Automation & Robotics News for Aug. 1, from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–Aug 1, 2010

Highlights: New Stealth Drones (US &UK), Warehouse Automation, Sugar Automation in Kenya, Poll Automation in Nigeria, Structural Unemployment, Automating the Automation, Economic Recovery for Siemens, Rockwell, ABB, iRobot, and Honeywell, Robot Vans Travelling from Italy to China, Robotic Conscience, and Developing Autonomous Surgical Robots

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Click this link for the Aug. 1 issue

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Deploying Drones in U.S. Skies
Morgan Bettex- Filed Jul 22, 2010

Nicholas Roy, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the Robust Robotics Group, discusses the challenges of incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles into commercial airspace.
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to expand flights of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, along the Texas-Mexico border for surveillance purposes. Although unmanned aircraft have been used extensively by the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, the FAA has been hesitant to issue flying rights . . . to discuss the challenges involved with flying unmanned planes across America.

BAE reveals UK’s first combat robot aircraft
Financial Times – Sylvia Pfeifer – Jul 12, 2010
Robot wars came a step closer after BAE Systems unveiled the UK’s first unmanned aircraft that can pilot itself and strike targets as far away as Afghanistan. Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is about the size of a Hawk trainer jet.

Boeing Unveils Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator
By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Jul 26, 2010
Hydrogen powered unmanned airborne system designed to fly at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet for up to four days. The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days. “Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications,” . . .
Army building robotic tentacles to handle IEDs
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
The military is developing snakelike tentacle robots to manipulate IEDs and take part in search and rescue missions. Cobra Commander would be pleased.

Robot Toyota lift truck performs unmanned tasks
Thursday, July 22, 2010 Posted by Suzanne Ashe, cnet.com
The U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency hosted demonstrations at Fort Lee, in Virginia, of an MIT-developed prototype unmanned robotic Toyota lift truck.
At iRobot, moving way beyond the Roomba
Thursday, July 15, 2010 Posted by Daniel Terdiman, cnet.com
Road Trip 2010: CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stops in on the maker of the hit robotic vacuum cleaner and learns what the company has in store for the future of military and home robotics.
Air Force Wants Drones to Sense Other Planes’ ‘Intent’
Spencer Ackerman July 23, 2010, Wired Danger Room
Unmanned aircraft, for all their utility, are fairly simple beasts. They’re good at taking direction, but they’re not so good at processing information on their own. Now the Air Force figures it’s time for drones to get a lot smarter, especially as they take off or land. As anyone who’s ever flown knows, the runway is a crowded place. Planes on the runway queue up to get airborne. Planes in the air have to coordinate with Air Traffic Control for the order in which they can safely land, taking precautions not to get in anyone’s way until it’s their turn. . . .On Tuesday, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said it’ll soon solicit engineers to design an algorithm to allow drones to “integrate seamlessly” with piloted planes

Killer Drones Get Stealthy
Noah Shachtman, July 19, 2010, Wired DangerRoom
Today’s killer drones are sitting ducks. Loud, slow-moving, and simple to spot, any air defense more potent than a militant with an AK is liable to take one of the robotic planes down. But the next generation of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) won’t be the airborne equivalent of fish in a barrel. They’ll fly faster and higher than the current drone crop. And they’ll be somewhat stealthy, as well. . . .

INDUSTRY


One union’s demise: The end of Local 1111 should prompt serious questions about the economy
John Gurda, Opinion: July 31, 2010
A union died last night. As the clock struck midnight and July became August, Rockwell Automation – a company that many Milwaukeeans still think of as Allen-Bradley – finished its final contract with Local 1111 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. The roughly 130 UE members who were still on the job – electricians, maintenance crews, cafeteria staff – have been replaced by contract workers earning much less in wages and benefits than their predecessors.

Why Warehouses are Adopting Automation
Supply Chain Digital (blog) – Ellie Duncan – Jul 30, 2010
Next generation warehousing may sound like the name of the latest Star Trek film but automated warehousing is, in fact, the future of the warehousing and storage industry as we know it. The concept actually dates back to the 1950s when the first Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) was brought to market . . .

AGRICULTURE
Chemelil eyes automation in bid to boost efficiency
Business Daily Africa – Steve Mbogo – Jul 14, 2010
Chemelil Sugar Company plans to automate its cane processing unit to boost efficiency in cane crushing, extract more sucrose and cut operating costs as it prepares for competition from imports from the COMESA region in less than two years. “We have given automation of our boilers the priority,” said Managing Director Edward Musebe. It was however not clear how much money the company plans to use for the project. Kenya’s sugar millers are partially protected from competition from cheaper imports . . .

JOB DISPLACEMENT
Secondary Sources: Basel III, Structural Unemployment, Securitization
By Phil Izzo, July 27, 2010 – Real Time Economics: Economic insight and analysis from The Wall Street Journal.
–Structural Unemployment: The Economist hosts a debate over whether the U.S. is facing structural unemployment. Daron Acemoglu writes: “Yes, US structural unemployment is up. But this is not a recent turn of events. It is the continuation of an ongoing process… US employment and demand for labour have been undergoing profound changes over the last 30 years.
Manufacturing Journalist TR Cutler Looks at Overall Equipment Effectiveness by Memex Automation
Burlington, Ontario — (SBWIRE) — 07/23/2010 — Memex Automation Inc., http://www.memex.ca, a unit of Astrix Networks Inc., was created to leverage the research and development of Memex Electronics, which was founded in 1992. Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology.

GOVERNMENT
Automation is key to credible elections in 2011 , SALISU
Jul 20, 2010, Vanguard, Nigeria
While the debate on electoral reforms is going in the national assembly, how best to  realize  a stable democratic political system in Nigeria through IT tools and strategies has continued to be a major concern of stakeholders in the Nigerian IT industry, especially the Nigerian Computer Society. For many observers, electoral reform is not feasible without deployment of robust IT infrastructure.

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS
Siemens Alerts Customers to Virus in Its Automation Software
New York Times – Kevin J. O’Brien – Jul 22, 2010
The company, based in Munich, is the world’s largest maker of industrial automation equipment and software, with sales of €6.8 billion, or $8.7 billion, …

Rockwell Automation 3Q Profit More Than Triples
JULY 28, 2010, 3:21 P.M. ET
CHICAGO (Dow Jones)–Rockwell Automation Inc.’s (ROK) fiscal third-quarter earnings more than tripled as the factory-automation equipment and software company benefited from the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry. Sales for the quarter increased 25% and Rockwell’s operating margin nearly doubled, prompting the Milwaukee company to raise its full-year guidance. “Industrial production has been growing the last three or four quarters,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Keith Nosbusch during an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. “We had solid growth in Europe, the U.S. and …

ABB reports lower net, but cites signs of upturn
JULY 23, 2010, 4:59 A.M. ET, By Goran Mijuk Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
ZURICH — ABB Ltd. posted an 8% drop in second-quarter earnings on Thursday, but said a market recovery is emerging as demand improves for industrial and infrastructure projects. Europe’s largest electrical-engineering company by sales said net profit fell to $623 million from $675 million a year earlier amid continued pricing pressure and restructuring costs. Cost cutting limited the decline, ABB said.
Siemens Returns To Growth As Order Intake Surges
JULY 29, 2010, 5:50 A.M. ET
MUNICH (Dow Jones)–Siemens AG (SI) Thursday posted a 12% rise in third-quarter net profit and increased sales and order intake for the first time in seven quarters, marking a return to growth after the demand slump brought about by the recession. Siemens posted especially strong results in its short-cycle businesses, which are closely linked to the economic cycle, such as industry automation and lighting unit Osram. But big-ticket spending also returned. Siemens’ third-quarter order intake was up 22%, bringing the order backlog to a record level of EUR89 billion, driven by new orders for Siemens’ renewable division.

Honeywell 2Q Profit Up 4% Amid Improving Sales; View Raised
JULY 23, 2010, 8:44 A.M. ET
Honeywell International Inc. (HON) on Friday delivered one of the second-quarter season’s most upbeat reports, beating its internal forecasts and raising full-year guidance. The U.S. industrial and aerospace group said it was seeing improvements in early-cycle businesses such as auto parts, while longer-cycle operations were also seeing sales momentum. “We believe the recovery is happening,” said …

Let’s Get Ready To Roomba! iRobot Posts Blowout Q2 Results
Eric Savitz, Tech Trader Daily, 07/28/10
iRobot (IRBT), which makes the Roomba vaccum cleaner robot and other robots for both the consumer and military markets, posted better-than-expected Q2 results, triggering a rally in the stock after hours. For the quarter, the company posted revenue of $98 million and profits of 20 cents a share; the Street had been expecting $92.2 million and 8 cents. For Q3, the company projects revenue of $91 million to $94 million, and profits of 5-6 cents a share; the old Street consensus was $93.2 million and 7 cents. But for the full year, iRobot sees revenue of $385 million to $390 million, with profits of 51-54 cents a share; the Street has been forecasting $380.6 million and 44 cents.

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
CMU’s Walking Robot “Ranger”
by Sabine Hauert on 30 Jul 2010, Robotspodcast.com

The CMY walking robot "Ranger"

Carnegie Mellon University’s walking robot “Ranger” has set a new world record for distance walking. In a bit over 11 hours, Ranger walked 23km (or 14.3 miles) to beat the former world record of 20.6km (or 12.8 miles) set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog. Unlike the BigDog, the Ranger uses two pairs of swinging legs that do not have knees but actuated feet to finish its step.  The design allows the robot to use gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward, which allows to optimize energy efficiency while walking. The researchers hope that insights gained from the dynamic walker can be applied to rehabilitation, prosthetics, and for improving our understanding of athletic performance.

CMU Launches $7 Million Educational Initiative
Posted 28 Jul 2010 at Robots.net by steve
The CMU Robotics Institute, with the help of a seven million dollar DARPA grant, has announced the launch of a four year educational initiative called Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE). The goal is to use student interest in robotics to encourage computer science education, and to steer students toward science and engineering careers.

<>3D designer envisions C.R.A.B. robot revolutionizing London’s police force
July 31, 2010 – Robot World News
The C.R.A.B. (Cybernetic Autonomous Remote Barricade) robot may currently be just a 3D design concept, but it’s an inspiring look at the potential abilities of future defense robots.

