Wednesday, May 4, 2016

40,000 see 20,000 students participate in FIRST Robotics Competition

More than 20,000 students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis to compete in the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship. The 4-day event ended Saturday night in front of a crowd of more than 40,000.

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Posted on 05/01/16

Global and iRobot floor cleaning market

iRobot recently divested its defense division so that it could focus on consumer and mobility products. Red Mountain Capital, a hedge fund that owns ~6% of iRobot stock wants to place two people on the iRobot board to effect some change.

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Posted on 04/23/16

GM’s purchase of Cruise fuels interest in self-driving car kits

Most car companies are remaking themselves into tech startups as they move toward offering fully autonomous self-driving vehicles. Yet thousands of tractors already use self-driving kits as do hundreds of tugs, lifts and trucks. Self-driving aftermarket kits are beginning to be offered in multiple markets. What's going on?

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Posted on 04/14/16

Grishin Robotics launches new $100M hardware fund

In 2012, Dmitry Grishin, co-founder and CEO of Mail.Ru Group, the largest Internet and social networking company in the Russian-speaking world, seeded a fund with $25 million of his own money to focus on robotic startups.

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Posted on 04/13/16

47 reports dissect and examine the robot industry

The robotics industry has graduated to be big business -- at least for research firms. 47 different reports on subjects ranging from broad to very drilled-down views of the industry are analyzed and projected upon with widely differing forecasts.

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Posted on 04/03/16

iRobot’s $199 floor mopper designed for Chinese markets

iRobot has been streamlining its operations to focus on consumer products and enhancing shareholder value. Recent moves to divest their defense division, launch a low-cost Braava Jet floor cleaner, and investing in 6 River Systems all attest to their strategy.

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Posted on 03/30/16

Google puts Boston Dynamics up for sale

The maker of advanced humanoid and 4-legged robots (BigDog and Atlas), Boston Dynamics, is up for sale. According to the Financial Times, "this is one of those discordant moments that makes you question easy assumptions... and the current state of Alphabet and of robots."

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Posted on 03/21/16

Robotics has its first unicorn: startup Cruise Automation

Forget about Google and Boston Dynamics. This week the real news is that GM acquired small San Francisco based startup Cruise Automation for the rumored sum of more than $1B US, according to Fortune. Robotics has its first unicorn!

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Posted on 03/18/16

Harvest Automation stumbles with warehouse robot

In a Boston Globe story by Scott Kirsner, it was revealed that Harvest Automation's CEO has departed as have 3/4 of the 30 employees that worked there in 2015, and that the company was attempting to sell it's e-commerce bot and system technology to keep the company alive.

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Posted on 03/15/16

Robotic cooks, servers and noodle-cutting devices

In many places in China and Japan - and now in Southern California - Chinese cooking, serving and noodle-cutting robots are entertaining customers and helping out in the kitchen.

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Posted on 03/02/16

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Stakeholders likely to be disrupted by the changeover to self-driving vehicles

Volumes have been written about the possible beneficial (and negative) effects of self-driving cars and systems. But few have studied what industries will be disrupted by the transformations as self-driving devices begin to provide for our transportation needs.

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Posted on 04/25/16

Big day for robotics: 3 fundings and a merger acquisition

Auris Surgical Robotics will acquire Hansen Medical for $80M+, PrecisionHawk raised $18M to help bring commercial drones safely into US airspace, and SkySafe got $3M to disable badly behaving drones in the very same airspace.

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Posted on 04/20/16

The technology gap left by Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems

In March 2012, in an effort to make their distribution centers (DCs) as efficient as possible, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million and almost immediately took them inhouse.

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Posted on 04/13/16

Industrial robot sales for 2015 set a new record

In a flurry of press releases, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) revealed details of 2015 industrial robot sales of 240,000 units. This set a new sales record and reflected an 8% increase over 2014.

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Posted on 04/13/16

March fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

Funding to robotics startup companies rose dramatically in 2015 reaching record highs in deals and dollars. CB Insights graphed similar findings as seen in their quarterly financing chart. Here's what happened in March, 2016.

