Automation and Robotics News–Oct 10, 2010 from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–Oct 10, 2010

Highlights: Drones, Robotic sentinels guarding nukes, Automating paper production (the Philippines), mining (Australia), rice production (Japan), growth in service robots, pipe-fitting robots, variety of perspectives on job displacement, end of scarcity, robo-cars, robo legs, advances in walking robots, and rat-robot hybrid.

This issue


Darpa to Teen Geeks: Build Us Better Robots

Fuel Cell Event: Photo: U.S Department of Energy Office of Science

Katie Drummond, September 30, 2010

Darpa’s got ambitious goals when it comes to revolutionizing the outmoded, expensive process of defense manufacturing. The Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm wants fast-tracked timelines and widespread collaboration, all facilitated by web 2.0. And they’re looking to assemble an army of teenaged brains to help them do it.

New Poll: Pakistanis Hate the Drones, Back Suicide Attacks on U.S. Troops

Spencer Ackerman, September 30, 2010

The CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

CIA Chief Warned Obama in ‘09: Drone Strikes Won’t Win War
Noah Shachtman, September 28, 2010

In early 2009, counterinsurgency gurus David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum aired their concerns that American drone strikes in Pakistan might not be all that productive — a tactic for knocking off individual terrorists, maybe, not a strategy for wiping out Al Qaeda’s haven.

60 Dead as Helos, Drones Strike in Pakistan (But Don’t Call it a War)

Noah Shachtman, September 27, 2010

U.S. officials don’t like calling what’s going on in Pakistan a war. But the American-led conflict, whatever name you give it, has never been this violent. The drone component of the campaign hit a new high over the weekend
These Are the Robotic Sentinels Guarding the Largest Nuke Site in the United States
10/04/10, Jesus Diaz

Fully automated robots now guard the Nevada National Security Site. There, the military ignited over a thousand nukes, including the largest atmospheric nuclear test in the history of continental United States. They are called the MDARS.


ABB to deliver automation and electrical systems for paper mill in Philippines

Lesprom Network – Sep 27, 2010

ABB received an order from Schweitzer-Mauduit International Inc. to provide automation and electrification systems for its greenfield specialty paper mill …

Mining Industry primed for tech investments

Australian Mining – Michael Mills – Oct 7, 2010

Mills: What lessons has the mining industry learned from its experiences with automation so far? Baldwin: I think the biggest thing that some in the industry have picked up since making their first investments in automation, is that technology can actually be a friend to the industry rather than a hindrance.


Robot farmers display cutting-edge technology for Japan’s aging farming population

A prototype robot moves around a field planting rice seedlings in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Oct. 7. (Mainichi)

Mainichi Daily News – Oct 8, 2010

A prototype robot moves around a field planting rice seedlings in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Oct. 7. (Mainichi) TSUKUBA, Ibaraki — Researchers have unveiled a group of prototype robots that can handle rice-field farming tasks from fertilization to harvesting.

Automatic Cake Decorator

10/05/10, Christina Bonnington

Mischer’traxler’s automatic cake decorator uses a rotating platform to draw a flowery, spirograph-like design on its cakes. As a final touch, the mechanical arm drops sugar-pearls across the cake’s surface.


Robot mannequin helps shoppers find the right fit

CNET – Leslie Katz – Sep 30, 2010

Well, you could cross your fingers–or enlist the help of a new shape-shifting robot mannequin that shows you how clothes hang on your frame. …

Coming soon: Unmanned robot aircraft to fly domestic skies

Economic Times – Sep 27, 2010

Randall and his team will consider how and where robot craft should fly – which altitude, which routes and at what times. Other grey areas are whether these …

You Will Soon Own a Home Robot, Researchers Say

Hot Hardware – Julie Bort – Sep 30, 2010

The “personal robots” market will explode in the next few years, and we don’t mean all over your kitchen. ABI Research expects robots aimed at consumers to …

Forecasted $17 Billion Service Robot Sales Globally by the End of 2013

TMC Net – Sujata Garud – Sep 27, 2010

GeckoSystems Intl. Corp., is a dynamic leader in the emerging Mobile Service Robot (MSR) industry revolutionizing their development and …

Gujarat hospital becomes first to acquire latest robot for urological surgeries

Sify – Sep 27, 2010

Robot plays a major role in treating cancer of kidney, bladder and prostate and doing reconstructive procedures in a minimally invasive manner.


