... Amazon isn’t the only delivery service testing flying robots. DHL and microdrones are testing drones that could be used to deliver urgently needed goods to hard-to-reach places, eg, medicines to remote sites.
... Deutsche Post DHL, Germany’s express delivery and mail company, is working with German UAV provider microdrones GmbH to test various methods of flight (piloted or autonomous), types and weights of packages, etc.
... Read more.
... Famous from being the synchronized depth perception system inside the Microsoft Kinnect, PrimeSense, a venture-funded company based in Tel Aviv, was just acquired by Apple for $350 million.
... Bloomberg reports that Apple confirmed the purchase but reported that Apple won’t discuss their purpose or plans in relation to the acquisition.
... PrimeSense has been developing depth-sensing technology such as that in the new 3D Systems Sense 3D scanner, or the navigation platform Ava by iRobot or the Smart Terrain by Qualcomm’s Vuforia.
... In addition to the Ava, PrimeSense’s 3D sensing technology, with its affordable sensors, is opening up new possibilities in robotics including letting the robot “see” their surroundings just like humans do. With the PrimeSense 3D camera system you can take a picture of something and see it in deep ways. The technology could be helpful in home consumer products as well as for various professions such as field workers, machine shops and manufacturers.
... New report by Research and Markets, Global Machine Vision Market 2012-2016, a $2,500 report, forcasts global machine vision market to grow at a CAGR of 9.4% to 2016.
... Image processing has been playing a more and more important role turning “blind” machines into “seeing” ones. Even at high speeds and with stringent requirements for accuracy it allows 100% product inspection and is an ideal tool to strengthen competitiveness.
... Increasing demand is seen outside of the industrial sector and/or for materials handling, inspection and QC.
... Key vendors mentioned in the report include Basler AG, Cognex, Teledyne Technologies, ISRA Vision and Matrox Electronic Systems.
... Romotive’s Romo App-controlled pet and WowWee’s RoboMe robot kit, both for the iPhone; iRobot’s new Roomba 880 vacuum cleaning robot; and Modular Robotics’ Cubelets Kit, offer interesting choices for adults buying for kids (or themselves).
... See all 8 here - including details about where to buy and how much it will cost.
... Two interesting ones which won’t be available in time for the holidays: Play-i’s Bo and Yana robots and the ATOMagic Sets by myATOMS.
... Mazor Robotics’ stock (NASDAQ:MZOR and TASE:MZOR) has steadily rolled up 260% year-to-date.
... Earnings report for Q3 shows a 51% increase in revenue over last year. The Israili-based company develops and markets surgical robots and complementary products. They sold 16 Renaissance systems so far in 2013; the Renaissance is a state-of-the-art mechanical guidance system for spinal surgeries.
... Mazor recently filed with the SEC for a $46 million IPO in an ADR offering on NASDAQ with the funds being earmarked to expand the company’s sales and marketing network in the US.
... Cyphy Works, the UAV developer with the tether solution, raises $7 million from VCs and angel investors.
... Funds will be used to expand Cyphy Works efforts in surveying and situational awareness for agriculture, mining, construction, oil & gas, insurance and others.
... CEO Helen Greiner, who was previously the co-founder and President of iRobot, said, “The opportunity to bring flying robots to commercial sectors is truly exciting. We are building a reliable and robust platform that is differentiated from hobbyist class UAVs, and is specifically designed for field operations in rough real-world conditions.”
... Rethink Robotics gets $11.5 million Series D funding from VCs, previous investors and Bezos Expeditions, bringing total funding thus far to $73.5 million. Rodney Brooks, Rethink’s CTO, was also a co-founder of iRobot as well as Director of MIT’s CS and AI lab.
... Rethink said the funding will be used as growth capital for continued expansion. When the company ships its 1,000th Baxter, perhaps other financing may be available - like an IPO?
... A 27-photo review of Robotics Expo 2013, held last month in Moscow, shows promise for start-ups throughout Russia.