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Posted on 04/01/16

3D Robotics undergoing layoffs and other challenges

3D Robotics is closing its San Diego facility, has reduced its staff at its Berkeley headquarters and in Austin, and acknowledged that co-founder and president Jordi Muñoz left the company at the end of 2015.

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Posted on 03/26/16

Baidu’s Deep Speech 2 awarded as breakthrough technology

MIT Tech Review recently released its annual Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies list. Baidu’s Deep Speech 2 won in the “Conversational Interfaces” category.

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Posted on 03/20/16

Google’s Go-playing AI system beat Korean grand master 4 out of 5 games

Machines have been beating humans for many years in games and contests: Chess, Scrabble, Checkers, Jeopardy! and today, the Chinese board game Go. Google's AI machine won 4 out of 5 games in a $1.3 million contest with Korean Lee Se-Dol, rated as the world's best Go player.

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Posted on 03/16/16

Collaborative robots are broadening their marketplaces

Universal Robots, the Danish manufacturer of a line of collaborative robots (also called "co-bots"), recently published financial statements which provide valuable insights into the growth potential of collaborative robots.

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Posted on 03/04/16

First look at 2015 stats from Intl Fed of Robotics

Worldwide robot sales grew again in 2015 and were 15% more than 2014 with explosive growth in the automotive industry and technological advances enabling small and medium size manufacturers (SMEs) to compete using collaborative robots.

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Posted on 02/11/16

April fundings, acquisitions and IPOs

April was a big month for investing in robotics - 19 companies were funded to the tune of $175 million vs. $46.4M in January, $18.6M in February and $59.9M in March. Four companies were acquired with 3 of the 4 reporting selling prices totaling $422 million.

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Posted on 05/01/16

China’s growing robot industry turns to acquisitions

Paslin, a Michigan integrator of welding robots, automation systems, and tooling, was acquired by Wanfeng Technology Group for an undisclosed amount (but reported as $302 million in China Daily).

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Posted on 04/22/16

Autonomous truck platoons travel across Europe

A dozen trucks arrived in Rotterdam after traveling across Europe in the European Truck Platooning Challenge. Six different truck makers participated: Scania, Daimler, Volvo, IVECO, MAN and DAF.

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Posted on 04/13/16

AI, deep learning and 3D printing have produced The Next Rembrandt

From the Smithsonian comes news - and a must-see fascinating and instructive video - about a painting created using data from more than 168,000 fragments of Rembrandt's work, then trained to paint in Rembrandt's signature style.

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Posted on 04/08/16

The world’s first autonomous pizza delivery vehicle

On March 17, at a Domino's Pizza launch party, it was announced that the first delivery of a pizza by Domino's new DRU (Domino's Robotic Unit) had been successfully carried out in Hornsby, Australia, about 18 miles north of Sydney.

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Posted on 03/30/16

Stop talking about bringing jobs back from China

Ben Casselman, writing on the website FiveThirtyEight, says that manufacturing jobs are never coming back. He warns candidates to not inflame voters with empty promises and provides facts to prove his point.

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Posted on 03/24/16

Weekly smiles from the queen of useless robots

Simone Giertz, the 25-year-old Swedish inventor who lives on a houseboat in Stockholm, is called ‘the queen of shitty robots.’ She has attracted thousands of followers with her quirky contraptions for eating cereal or applying lipstick. You'll smile with each video.

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Posted on 03/19/16

Indego joins Ekso with FDA exoskeleton approvals

Parker's Indego exoskeleton received FDA clearance after completing a large clinical trial in the U.S. The study consisted of 1,200+ sessions where participants were able to walk safely on several in- and outdoor surfaces using the exoskeleton.

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Posted on 03/13/16

February fundings and acquisitions

It's too early to tell whether the record-breaking pace of 2015 fundings for robotic startups and the number of acquisitions will carry over into 2016, nevertheless here are the transactions that happened in February:

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Posted on 03/01/16

540 robots and 29 drones celebrate Chinese New Year

In a TV spectacle celebrating the Chinese New Year and seen by more than 640 million viewers, 540 Chinese-made robots danced in time to a song sung by a Chinese superstar while 29 neon-colored drones flew in unison overhead.

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Posted on 02/10/16