Supply chain automation may impact forklift industry – Sep 30, 2010

A wave of automation is coming into the supply chain with potentially significant impact on the forklift industry, according to Scott Friedman, …


The Many Benefits of Automated Pipe Welding

October 07, 2010

Automated pipe welding offers a host of advantages, from increased production speed and exceptional flexibility, to material savings and dramatically improved end product quality.


Original Hershey Chocolate Factory Set To Close

At Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa., visitors can make their own candy bars using factory equipment. Originally designed as a "worker's paradise" by founder Milton Hershey, the company town has become a tourist destination.

Jamie Tarabay, October 6, 2010, NPR

At the heart of the town was the chocolate factory, a brown brick building nestled in the shadows of two smokestacks, where cocoa goodness wafted out into streets and homes. That factory on the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues, however, will soon be closing, and the chocolate making will move to another facility being built just outside the town. The Hershey Co. says it needs to close the historic factory, and cut 500 jobs, to remain competitive in the global market. … Hershey is spending $300 million on a new facility being built just outside town. Six-hundred workers from the old factory will move there; the rest are being replaced by machinery. Hershey is reshaping itself to fend off global competition. It has a huge new competitor in Kraft, which recently bought the British Cadbury company.

Automation is increasingly reducing US workforces

Los Angeles Times – Alana Semuels – Oct 3, 2010

Automation means Young no longer needs large crews of farmworkers to plant or harvest — and no more worrying about status, pay or benefits. …

Automation Proves the Intrepid Solution to Higher Demand – A Robot Case Study

Robotics Online (press release) – Oct 6, 2010

Overseas sales increase, and you need more workers or more automation. For this small processor, automation proved the right choice, with those new robotics …

Have workplace robots passed the ‘tipping point’? (blog) -Joe McKendrick – Oct 8, 2010

Two separate reports about the advancement of robots into hospital settings give pause about the changing roles of human versus machine power — and kindles renewed concerns about automation replacing livelihoods.

Channel 9 automation could cut jobs – John Kiesewetter – Oct 1, 2010

“Automation allows the station to substantially increase the news content on the server, and enables quicker access to content in the production of the …

How Not to Be Automated Out of a Job

eWeek (blog) – Sep 30, 2010

Advice from one industry analyst is to become an expert in automation technologies. Learn a spectrum of systems management technologies and get intimately …


The Economics of Robotics

John Payne on 11 Oct 2010, 02:56

From where I sit, it looks as though the majority of participants in the development of robotics, industrial applications aside, are in academia, and that the majority of funding comes from government (largely military) sources. In my humble opinion, this is a situation ripe for change. The list of players in this drama include the usual suspects, the holders of military and other governmental purse strings, educational and research institutions heavily dependent upon such funding, and of course the companies involved in producing the computing hardware that amplifies the value of sensors and actuators, but it also includes companies with long experience in developing and marketing industrial robots, newer companies involved in other aspects of robotics, established companies in markets likely to be heavily impacted by robotics (agriculture), venture capitalists looking to get on board early with enough resources to turn good ideas into winners, and more conservative investors simply looking for a decent return. … The effect of robotics may prove so profound that it forces a rethinking of the fundamentals of economics. Scarcity (of labor and of necessary commodities) may cease to be relevant, and need a replacement paradigm. Quality is a consideration sure to gain importance.

ABB Settles Kickback Case with US Authorities

Managing Automation Magazine – Chris Chiappinelli – Sep 30, 2010

The automation and controls company ABB pleads guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in past business activities in Mexico and Iraq, …

Going Where No Underwater Robot Has Gone Before

International Business Times – Gabriel Perna – Oct 1, 2010

The robot, which is called AQUA, is an amphibious machine with the ability to operate on land and underwater. It is an ongoing project from York, …

Robot cars invade California, on orders from Google

October 09, 2010 – Edward Moyer

Google has been testing self-driving cars on roads in California, according to a report, and so far they’ve avoided everything but a minor fender bender–caused by a human-driven car.

Robotic legs for paraplegics march forward

October 07, 2010 – Leslie Katz

Berkeley Bionics unveils eLegs, one of a number of bionic exoskeletons that get paraplegics out of their wheelchairs and on their feet.

Hopper vehicle could explore Mars by jumping

Monday, October 04, 2010 – Tim Hornyak

Martian hopscotch, anyone? Bouncing vehicles proposed by Draper Laboratory could cover dozens of miles on Mars with a few leaps.

