Automation and Robotics News–May 2012: With a special focus on Japan — Tony Zaragoza

Date: Wed, 30 May 2012 21:17:28 -0700 (PDT)
Automation and Robotics News–May 2012: With a special focus on Japan  by Tony Zaragoza


2011: The most successful year for industrial robots since 1961
2012: Continuing growth expected
Munich, 23 May 2012 – “2011 was the most successful year for industrial robots in 50 years. Since the first installation in 1961 more than 2.3 million were sold all over the world! ” stated Dr. Shinsuke Sakakibara, IFR President, on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at the AUTOMATICA in Munich. “And the robotics industry is looking forward to a bright future.”

Canon Cameras Betting On Robot-only Production
Canon Inc. is moving toward fully automating digital camera production in an effort to cut costs — a key change being played out across Japan, a world leader in robotics.

Canon bets on robot-only production

Canon, the world’s leader in digital cameras with a 20% market share, is building two automated plants in Oita Prefecture that are expected to be fully online by 2015. (May 14, 2012)

Detroit’s Wages Take on China’s


Televisions are being made in the U.S. again, but the effort says as much about marketing as it does about the global shift…

Robots To Drive Era Of New Possibilities
New advancements in robot development are designed for safe human-robot cooperation. AUTOMATICA 2012 demonstrates a trend that has major implications for the factory/warehouse work environment. (May 22, 2012)

Get Ready For The First Robot President

NPR – May 23, 2012
In Japan, for instance, the Fanuc Corp. operates a factory in which robots build other robots. It’s called “lights out” manufacturing because no lighting is needed …

Army Readies Its Mammoth Spy Blimp for First Flight

Army’s massive spy blimp

David Axe, May 22, 2012

TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!” It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.

Robots on the Farm
05/10/12 — Discovery—Commercial farms of the future may be staffed by robots that will identify, spray and pick individual pieces of produce from plants, even when their targets are grapes, peppers and apples that are as green as the leaves that surround them. As scientists in Israel and Europe get closer to…

Robotic Baristas Now Serving Coffee
05/03/12 — The first version of Briggo went online in November 2011 and it appears to be a hit with students and professors alike. Customers can order drinks off the web, a smart phone app, or at the kiosk itself. Even before ordering, the status of the queue and estimated time for…

Robots to Mine Near-Earth Asteroids
04/23/12 — Pasadena, CA—New report describes the results of a study sponsored by the Keck Institute for SpaceStudies (KISS) to investigate the feasibility of identifying, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth by the middle of the next decade.  The KISS study was performed…


Service Robot to Aid Japanese Elderly
04/26/12 — TMCnet—GeckoSystems has recently been working on the release of their new CareBot personal assistance robot, which helps elderly in Japan with most of their daily tasks. Japan recently hit 47,756 in their population of elderly citizens 100 or older. According to GeckoSystems, their CareBot is set to bring safety and…

ADAM Robots Introduced into Japanese Market
05/23/12 — RMT Robotics entered into a sales representative agreement with eepos Japan for the promotion and sale of its ADAM mobile robots in Japan. Eepos Japan will work with RMT to promote and sell the AMR fleets to end users throughout Japan with a strategic focus on the automotive manufacturing and…

Japan’s Most Closely Guarded Secret in Industrial Robotics

The     goal: combining the intelligence of the human being with the     characteristics of industrial robots for human-collaboration     robotics operating in real-life work

Japan’s most closely guarded secret in industrial robotics

environments. (May 25, 2012)

Japanese MH-2 Shoulder Robot Wants To Be Your Friend, Literally
Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 29, 2012
Nobody likes being alone, and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University are developing a robot to make sure you’ll never have to be alone again: the MH-2 wearable miniature humanoid lives on your shoulder and can be remotely inhabited by your friends from anywhere in the world.