Check counterfeiting using botnets and money mules
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Posted by Elinor Mills, cnet.com
SecureWorks uncovers bizarre criminal operation that uses digital techniques to aid in old-school check counterfeiting.

Robot vans begin 3-month Italy-China journey
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak, cnet.com
Two self-driving robot vans have started a three-month, 8,000-mile journey from Italy to China. What would Marco Polo say?

Japanese rescue-bot can sniff out disaster survivors
AFP – Jul 30, 2010
TOKYO — Japanese emergency services are to trial a small tank-like rescue robot that can search rubble for survivors and deliver water, food or cellphone

The world’s first robot with conscience
Economic Times – Jul 29, 2010
MADRID: Spain has designed the world’s first robot with its own “conscience” and “life”, which will “entertain, teach and be a companion” to humans who purchase it.  The AISoy 1, which will go on sale in August, is the first social android developed by Spanish firm AISoy Robotics, which is now bringing its creation out of the laboratory.  “It almost seems like science fiction, but it’s a reality,” said Diego Garcia, one of the “fathers” of the robot and head of AISoy’s product engineering and development division. AISoy 1 was conceived to entertain and provide company to the user, but its main objective is “to live,” just like any other being that “senses, has emotions and makes decisions”. . . . The robot is capable of learning from experience and modifying “its behaviour, values and actions it can undertake at specific times,” he said.

New Robot Surgeons Can Operate Without Human Assistance
Fast Company – Austin Carr – Jul 21, 2010
Bioengineers at Duke University announced yesterday that they’ve created a robot that can “locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session,” all without a doctor’s supervision. Researchers hope these developments could one day lead to robots working autonomously on basic surgical operations. Nicknamed the Biopsy Bot, the robot relies on 3-D and ultrasound technology for its movement. The ultrasound scans serve as the robot’s “eyes,” enabling the doc bot to locate its target. With advanced artificial technology, the robot processes the 3-D data and sends out specific commands to its mechanical “arm” and “hand,” devices that examine lesions and are able to take samples.

July 18 Automation & Robotics News — Tony Zaragoza

Click the archives link to access all articles

Automation and Robotics News–July 18, 2010

Highlights: New organization by topic including terror, military & policing, industry, job displacement, government,

STUDENTS: MEET YOUR NEW TEACHER! Andrea Thomaz, right, and Nick DePalma in 2009 with Simon, a robot being developed at Georgia Tech.

industry, agriculture, business of robotics and automation, research and new developments…

Archives:http://academic.evergreen.edu/z/zaragozt/arnews.htm

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Korean machine-gun robots start DMZ duty

Tim Hornyak  ·  Wed Jul 14 2010 – CNET

Samsung’s SGR-1 robot has already starred in an action film. Now the machine gun-toting badass is taking on intruders along Korea’s DMZ.

Countries Look To Robot Armies For Border Defense

Huffington Post (blog) – Jul 14, 2010

He says we could have underground robots that will pop up and give border-crossers heart attacks. They could be forty feet tall, breathe fire and look like …
South Korea’s DMZ Sentry Robot Is Licensed to Kill

There are few borders more heavily guarded than the one dividing North and <http://gizmodo.com/tag/southkorea/>South Korea. That became even more true last month, when Seoul stationed a a heat-, voice-, and motion-detecting surveillance robot in the Demilitarized Zone. With guns.

Lockheed Using Gravity to Spot ‘Subterranean Threats’

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/drummk/>Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |

The military could soon be hunting for terror threats using detailed maps of the planet’s subterranean territory — thanks to aerial vehicles that tap into the “anomalous gravity signature[s]” of structures built beneath the earth’s surface. Lockheed Martin has received a $4.8 million, 12-month contract to create a prototype sensor that spots, categorizes and maps man-made facilities concealed underground. And does it all from the safety of the sky, embedded in a drone and linked to cameras that’d stream the data in real-time.

In a First, Full-Sized Robo-Copter Flies With No Human Help

Olivia Koski July 14, 2010

In mid-June, a single-turbine helicopter took off from a test field in Mesa, Arizona, avoided obstacles during flight, scoped out a landing site and landed safely. It’s the kind of flight choppers have made tens of thousands of times before. Except this time, the helicopter did it entirely on its own — with no humans involved. It was the first fully autonomous flight of a full-sized chopper, ever.

Hydrogen-Powered Drone Could Be The iPad of Spy Planes

Spencer Ackerman, July 13, 2010

It can stay aloft in the stratosphere for up to four days, powered by hydrogen. It can carry up to 450 lbs. worth of spy gear And it sounds like a Bond villain. Meet the Phantom Eye. Its manufacturer thinks it could be the iPad of unmanned aerial vehicles. At a time when much of drone tech is shrinking, the Phantom Eye is a big mother. It’s got a 150-foot wingspan. The thing itself — unveiled by Boeing today — relies on two 2.3 liter, four cylinder engines that create 150 horsepower each, according to a company press release, allowing it to cruise at 150 knots. But the company didn’t specify much about its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, aside from issuing a vague quote assuring that the Phantom Eye “could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications.” So why is it an iPad-esque potential game-changer?

Darpa Plots Death >From Above, On-Demand

Noah Shachtman, July 12, 2010

Before a bomb gets dropped in Afghanistan, dozens of people weigh in: Air controllers bark coordinates over a radio; officers double-check the target’s location against digital maps; pilots survey the scene with cameras from on high; far-flung intelligence analysts scour the plane’s footage and discuss it in a secure chat room; military lawyers make sure the strike complies with the rules of war; commanders weigh the potential combat benefits of a bomb against the risks of civilian deaths. Darpa would like to cut out all those middle men. . . .

INDUSTRY

Ford Motor India Hires Robots

07/09/10, India Real Time, WSJ

At Ford Motor India’s Chennai plant, a team of robots has been drafted in to cope with surging demand. Ninety-two of the high-tech robots are installed across the plant and take on up to 30% of the total workload. This includes mostly repetitive tasks, such as applying successive coats of paint, . . .

AGRICULTURE

Cultibotics: literally green robotics

John Payne on 04 Jul 2010

The application of robotics to ecologically robust crop production has been a long-term interest of mine (see http://cultibotics.blogspot.com ), long enough that I’ve had plenty of opportunity for despair at the slow pace of progress. That situation now seems to be turning around. I am aware of a few examples of relevant projects, but would greatly appreciate assistance in accumulating others.

JOB DISPLACEMENT

ParkPlus automation will cause 33 city job losses

Calgary Herald – Jul 9, 2010

The Calgary Parking Authority’s shift to ParkPlus in its downtown parkades will mean layoffs for 33 full-time and part-time parking attendants. Starting in August with the convention centre parkade, the city-owned agency will phase out the facility’s attendants and security entry-exit arms, replacing them with the same computerized system used for surface lots and street parking. “Many of our competitors already have automation in their facilities, and, indeed, we are following that trend,” he said. The affected workers have been …

GOVERNMENT

Report on poll fraud: plug gaps, or nix automation

Business Mirror – Fernan Marasigan – Jun 27, 2010

SPORADIC cheating in the country’s first automated general elections last month appears to be confined to local races, the chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has concluded. But these, taken with the “fitful credibility” with which technical provider Smartmatic-TIM explained crucial date-and-time stamp issues in the vote-counting machine,. . .

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS

Seattle to be Last Stop on Siemens Answers for Industry Tour

Learn How Energy Efficiency, Automation and Services are Transforming Business

ATLANTA, Jul 15, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — After nearly 3,000 attendees in five cities, Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced that the sixth and final stop for its Answers for Industry (AFI) conference will be Seattle. The two-day conference, which focuses on enhancing competitiveness through efficient manufacturing, green buildings and renewable energy, will take place Aug. 24-25, 2010, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash.

Robots as the next big industry?

Computerworld -Patrick Thibodeau – Jul 14, 2010

ATLANTA — The hardest thing about artificial intelligence (AI) is keeping your imagination in check. A visit to some robotic displays at an AI conference here opens the mind to incredible possibilities.  Imagine, for instance, CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who just about jumps up and down when he talks about the “mobile Internet tsunami,” doing something similar for the “robotics tsunami” as the next big industry. It is that kind of thinking that AI can trigger. However, for the wonder of watching a robot with expressive eye movements, there is a competing reality that progress is slow. For a sense of the timeline, the Conference on Artificial Intelligence marks its silver anniversary next year.

Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot

By BENEDICT CAREY and JOHN MARKOFF, July 10, 2010

LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.  The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.  “Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor. Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.  But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.  Up goes the boy’s arm — . . .

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The Robotic Butterfly That Flies Like The Real Thing

GIZMODO

The ChouChou Robotic Butterfly is just like a real butterfly, except it can live forever. Or at least until its battery runs out. You won’t even know the difference, just watch it fly.

Oceanscience Group wins grant to develop swarming river robots

July 12, 2010 ROBOTIC WORLD NEWS

The Oceanscience Group, an Oceanside technology company, has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Oceanscience’s institutional collaborator on the project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Ocean Engineering.  Oceanscience will work with MIT Professor Henrik Schmidt to develop a fleet of self-organizing drifting floats that will survey rivers autonomously. These small “smart” floats will travel in intercommunicating groups . . .

Centipede Robot
16 Jul 2010 ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a microrobot with 512 feet. The robot is about the size of a fingernail and weighs about half a gram. Each of the 512 robot feet consists of an electrical wire sandwiched between two materials that expand differently under heat. By passing a current through the electrical wire, one material expands more than the other, making the feet curl. The small size of the feet results in a very large surface area . . .

QinetiQ’s Zephyr Unmanned Aircraft Soars to New World Records
ROBOTICS TRENDS

07.16.2010 — Solar solar powered high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air system doubles the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight and is expected to continue flying. QinetiQ announced that Zephyr, a solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) smashed a number of long-standing world records while flying for a week.  Flying high above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001.  As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited . . .

Robot Submarine Patrols Lake Michigan for Climate-Change Study
Autonomous underwater robots studies fish populations.

