Thursday, April 17, 2014

Titan Aerospace sells again—this time to Google

Early in March of this year TechCrunch reported that Facebook was in talks to acquire Titan Aerospace, a UAV start-up that makes solar-powered aerial robots that can fly for up to five years without needing to land. Forbes said that the sale price was likely to be $60 million.

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Posted on 04/17/14

Consumer AI devices entering the marketplace

Talking mobile personal robots in our homes such as the robot seen in the movie “Robot and Frank” may be in our future but they don’t presently exist except in research labs around the world. 

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Posted on 04/03/14

Au revoir, French entrepreneurs - except for a bastion of robotics innovators in Lyon

In a serious critique of French business practices, the International New York Times wrote about a brain drain from France - a migration of aspiring entrepreneurs feeling that they have to leave France to have a chance to get their ideas off the ground and into the marketplace. The Telegraph, from which this cartoon came, had a similar article: Down and out: the French flee a nation in despair.

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Posted on 03/24/14

How quickly things change

At previous MODEX's, where they exhibit the latest manufacturing and supply chain equipment and technologies, Kiva had their own booth. Big boothes with lots of people marveling at their orange robots. Today at MODEX, those orange robots were moving to a different drummer.

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Posted on 03/17/14

American nuclear materials storage site guarded by robots

UPDATE 03/12/2014: Russia announced that it was planning to deploy mobile security robotics later this year to protect its strategic missile facilities. Since 2011, a Nevada nuclear materials storage site has been guarded by MDARS robots (Mobile Detection, Assessment and Response System). Last week the US Marines announced that their airbase in Twentynine Palms will also be guarded by the same type of robots.

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Posted on 03/08/14

With 11,000 pre-orders, Play-i gets $8 million Series A

It was just a few months ago that Play-i raised over $1.4 million on Kickstarter. With a heavy advertising buy during the holiday season they now have 11,000 pre-orders for their Bo and Yana robotic toy.

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Posted on 03/04/14

Mazor Robotics is gaining momentum

Mazor Robotics, producer of the Renaissance Guidance System for spine and neuro surgeries, reported favorable earnings for the 4th quarter and for the whole year of 2013.

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Posted on 03/02/14

Sydney Harbor Bridge Gets Blasted By Robots

SABRE Autonomous Solutions, a spin-off from the University of Technology Sydney, is using two Schunk lightweight arms and blaster pistols to grit-blast the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

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Posted on 02/17/14

Foxconn and Google Cooperating to Make Robots

In a Wall Street Journal story by Lorraine Luk, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Google Robotics Division Andy Rubin in Taipei recently and they discussed new robotic technologies. 

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Posted on 02/12/14

Calendar of Robotics-related Events

The 2014 calendar of robotics-related conferences, exhibitions and fairs are shown on the Events page of this website. Did you know we had such a calendar? 

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Posted on 02/07/14

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Intuitive Surgical upgrades da Vinci surgical system and recalls tools used by them

Intuitive Surgical announced FDA clearance and US introduction of their new da Vinci Xi Surgical System which has a movable overhead architecture rather than the fixed floor-mounted existing systems.

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Posted on 04/04/14

The Economist 14-page Special Report: Rise of the Robots—Cool!

The Economist, a prestigious London-based business magazine zealously read around the world, has a 14-page Special Report in their current issue. 'Rise of the Robots' offers insight into why robotic technology is so fascinating and so prevalent in the media.

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Posted on 04/01/14

April is a busy month for robotic events

US National Robotics Week, with almost 100 events around the country, the AIA Vision Show and the FIRST Robotics Championship headline April's…

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Posted on 03/25/14

Are telepresence robots robots? Part II

With an attention-grabbing headline last week on Robohub, Edward Snowden BEAMed into a TED Talk. With much less fanfare, this writer participated in a panel in Lyon, France while I was in Stuttgart, Germany, also using a BEAM.

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Posted on 03/20/14

Are telepresence robots robots?

Is the da Vinci robotic surgical system robotic? Is a car with adaptive cruise control acting robotically? Well... no to all three questions.