SunGard Launches New Solution to Help Automate Japanese Securities Lending

PR Web (press release) – May 17, 2012
SunGard has extended its suite of securities finance solutions with the launch of Apex JSFC Trade Manager, which helps reduce the costs and increase the …

Japan Robot Lab Readies Second Prototype for Work at Crippled Nuclear Reactor

PCWorld – May 25, 2012
A Japanese robotics lab has developed a new emergency response prototype that will soon be put to work at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in…

Robots Get a Makeover in Factories

Wall Street Journal – May 31, 2012
Companies including Japan’s Kawada Industries Inc. and Fanuc Corp. and Switzerland-based ABB Ltd. are developing dexterous robots to perform such …

Scientists in Japan create robot bottom

ITN – May 14, 2012
Scientists in Japan have created a robotic bottom which responds to different touches with “appropriate” vibrations.

Meet Hugvie: The robotic, slightly creepy (and not very pocketable

Daily Mail – May 1, 2012
The Japanese inventor calls it the Hugvie. Most people would call it just a little bit creepy. The ‘huggable robotic pillow-phone’ has its own heartbeat and internal …

Japanese Humanoid Robot Can Keep Its Balance After Getting Kicked
Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, May 08, 2012
For some reason, roboticists seem to enjoy testing their creations by kicking them, punching them, shoving them, and even striking them with baseball bats and heavy pendulums. All in the name of science, of course. It wasn’t different with this Japanese pair of robot legs, which as you can see from the photo above, is about to get kicked in the gut.


EFF Warns of Police Drone Privacy Concerns

The EFF has issued an appeal to local governments to institute privacy protections against the misuse of drones by local law enforcement agencies. The FAA’s initial rules for allowing flying robots into the National Airspace System were announced on 14 May. Many law enforcement agencies are already obtaining and flying drones but they’re not likely to volunteer that information. It took an EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make the FAA release the list of who has been approved to fly spy drones over US cities. When local newspapers in Seattle found out from the EFF that police had purchased two drones and made survellience plans without informing the City Council, the Washington ACLU called for the city to develop policies to safeguard privacy and free speech rights.

Robot to Robot: Dragon and Space Station Meet Up
05/25/12 — The privately owned and operated SpaceX Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station on Friday, a success for the Obama administration’s new strategy of using robotic missions and public-private partnerships in space.  NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station helped guide the capsule in, but the craft itself was operated remotely from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. “It looks like we’ve got us a Dragon by the tail,” NASA’s Don Pettit told SpaceX Mission Control, carrying on a long tradition of carefully scripted astronaut quips.  “For the first time, a private American company has successfully launched a spacecraft into…

As Summer Storm Season Arrives, Disaster Robots Are Ready
05/16/12 — Wired—The next time a hurricane slams the US, look for Robin Murphy and her army of machines. Murphy heads the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, where she commands an arsenal of unmanned craft that specialize in emergency response. Her team has been on call since 9/11; the hero bots’ first mission was to comb through the rubble at the World Trade Center. “With the smoke and purple sky from the portable lights, it was like the opening sequence of The Terminator,” Murphy recalls. Since then, the remotely controlled scouts have been deployed to mud slides, caved-in mines, and collapsed…

Robojelly: Hydrogen-Powered Robot Jellyfish
05/11/12 — That innocent-looking jellyfish floating along in the ocean may actually be Robojelly, a hydrogen-fueled robot surveillance jellyfish in development for the Navy. It seems like the U.S. Navy is getting all the cool toys these days. Hot on the heels of the Saffir humanoid firefighting robot, comes Robojelly. Robojelly may…

Police in Washington DC Area Get Recon Robots
05/03/12 — EDINA, Minn—ReconRobotics, Inc. announced today that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has purchased and taken delivery of 13 Recon Scout XT micro-robot kits, which it has distributed to pre-designated Type 1 tactical teams throughout the Washington DC area. MWCOG purchased the tactical reconnaissance robots using grant funds from…

Robotic Device to Help Commandos
05/01/12 — Hyderbad, India—Scientists plan to equip a robot with artificial intelligence, auto navigation and facial detection features in the next two phases. Eventually, the budding scientists want to enable its operation through an android phone.  Such a Robotic Command System would come in handy for commandos, police personnel and firemen. It…

Meet ‘Robbie’: Darpa’s Seeing, Feeling, Two-Armed Robot

Katie Drummond, May 24, 2012

It’s only been three months since the Pentagon’s latest robot — the one able to staple paperwork and answer phone calls with a single autonomous arm —  demonstrated some of those amazing skills. Now, the freaky humanoid ‘bot is back. And this time, he has two arms. And a name. Meet Robbie. This particular robot was designed by RE2, a robotics firm in Pittsburgh, which showed him off to IEEE Spectrum at their International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week. RE2 was one of six teams initially contracted by Darpa, the Pentagon’s robo-loving research agency, to work on their Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. Launched two years ago, the program aims to develop robots that can perform complex tasks with minimal input from their human overlords.