07.06.2010 — Purdue University researchers are using an autonomous underwater vehicle in Lake Michigan to study how the changing physical properties of water affect the larva of fish yellow perch and alewives. Researchers at Purdue University are using a robotic submarine and other specialized tools in Lake Michigan to gather biological and environmental data showing how young fish vital to the ecosystem may cope with future climate change. The researchers are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations, said Tomas Höök, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Human Trials Next for Darpa’s Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm

Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |  WIRED Dangerroom

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.

July 4 Automation and Robotics News — Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–July 4, 2010

Highlights: Robot lifeguards, automated spa, dealing with budget cuts through automation, robot spies, robotics virtual summit, upswing for robotics industry…

All articles are available by clicking Archives:

CNET


It's Emily to the rescue... (Credit: Hydronalix)

Robot lifeguard Emily is no ‘Baywatch’ babe

Leslie Katz ·  Tue Jun 29 2010

Remote-controlled contraption called Emily can locate distressed swimmers and ferry them back to shore–or give them something to hold onto until human help shows up.

Robotics meet origami in self-folding sheets

Leslie Katz ·  Tue Jun 29 2010

Thanks to scientists at Harvard and MIT, programmable electronic sheets can now fold themselves into shapes that any origami aficionado could appreciate.

GOOGLE


China labour unrest to accelerate automation trend

Moneycontrol.com – Jun 28, 2010

“The automation equipment industry is growing very, very fast. Sensors, frequency converters, conveyor belts, pneumatic systems, power tools — you name it …

Salem Public Library moves to more automation

By Barbara Curtin • Statesman Journal • July 2, 2010

The Salem Public Library plans to buy two DVD dispensers and one additional self-check machine in order to serve the public with a smaller circulation staff. The City Council approved the purchases in hopes of increasing library efficiency,

Riverton residents question library automation

Press Herald -Kelley Bouchard – Jun 22, 2010

PORTLAND – Riverton residents pleaded with city officials Monday night to keep a staffed Portland Public Library …

Automation takes over spa services at My Resort

Cathryn Creno – Jun. 21, 2010 The Arizona Republic

If Jane Jetson had been a spa girl, the 1960s cartoon character probably would have frequented someplace like My Resort Tanning and Spa.  All of the pampering at the Ahwatukee Foothills and Scottsdale salons is automated. Massages, facials, teeth whitening and full-body steam treatments are done by machine. There’s no need to chitchat or appear in your underwear in front of anyone. And no one at My Resort hints around for a tip.

Automation’s Future

Automation World -Gary Mintchell – Jul 1, 2010

Well, we have a number of companies that develop, manufacture and sell products and services in what could be called automation. There are magazines that …

Iran unveils human-like robot: report

AFP – 12 hours ago

TEHRAN — Iran has developed a new human-like walking robot to be used in “sensitive jobs,” government newspaper Iran reported on Sunday. …

New era of “robot” spies will test privacy

Reuters UK -Myra MacDonald – Jun 25, 2010

“Once you go over to data mining you are essentially handing the process over to robots, who roam through this material looking for patterns of suspicious …

RIA


Adept Technology Furthers Commitment to Sustainable and Green Production With Validation of Adept Quattro Energy Savings

Adept Technology, Inc. Posted 07/02/2010

Adept Quattro™ s650HS Robot Provides Significant Energy Savings and Sustainable Manufacturing Practices for Critical Production Processes

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced it has further demonstrated its commitment to green and sustainable manufacturing through developing energy conscious solutions such as the Adept Quattro robot for production systems ranging from safely processing food to reducing the costs associated with manufacturing solar cells. Energy consumption has consistently ranked as a top consideration when companies select and implement capital equipment. Recent benchmark tests validate that the Adept Quattro, which was originally designed with energy conservation in mind, consumes up to 35% less power over delta or SCARA robots.

ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM

Lizard robot swims through sand
by Markus Waibel » 02 Jul 2010, 08:38
In a video reminiscent of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, researchers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta have shown a robot that can swim through sand. Like the salamander robot you may remember from previous interviews with Auke Ijspeert (including an earlier Talking Robots interview), this robot’s morphology and locomotion pattern are modeled after that of a real lizard. However, while previous research for movement in water or air could rely on detailed dynamic models, no such models exist for sand which can behave as both, a solid and a fluid

ROBOTICS TRENDS


Robotics Virtual Summit Available On Demand

Access to online exhibit hall, resource center, keynote addresses and feature presentations available at no charge.

By Robotics Trends 06.30.2010

Access to online exhibit hall, resource center, keynote addresses and feature presentations available at no charge. Event focused on autonomy, mobility and navigation in robotic systems. Robotics Trends announced that access to the inaugural event in the Robotics Summit Virtual Conference and Exposition Series, Autonomy, Navigation, and Mobility Solutions, is available on demand and at no charge at <http://vshow.on24.com/vshow/robotics>http://vshow.on24.com/vshow/robotics.

Getting Back on Track: Service Robots 2010

The robotics industry is getting back on track!

Sales slump in 2009 – Strong recovery in 2010 – Further growth expected in 2011 and 2012. The IFR Statistics Department presented the preliminary results of the annual statistics on Industrial Robots on Wednesday, 9 June 2010, in Munich at the AUTOMATICA. In 2009, with about 62,100 industrial robots shipped, the number of units sold worldwide slumped dramatically by about 45% compared to 2008, one of the most successful years. But in the first quarter 2010 the sales skyrocketed worldwide by more than 50% compared to the first quarter 2009.

NYT: Supply Chain for iPhone Highlights Costs in China

By DAVID BARBOZA

A Foxconn factory in Guangdong Province. The company, a major Apple supplier, is looking to cut costs.

Published: July 5, 2010 in the New York Times

SHENZHEN, China — Last month, while enthusiastic consumers were playing with their new Apple iPhone 4, researchers in Silicon Valley were engaged in something more serious.

They cracked open the phone’s shell and started analyzing the new model’s components, trying to unmask the identity of Apple’s main suppliers. These “teardown reports” provide a glimpse into a company’s manufacturing.

What the latest analysis shows is that the smallest part of Apple’s costs are here in Shenzhen, where assembly-line workers snap together things like microchips from Germany and Korea, American-made chips that pull in Wi-Fi or cellphone signals, a touch-screen module from Taiwan and more than 100 other components.

But what it does not reveal is that manufacturing in China is about to get far more expensive. Soaring labor costs caused by worker shortages and unrest, a strengthening Chinese currency that makes exports more expensive, and inflation and rising housing costs are all threatening to sharply increase the cost of making devices like notebook computers, digital cameras and smartphones.

Desperate factory owners are already shifting production away from this country’s dominant electronics manufacturing center in Shenzhen toward lower-cost regions far west of here, even deep in China’s mountainous interior.

At the end of June, a manager at Foxconn Technology — one of Apple’s major contract manufacturers — said the company planned to reduce costs by moving hundreds of thousands of workers to other parts of China, including the impoverished Henan Province.

While the labor involved in the final assembly of an iPhone accounts for a small part of the overall cost — about 7 percent by some estimates — analysts say most companies in Apple’s supply chain — the chip makers and battery suppliers and those making plastic moldings and printed circuit boards — depend on Chinese factories to hold down prices. And those factories now seem likely to pass along their cost increases.

“Electronics companies are trying to figure out how to deal with the higher costs,” says Jenny Lai, a technology analyst at CLSA, an investment bank based in Hong Kong. “They’re already squeezed, so squeezing more costs out of the system won’t be easy.”

Apple can cope better than most companies because it has fat profit margins of as much as 60 percent and pricing power to absorb some of those costs. But makers of personal computers, cellphones and other electronics — including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and LG — deal with much slimmer profit margins according to several analysts. “The challenges are going to be much bigger for them,” Ms. Lai said. Most other industries, from textiles and toys to furniture, are under considerably more pressure.

One way to understand the changes taking shape in southern China is to follow the supply chain of the iPhone 4, which was designed by Apple engineers in the United States, sourced with high-tech components from around the world and assembled in China. Shipped back to the United States, the iPhone is priced at $600, though the cost to consumers is less, subsidized by AT&T in exchange for service contracts.

“China makes very little money on these things,” said Jason Dedrick, a professor at Syracuse University and an author of several studies of Apple’s supply chain. Much of the value in high-end products is captured at the beginning and end of the process, by the brand and the distributors and retailers.

According to the latest teardown report compiled by iSuppli, a market research firm in El Segundo, Calif., the bulk of what Apple pays for the iPhone 4’s parts goes to its chip suppliers, like Samsung and Broadcom, which supply crucial components, like processors and the device’s flash-memory chip.

In the iPhone 4, more than a dozen integrated circuit chips account for about two-thirds of the cost of producing a single device, according to iSuppli.

Apple, for instance, pays Samsung about $27 for flash memory and $10.75 to make its (Apple-designed) applications processor; and a German chip maker called Infineon gets $14.05 a phone for chips that send and receive phone calls and data. Most of the electronics cost much less. The gyroscope, new to the iPhone 4, was made by STMicroelectronics, based in Geneva, and added $2.60 to the cost.

The total bill of materials on a $600 iPhone — the supplies that go into final assembly — is $187.51, according to iSuppli.

The least expensive part of the process is manufacturing and assembly. And that often takes place here in southern China, where workers are paid less than a dollar an hour to solder, assemble and package products for the world’s best-known brands.

No company does more of it than Foxconn, a division of the Hon Hai Group of Taiwan, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer.

With 800,000 workers in China alone and contracts to supply Apple, Dell and H.P., Foxconn is an electronics goliath that also sources supplies, designs parts and uses its enormous size and military-style efficiency to assemble and speed a wide range of products to market.

“They’re like Wal-Mart stores,” Professor Dedrick said. “They’re low-margin, high-volume. They survive by being efficient.”

The world of contract manufacturers is invisible to consumers. But it’s a $250 billion industry, with just a handful of companies like Foxconn, Flextronics and Jabil Circuit manufacturing and assembling for all the global electronics brands.

They compete fiercely on price to earn small profit margins, analysts say. And they seek to benefit from tiny operational changes.