... The show was themed around home automation, hospitality/guide/remote presence, personal transport, education/learning toys/hobbyist kits and 3D printing.
... Links and photos here.
... Last year Congress passed Title III of the JOBS Act to allow smaller companies to get an exemption from the strict and costly rules controlling the sale of securities to individuals.
... The SEC has developed equity crowdfunding rules in response to that law - rules that help companies raise capital but also protect investors from scams. Those rules are now out for community review and will be enacted shortly thereafter.
... Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and the others can apply to qualify but there will likely be a flurry of new Internet portals just for this purpose.
... Let the Wild West begin anew!
... Robotic startup Knightscope is attempting to augment manpower of local police and city authorities with a smart robot paired with onsight cameras, data analytics, sensors and communications to help those agencies become more productive with limited resources and automation. Read more.
... The following 4 startups were seen at the recent DEMO Fall 2013 Conference.
... Bounce Imaging displayed a low cost disposable throwable 360º camera with audio and sensing capability. More.
... Hello Doctor collects scanned images of medical reports of all types and parses for keywords and then tags and digitally files the documents enabling charting and replacing folders full of medical and insurance records. More.
... Skully Helmets offers a motorcycle helmet that has a heads-up display showing 180º of the scene behind the rider. More.
... Pictrition gamified the process of losing weight and is predicated on research showing that the biggest and most sustained weight losses occur when patients journaled their daily intake. More.
... Grabit, a 2012 SRI International spin-off, secures $3 million in Series A funding from ABB Technology Ventures, Nike and Formation 8, a tech VC in Silicon Valley.
... Grabit’s products include grippers and fixtures, case and box handling grippers, and smart conveyors for material handling.
... At the core is Grabit’s patented electroadhesion-based material-handling technique - a grasping method that can successfully handle a wide variety of objects, shapes, sizes and materials.
... The FDA recently approved a new robotic device which can automate the sedation of healthy patients having colonoscopies. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, created SEDASYS, a computer-assisted device that administers the prescription drug propofol into the blood stream via intravenous IV infusion. The device can detect signs associated with oversedation and can automatically modify or stop infusion.
... “The technology will empower health care facilities to more effectively use their limited resources to deliver greater value in the increasingly resource-constrained U.S. health care environment.” SEDASYS will cost about $150 per procedure - on a fee-per-use plan from J&J - where anesthesiologists generally cost between $600 to $2,000.
... Actively lobbied against for years by the anesthesiologists association, the FDA finally approved the device in May. J&J will begin marketing SEDASYS early next year.
... 3D Robotics, the open source unmanned aerial vehicle company headed by Chris Anderson, just got a $30 million infusion of venture funding to enable the company to “mainstream aerial robotics and surveying” by making advanced UAV technology affordable and easy to use.
... With a large and enthusiastic user base, 3D Robotics has begun manufacturing the open source Pixhawk autopilot system developed by the Swiss PX4 open hardware project.
... 3D Robotics has also begun to manufacture a ready-to-fly autonomous quadcopter named Iris which runs on the Pixhawk autopilot system. Iris includes a GoPro camera mount and features a complete set of autonomous capabilities: automatic takeoff and landing, mission planning with GPS waypoint navigation, stabilized hovering, circling mode, etc. Iris can carry .8 pounds of payload for 10-15 minutes of flying time per charge. The fully assembled Iris and Pixhawk autopilot are priced at $729.99.
... 3D Robotics is exploring and marketing to many of the capabilities that UAS can perform: in agricultural operations, for conservation, for surveying, early warning and other monitoring, fire fighting, photography, surveillance, etc.
... At a recent demo of iCub at the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles, IIT Professor and director of the iCub project, Giorgio Metta discussed not only iCub’s progress, but the state of the art in robotics as well. Metta recently did a TEDxMilano Talk on the subject (Italian only).
... One standout slide from his presentation was the one above - click to enlarge. The chart compares the apps that people want versus the abilities that robotics presently has to fulfill those apps. We’ve got our work cut out for us!