Humanoid Robots Rise. Now, Can They Walk?

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, October 04, 2010

Japan has long held world dominance when it comes to full-body walking humanoid robots. There’s the pioneering Waseda robots, the impressive HRP series, the diminutive but nimble Sony Qrio and Toyota Partner robots, and of course, the country’s most famous emissary: the charismatic, child-size, astronaut-like Honda Asimo, which ambles, runs, and climbs stairs with (almost) perfect precision. Until recently, only South Korea — with its Hubo and Mahru robots — had demonstrated humanoids with legs as impressive as those of their Japanese counterparts. Now other countries are trying to catch up. Below I describe four humanoids that may give the Asian humanoids a run for their money. Or as one editor here put it, these robots may kick your Asimo.

Researchers Using Rat-Robot Hybrid to Design Better Brain Machine Interfaces

Tim Hornyak  /  Mon, October 04, 2010

A strange creature, half robot, half rat, has been seen scuttling across a laboratory in Japan. It’s RatCar, a rat-vehicle experiment that scientists hope could lead to improved mobility for people with disabilities. Researchers at the University of Tokyo wanted to see whether rats could control a miniature vehicle through the brain signals that move their limbs. They recently presented their project at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society annual conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Brecht’s Good Person of Setzuan in Chicago

Is it possible to live as a good person in an evil world?  This is the question Bertolt Brecht poses in his Good Person of Setzuan, when three gods descend on Setzuan to reward the one good person that they have evidence exists in the city.  That the person is a prostitute evokes some consternation among the residents, perhaps among the audience as well.  But what is a “good person”? And is it possible to live individually as a good person?
The remarkable theatre department of the Chicago Academy for the Arts presents its version of this important play.
Brecht’s German “epic theatre” combines with Chinese folk tales and, some say, American detective literature to produce a play that certainly reverberates in our “evil world.”  But don’t dismiss Brecht as a ponderous didact: some say he leaves us with an ambiguous ending.  Perhaps he leaves us with the only ending that the dramatist who values his modern  audience can leave us with.  The last few lines of his epilogue speak to the need for all of us to be involved in the change we want to see:

It is for you to find a way, my friends,To help good men arrive at happy ends.

You write the happy ending to the play!

There must, there must, there’s got to be a way!

Good Person of Setzuan
Thursday, October 21 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Location Chicago Academy for the Arts 

1010 West Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL

Created By

More Info October 21st- 4:45
October 22nd- 7:00
October 23rd- 7:00
October 28th- 4:45
October 29th- 7:00
October 30th- 7:00

Photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo to Receive Cesar Chavez Award

Black Eagle Press Release 2010


Wayne Hanley, UFCW Canada President, and the Agriculture Workers Alliance are proud to announce the recipients of the 2010 Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Awards.


  • Olivia Chow MP -NDP Immigration Critic
  • Paul Cavalluzzo – Lawyer

    Vincenzo Pietropaolo's Harvest Pilgrims documents the lives of Canadian agricultural workers

  • Leonel Godoy – Governor for the state of Michoacán, Mexico
  • Gill McGowan – President Alberta Federation of Labour
  • Kerry Preibisch – Sociology Professor Guelph University
  • Vincenzo Pietropaolo – Photographer and Activist


The eleventh annual “Black Eagle Awards” acknowledges outstanding contributions by individuals towards dignity and respect for agriculture worker. The Award named after Cesar E Chavez the founder of the United Farm Workers Union in California, and his life long struggle for a safe and just food supply across North America.

This annual event is the only fundraiser for the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) which is Canada’s largest organization of agriculture workers. The AWA runs ten support centers across Canada that provides free support and advocacy for agriculture workers. The vast majority of the work is on behalf of the tens of thousands of seasonal agricultural workers from Jamaica, Mexico and other Eastern Caribbean countries. With the expansion of the temporary foreign worker programs for the agriculture industry the AWA are now providing services in Canada to workers from around the world including Guatemala, Thailand, Philippines, Honduras and South Asia.


For tickets and more information contact Stan Raper – National Coordinator Agriculture Workers Alliance at 416-675-1104 x232


This year’s event will be held at the Ontario Federation of Labour Building in Toronto on November 3rd 2010.