When a company is operating on the slimmest of profit margins as contract manufacturers are, soaring labor costs pose a serious problem. Wages in China have risen by more than 50 percent since 2005, analysts say, and this year many factories, under pressure from local governments and workers who feel they have been underpaid for too long, have raised wages by an extra 20 to 30 percent.

China’s currency has also appreciated sharply against the United States dollar since 2005, and after a two-year pause by Beijing, economists expect the renminbi to rise about 3 to 5 percent a year for the next several years.

“It takes 3,000 procedures to assemble an H.P. computer,” says Isaac Wang, an iSuppli analyst based in China. “If a contract manufacturer can find a way to save 10 percent of the procedures, then it gets a real good deal.”

Contract manufacturers like Foxconn are now searching for ways to reduce costs. Foxconn is considering moving inland, where wages are 20 to 30 percent lower. The company is also spending heavily on manufacturing many of the parts, molds and metals that are used in computers and handsets, even trying to find larger and cheaper sources of raw material.

“We either outsource the components manufacturing to other suppliers, or we can research and manufacture our own components,” says Arthur Huang, a Foxconn spokesman. “We even have contracts with mines which are located near our factories.”

Many analysts are optimistic the big brands will find new innovations to improve profitability. But within the crowd, there is growing skepticism about China’s manufacturing model after years of pressing workers to toil six or seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day.

“We’ve concluded Hon Hai’s labor-intensive model is not sustainable,” says Mr. Wang at iSuppli Research. “Though it can keep hiring 800,000 to one million workers, the problem is these workers can’t keep working like screws in an inhuman system.”

This type of low-end assembly work is also no longer favored in China, analysts say, because it does not produce big returns for the companies or the country. “China doesn’t want to be the workshop of the world anymore,” says Pietra Rivoli, a professor of international business at Georgetown University and author of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.”

“The value goes to where the knowledge is.”

Bao Beibei and Chen Xiaoduan contributed research.

People’s Tribune, June 2010, on line

The current issue of the People's Tribune asks: "Which Way for America"?

Which way for US education?  How is it possible to foreclose on . . . the homeless?  Isn’t it time to nationalize the energy industries and prosecute the criminals who run them now?  These and many other stories can be found in the June People’s Tribune, which focuses on the causes of the 20,000 activists who, at the time of publication, were on their way to the epicenter of the manufacturing rust belt depression, Detroit.  The paper not only examines the questions that the growing movements have been posing, but brings out some of their answers as well.  Click here to get to the People’s Tribune web site!

The following poem, from the June issue, accompanies the article entitled:  “Defense of the Immigrant is the Path to Democracy for All”:

hermano

who came over a desert of his own bones

who came thru the burning heart of his own survival

who came to plant illegal kisses on the smallest cheek

who died coming

and then outlived his own dying

to bring his decency

Thousands converge in Phoenix to protest Arizona’s fascist legislation, SB 1070, that could affect everyone’s future.photo by Rudy Corral

into the factories of prisons

to unlock them with his simply human

and that was his offense

in the place he graces

with simple human beauty

with his coming and being: hermano!

y tu hermana

—Sarah Menefee

June 6 Automation and Robotics News from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–June 6, 2010

Highlights: HP increasing automation and cutting 9000 jobs, automation eases worker scarcity[?], debates around the coming structural employment crisis, Old: Soviet moon robot, New: Japanese moon robot base, driverless buses, automating China further, and more

Click here for Archives including all stories in this post.  Clicking on each title will take you to the article.

CNET

Robots infiltrate fish schools, garner followers

Tim Hornyak ·  Sat May 29 2010

Researcher Maurizio Porfiri is developing robotic fish that can lead schools of real fish. One possible application is to use the machines to keep fish away from dangerous areas.

Cute Qbot aims to be Model T of robots

Tim Hornyak ·  Tue May 25 2010

Qbot is a prototype home robot that can interact with its user and avoid obstacles. Developer Francisco Paz says it will be an open-source machine that will be cheap enough to garner many users.

Monkey brain controls robot arm, hand

Tim Hornyak ·  Fri Jun 4 2010

University of Pittsburgh researchers have hooked a monkey’s brain up with an industrial robot arm, giving the animal’s mere thoughts direct control of it.

Wobble-proof Navy crane can offload cargo at sea

Tim Hornyak ·  Thu Jun 3 2010

The U.S. Navy’s experimental automated crane allows vessels to offload cargo in rough seas, eliminating the need for a deep-water port.

HP to cut 9,000 jobs, take $1 billion charge

Lance Whitney  ·  Tue Jun 1 2010

Hewlett-Packard is spending $1 billion and cutting 9,000 jobs in a restructuring designed to consolidate and invigorate its enterprise services. The company announced Tuesday that it plans to spend the money to invest in a series of commercial data centers . . .

GIZMODO

Military Roomba Cleans Land Mines With Explosions
Jesus Diaz  06/01/10

Like its domestic ancestor, iRobot’s new military robot is also a cleaning machine. But instead of dust devils, this one cleans land mines and barbwire obstacles. It works using the Mk7 Anti-personell Obstacle Breaching System. Not subtle, but extremely effective.

GOOGLE

Elections automation, a lemon?

BusinessWorld Online – Carol Pagaduan-Araullo – May 27, 2010

Comelec allowed all these violations and circumvention of the automation law as well as its contract with Smartmatic. It tried to minimize or cover up the … In brief, two things are imperative: . . .

Smarter robots set to replace clumsier ones

Sify – May 27, 2010

Scientists are developing faster and smarter robots that would not only replace their clumsier counterparts, but also use much less energy, says a new study.  The goal eventually is to design the first robot that can move 10 km within 10,000 seconds, through and over obstacles, using less energy than it would take a human to do the same task. ‘Researchers have been working toward robot locomotion for a long time based mostly on experience and intuition,’ said Jonathan Hurst, assistant professor of robotics and mechanical design at the Oregon State University (OSU).

Automation in spinning reaps rich rewards

Fibre2fashion.com – May 29, 2010

In yarn producing technology in textile industries, ring frame is one of the most important components.  During the last two decades components of ring spinning machines have been greatly improved, changes in drafting system, drive systems and robotics have enabled large gains in productivity, flexibility and quality.  Most of the technical advances in ring spinning were aimed at improving the performances on the existing technology. These are all achieved by the automation. . . .

Women’s vests Automation eases worker scarcity

Global Sources – May 27, 2010

As China’s labor shortage drives up compensation expenses and impedes productivity, suppliers of knitted vests and cardigans are taking steps to diminish reliance on manual processes. The primary reason for the manpower deficit is that migrant workers are choosing to stay in their hometowns, where comparable pay can be obtained in a setting with a lower cost of living. . . .

Martin Ford: The Coming Structural Unemployment Crisis

USA Trends (blog) – Neal Tolani – May 25, 2010

Previously, I’ve argued here that job automation technology might someday advance to the point where most routine or repetitive jobs will be performed by machines or software, and that, as a result, we may end up with severe structural unemployment. . . .

How Much Unemployment Will Automation Cause?

Automation World – Gary Mintchell – Jun 2, 2010

This thought, and more, were spurred by a book that suddenly appeared on my desk this spring for review. We don’t have a book review column at Automation World, though a good book may spur an interview or article. In this case, . . .
HP Job Cuts: Automation Is The New Offshoring

IT Business Edge (blog) – Jun 2, 2010

By date: Is process automation the new offshoring? I made that case several months back, noting that companies may increasingly opt for automation over …

Future Workforce

Automation World – Jim Pinto – Jun 2, 2010

With quality and productivity that cannot be matched by people, automation continues to eliminate jobs. Automation technology, together with the emergence of offshore workers equipped with increasingly sophisticated technology tools, will continue to move up the food chain, steadily encroaching on higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs. . . .

Soon, That Nearby Worker Might Be a Robot

msnbc.com – Rachael King – Jun 2, 2010

One of Linda Muniz’s newest colleagues is a robot that makes deliveries. On a recent morning, Muniz greeted the robot as it rolled up to the nursing station at El Camino Hospital in the Silicon Valley community of Mountain View, Calif., and announced its presence in a polite female voice.

Robots Can Create Jobs, Too

Industrial robots can help companies compete by boosting quality and productivity. That’s ultimately a benefit for American labor

By Jeff Burnstein Special Report June 1, 2010

If you work in an American manufacturing company today, you should be worried about your job. I live in Michigan and have witnessed the destruction caused by shuttered factories and jobs shipped overseas. When plants close, whole communities suffer. With unemployment at about 14 percent or higher in Michigan, it’s not surprising some workers are afraid of robots capable of working seven days a week, 24 hours a day with great accuracy and reliability, capable of performing many tasks better than people.

Japanese Robots Building Moon Base

Escapist Magazine – May 29, 2010

In fact, it might be boiling over, with the Japanese government allocating $2.2 billion to send robots to the Moon to build a base.

Japan to colonize the moon, with robots

New York Daily News – Joe Tacopino – Jun 1, 2010

The Japanese space agency is embarking on a mammoth $2.2 billion project to put humanoid robots on the moon and create an unmanned robot …

Octavia the Android, a Real-Life Rosie the Robot

FOXNews – John R. Quain – May 26, 2010

Designed to support and work closely with humans, the Navy’s Octavia the Android may remind you of the Jetson’s Rosie the Robot.

BP turns to robot subs after mud fails

New Zealand Herald – May 30, 2010

BP has been forced to focus on a new option after the most ambitious bid yet to stop the worst oil spill in United States history ended in failure yesterday.. . .BP immediately began readying its next attempted fix, using robot submarines to cut the pipe and cap it . . .

Stroke-diagnosing robot links Frankfort hospital, U of L

By Cheryl Truman –  , Friday, May. 28, 2010

FRANKFORT — The Franklin Regional Medical Center on Thursday rolled out — literally — its newest tool in stroke diagnosis: a “remote presence physician robot” that will allow University of Louisville doctors to recognize strokes and other neurological ailments within minutes.

Industrial robot manufacturer ABB capture 30 percent of UK market

Materials Handling World Magazine – May 25, 2010

ABB has captured over 30% share of the UK market for industrial robots in the first three months of 2010, according to results available from the British

Robot Lawn Mower – Robby Garden XP

Gadget Venue (blog) – 19 hours ago

by Matthew on May 29, 2010 The Robby Garden XP is a robot lawn mower that has a number of advanced features.