... iCub is a humanoid robot that can see and hear, has a sense of self-awareness and a capacitive skin system. The goal of iCub is to study cognition through the implementation of a humanoid robot the size of a 3-1/2 year old child. Over 20 labs around the world are participating in the open source project.
... Canadian EZ-Robot is the first to the gate with 2013 Christmas gifts: 3 modular robot kits and a software interface using simple “drag and drop” methods to make teaching the robot behaviors and commands simple and intuitive. Prices start at $219 and the JD humanoid-looking robot goes for $469.
... Cute video shows all three new robot toys and the EZ-Builder software.
... DJ Sures is the inventor and company CEO. He’s the Canadian roboticist who gained fame from his 2011 YouTube video about how to turn a Wall-E toy into a functioning robot. He’s developed quite a community: 116 posts each day to the forum; residents in 118 countries; 2.1 million views of EZ-Robot YouTube videos.
... Included with the software is the ability to share apps with other EZ-Robot owners through the cloud.
... Five little known uses for robots: (1) explosives handling by explosives manufacturers and also by armed forces that must dispose or handle them; (2) using lasers on robotic arms to strip paint from air force plans; (3) having a robot scale the heights of a dam or nuclear chimney to inspect and analyze the concrete; (4) securely store valuable vehicles in vaults or robotically park cars in special car parks, and (5) wacky art.
... Photos and links here.
... It was just last February that Rob Cain replaced John Dulchinos as CEO of Adept Technology. Cain had worked with Adept for a few months as advisor and representative of Hale Capital Partners and crafted a restructuring plan approved by the company and it’s financial partners. It appears that things are working according to plan.
... On August 27th Adept announced their quarterly earnings which were essentially just reaching break-even, but it showed that Adept’s turnaround plan was working. The stock rallied to close up 26.9% to $4.15 on August 27 and is up again to $5.95 - another 27% for the day.
... One analyst reported: While the June 2013 quarter represents a tentative improvement, it shows demand for Adept’s robots is returning and the company has a much lower cost structure than one year earlier.
... Everything-Robotic suggests that now is the time for an acquirer to seriously consider Adept.
... The Japan Robot Association (JARA) and Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun host the 20th bi-ennial iREX International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo November 6-9. More than 100,000 people are expected to view over 1,100 booths from over 210 vendors. 3% of the visitors and 1/3 of the booths are expected to be from countries other than Japan.
... iREX is being held concurrent with the IEEE’s International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) conference being held November 3-7.
... Susan McFarland, of robotguide, a site providing a guide to personal robots, compiled a list of Russian robotics companies which we vetted and posted to our Global Map of Robot Providers.
... 25 new Russian robot companies were added to our existing database of Russian robotics companies: 38% startups (of which 2/3 are companies building robots for various uses and 1/3 are providing software or vision systems), 17% are providing service robots for governmental and corporate use, 8% are for space or defense, and 8% are education-related. The remaining 29% are ancillary businesses such as integrators, software developers, vision systems providers and component manufacturers.
... See all except the ancillary businesses on the Global Map; ancillary businesses can be found in the Ancillary Businesses Directory.
... Neato Robotics - the NJ-based competitor with iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner - raised $14 million in new funding from two VC firms. In 2012, Neato raised $12.2 from two different VC companies.
... PrecisionHawk closed an undisclosed-amount of A-round equity funding led by Bob Young (co-founder of Red Hat) and Innovate Indiana, the VC fund of Indiana University. This comes on the heels of May’s rebranding from Winehawk Labs to Precision Hawk and their focus on the collecting, interpreting and handling of the data, not the platform.
... Once again National Geographic photographers have used innovative techniques to capture amazing images. Remember the polar bear cam in 2011 that got crushed by the curious bear as he examined and stepped on it?
... This time photo journalist Michael Nichols used camouflaged SuperDroid Robots’ AGVs and quiet drones to capture the lives of lions on the Serengeti. Did you know they are the only cat that is truly social?
... The August issue of National Geographic has the story and a terrific online component as well.
