Automation & Robotics News Sept. 12 — Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–Sept 12, 2010 Tony Zaragoza, editor

Highlights: Drone strikes increase in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Drone flights increase over US/Mexico border; the

4 Predator Drones Patrol Entire US Mexico Border

new China: less low-wage, more automated; India GDP growth due in part to growth in automation; food production automation in England and Nebraska; robo-jazz and robo pool cleaner; hurricane drone; lying robots and feeling robots; and the telepresence and smart grid futures.


Current Issue:


Patriotic snake robot slithers up a tree September 03, 2010, Leslie Katz For its latest trick, Uncle Sam, a Snakebot from Carnegie Mellon University, slithers out of the lab and up a tree, where it looks around with its camera-enabled head.

Why Bomb-Proofing Robots Might Be a Bad Idea (Updated) Noah Shachtman, September 2, 2010 Five years ago, troops in Iraq were lucky if they had a bomb-stopping jammer in their Humvee. Now, one company wants to outfit robots with the electronic countermeasures, to keep the machines safe from remotely-detonated explosives. But you’ve got to wonder whether outfitting the ‘bots with another $100,000 in classified tech kind of undermines the purpose of having a disposable army of machines to handle irregular war’s most dangerous work. . .

U.S. Escalates Air War Over Afghanistan Noah Shachtman, August 30, 2010 There may not be quite as many bombs falling from the sky. But don’t let that fool you. The United States has dramatically escalated its air war over Afghanistan. Spy plane flights have nearly tripled in the past year; supply drops, too. There are even more planes buzzing over the heads of troops caught in firefights, according to statistics provided to Danger Room by the Air Force.  The increased numbers show how the American military has retooled its most potent technological advantage — dominance of the skies — for the Afghanistan campaign. But so far, at least, the boost in air power doesn’t seem to have shifted the war’s momentum back to the American-led coalition. . . .

Starting Today, the Entire U.S./Mexico Border Is Drone-Patrolled Kyle VanHemert, 09/01/10, Gizmodo Yesterday, there were three Predator drones keeping watch over the Southwest Border; today, with the launch of a fourth Predator, in Texas, the entire border between the United States and Mexico is patrolled by drones. Pardon, patrolled by Robot-Americans.

Israel, Russia in Drone Deal; Laser Tech Next? Noah Shachtman, September 7, 2010 First, Israel will beef up Russia’s robotic air force. Down the road, perhaps, Vladimir Putin may return the favor, by equipping Israeli drones with Russian laser tech. On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov, signed a first-of-its kind military agreement between the two countries. It’s the latest step towards cooperation for two countries that have traditionally been at each other’s throats. . . .

Darpa Wants to Create Brainiac Bot Tots Katie Drummond, September 10, 2010 A Pentagon-funded scientist has come up with a comprehensive program to turn today’s robots into tomorrow’s A.I. overlords. Step one: Imbue them with toddler-level intelligence. Step two: Run them through a “cognitive decathlon” of tests. And finally, use programmed learning abilities and human instruction to turn bot tots into supersmart A.I. agents “that [can] learn and be taught like a human.” Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, wants robots that can outdo (or at least match) human smarts, . . .

Trust: Greatest Obstacle To UAV Autonomy Aviation Week – Graham Warwick – Sep 10, 2010 Autonomy is at the end of a spectrum of increasing automation, and increasing complexity that automation can deal with, says Air Force Research Laboratory …


Motoman MS120 “Master Spot” Welding Robot Picks Up the Pace – Sep By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Sep 06, 2010 Designed to optimize automotive applications using DC spot guns with compact servo actuators, the MS120 is more than 43 percent faster than a traditional heavy-payload robot, resulting in shorter takt times and higher throughput. Quick and agile, the six-axis MS120 “Master Spot” welding robot features a 120 kg (264.6 lb) payload and is more than 43 percent faster than a traditional heavy-payload robot, . . .