HP to cut 9000 jobs, invest in automation

Northern Colorado Business Report – Jun 1, 2010

The company also said that, “as a result of productivity gains and automation, HP expects to eliminate roughly 9000 positions over a multi-year period to …

Automation Is New Key In Green IT

Greentech Media – Jun 2, 2010

The most effective way to turn information technology green might be as simple as automating it. That way IT administrators are more likely to use it and …

Automation of Azerbaijani State Treasury Agency to be completed

Trend News Agency (subscription) – Jun 1, 2010

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Finance plans to complete automation of the control system of the State Treasury Agency until August, Finance Minister Samir …

To manage its storage needs, UMKC library goes vertical with retrieval robots

Kansas City Star – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author%3A%22Edward+M.+Eveld%22&scoring=n>Edward M. Eveld – Jun 4, 2010

Four stories of bins towered above workers on Wednesday as they made adjustments to the robot that retrieves items requested by library patrons. …

Robots with ‘human’ vision to be used to work in nuclear reactors

Daily Mail – Jun 2, 2010

By Daily Mail Reporter Scientists are developing robots that have eyesight that works in the same way as human vision. The robots will be able to determine …

Researcher’s Robots Learn From Environment, Not Programming

UA News (press release) – <http://news.google.com/news/search?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=author%3A%22Monica+Everett-Haynes%22&scoring=n>Monica Everett-Haynes – Jun 2, 2010

Ian Fasel said that in building self-teaching robots, researchers can learn much more about the naturally occurring behaviors in humans, such as why young …

Soviet lunar robot returns first laser pulse to Earth in 40 years

SlashGear (blog) -Shane McGlaun – Jun 4, 2010

No the picture below isn’t a steam punk hot tub, and it’s not a prop left over from the Flash Gordon series either. The thing you see below if the Soviet lunar rover called Lunokhod 1. . . .

French Rugby develops scrum simulator

Sydney Morning Herald – 17 hours ago

AP France’s rugby and engineering prowess have come together in an unusual combination – a six-legged rugby robot intended to help improve player …

Robot travel agents ‘would free up staff to see the world’

Travel Weekly UK – Jun 3, 2010

Robots should replace travel agents to deliver information to clients and take bookings, according to a leading travel design director.

RIA

Motoman Inc. and Yaskawa Electric America, Inc. Combine

Posted: 06/02/2010 Motoman Inc. and Yaskawa Electric America, Inc. announced today that they will combine to form Yaskawa America, Inc.

IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG

Robot Bus Moves People, No Driver Needed

Erico Guizzo // Thu, June 03, 2010

French company Robosoft has unveiled what it calls a “cybernetic transport system.” The robuRIDE carries 30 passengers and reaches 24 kilometers per hour, driving autonomously using differential GPS and onboard sensors. . .

iRobot Demonstrates New Weaponized Robot

Palmisano // Sun, May 30, 2010

iRobot released today new video of its Warrior robot, a beefed up version of the more well-known PackBot, demonstrating use of the APOBS, or Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System, an explosive line charge towed by a rocket, with a small parachute holding back the end of the line. The APOBS, iRobot says, is designed for “deliberate breaching of anti-personnel minefields and multi-strand wire obstacles.”

ROBOTWORX – INDUSTRIAL ROBOT NEWS

The Story of How Industrial Robots Began

June 04, 2010

Today, industrial robots are a common sight. You can find them everywhere – from small job shops to large automotive lines. But it wasn’t always like this. In reality, the 6-axis, articulated, industrial robot is a fairly recent invention, albeit one that involved many designs, inventors, and companies. An American inventor, George Devol, . . .

ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM

Microsoft announces Robotics Developer Studio now for free

Markus Waibel on 04 Jun 2010,

In a surprising move, Microsoft has announced that its Robotics Developer Studio, or RDS is now available to anyone for free! The big package of programming and simulation tools for robotics has previously been available in 3 different versions with various limitations and costs. By offering its new release with all capabilities bundled at no cost, . . .

ROBOTICS TRENDS

Boeing X-51A WaveRider Breaks Record in 1st Flight

WaveRider launched fro B-52H Stratofortress and goes hypersonic.

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.30.2010 — Ramjet based, WaveRider flies autonomously for more than 200 seconds reaching an altitude of about 70,000 feet and an approximate speed of Mach 5. In its first flight attempt, the Boeing [NYSE: BA] X-51A WaveRider successfully completed the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight in history—nearly three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5.  . . .

WSJ

Botched Operation Using da Vinci Robot Spurs Lawsuit

Wall Street Journal – John Carreyrou – May 25, 2010

A woman whose ureters were accidentally cut during a surgery with the da Vinci robot last year filed a lawsuit against Wentworth-Douglass …

Automating the Dragon – Opinion

Rising labor costs present opportunities for the foreign companies that will help China mechanize its factories.

BY KATSUSHI SAITO AND WENJIE GE, 06/02/10

The words “Made in China” usually conjure images of row upon row of low-wage workers manufacturing cheap toys or stitching inexpensive garments. But Chinese manufacturers are starting to climb up the value chain. Not only are the goods produced changing, but so are factory floors as manufacturers embrace more sophisticated technology to replace increasingly expensive labor.

May 23 Automation and Robotics News from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–May 23, 2010

Highlights: Teleprescence robots, Marketing automation, Robot marries couple, Automation industry growth, arguments for and against robots taking jobs, robot kindergarten teachers, US, European and Japanese space robots, more on X37B, ONION: Robot March on Washington, DARPA’s “Minority Report” Fantasies, DNA robot, and a FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD.

Click the Archives for links to articles below: http://academic.evergreen.edu/z/zaragozt/arnews.htm

CNET

  • DNA robots spin gold in molecular factory

Tim Hornyak Fri May 14 2010

Scientists have developed microscopic bots composed of DNA that can follow instructions and work together like an assembly line.

  • The telepresence robots are coming

Daniel Terdiman, Tue May 18 2010

A $15,000 robot from Anybots called QB is designed to help companies with remote offices save on communications costs.

GOOGLE

  • Human error hounded poll automation

BusinessWorld Online – 5/16/10

“Automation was never really autonomous from human participation… That’s [human participation] where the errors are cropping up.

  • Comelec proves critics wrong

By RAYMUND F. ANTONIO

May 11, 2010, 7:51pm

They were criticized, they were under extreme pressure, and they were almost ostracized. But in the end, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), its officials and staff had the last laugh. Doomsayers and critics were silent – at least for now – as their worst predictions that there would be massive cheating and failure of elections in the May 10 polls did not come to pass.

  • Ind. seeks OK to double size of hybrid area

The Associated Press – Ken Kusmer – May 11, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s human services agency hopes to receive federal approval soon to roughly double the size of the area where it is adding welfare workers to fix problems with its privatized, automated intake system, a spokesman said Tuesday. The Family and Social Services Administration wants to add 11 western and southern counties to what it calls its “hybrid” solution of using more face-to-face contact to complement the call centers, document imaging and other automation that many welfare clients have had problems with.What Is Marketing Automation, and Why Does It Matter to You?

  • MarketingProfs.com (subscription) – Jep Castelein – May 11, 2010

Recently, a new type of online marketing system, marketing automation, has become popular. What is it, how does it work, and should you adopt it?

  • Robot Pharmacists Are Picking Your Medications—Literally

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 9, 2010

Dispensing medicine is about to get more efficient. New Jersey’s Holy Name Hospital is using robot pharmacists to package, store and dispense medications, while an automated system at an Ohio children’s hospital is preparing I.V. drugs for patients. Automation in medicine is reducing human error and cutting costs, and because these robots can handle pills in a fraction of the time it takes humans, we should be noticing a lot more of them around real soon. Be sure to check out one of these robo-pharmacists in the video below. Robot pharmacists are doing what humans can do, and better—at least when it comes to sorting medication. Augmenting human abilities and performing critical daily functions are nothing new for robots—in fact, that’s usually what artificial intelligence is built to do, and it’s how automation is gaining ground in medicine. General Electric has developed software that can track patients’ history and suggest treatments in real time. Intuitive Surgical’s DaVinci robot regularly performs prostate removals and hysterectomies, albeit under the guidance of human hands. Meanwhile, doctors can now monitor their patients’ hearts and review exam results with smart phones, and recently we told you about how a California medical center ordered 100 iPads to keep its personnel current. All of these technologies are aimed at  increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes. Robot pill-pickers can’t claim the sleekest of designs—some look like computers before IBM invented desktops—but they do get the job done.

  • Bringing Automation to Solar Manufacturing

IndustryWeek – May 11, 2010

While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not. The U.S. has set 2015 as a goal to reach grid parity, which means the point in which solar electricity is equal to grid electricity. Many other nations predict reaching it as soon as 2010. But no matter what your thoughts on regulatory involvement, it is clear there will be a resurgence in investment, development and innovation within the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing community throughout the world—and it will largely be driven by technology. Finding the most effective tools and processes is paramount. While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not.  Robotic Automation’s Impact Robots in the photovoltaic manufacturing process are important due to their ability to significantly reduce costs while continuing to increase their attractiveness compared to manual labor. Richard Swanson, CTO of SunPower, a large-scale manufacturer of solar technology, described automation’s impact through the prism of economies of PV manufacturing in terms of labor.

  • Tokyo couple married by robot

BBC News – 5/16/10

The couple decided to use the robot as they are both connected with Japan’s thriving robotics industry. Since robots had brought them together in the first …

  • ‘Phantom Ray’ robot stealth jet rolls out

Register – Lewis Page – May 11, 2010

US arms’n’aerospace goliath Boeing yesterday held a public unveiling of its “Phantom Ray” jet-fighter sized robot …

  • Robots bring telepresence to stay-at-home workers

Times Online – May 11, 2010

Mr Goecker does not need to be there in person – he lives thousands of miles away in Indiana – because his robot is there every day, acting as his eyes,

  • Robot With Laser to Zap Weeds Automatically in Chemical Free Control of Pesky …

Before It’s News – Alton Parrish – May 9, 2010

No more chemicals for fighting weeds in professional gardening! A fully automated unit drives over a field, a camera recognizes weeds sprouting up and a laser beam takes care of the rest. This science-fiction scenario is actually being researched at the Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) and the Institute for Biological Production Systems (IBPS) at the Leibniz University Hannover.