... At last week’s White House Google+ Hangout, Daniela Rus, the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), demonstrated two robots working together to assembly a piece of IKEA furniture.
... “All of this is done autonomously without any human intervention,” Rus explained. The bots work from the furniture product’s CAD file and then have a library of actions necessary to build what is displayed in that file.
... Photo captured during online G+ Hangout.
... Although the number of procedures using Hansen Medical‘s Magellan and Sensei robotic systems has risen, the number of units sold has fallen slightly and the company continues to operate in the red, hence the need for additional funding.
... Hansen’s stock NASDAQ:HNSN, has traded in the $2 to $1.50 range for the last few years and lower this last month.
... Oracle Investment Management, a med-tech investment management company headed by Larry N. Feinberg, did the deal and gains a seat on the Hansen board.
... UPDATE 8/26/13: Hansen just made a long-term debt agreement with White Oak Global Advisors. The proceeds which will be used to retire the Company’s previous $30 million debt and fees due August 23rd. It is unclear whether this debt and debt repayment is part of the equity infusion from above.
... After months of negative news about poorly trained surgeons, class action suits claiming misleading communications with shareholders, an FDA review, a product recall, an article saying that procedure costs were too high, particularly for gynecological operations, and an NBC exposé, the news finally effected the company’s earnings and its stock. It dropped 16% on July 9th and another 7% yesterday.
... The FDA observed two problems and asked Intuitive to take additional steps to resolve those concerns. Intuitive is doing so.
... But the biggest driver of the stock drop is the article which said that gynecological uses of the da Vinci system cost $2,000 more per procedure than alternative methods. That got hospitals to stop and reevaluate their purchases and that is what is showing up in the earnings reports.
... Although quarterly net income rose 3% to $159.1 million, and revenue grew 8%, to $578.5 million, Wall Street had expected stronger results. The particularly bad news reflecting the gynecological uses of the systems hit sales: sales of the da Vinci system fell to 143 from 150 a year ago, and U.S. sales declined to 90 from 124. This trend is expected to continue for the rest of 2013.
...UPDATE July 27: Two new political setbacks: (1) The FDA recalled 30 systems because they may have been tested improperly and (2) Another court case is looming: A small piece of a needle clip broke off during a recent surgery and remained lodged in internal tissue. “If they would have just taken an X-ray right after the surgery, or really examined all of the instruments, it could have been prevented,” the patient told a local news outlet.
... When counting robots made in China and adding them to robots made internationally and shipped into China, 2012 saw China deploy more robots than any other country.
... Data from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) showed 23,000 robots sold into China. A Canadian college professor and researcher added 9,800 robots manufactured by six Chinese vendors giving a total of 32,800 - 4,000 greater than the 28,700 sold into Japan in 2012. Hence his claim that China has already become the largest buyer of robots.
... These figures do NOT include the 20,000 robots manufactured and placed into service by Foxconn in the last two years.
... Future IFR statistical reports will include Chinese data from the newly formed Chinese Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA).
... GF2045 host Dmitry Itskov said “We are really at the time when technology can affect human evolution. I want us to shape the future, bring it up for public discussion, and avoid any scenario that could damage it.”
... Ray Kurzweil said that 2045 would be a time when computers surpassed the human brain and that, with biotech and other prosthetics, our human bodies would be open to analysis, simulation and reprogramming and would defy death.
... James Martin said that serious crunches were coming, particularly in long-term thinking to ward off survival-of-the-fittest type changes. China and corporations have the discipline but the US and EU do not (and corporations have a different set of ethics).
... Other speakers included philosophers, ethicists, brain interface developers, AI theorists, and a very colorful panel of global interfaith/spirituality leaders, all discussing the progress of, and implications and consequences of brain mapping, avatars and other technological changes.
... Details here..
... New $3,800 report by Wintergreen Research says that first responder and military ground robot marketplace will expand at close to 20% annually for the rest of the decade.
... Expected revenue in 2019 is $12 billion.