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Posted on 03/13/14

Proletarian Robots Getting Cheaper to Exploit

After laughing uncomfortably at the headline from The Moscow Times reporting about the recent Skolkovo Robot Conference, I parsed through the wording and found the intended meaning.

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Posted on 03/05/14

168,000 robots were sold in 2013; 5% more than in 2012

Based on the results of the IFR Quarterly Statistics, the IFR estimates that in 2013 about 168,000 industrial robots were sold, 5% more than in 2012.

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Posted on 02/20/14

Hexagon acquires Aibotix

Hexagon, a Swedish provider of R&D and design, measurement and visualization products, with 14,000 employees in over 40 countries, and which serves a broad range of industries, predominantly automotive, aerospace, defense and manufacturing, has acquired Aibotix, a maker of the Aibot X6 unmanned aerial vehicle. 

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Posted on 02/18/14

Robotic Skills Help Wanted Ads Up 13% in 2013

Comparing 2013 to 2012, demand for robotics skills increased 13% year-over-year. Further evaluation shows that the bulk of hiring is in the healthcare sector. 

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Posted on 02/15/14

The fate of jobs in relation to robotics is confusing

Will a robot take your job? Will a higher minimum wage cause job destruction? Or is it all media hype? What's the truth? [Also see the 2/13/14 update.]

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Posted on 02/09/14

Filling in the puzzle pieces of Willow Garage and Savioke

People say the darndest things! And some of those statements add to the puzzle that is Willow Garage.

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Posted on 04/13/14

Apple buys UK speech recognition firm Novauris to help improve Siri

Voice recognition is a timely science not only because of all the human-automobile communication offered by the car companies, but also by smart devices and their growing use of voice interfaces. It won't be long until we operate many of our appliances by voice command.

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Posted on 04/03/14

Facebook plans to offer Internet service using aerial robots

UPDATE: 03/29/2014 The headline remains the same but the players have changed. Instead of Titan Aerospace being acquired for $60 million, Facebook chose to acquire a small UK start-up with great talent, Ascenta, for $20 million.

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Posted on 03/29/14

ROV operations expenditures to grow to $1.5 billion by 2017

Douglas-Westwood, an energy research group, says (in their $5,000 World ROV Operations Market Forecast 2013-2017 report), that ROV operations expenditures will grow 80% over the next 5 years. 

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Posted on 03/23/14

Rehab robots, smart prostheses and exoskeletons to reach $1.8 billion by 2020

A Wintergreen Research report says that the rehabilitation robot market will grow from $43.3 million to $1.8 billion by 2020 as a result of the effectiveness of robotic treatment methods.

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Posted on 03/15/14

Chess, Jeopardy and now… Ping Pong?

UPDATE 03/12/14: Timo Boll wins table tennis match with KUKA Agilus robot. Two new videos to watch: one summarizing the match and the other about how and why the videos were made.

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Posted on 03/12/14

iRobot is on a tear

On February 5th iRobot reported their quarterly and annual report. 4Q revenue was up 25% from the previous year and full year 2013 revenue of $487 was up 12%.

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Posted on 02/15/14

Lockheed and AeroVironment to jointly develop UAS

AeroVironment (of Raven, Puma and Wasp fame) has a high-altitude long-endurance UAV named Global Observer. It flies at 65,000’ for a week or more at a time, has up to a 600-mile diameter footprint and can carry a heavy payload of sensors and cameras.

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Posted on 02/15/14

Four interesting robotic investments

Microsoft is betting $5.57 million on IT-related projects at two Swiss universities; James Dyson is putting $8.21 million into a London college lab; Ekso Bionics went public with a $20 million IPO; and a Schaft co-founder sets up new $19 million investment fund.

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Posted on 02/09/14

DoD Unmanned Air, Sea & Ground Budget 2014-2018

Demand for unmanned air, ground and sea systems continues unabated. Drivers include combat ops, reduced military budgets, a changing national security environment, and improved technologies. The chart shows what the DoD has budgeted for the next 5 years.

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Posted on 02/02/14