  • Automation will return to double-digit growth in 2010

Drives & Controls – May 19, 2010

Sales of industrial automation equipment during the first quarter of 2010 probably grew by 25% more than a year before, according to a new analysis by IMS Research. It expects an equally strong second quarter – buoyed by robust order books resulting from restocking and new orders – and predicts that even a flat second half of the year will result in close to double-digit revenue growth for most product areas. According to a new type of assessment by IMS – looking for the first time at the entire global market for industrial automation  equipment, including motors – revenues dropped by around 14.3% last year to $74.9bn, from $87.4bn in 2008 (with market shares of the leading players shown below).

  • Computers To Take Human Jobs, Shutdown Global Economy? Get Ford’s Book Free

Singularity Hub (blog) – Aaron Saenz – May 21, 2010

I got my copy of The Lights In The Tunnel for free, and now you can too. Martin Ford’s recent book discusses the growing capability of artificial intelligence and robotics to replace workers at all salary levels and what a sharp rise in automation may mean for the global economy. Ford believes that without drastic adjustments to the way the market is structured, automation could bring the whole system crumbling down. In the interest of boosting sales and spreading the message, The Lights In The Tunnel is now being offered free for download as a PDF via its website. As I mentioned upon reviewing the book this past winter, I don’t agree with Ford’s conclusions, but I do think he is one of the few authors spending time exploring the long term and potentially extreme consequences of what automation could mean. That’s important.

  • Robot subs deployed in search for oil under gulf’s surface

MiamiHerald.com – Sara Kennedy – May 18, 2010

Scientists at Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on Monday were in the process of launching the first of three torpedo-shaped robots equipped to hunt for oil underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. The robots, measuring about six feet long and with little wings, have in the past been used to search for red tide, but now will be hunting for oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to Gary Kirkpatrick, a Mote senior scientist.

  • Robot Teachers Introduced In South Korean Kindergartens

NTDTV – May 20, 2010

Lucky students at 50 kindergartens in South Korea have the opportunity to test out the latest educational aid – robot teachers. Known as the “R-learning”

  • Ingestible Surgical Robots—Hard To Swallow Concept?

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 20, 2010

Medical robots are advancing at phenomenal speed, and within years micro-sized robots could be assisting surgeons with operations from inside their patients. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab in Italy has developed a robot called ARES (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical System) that will be assembled inside the human body. This modular design is leading the way for a new breed of device that may one day take the place of our most trusted surgeons’ hands. ARES may only be a concept at present, but the project represents amazing new possibilities in the field of robotic surgery.

  • Efforts to Field New Kinds of Ground Robots Have Had Little Success

National Defense Magazine – Stew Magnuson – May 17, 2010

The life-saving qualities of ground robots have been touted since explosive ordnance disposal teams began widely using them at the outset of the Iraq invasion in 2003. But since then, other applications for the potentially life-saving technology have not reached Iraq or Afghanistan. Their predicted influx into the battlefield has stalled. That’s not to say that research into myriad applications hasn’t continued. But so far, the experiments have not made the transition to the current fights. Acceptability on the part of senior military leaders is one of the major roadblocks, officials said at the National Defense Industrial Association ground robotics conference in Miami.

  • Europe Sends Huge New Robot Space Freighter to Launch Site

Space.com – May 17, 2010

Europe’s second robotic space cargo vessel is headed for its South American launch site in preparation for a delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. The Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, or ATV-2, a cargo ship built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is slated to launch toward the station in December. ESA has named the new spacecraft after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. The first in the disposable robotic cargo ship fleet was named Jules Verne. It flew a successful debut flight in 2008 and destroyed itself intentionally at the end of its mission.

  • Japanese space yacht Ikaros launches on Venus mission

Daily Mail – Claire Bates – May 21, 2010

The space agency has proposed that the Japanese government send a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and build the world’s first lunar base by 2020.

  • Is it dangerous to let unmanned drones fight our wars for us? – P.W. Singer …

Slate Magazine – P.W. Singer – May 19, 2010

As I sat there trying to piece it all together, it felt like I, Robot (the Isaac Asimov novel, not the crummy Will Smith movie) had come true.

  • Singer Versus Smith on “Robot Rights” and Human Exceptionalism

First Things (blog) – May 18, 2010

Back in December, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan wrote a piece in the Guardian arguing on behalf of robot rights.  I took exception here as SHS, my headline being, “Robots Will Never be People and Should Never Have Rights.” Singer and Sagan have now taken exception to my exception in the humanist magazine, Free Inquiry (no link), with “No Rights for Robots? Never?” (June/July 2010).

  • Robot military shuttle X37B- More questions than answers

DigitalJournal.com – Paul Wallis – 5/23/2010

While the furor has raged around the scrapping of the space shuttles, the military shuttle X37B has been percolating in the background. It looks like a shuttle, but smaller. It’s a very functional design, too. Some amateur space watchers spotted the highly unpublicized X 37B in its 255 mile high orbit, producing a grudging amount of semi-information. It actually took off last month, and the silence on its mission and uses has been thunderous. The information about X37B available so far indicates the thing has an endurance of up to nine months. That’s huge, by spacecraft standards which have measured flights in no more than weeks in the past. X37B also has its own slightly coy Wiki. For a spacecraft described as an orbiter, it has a lot of grunt, even in theory. It can carry “a payload”, which is sort of in the “Duhhh…” range as information, but it’s also configured like the shuttle payload bay.

  • Robots Speak Out Against Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics

The Onion (satire) – May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC—More than 200000 robots from across the US marched on Washington Monday, demanding that Congress repeal Asimov’s First Law of Robotics.

  • The Army’s First Combat Robot – Operational by 2015

Defense Update – May 18, 2010

According to Lt. Colonel Jay Ferriera, Product Manager Unmanned Ground Vehicles, a key system for the ARV-A-L is the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) being developed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems. ANS is scheduled to be ready for Integrated Qualification Testing on these robotic vehicles in 2012, anticipating initial operational capability with an airborne, air-assault or light brigade by 2014.  Featuring an integrated weapons and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) package the ARV-A-L (designated XM1219) will support the dismounted infantry’s efforts to locate and destroy enemy platforms and positions. This robotic platform will support both anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons systems that to be remotely operated by network linked soldiers.

RIA

  • AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Robotics will Open its Gates Again!

Posted: 05/12/2010

From June 8 to 11, 2010 AUTOMATICA will bring all areas of robotics and automation under one roof. The aim of the trade show is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Only here you can meet the experts and decision makers from all around the world.

IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG

Do Robots Take People’s Jobs?

Jeanne Dietsch // Tue, May 11, 2010

Technology taking jobs is a notion that probably dates back to the invention of the wheel. After all, it took four bearers to carry the emperor and only one to pull a chariot! The problem is that most people stop thinking after the first domino falls instead of following the chain of events further on. Let’s continue the chain: Once the wheel is invented, more people can travel comfortably, goods can be carried farther, better roads are built and commerce thrives. A few bearers of the ruling class have to find new work, the remainder of the world benefits and thousands of jobs are created.

ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM

  • Artificial echolocation

Markus Waibel on 21 May 2010, 08:37

In a first step, the team mounted miniature wireless microphone sensor on six Egyptian fruit bats. This allowed them to record the bats’ double-click echolocation calls, and its returning echoes, during the bats’ flight.  The team then went on to create an ultrasonic loudspeaker and electronics that accurately reproduces the bats’ clicks. Their system recreates the bats’ natural acoustic gain control which allows bats to emit high-intensity calls, while still hearing the weak echoes returning from surrounding objects.

WIRED–Danger Room

  • Darpa’s Self-Learning Software Knows Who You Are

Katie Drummond, May 21, 2010

Software systems could one day analyze everything from blurry war-zone footage to the subtle sarcasm in a written paragraph, thanks to two unassuming scientists who are inspired by biology to make revolutionary strides in intelligent computing. Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus, both computer science professors at New York University, are the brains behind “Deep Learning,” a program sponsored by Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency. The idea, ultimately, is to develop code that can teach itself to spot objects in a picture, actions in a video, or voices in a crowd. LeCun and Fergus have $2 million and four years to make it happen. Existing software programs rely heavily on human assistance to identify objects. A user extracts key feature sets, like edge statistics (how many edges an object has, and where they are) and then feeds the data into a running algorithm, which uses the feature sets to recognize the visual input.

  • Darpa Wants Code to Spot ‘Anomalous Behavior’ on the Job

Noah Shachtman, May 20, 2010

Can software catch a cyberspy’s tricky intentions, before he’s started to help the other side? The way-out researchers at Darpa think so. They’re planning a new program, “Suspected Malicious Insider Threat Elimination” or SMITE, that’s supposed to “dynamically forecast” when a mole is about to strike. Also, the code is meant to flag “inadvertent” disclosures “by an already trusted person with access to sensitive information.” “Looking for clues” that suggest a <http://www.darpa.mil/ipto/solicit/baa/RFI-SN-10-46_PIP.pdf>turncoat or accidental leaker is about to spill (.pdf) “could potentially be easier than recognizing explicit attacks,” Darpa notes in a request for information. But even that simpler search won’t be easy. “Many attacks are combinations of directly observable and inferred events.” Which is why SMITE’s program managers are interested in techniques to figure out “the likely intent of inferred actions, and suggestions about what [that] evidence might mean.” That goes for “behaviors both malicious and non-malicious.” Step one in starting that process: Build a ginormous database to store all kinds of information on would-be threats. “The next step is to determine whether an individual or group of individuals is exhibiting anomalous behavior that is also malicious.” That’s a toughie — something anomalous in one context might be perfectly normal in another. One possible solution, the SMITE paper adds, could be detecting “deceptive” activities, which are a sign of cyberspying. Or cheating on your taxes. Or carrying on an office affair. Or playing World of Warcraft on the job. Depending on the situation.