Characteristics Of The New China Forbes (blog) – Handel Jones – Sep 10, 2010 While the past approach was to use

China's labor force is changing -- and so is its wealth.

low-cost labor in China, the new factories, many of which are managed by outsiders, use increasing levels of automation, …

India’s GDP is expected to reach US$3 trn :Frost & Sullivan India – Sep 8, 2010 The degree of automation will play a key role in driving India’s position in the global manufacturing industry.


Food manufacturers invest in automation IGD Supply Chain Analysis – Sep 1, 2010 Food and drink manufacturers in the UK are increasing their investment in automation and robotic equipment during 2010, according to new data

Retrotech Completes Cargill Automation Project (press release) – Sep 1, 2010 Retrotech®, Inc, a specialist in the modernization and optimization of automated material handling equipment, recently completed the integration of a new automated box handling and shipping system for Cargill Meat Solutions’ Schuyler, Neb., beef processing plant, replacing a manually operated system. . . .


Low Installation Rates in Retail Pharmacies Across Europe Increase the Growth … PR Newswire (press release) – Sep 1, 2010 The pharmacy automation systems market in Europe is experiencing a tremendous growth spurt. Until recently, most pharmacies have been either without automation or have employed very basic automation systems. In response, the adoption rate of automation systems across Europe has been progressing from basic prescription management systems to advanced medication pick-up and drug dispensing automation systems. Likewise, although the adoption of automation systems has been most prevalent among hospital pharmacies, there is significant potential for growth in the retail pharmacy market across Europe.

Watch Humans and Robots Getting It On, Musically, before Bumbershoot The SunBreak (blog) – Sep 3, 2010 By josh As previously mentioned, this year’s Bumbershoot arts program includes an appearance by Shimon, the Jazz-Improvising Marimba Robot

For $500, This Solar-Powered Robot Will Keep Your Pool Clean Rosa Golijan 09/10/10 Owning a pool is great—until you realize just how much time and money goes into maintaining it. Thankfully, there are robots like the Solar-Breeze which will remove surface debris and reduce pump usage costs without needing much more than sunlight.

South Korean University of Incheon Library Implements RFID in Operations MoreRFID (press release) – Sep 7, 2010 The University of Incheon in South Korea has automated its library operations with RFID. . . . The move away from the previously used barcode technology became opportune as the university began building its new campus and Haksan library in Songdo in 2009. Located close to Seoul, Songdo is a completely planned and sustainable international city in the Incheon Free Economic Zone. It is the new hub for innovation in the region and is world-famous for its use of new technologies. . . .


Automation of Industrial Processes MeasurementDevices – Aug 30, 2010 The answer to the crisis for large energy companies Bucuresti, Romania — Both goods producers and big energy companies as well as associated services (like transportation, infrastructure) are looking for alternative solutions to productivity growth and cost reduction. A possible answer is the implementation or extension of industrial automation processes. . . .


Another Ugly Jobs Number: ADP Says The Private Sector SLASHED 10000 Jobs In August The Business Insider – Sep 1, 2010 Joe Weisenthal The numbers: Another ugly jobs number. According to ADP, the private sector slashed a net 10,000 jobs in the month of august. Analysts were looking for the creation of 13,000 jobs, so not good. Small businesses slashed 6,000 jobs. Manufacturing fell by 6,000 in august. This is the first time in several months that ADP has reported net job losses. Comment from reader Don McArthur (URL) This is not a normal (though severe) business cycle recession/recovery, this is the effect of automation, digitalization, and unfettered globalization on the work lives of our nation. If and when the majority of these people find work again, it will be for meager wages, marginal benefits, no security and no pensions. This is our brave, new world—this is how we live now. 10% of the population will be enormously wealthy winners, and the rest will be left sucking wind. And you know what? No democracy can survive that…


Newsweek: GOP would produce fewer jobs, bigger deficit Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) – Aug 30, 2010 It is not the GOP that would produce fewer jobs, it is automation. Accelerating computer technology is the primary cause of the current global economic …

