. Olivia’s head has a pair of stereoscopic camera eyes and it can rotate and also tilt up or down. It appears to float over a ring of light, a design that reminds me of EVE, the little flying bot from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WALL-E>WALL-E.

<http://robotics.tmcnet.com/news/2010/08/12/4954533.htm>Robots to Help Children With Autism

PITTSBURGH, Aug 12, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

Interbots, Inc., a high-tech spin-off company associated with the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center has teamed up with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh to provide innovative robot-based therapy for children with autism. The program, “Character Therapy,” through the use of the Interbot robot “Popchilla” will test the ability of children with autism with limited or no verbal skills. According to Seema Patel, CEO and co-founder of Interbots, “We’ve had numerous individuals tell us our robots could be tremendous tools for Autism therapy. We’re excited to be working with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh and the Sprout Foundation to take this first step. We’re going to learn a lot from the next few months.” “The premise behind the program is that children with autism are sometimes more likely to communicate with a non-human entity,” said Cindy Waeltermann, Founder and Director of the Autism Centers of Pittsburgh. “When you have a child with autism, you use whatever interests them to gain access into their world. The idea is to bridge the gap between their word and ours.

<http://www.roboticstrends.com/service_healthcare/article/hopkins_applied_physics_lab_to_test_thought_controlled_prosthetic_limb_syst>Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to Test Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Limb System

DARPA funds testing of neural interface technology for artificial limb.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 11, 2010

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab wins a $34.5M DARPA contract to test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system, which was developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 program, on human subjects using a brain-controlled interface. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract for up to $34.5 million to The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to manage the development and testing of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system on human subjects, using a brain-controlled interface.

<http://www.roboticstrends.com/service_healthcare/article/sarbot_remotely_saving_lives>SARbot – Remotely Saving Lives

SeaBotix developes robotics underwater rescue system.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 05, 2010

SeaBotix, in cooperation with Tritech International and Marine Simulation LLC, have developed the first specially designed, rapid response underwater robotic rescue system. Until now remote operated technology has been used to recover drowning victims, not rescue. Improved medical studies have shown that a person experiencing near drowning in water up to 21ºC has the potential for rescue.  If the victim can be rescued from the water within approximately 90 minutes there is a good chance that the residual oxygen in their body will keep them alive without permanent damage to their vital organs.

<http://www.robots.net/article/3042.html>Neuron Interface Chips Advancing

Posted 14 Aug 2010 by <http://www.robots.net/person/Rog-a-matic/>Rog-a-matic, Robots.net

University of Calgary researchers have <http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/utoday/august10-2010/neurochip>developed neurochips capable of interfacing to and sensing activity of biological neurons in very high resolution. The new chips are automated so it’s now easy to connect multiple brain cells eliminating the years of training it once required. While researchers say this technology could be used for new diagnostic methods and treatments for a variety of neuro-degenerative diseases, this advancement could ultimately lead to the use of biological neurons in the central or sub-processing units of computers and automated machinery.

<http://www.robots.net/article/3041.html>Robot Finds Worlds Sixth Largest River Undersea

Posted 13 Aug 2010 by <http://www.robots.net/person/Rog-a-matic/>Rog-a-matic, Robots.net

Scientists at University of Leeds are <http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/866/leeds_researchers_study_undersea_rivers_with_a_yellow_submarine>using a robotic submarine to study a deep channel that runs along the floor of the Black Sea. The underwater river is denser than the surrounding water and composed of sediment with a high salinity. There are similarities to land-based rivers but also major differences in how the mass flows. Study of the flow is being performed by a 7-metre torpedo-shaped robot called the Autosub3 because its accurate positioning system allows it to be programmed to stay just above the channel to prevent damage.

<http://www.robots.net/article/3040.html>Robot Eyes Great Pyramid

Posted 11 Aug 2010 by <http://www.robots.net/person/Rog-a-matic/>Rog-a-matic, Robots.net

Researchers from Leeds University are working on a camera and drill-weilding robot known as Djedi to solve the mystery of the blocked shafts inside the Great Pyramid at Giza. In 1992 and 2002, remote cameras were sent through the shaft under the watchful eye of antiquities master Dr. Zahi Hawass only to be stopped by limestone doors. Dr. Robert Richardson of the Mechanical Engineering department said their goal is to find out what is beyond the blocks and go as far as possible to discover the purpose of the shafts, all while doing minimal damage to the structure. Final preparations are being made now with hopes of sending the robot in before year’s end. Place your bets now!

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20013657-1.html>Humanoid robot Nao gets emotion chip

Saturday, August 14, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Copying a standard sci-fi film plot, humanoid robot Nao is becoming more human by developing emotions. The RoboCup star might be able to fake it like the best human soccer players.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/opinion/09lanier.html>The First Church of Robotics

New York Times – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author:%22Jaron+Lanier%22&scoring=n>Jaron Lanier – Aug 8, 2010

THE news of the day often includes an item about some development in artificial intelligence: a machine that smiles, a program that can predict human tastes in mates or music, a robot that teaches foreign languages to children. This constant stream of stories suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as fellow creatures instead of as tools. But such conclusions aren’t just changing how we think about computers — they are reshaping the basic assumptions of our lives in misguided and ultimately damaging ways. I myself have worked on projects like machine vision algorithms that can detect human facial expressions in order to animate avatars or recognize individuals. Some would say these too are examples of A.I., but I would say it is research on a specific software problem that shouldn’t be confused with the deeper issues of intelligence or the nature of personhood. Equally important, my philosophical position has not prevented me from making progress in my work. (This is not an insignificant distinction: someone who refused to believe in, say, general relativity would not be able to make a GPS navigation system.)

<http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP6_NEWS&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=NEWS&QUERY=012a665de648:bca4:577646e6&RCN=32423>Waste powers autonomous <http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP6_NEWS&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=NEWS&QUERY=012a665de648:bca4:577646e6&RCN=32423>robots

Cordis News – Aug 12, 2010

As the saying goes, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. In this instance, the garbage in question is used by a robot to harness energy for its own operation. For the last few years, the team of EU-funded scientists behind the EcoBot series (I, II, III) of robots has generated energy by feeding the machine food waste and raw materials. They have now set their sights on converting energy from urine for the same outcome. The EcoBot-III project received EUR 320,000 in funding under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor John Greenman, Professor Chris Melhuish, and other researchers from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in the UK are responsible for a succession of experiments undertaken with EcoBots I, II and III. Their unique approach has been to create an artificial digestion system for the robot. This ‘gut’ is designed around novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology, which draws on bacterial cultures to break down ‘food’ in order to generate power. ‘Over the years we have fed our MFCs with rotten fruit, grass clippings, prawn shells and dead flies in an attempt to investigate different waste materials to use as a food source for the MFCs,’ said Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos. ‘We have focused on finding the best waste materials that create the most energy.’

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One Response to “Automation & Robotics News for August 15 — Tony Zaragoza”

  1. wong elana Says:

    very informative posting, keep continue


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