Army Readies Its Mammoth Spy Blimp for First Flight

David Axe, May 22, 2012

TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!” It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.

Pentagon Issues Drone War Talking Points

Spencer Ackerman, May 11, 2012

It’s official: the U.S. drone war over Pakistan, Yemen and beyond really does exist. John Brennan, President Obama’s principal counterterrorism adviser, disclosed the government’s worst kept secret in a Washington speech last week. So now the Pentagon has to talk about it. Kind of. A memorandum for the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s public-affairs shop provides talking points for military mouthpieces to discuss the secretive war in public. Its bottom line: yes, you can say there is a drone war — but don’t say much more about it.

Oops! Air Force Drones Can Now (Accidentally) Spy on You

Spencer Ackerman, May 8, 2012

As long as the Air Force pinky-swears it didn’t mean to, its drone fleet can keep tabs on the movements of Americans, far from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. And it can hold data on them for 90 days — studying it to see if the people it accidentally spied upon are actually legitimate targets of domestic surveillance. The Air Force, like the rest of the military and the CIA, isn’t supposed to conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans domestically, according to an Apr. 23 instruction from the flying service. But should the drones taking off over American soil accidentally keep their cameras rolling and their sensors engaged, well … that’s a different story.

U.S. Drones Can Now Kill Joe Schmoe Militants in Yemen

Noah Shachtman, April 26, 2012

In September, American-born militant Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. In the seven months since, the al-Qaida affiliate there has only grown in power, influence, and lethality. The American solution? Authorize more drone attacks — and not just against well-known extremists like Awlaki, but against faceless, nameless, low-level terrorists as well. A relentless campaign of unmanned airstrikes has significantly weakened al-Qaida’s central leadership in Pakistan, American policymakers say. There, militants were chosen for robotic elimination based solely on their intelligence “signatures” — their behavior, as captured by wiretaps, overhead surveillance and local informants. A similar approach might not work in this case, however. “Every Yemeni is armed,” one unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. “So how can they differentiate between suspected militants and armed Yemenis?”


ArcelorMittal Steel Mill in Indiana Revived With Lessons From Abroad

May 21, 2012, By <>JOHN W. MILLER
BURNS HARBOR, Ind.—Some steel mills are destroyed by globalization, others reborn.
Left for dead a decade ago, this 50-year-old facility on the shores of Lake Michigan has been rejuvenated thanks to an unusual experiment by its owner, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal. In 2008, Burns Harbor was “twinned” with a hypermodern mill in Gent, Belgium. Over 100 U.S. engineers and managers, who were flown across the Atlantic, were told: Do as the Belgians do. Burns Harbor now enjoys record output. Its furnaces, where steel is made out of iron ore, coal and limestone, are run with software developed in Belgium. Robots are in. Pencils are out. Workers are learning to make the same amount of steel with nearly half the people it employed three decades ago. Productivity is nearing Belgian levels. The transition hasn’t been seamless. As a collective bargaining session looms this summer, union leaders say a tough battle is expected over wages, safety risks and the next wave of automation. But there is also an acknowledgment that increased productivity has saved the mill from oblivion. American manufacturing—from chemicals to washing machines—is growing again. Spurred by stable labor costs, weaker unions and low natural gas prices, today’s manufacturers have emerged from the recession far different from what they were even a decade ago. They employ more highly skilled workers, are more automated and have far fewer workers.

Remade in the USA: A Crib for Baby: Made in China or Made in USA?


