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.
TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION
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.
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.
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. …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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.
PACKING AND SHIPPING
ForkliftAction.com – 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, …
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.
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.
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. …
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 …
SmartPlanet.com (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.
Cincinnati.com – 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 …
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 …
BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND 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.
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, …
RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
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.
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.
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.