Tim Sheard Brings Lenny Moss to Chicago

Tim Sheard‘s Lenny Moss novels are in the crime writing/mystery genre. It’s a genre that has been home to a number of writers who explore the invisibility of the working class.  Tim goes a step further: he focuses on the self-conscious actions of his working class hero, a union steward in a New York hospital.  Tim will be in town October 19 to read from and discuss his latest novel, Slim to None.  Join him!

Talkin’ Tuesdays at the Heartland Cafe — from Jeff Biggers

Our “Talkin’ Tuesdays: No Exit Cafe’s Great Monologues Showcase,” continues on Tuesday, October 26th, 7:30pm, at the No Exit Cafe on 6970 N. Glenwood, in Rogers Park. Donations suggested. The doors open at 6:30pm, with food and drink.

Featuring nationally acclaimed writers, performance artists, actors, activists and legendary Chicago characters, Talkin’ Tuesdays will run every fourth Tuesday of the month at No Exit Cafe, and showcase riveting, harrowing, hilarious and topical storytelling and monologue performances on issues of crime and punishment, sex, race and ethnicity, borders and borderlands, politics and polemics, and the back stories from the hills and hollers of Chicago’s Uptown streets and beyond.

On Tuesday, October 26th, legendary Chicago labor organizer and educator James Thindwa will join award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen for an evening of “Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges: Road stories from frontlines of Honduras, Zimbawe and Chicago.”

Launched on September 28th, Talkin’ Tuesdays will be hosted by author/performer Jeff Biggers, whose latest memoir, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation Books) was recently adapted for an Off Broadway stage production.

For more information, contact the Heartland Cafe @ 773-465-8005.

James Thindwa

James Thindwa is a 28-year veteran of political activism. Since June 2009, he has served as Civic Engagement

James Thindwa

Coordinator for Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers/AFT-IFT. His work involves building public and political support toward the effort to organize charter school teachers.

James began his organizing career in 1982 working for Ohio Citizen Action and the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana. He came to Chicago in 1993 and for 9 years worked as lead organizer for Metro Seniors in Action. From 2002 to 2009, he served as Executive Director for Chicago Jobs With Justice, a labor-community coalition that promotes workers rights and livable communities. During the 1970’s and 1980’s James was a student leader in the anti-apartheid movement. James also serves on the boards of Illinois Labor History Society, In These Times magazine, where he is also a writer, and CAN TV. On March 27, 2009, James’ organizing work was featured on PBS’s Bill Moyers Journal.

Kari Lydersen

Kari Lydersen is a long-time Chicago reporter, author and journalism teacher who seeks to shed light on the

Kari Lydersen

real-life effects of public policy, political and technology issues with a special focus on the environment, immigration, Latin America and labor. She writes for publications including The Washington Post, New York Times (Chicago edition) and In These Times magazine. She is the author of three books, most recently Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover and What it Says About the Economic Crisis (Melville House 2009). She teaches at Columbia College and through the youth program We the People Media.

Revolutionary Poets Brigade New Book — Jack Hirschman


Dear Friends, Brigadistas and Other Book Lovers,

Forgive this rather impersonal note, but this seems to be the most expedient way to reach many folks.

Monday morning the printer will begin work on the massive Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthology.

The book will be 380 pages in length, comprising 76 poets from 25 countries. And it will be multilingual.

At the first of three November launches (see below), the book will be available. The price of the book at the launches will be $12.

In the bookstore it will be $18.

But I and co-editor Mark Lipman of the Caza de Poesie ( who is publishing the book) agree that a pre-publication price for each book should be $10 to interested parties.

Members of the Brigade who are in the book of course each will receive a free copy of the Anthology. If they want others, they also will pay $10 a copy.

Some members already have ordered as many as 10 copies, others 6, 5, etc.

If anyone wants just one copy, that is fine too of course.

The way to get your copy is to send me a check for the amount of books you want. I will of course know by the amount you send and will make a notation of the amount of books and get them to you at the launches or through the mail if you will not be at the launches.

Make the check out to me and send it to the address below:

Jack Hirschman

POB 26517

San Francisco

CA 94126

Please send the check as soon as possible if you wish the Anthology. And do tell your friends that the most important Anthology in years is about to be published.

The November launches are:

1. Sunday Nov. 7, 7:30p.m.—Kaleidoscope Free Speech Zone, 3109 24th Folsom

2. Thursday Nov.11, 7:30 p.m.—The Beat Museum, Broadway nr Columbus

3.  Thursday Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m—Readers Café—Fort Mason Building C


All Good Wishes,