ROBBINSVILLE, N.C.—Stanley Furniture Co. is betting baby cribs are among the few things Americans will pay a hefty premium for just because they carry a “Made in the U.S.A.” label. The 88-year-old company recently shifted its crib manufacturing back to the U.S. from China, to a sprawling factory here that not long ago was earmarked for closure along with Stanley’s other two domestic plants. Today, the Robbinsville factory is an oddity in an industry that has been abandoning the U.S. because of costs: It is growing and investing over $8 million in new machinery. What prompted the move was a …

Once Made in China: Jobs Trickle Back to U.S. Plants


Manufacturers are returning some production to the U.S. But the experience of Whirlpool of others shows the moves aren’t…

3D Printing Robot To Impact Annual $8B In Retail Furniture Sales

Tables and chairs     for casual dining represent an $8 billion slice of the more than $96     billion annually in retail sales of furniture and home furnishings.     A Dutch inventor named Dirk Vander Kooij believes that his 3D     printing robot that prints out tables and chairs —from recycled     materials, no less— has a more than passing chance to impact that     industry in a very big way. (May 08, 2012)


Australia’s First Robotic Dairy
05/15/12 — Australia’s first robotic rotary dairy has been opened in a commercial pilot farm in Quamby Brook, Tasmania. The Dornauf family, which owns the dairy farm, had agreed to install the Automatic Milking Rotary (AMR), which has been manufactured and installed by Swedish dairy equipment company DeLaval. FutureDairy project in Australia,…

Robotic Planes, Tractors Loom Behind Autonomous Cars
05/04/12 — Mary Cummings, a professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was interviewed today at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference in New York, where she offered her views on the state of the art in autonomous vehicles. The work of Google and automakers has shown how cars can drive…

Humans No Match For RoboButcher In $23B Poultry Industry

Big-bang innovation     in poultry processing may hold an answer; big bang meaning     revolutionary, disruptive change, something that redefines the     productivity landscape of today’s annual 50 billion pound, $23     billion poultry processing industry. (May 21, 2012)

Robots Can Perform Surgery, But Can They Debone a Chicken?

Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2012 By CAMERON MCWHIRTER
ATLANTA—Robots fly aircraft into war and help doctors perform surgeries. Gary McMurray has spent eight years getting a robot to debone a chicken. … Now, after pecking away since 2004, the chief of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s food processing technology division and his team plan a test in June of what he calls a “revolutionary” prototype chicken-deboning robot. The Institute works with industry and the military to find dull, dirty tasks that could be performed by a robot, Mr. McMurray says. This machine, equipped with robotic arms and a surgical blade, is guided by a three-dimensional imaging system that can determine in a split second the size of each chicken and where its skin, meat and bone are, Mr. McMurray says. They have already shown the robot to industry groups, and now are running the test to make sure it can cut meat off a chicken as quickly and efficiently as a man with a knife can.


Coming soon to a salon near you

3 May 2012, by John_RobotsPodcast

While Panasonic’s legal department may be cringing at the prospect, this shampoo-bot appears to be headed straight for market, where it can relieve busy stylists from the need to also perform shampoos, while providing customers with more thorough shampoos and less water in the eyes. Add a sanitization cycle to keep from passing germs and parasites from one customer to the next (if it doesn’t already have one), and it just might be marketable as is.

Robotic Surgery: Tool-wielding Robots Crawl in Bodies
05/29/12 — Indystar—Imagine a tiny snake robot crawling through your body, helping a surgeon identify diseases and perform operations. It’s not science fiction. Scientists and doctors are using the creeping metallic tools to perform surgery on hearts, prostate cancer, and other diseased organs. The snakebots carry tiny cameras, scissors and forceps, and even more advanced sensors are in the works. For now, they’re powered by tethers that humans control. But experts say the day is coming when some robots will roam the body on their own. “It won’t be very long before we have robots that are nanobots, meaning they will actually…

Lawn Wars: Robot Mowers To Vie in Court
05/24/12 — Husqvarna Group is taking legal action against Positec Germany GmbH claiming Positec’s Worx robotic mower infringes two of Husqvarna’s patents for robotic mower technology. As pioneers within robotic mowers and as clear market leader, Husqvarna vows to vigorously defend against infringements of its intellectual property. We have had tremendous success with the Automower robotic mower, and welcome that other manufacturers help us to grow this market. However, all manufacturers must do their own engineering work and not just copy existing solutions. We have invested a lot of hard work and resources and will actively defend our technology against infringers, says…

Robotic ‘Fish’ Take to Seas to Catch Pollution Sooner
05/22/12 — MSNBC—In a bid to track sea pollution by mimicking how fish navigate and work together, scientists on Tuesday moved their robotic fish from the lab to the sea. The technology could reduce the time it takes to detect a pollutant from weeks to just seconds, the scientists said in a…

Sounds hollow, but can replace 3 guitarists . . .