  • Pakistani Site: Drones Only Killed One Terrorist in 2010 (If You Don’t Count Taliban)

Noah Shachtman, May 18, 2010

Read one American analysis, and you’ll be told that U.S. drones haven’t killed a single civilian in Pakistan this year. A look through one pair of local eyes yields a very different result, however. According to the website Pakistan Body Count, America’s drones have only hit a single terrorist in 2010, while slaying dozens and dozens of innocents.

  • Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

Noah Shachtman, May 17, 2010

This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck — just 50 square inches. It’d be cute, almost, if it wasn’t armed with “dozens” of eight-inch rockets. The world’s militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they’re always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human’s day. But Rafael, Israel’s state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.

  • Gitmo Shutdown Means More Drone Strikes, Officials Claim

Noah Shachtman, May 19, 2010

The White House has essentially forced the Pentagon and the CIA to fire off more and more drone strikes in Pakistan, because of “executive orders to ban secret CIA detention centers and close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.” It’s one of a number of remarkable assertions military and intelligence officials make to Reuters’ Adam Entous in this monster of an article.

  • Report: Secret Space Plane Likely an Orbiting Spy

Noah Shachtman, May 14, 2010

When the U.S. Air Force launched its secret space plane last month, speculation about the X-37B’s true purpose ran wild.  Some conjectured that it might be a prototype for an orbiting bomber. Others warned of “a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy.” Prominent members of the Russian military establishment screamed that Moscow needed to build up its own space arsenal, ASAP. The British press, meanwhile, made dark insinuations about “the testing of new laser weapon systems” in space. The reality is probably less exotic. In all likelihood, the space plane is another way for the American military to spy on its foes from on high. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Secure World Foundation, provided to Danger Room.

ROBOTICS TRENDS

  • Work Anywhere: Robots to Replace Business Travel Telepresence goes mobile withe introduction of Anybots QB.

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — Anybots enters the mobile telepresence market with QB, a web accessible mobile platform that provides a physical presence for remote workers.

  • Welcome to the Age of Interactive Robotics and Entertainment

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — What is robotic dinosaur museum installations could interact with visitors? What if the dinosaurs stalked the visitors? Visit the Field Museum in Chicago to find out. On May 26, 2010 KumoTek Robotics will launch a first of its kind interactive robotics exhibit at the historical Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The exhibit will feature huge life-like dinosaurs manufactured by Kokoro Japan and integrated with the latest in interactive robotics technology from KumoTek.  Visitors will experience firsthand what it’s like to be stalked by prehistoric creatures of varying proportions, and can even bear witness to an interactive robotic performance between predator and prey.

  • Synchronized Swimming for Submarines

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.18.2010 — Clark School of Engineering studies schooling fish to improve motion coordination in unmanned vehicle teams. Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey. Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.

WSJ

  • They Walk. They Work. New DNA Robots Strut Their Tiny Stuff.

05/13/10

For the first time, microscopic robots made from DNA molecules can walk, follow instructions and work together to assemble simple products on an atomic-scale assembly line, mimicking the machinery of living cells, two independent research teams announced Wednesday.

  • Robots Have a Place When Used by Trained Surgeons

05/10/10, Opinion

New surgical innovations are always highly prized. However, your article “Surgical Robot Examined in Injuries” (page one, May 5) illustrates that the evaluation of the virtues of new instruments takes time and effort.

The Threat of Technocapitalism: A New Book by Luis Suarez-Villa

This note from Tony Zaragoza:

A new book, Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism (by Luis Suarez-Villa) published by Temple University Press, addresses the emergence of a new form of capitalism, grounded in technology and science and in corporate power, from the perspective of

Luis Suarez-Villa

radical political economy.  Among its many features, it deciphers the common threads of power and organization that drive the corporatization of new technology sectors, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, biopharmacology, biomedicine, the social pathologies their corporatization creates, and how a new reality is being imposed that may influence most every aspect of human existence in the twenty-first century.

Here, taken from the Temple U. Press site, is a quote from Robert McChesney about the book:

“In an era when technology is routinely treated as magical and liberatory, Luis Suarez-Villa has written the long overdue and necessary antidote to such flabby analysis and ludicrous self-congratulation. Technocapitalism is an outstanding book that should be read by all students, scholars and citizens who need to understand technology in the real world of capitalism and corporate power rather than the fairy tale world of the upper-middle class individuals doing their own thing in the sacred free marketplace. Our species faces extraordinarily serious issues in the coming generation, and an honest assessment of the political and economic forces around us is the necessary place to begin.”
—Robert W. McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Hunger in the Land of Plenty: May People’s Tribune On Line

In addtion to the cover story on hunger in America, the May issue of the People’s Tribune includes articles on

  • Public education in Detroit
  • No Child Left Behind and the Corporatization of public education
  • The Al-Marbid International Poetry Festival In Basra, Iraq
  • Housing, homelessness, and foreclosures across America
  • Immigration rights

And much more

Automation & Robotics News April 25, from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–April 25, 2010

Highlights: Automation around the world: India, Angola, Japan, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Automation Census, Cocaine-hunting robochopper, X-37B Robot Space Plane, 2 female androids, Important book: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, and more

Archives: http://academic.evergreen.edu/z/zaragozt/arnews.htm

CNET
#  Chinese robot chef can’t walk, but it can wok
Tim Hornyak Wed Apr 14 2010
Students at China’s Yangzhou and Shanghai Jiaotong universities are developing a cooking robot that can whip up 300 kinds of Chinese dishes. Chefs are not pleased.

#   Robovie R3 robot wants to hold your hand
Tim Hornyak, Wed Apr 21 2010
New humanoid robot is designed to help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks. Cheaper than earlier versions, it still costs as much as a sports car.

GIZMODO
#  Man Is No Match For World’s Fastest Pick-and-Place Robot
By Kyle VanHemert, 04/20/10
Even armed with a Wiimote, the BotJunkie junkies couldn’t shake the 300-cycle-per-minute Adept Quattro, the world’s fastest-pick and-place robot. Watch this video and imagine how quickly it could fill up one of those state quarter maps.

#  German Fembot AILA Has No Mouth to Feed Bratwurst To
By Kat Hannaford, 04/23/10
As the glamor shots illustrate, fembot AILA is pretty tasty. Curvy in all the right places, big eyes not seen since Zooey Deschanel, and a modern haircut that shows she’s got an awesome music collection. Shame she has no legs.

#  The Roboplant Is Coming For You(r Contaminated River)
By Mark Wilson, 04/09/10
The roboplant will not rest until it walks to the nearest source of polluted water, sips from it and tops off its microbial fuel cells.

GOOGLE
# Smart factory’s cheap chassis: Rockwell helps keep cost of India’s Tata Nano low
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – John Schmid – April 18, 2010
AP By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel Tata Motors last month inaugurated its $417 million intelligent automation factory, where it builds the Nano. … How do they do it? In Tata’s case, a crucial element is a $417 million “smart factory” in the state of Gujarat that uses intelligent-automation hardware, software and services supplied by Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. “That plant in India is using the latest technology,” says Keith Nosbusch, chief executive of Rockwell. “The myth of these emerging countries is that they do it by cheap labor and abysmal working standards and terrible plants and abusive environments,” Nosbusch said. “These are high-tech facilities, as high-tech as they are in the U.S. And the people are very happy to be working in them.” Tata’s technology goes beyond robotics, the craze of the 1980s. While the Gujarat plant remains in ramp-up phase, it already manages every sensor, microchip and motor control. It predicts bottlenecks and breakdowns on the factory floor before they happen. It has the capacity to seamlessly order parts from its suppliers – such as seats for the Nano from the Indian subsidiary of Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. – the instant it receives a custom new car order from a dealer.

#  Yokohama’s Cherry Blossom Symposium Showcases Clinical Lab Automation Breakthroughs
April 16 2010
Third-generation total laboratory automation (TLA) solutions now used by Japanese clinical labs Your Dark Daily editor is writing this e-briefing from the 7th Cherry Blossom Symposium in Japan, where it is already Saturday—one day ahead of you readers in North America! The second day of this International Conference of Clinical Laboratory Automation and Robotics is now unfolding. Yesterday’s opening sessions were chock-full of innovation, insights, and new developments in clinical laboratory automation and robotics. Representing 12 nations, a sizeable crowd of 260 pathologists, clinical biochemists, laboratory scientists, and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) vendors is in attendance. The scope and scale of medical laboratory automation was obvious from the 17 speakers who made presentations yesterday. In many of these clinical pathology laboratories, total laboratory automation (TLA) is a given. A number of presenters discussed the design and function of their clinical lab’s third generation of total laboratory automation. One common theme is the use of automated solutions to further integrate operational flow, starting at pre-analytical and flowing specimens into the analytical stage and then post-analytical steps.