The Generation That Can’t Move On Up 09/02/10, Opinion, W. BRADFORD WILCOX Most people assume that working-class members of the baby-boomer generation have been hurt the most by the outsourcing and automation in which millions of factory jobs moved overseas or disappeared into computer chips, a shift recently compounded by recession. But actually it may be their children’s generation. Not only are many members of the younger working class unprepared for the contemporary job market. New research we have done shows their striking inability to fit the middle-class ideal in family and religious life. It’s a worrisome development for their lifestyle and our culture. These are the people we used to call “blue collar,” although you can no longer tell a person’s social class by the color of his shirt. If we can speak of a working class at all, education is now the best way to define them. Think of people with high school degrees but not four-year college degrees. They make up slightly more than half of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 44; old enough to have completed their schooling but young enough to be still having children, and 79% of them are white. Because they don’t have the educational credentials to get most middle-class professional and managerial jobs, their earnings have sunk toward the wages of the working poor. The grim employment picture is familiar, but what’s less widely known is that they are losing not only jobs but also their connections to basic social institutions such as marriage and religion. They’re becoming socially disengaged, floating away from the college-educated middle class.

Automating sewage treatment processes World Pumps – Sep 10, 2010 The main improvements involved the automation of the treatment processes to enable increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption.


Will Google Destroy Itself? Martin Ford, Huffington Post (blog) – Aug 31, 2010 Google recently announced a new machine learning engine that it will make available to software developers. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) in which an application can learn from processing real data and become more proficient over time. . . . One immediate result of this is increased concentration and automation of jobs. Information technology workers are already seeing significant job losses as a result of the move toward cloud computing. . . .

ABB Sees Strong Demand Wall Street Journal, 9/9/10 Engineering company ABB stuck to an upbeat forecast, saying that demand remains robust and a plan to cut $3 billion in costs…

Talk, But No Chance, Of Single-Pilot Airline Flights The Wall Street Journal Little chance there will be single-pilot airline flights in the next decade or two.


Robot research plane to fly into Hurricane Earl USA Today – Doyle Rice – Sep 1, 2010 An unmanned drone aicraft – known as the Global Hawk – is scheduled to fly directly into 135-mph Hurricane Earl tonight to help unlock some of the mysteries …

Shapeshifting Robot Plane Flies in Bad Weather TechNewsDaily – Charles Q. Choi – Sep 2, 2010 Shapeshifting ed

Researchers Give Robots the Ability to Lie – Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Sep 12, 2010 A robot deceives an enemy soldier by creating a false trail and hiding so that it will not be caught. While this sounds like a scene from one of the Terminator movies, it’s actually the scenario of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception.

Inventor predicts errand-running robot will be on the market in 5 years September 12, 2010 As Edwards explains in his book Junior Automated Courier, A Robot for Errands, JAC is an automated courier robot that acts like a well-trained Labrador retriever. You give it a command to bring you a physical object, and it goes and gets the object for you. In doing so, it saves you time and energy of having to go get the object yourself.

Is Telepresence the Next Big Thing in Robotics? Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, September 07, 2010 Is telepresence the next big thing in robotics? Will telepresence robots revolutionize work, manufacturing, energy production, medicine, space exploration, and other facets of modern life? Or is it just all hype?

Test-driving Willow Garage’s telepresence robot September 11, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak I got to kick the tires on Willow Garage’s Texai robot, piloting it around the company’s offices in Menlo Park, Calif. The Texai emphasizes man over machine.

Artificial ‘E-skin’ May Soon Help Robots ‘Feel’ PC World – 9/12/10 Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new technology that may help robots feel, give the sense of touch back to those with …

Smart Grid – Vision and Reality San Jose Mercury News – Sep 7, 2010 The classical grid developed over the last 100 years represents a rather inflexible one-way system from power generation via transmission and distribution to the consumer. Due to the availability of new technologies in communications, networks and automation we are now in the position of transforming the energy network into a two-way (feedback-control) system also called smart grid. Thus, the power network can be balanced, the energy consumption can be reduced, operating costs will become less and reliability and transparency will increase.


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