Robotic Guitar Can Replace Three Guitarists
05/25/12 — We already know that musically inclined robots will take up the Beatles mantle in the future, and that they are skilled at reproducing the classic James Bond theme. But just to further show how obsolete human musicians are, Vladimir Demin (MrDeminva on YouTube) built a robotic guitar that can replace a group of guitarists. Normally it takes a group of musicians to play this particular Russian tune. Demin’s actuated player guitar can reproduce the song by itself with such unrelenting tempo and perfect accuracy. The robotic guitar can do this because each fret on the instrument has its own dedicated…


FedEx Ground Accelerates Package Sorting With Digital Cameras

Clint Boulton, May 25, 2012

Few people know what happens to packages before they reach their doorsteps, but FedEx Ground CIO Ken Spangler was game to tell CIO Journal how the carrier sorts 9 million parcels a day—and how that highly automated process has helped the business grow. Spangler said the average hub in the FedEx Ground network can sort up to 7,500 packages per hour, per sorter. This reliance on automated systems to sort packages reduces human error of misdirected packages, speeding up the sorting process. “Almost everyone that comes to see these [sorting hub] operations says ‘wow, where are all of the people?,’” he said.

American Packaging Corporation Puts Seegrid Robots To Work
05/29/12 — American Packaging Corporation (APC), a packaging supplier for major brands such as Pringles, Betty Crocker, and Planters, has invested $150 Million in the last 13 years on new equipment and facility upgrades. Following a $17.5 Million expansion of their Columbus, Wisconsin facility, APC needed to move its packaging materials across much longer distances in less time. APC chose to automate the transportation process with Seegrid robotic industrial trucks rather than Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) once it was determined that the labor costs associated with traditional forklift operations were not optimal and AGVs would be more difficult to integrate. The programming…


Robotics Industry Off to a Great Start in 2012
Robotic Industries Association Posted 05/01/2012
Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American robotics companies enjoyed one of the industry’s strongest opening quarters ever, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 5,096 robots valued at $343.8 million were ordered from North American robotics companies through March, increases of 27% in units and 30% in dollars over the same period in 2011. A total of 4,605 robots valued at $299.6 million were shipped to North American customers in the first quarter, the best opening quarter ever for shipments. “It’s clear that the strong demand we saw in our record-breaking year of 2011 has continued into 2012,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The activity is especially strong among automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, where robot orders jumped 42% in the first quarter over a year ago. In fact, automotive-related orders accounted for 65% of the new orders in the first quarter of 2012. Non-automotive orders grew six percent,” Burnstein said.

How to pick Robotics Stocks and what to avoid.

15 May 2012, by IKE_RobotsPodcast

We usually forget that apart from an exciting research field, robotics is also a huge industry. Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher of The Robot Report describe the robotics stock exchange map from an investor’s perspective. There are numerous companies that are currently active on robotics but only a fraction of them rely heavily on that sector, most of these stocks are influenced by other trends. There are also newly formed companies that aspire to cash in on the hype that surrounds robotics as an exotic and innovative sector without providing evidence that they are a viable and healthy investment. You can read more about robotics stocks in the article from and also in the Robot Report.