... Growth is based on the adoption of automated processes combining innovative software and robotic platforms in systems of engagement that have arms and sensors, tracks and wheels, motors, solid state batteries and leverage smart phones and mobile platforms.
... This report confirms Markets and Markets report which predicts a 17.4% CAGR over same period for service robotics.
... Are the campaigns to ban killer robots scaring people unnecessarily?
... Is the coverage obscuring the valuable contributions that commercial uses of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) offer?
... There weren’t any headlines about a very helpful drone mapping expedition in Haiti last month.
... Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water is an article you might want to read.
... CrashAlert is an app under development by Pourang Irani and Juan David Hincapié-Ramos at the University of Manitoba to provide a realistic solution to the ongoing dangers posed by walking and texting. Since users aren’t likely to pocket their devices, the system restores their peripheral vision through the use of a Kinect-like forward-looking depth camera that provides distance and location cues to obstacles in the user’s path.
... Unlike existing apps WalkNText and TypenWalk, which are essentially see-through texting apps, CrashAlert displays a small slice of the depth camera’s image on the mobile’s screen and alerts users of obstacles immediately in front through a red alert prompting users to immediately stop or lift their heads.
... No info on commercialization plans yet but it’s easy to see the market is ripe for the product.
... Photo courtesy of Examiner.com.
... Forget the debate about the military use of drones (but if you must know, here’s a comprehensive FAQ and a United Nations Report on the issue).
... There’s money to be made using those very same unmanned aerial vehicles and systems for commercial purposes. And money is being made by UAS makers and the ancillary businesses that support them in Europe and Australia—but not in the U.S. which will have to play catch-up beginning in late 2015 when the FAA issues rules governing UAS flight in civilian airspace.
... Agriculture, forestry, mining, infrastructure and general surveying, topographical modeling and first responders are just some of the groups that will all benefit from the use of UAS.
... Swiss startup senseFly has 40 engineers producing 60 drones a month at selling prices ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. That’s $18 million a year for senseFly (which was recently acquired by Parrot SA, the French car electronics and AR.Drone maker).
... Airware, an American startup that provides autopilot hardware for UASs, must market outside the US. However, CEO Jonathan Downey says there is plenty of very profitable business outside the United States.
... Almost all industrial robot makers have or are working on lightweight and human-friendly robot arms, but none are offering them at low cost, or with user-friendly training, or plug and play and safety features. There are other robot startups in the SME marketplace - and on the horizon - but none are as far along as Rethink Robotics and Universal Robots.
... Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robots are being produced and sold at a rate of 500+ units for 2013.
... Universal Robots is building 100+ UR5 and UR10 robots a month of which approximately 25-30% are for customers in the U.S.
... Click to see a review of each robot’s features and a couple of examples of how they are being used.
... Otherfab, a spin-off from San Francisco-based Otherlab, an engineering, energy, education, math, computation and design research facility, surpassed their Kickstarter goal and is well on their way to produce their new CNC device.
... Originally developed to revive shop class in American schools by providing a very capable CNC fabricating machine but stalled by government funding delays, Otherfab’s new CNC Othermill and simple software is designed for ease of use and flexible operation.
... It’s not too late to subscribe to the Kickstarter campaign.
UPDATED 5-21-2013: Lawyers conclude closing arguments and case given to jurors
... For continuing coverage of not only the court case but also the FDA probe, the JAMA article, the product recall, and the new class action suits, click here.
... Intuitive Surgical’s marketing director testified that they focused on a category of urologists who have “basic or limited laparoscopic skills who currently perform” traditional prostate removals and that group is “where 80 percent of your clinical [marketing] time should be spent.”
... Intuitive released their first quarter results showing surprisingly high profits and revenue. But Intuitive also narrowed their 2013 revenue projections slightly. The stock market responded with a $21.00 drop in price (4.25%).
... In first day of trial in State of Washington, in their opening arguments, lawyers stated their cases:
[Plaintiff] that Intuitive Surgical designed a watered down training program to make it easier for them to sell systems to hospitals thereby compromising surgical quality which, in this case, led to complications which caused a man to die.