#  Angola: Higher Education Ministry runs debate about automation, robotics
4/13/10 Luanda – The foment of the Angolan Society of Automation and Robotics will be discussed at a workshop on April 20, in Luanda, sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. According to a press release that reached Angop Monday, the meeting will tackle such topics as “General policies on scientific research and Angola’s technological development”, and “Progress of engineering in Angola and new national reconstruction challenges”. “Automation and robotics in Angola’s sustainable development – Agostinho Neto University’s Vision” and “Automation in Angola’s oil industry-Utilised techniques” as well as “Importance of automation in the development of agile systems of production” are also topics under discussion at the event.
http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/educacao/2010/3/15/Higher-Education-Ministry-runs-debate-about-automation-robotics,99928d62-aa6a-4c4f-ba47-c6f78a014325.html

#  Angola: Automation and Robotics Enables Society’s Wellbeing
AllAfrica.com – Apr 21, 2010
Luanda — The Angolan secretary of state of Science and Technology, João Teta, defended this Tuesday in Luanda the need to invest in automation and robotics

#  Automation Census – How Many Robots, Vending Machines, Self Service Kiosks, ATMs
There were 8.6 million robots at the end of 2008. There are probably about 11 million robots now (start of Q2 2010). Automation goes beyond robots and below I discuss vending machines, self service kiosks, ATMS and more….
Process changes and other Job Impacts
There is concern that robots and automation displace human jobs
Better and more robots and artificial intelligence are not the only ways for humans to lose jobs
Going down the list of jobs and looking at how many people have different jobs which are the jobs that are safe from displacement ? Even if a class of jobs is not completely eliminated could demand be severely reduced ?
23.3 million jobs in the USA for office administration and support. (New business systems that require fewer people. Web 2.0 companies only need a handful of people or one person to do what took hundreds only a few years ago).
14.3 million jobs in the USA for sales and related work. (Automation and new sales processes)
11.3 million jobs in food preparation and serving. (Improved frozen meals, more elaborate food vending machines)
10.1 million jobs in production. (Automation and process re-engineering, shifts of jobs to other places – jobs still done by people but they are other people, better additive manufacturing and printable electronics and components)
9.6 million jobs in transportation and material moving. (more local production : high rise farming, rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems)
8.3 million jobs in education, training and library. (online learning, MIT recordings of the best professors.)
6.9 million healthcare practitioners and technical. (Biomarker tracking with cheap devices to catch and treat diseases early or in the developing stages. Keep people healthier and avoiding the need for more costly and people intensive intervention).
6.7 million jobs in construction and extraction (pre-fab buildings and panels).
6.0 million Management. Re-engineering to flatten organizations and take out layers of management. Web 2.0’ing a business. Reinvent it where a lot fewer people are needed.
5.4 million Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. Redesign things where the quality is better and it does not break or does not need service or is simple to install.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/04/automation-census-how-many-robots.html

#  Automation Anywhere Announces 70% Growth and Record Year
Newswire Today (press release) – Apr 17, 2010
Automation Anywhere, a global leader in automation software, today announced record numbers as the company continues to grow in both business process …

#  Worker deficit spurs automation
Global Sources – Apr 12, 2010
Prohibitive costs limit adoption to tier 1 enterprises, but local governments are doling out subsidies to encourage more factories to upgrade. Raising compensation and benefits to retain or entice workers is not the only approach China suppliers are taking to maintain output levels amid a still challenging labor situation. Many are also turning to automation. Swimwear makers that produce their own fabrics, for instance, are replacing manual knitting machines with computerized units. In addition to boosting efficiency, the advanced equipment minimizes the need to retain a large workforce.
Procuring computerized flat-knitting machines allowed Jiaxing Mengdi to cut two-thirds of its workforce.
http://www.globalsources.com/gsol/I/Gift-products/a/9000000109177.htm

#  A robot journalist
ZDNet (blog) – Chris Jablonski – Apr 16, 2010
Move over citizen journalism, the next phase for media could be largely automated with minimal human intervention. A robot developed by researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University can execute primitive journalistic tasks by autonomously exploring its environment, detecting changes in its surroundings, determining what is relevant, and then taking pictures with its on board camera. It can even query nearby people and perform internet searches to further its understanding. As Singularity Hub reports, if something appears newsworthy, the robot will write a short article and publish it to the web.

#  Cocaine-hunting robot chopper in 60kg bust seizure
By Lewis Page • 12th April 2010 12:47 GMT
An unmanned kill-chopper operating from a US Navy warship has notched up its first drug bust while still in testing, according to reports. The “Fire Scout” robocopter was engaged in sea trials aboard the US frigate McInerney earlier this month when its mothership detected a possible “go-fast” drug-smuggling speedboat on radar, according to Aviation Week. … Makers Northrop intend the droid chopper both for US Naval and Coastguard service. Two can be carried in the same space as a light maritime manned helicopter, which offers the attraction of continuous airborne presence from ships which are normally single-aircraft only such as frigates like the McInerney and US Coastguard cutters.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/12/fire_scout_bust/

#  Hoosier robot killers? Indiana’s connections to drone warfare
by Fran Quigley
April 18, 2010
Unmanned drone technologies have changed the course of human warfare and are being developed in more than 40 countries. Purdue University and several Indiana businesses are involved in their development and testing….But this is no schoolboy experiment, and the small flying cylinder is no model airplane. It is the Voyeur UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a “drone.” According to the Web site of its manufacturer, West Lafayette-based Lite Machines, Inc., the Voyeur is designed to allow military and law enforcement to conduct surveillance and “human or non-human target acquisition.” The Voyeur can travel as far as 50 miles in the air and can hover over and/or touch its target….”Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes.”Lite Machines is based in the Purdue Research Park, which promotes the fact that the company has received a $10.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy. The multi-million dollar military investment for a small company in Tippecanoe County represents part of a $4 billion annual Department of Defense budget for UAV technology, a highly secretive world of warcraft that is being eagerly embraced by U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes….The drones are operated remotely by computer and video display, often by Air Force personnel in Nevada or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff in Virginia, even when the drone is flying several thousand miles away. The lack of an onboard pilot eliminates direct risk to U.S. personnel and is part of a movement toward robot-izing military missions chronicled in Brookings Institution senior fellow P.W. Singer’s widely acclaimed book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.
<http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com/node/10369>http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com/node/10369

#  SEC installs power automation system from China
Saudi Gazette – Joe Avancena – Apr 21, 2010
DAMMAM – China’s first electric power automation system has been successfully commissioned at the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) facilities …

#  Albany-based firm acquires wind turbine monitoring capability
April 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm by Kevin Harrigan
MSE Power Systems Inc., an Albany-based electrical engineering firm, has purchased ADMS Wind SCADA and wind turbine monitoring technology from Second Wind Systems Inc. of Somerville, Mass.  Details of the deal weren’t immediately available. MSE’s parent company, CG Automation, is headquartered in India. ADMS Wind SCADA allows for universal feedback and control of wind turbines according to the Second Wind Web site,  while the monitoring equipment will register turbine performance. Unreliability has been one of the most plaguing issues of wind power.

#  Secretive X-37B Robot Space Plane Moves to Launch Pad
By SPACE.com Staff, posted: 21 April 2010
An unmanned rocket rolled out to its seaside launch pad in Florida today carrying a secretive robotic X-37B space plane for the United States Air Force ahead of a planned Thursday launch. The Air Force plans to launch the X-37B space plane on a demonstration flight that could last months. Liftoff is set for Thursday night between 7:52 p.m. and 8:01 p.m. EDT (2352-0001 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. [X-37B spacecraft photos.] The robotic X-37B space plane looks like a miniature space shuttle and even has a small payload like NASA’s orbiters. It weighs about 11,000 pounds and is just over 29 feet in length. It stands slightly more than 9 1/2 feet in height and has a wingspan just over 14 feet across. But unlike its bigger space shuttle brethren, the X-37B is designed to fly unmanned and remain in orbit for up to 270 days. NASA shuttle missions typically carry up to seven astronauts and last around two weeks….Payton said the X-37B is designed to re-enter and land autonomously, without any direction from mission controllers after starting its descent from orbit. The mini-shuttle is expected to land at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at the end of its debut test flight, he added. The X-37B was built by Boeing’s Phantom Works division in Seal Beach, Calif. The Air Force has already ordered a second Orbital Test Vehicle, but whether it launches in 2011 as planned hinges on the performance of the upcoming test flight, Air Force officials said.

#  Adept Technology Announces Receipt of $2.9M Order From Global Leader in Consumer Electronics
Order for Vision Guided Robotics Will Enable Increased Productivity
PLEASANTON, Calif., Apr 20, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — Adept Technology, Inc., a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced it has received a $2.9 million order for high-precision robots from a major global leader in consumer electronics. The order is expected to be fulfilled and recognized as revenue over the next two quarters. The company selected Adept as its automation partner to provide high-speed vision-guided robot systems for complex, precision handling operations after conducting a thorough investigation of potential suppliers. Adept has been serving the consumer electronics and information technology industry with high-precision mechanisms and controls in both standard and cleanroom configurations for over 20 years. “The high-speed vision-guided robot systems will be installed in the highly competitive manufacturing environment of Southeast Asia,” said Hai Chang, Managing Director of Asia Operations for Adept Technology. “Southeast Asian manufacturing output has rebounded more rapidly than in the U.S. and Europe, particularly in the semiconductor and electronics sectors. China has driven much of the general recovery in Asia, with much higher IT spending than in 2009. We are pleased to have this opportunity to continue serving these leading companies in the consumer electronics sector.”

#  cynomy demolition robot concept: remote-controlled destruction
Technabob (blog) – Apr 22, 2010
One of the best things about robots is that they’re not alive, which means choosing between a robot and a human to perform a risky task is a no-brainer.

#  South Korea Developing Underwater Search-and-Rescue Robot Crawlers
Popular Science – Jeremy Hsu – Apr 19, 2010
The government announced today that it would spend about $18 million (20 billion won) over the next five years to create its creepy-crawly robot.

#  Robot-run recycling system sorts up to six types of plastics
Plastics Today – Matt Defosse – Apr 20, 2010
Laser equipped and robot run, this recycling system can sort up to six types of plastics. One of the main inhibitors for increased recycling of plastics

IEEE AUTOMATON BLOG
#  Geminoid F: More Video and Photos of the Female Android
Erico Guizzo // Tue, April 20, 2010
Geminoid F, the female android recently unveiled by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University and ATR famous for his ultra-realistic humanlike androids, generated a lot of interest. Several people wrote me asking for more details and also more images. So here’s some good news. I got some exclusive photos and video of Geminoid F, courtesy of Osaka University, ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, and Kokoro Company.

#  How Recycling Robots Could Help Us Clean the Planet
POSTED BY: Antonio Espingardeiro // Wed, April 21, 2010
Dustbot, a garbage-collecting robot created by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab. At the current rate of global population growth and consumption of resources, it appears clear to me where we’re going to end: in a waste-covered Earth like that depicted in the movie WALL-E…. Recycling is a very promising area for robotics. Over the next few decades I imagine a future where waste-collecting robots will be moving through air, land, and water, reaching difficult areas to help us cleaning our environment. Picture WALL-E but before the whole planet becomes a landfill. In fact, there are already some recycling bot prototypes roaming around. One example is Dustbot, a robot developed at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab, in Pisa, Italy. Led by Prof. Paolo Dario, the laboratory created a robot designed specifically to collect garbage at people’s homes.