Robots Podcast #103: Robopocalypse

4 May 2012, by John_RobotsPodcast

An avid reader of science fiction, Daniel Wilson originally wanted to be a sci-fi writer, but, because it still wasn’t happening as he approached college, he decided upon a career in science, as the next best thing. Then, after some experience with computers, it occurred to him that they could be programmed to figure out how to solve problems, and he realized that AI and robotics were real fields with huge potential, at which point he was hooked, and that carried him through a PhD. in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. But he never forgot his dream of being an author, and published his first book, How to Survive A Robot Uprising, in 2005, discussing this and other early work in a Talking Robots podcast in mid-2007. His 2011 novel, Robopocalypse, which Steven Spielberg is making into a movie to be released summer 2013, is the starting point for the current interview.


Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers

Bubble robots powered by lasers

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 22, 2012
We’re used to thinking of robots as mechanical entities, but at very small scales, it sometimes becomes easier to use existing structures (like microorganisms that respond to magnetic fields or even swarms of bacteria) instead of trying to design and construct one (or lots) of teeny tiny artificial machines. Aaron Ohta’s lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has come up with a novel new way of creating non-mechanical microbots quite literally out of thin air, using robots made of bubbles with engines made of lasers.

Video: Throwable Robot, Roomba-Riding Humanoid, and More from ICRA 2012
Erico Guizzo & Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 21, 2012
If you couldn’t make it to ICRA this year, don’t worry: We’ll bring ICRA to you. The 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation attracted more than 1,700 people to the River Centre convention center in St. Paul, Minn., last week. We’ve been keeping you about the coolest (and the weirdest) projects presented at the conference, and we still have many more stories to come. But today we want to take you to ICRA’s show floor, where over two dozen exhibitors demoed their robotic creations. Check out our video montage after the break.

Video Friday: Robo Cheetah Goes for a Trot, Mind-Controlled Arms, and Robots Playing Football
Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, May 18, 2012
You didn’t think that just because we’re going all-out covering ICRA that we’d let any other cool robot news slip past us this week, did you? Of course you didn’t! There are many more awesome ICRA articles in the works for next week, but in the mean time, here are two robot vids that weren’t at the conference, plus several more that definitely should have been.

African Project Aims To Innovate in Educational Robotics
Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, May 01, 2012
Abibiman mma a w?n anigye robot ho, y?nkambom!
That’s how you say, “African robot enthusiasts unite!” in Twi, one the main native languages in Ghana, a vibrant nation of 25 million people in West Africa. Roboticists there and in the United States are launching today an initiative to enhance robotics education, research, and industry in Africa. The African Robotics Network (AFRON) wants to mobilize a community of institutions and individuals working on robotics-related areas, strengthening communication and collaboration among them.

Europe’s Largest Robotics Laboratory Opens in UK
05/10/12 — The Bristol Robotics Lab is a partnership between UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) and the University of Bristol. It is home to 70 academics and businesses who are leading current thinking in ‘nouvelle’ and service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering. Over $2.5 million has been spent on the new facilities which cover 2,400 sqm, with over 300 metres of specialised laboratory space and two Flying Arenas. “This is probably the largest robotics lab in Europe,” said Libor Kral, Head of Unit Cognitive Systems for Interaction Robotics at the European Commission. Robotics is a key element for…

New-look Moon Rover Robot to Land in 2014
05/24/12 — The lunar rover ‘Asimov’ due to land on the Moon in 2014, will be the first autonomously navigated rover on the Moon. It’s autonomous navigation system is a major technological leap. While the Russian Moon rovers Lunokhod 1 and 2 in the early 70s were fully controlled from Earth, today’s Mars rovers like NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’, which has been tirelessly exploring the Red Planet since 2004, are autonomous. However, Opportunity requires nearly three minutes to process a pair of images — a delay that causes it to move at an average speed of just 1 cm/sec or less.…

Four Factors Critical to the Success of Robotics
05/04/12 — The Atlantic—Successful and failed transformations suggests watching four critical factors: Make it easier for people to do what they are trying to get done.  While the iPad feels like an overnight success, its roots trace back to the Newton Personal Digital Assistant Apple introduced in the 1990s. The Newton was…

Robotic Arm Weaves A Structure Like A Spider
05/01/12 — First, this is not a robotic spider, it’s a non-autonomous robotic arm pre-programmed to weave a structure out of its own surroundings. Down the road, the researchers plan to make the robotic arm autonomous so it can sense where objects are and build its own structure to fit the surroundings.…


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