[Defendent] that injuries suffered by the obese and medically-troubled patient occurred after the robotic system was unplugged and not in use; the injuries happened after the robotic surgery was completed. Trial details here.
... A suit alleging injuries tied to the robot surgery system in a 2008 procedure to remove a patient’s prostate claims that the surgeon was not adequately trained and that the results of that lack of training caused mistakes which led to kidney failure, brain damage, permanent incontinence, the need to wear a colostomy bag, and ultimately, heart failure and death.
... An attempt by Intuitive to have the case thrown out was denied because the state’s product-liability laws require medical-device makers to properly train physicians who buy their products.
... There are 12 suits of this type pending trials. But there is also a JAMA article which shows that although the number of robotically assisted procedures is up, their effectiveness is the same as laparoscopic methods but their costs are about $2,000 higher per procedure. However, when reductions in hospital stays and post-recovery work from traditional surgery are added into the mix, robotic surgery is the most cost efficient.
... Also, the FDA has initiated an ongoing probe asking surgeons at numerous hospitals to identify complications with the da Vinci machines.
... Armed with €40 million for acquisitions, Parrot S.A. founder, Chairman and CEO Henri Seydoux said that the success of the AR.Drone and AR.Drone 2 proves that there is a large consumer market for the entertainment side of aerial drones.
... Now he and Parrot are going after the professional side: providing mapping and georgraphical information for surveying, construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, environmental observation and protection, and town planning using aerial drones and sophisticated cameras and software.
... Read the details here.
... More than 14,000 jobs were advertised online requiring knowledge or use of robotics in the U.S., according to WANTED Analytics™, a source of real-time business intelligence.
... The most commonly advertised job titles requiring use or knowledge of robotics: Maintenance Technician, Controls Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Physician Urology, Registered Nurse, Electrical Engineer, Software Engineer and Urologist.
... Global Telesat Corp (think Globalstar, inmarsat and Iridium), and Lighter Than Air Systems, were awarded a DoD contract to provide the Army with two Blimp-in-a-Box systems.
... In order to fulfill that contract and to benefit from future collaborations of a similar nature, Lighter Than Air Systems agreed to be acquired in an almost all-stock transaction worth about $1 million by World Surveillance Group.
... All three companies are Florida-based defense contractors.
... Blimp-in-a-box is designed to provide real-time day/night high definition footage for ISR, IED detection, border security and other governmental and civilian uses. The system is packaged in a crate, mounted to a trailer, and can be rapidly deployed within minutes by a two man crew.
... The Roadmap’s pdf is a must-read, full of real information, and can be downloaded here.
... Six sectors were reviewed: (1) Manufacturing, (2) Medical Robots, (3) Healthcare Robotics, (4) Service Robots (both professional and domestic), (5) Space and (6) Defense were all discussed.
... Congress was asked to invest in core science challenges stimulating development and solutions across all six sectors - challenges like robust 3D perception, planning and navigation, dexterous manipulation, intuitive HRI, and safe robot behavior.
... As awareness of the use of robotic drones on borders and by police departments across America is rising, a debate is taking place as to their value, potential misuse and future.
... My friends at Robohub are running a week-long series of focused stories on the subject and, in an attempt to add to the conversation, The Robot Report has provided a list of 29 of the publicly-traded companies worldwide that produce these types of robotic devices along with a sobering quote from President Dwight Eisenhower.
... As we sit today on the cusp of allowing potential spy drones into our civilian airspace—along with all the good that commercial aerial robots can also provide—it seems that we will have to live with some misuse. In 2009 Hong Kong police arrested burglars who were casing prospective condos by sending camera-studded aerial drones up to the windows for a look-see.
... Rob Cain replaces John Dulchinos as CEO of Adept Technology. Cain has worked with Adept for the past few months as an advisor and representative of Hale Capital Partners and crafted a restructuring plan approved by the company and it’s financial partners.
... Adept reported poor sales and lower than expected gross margins for the first two quarters of fiscal 2013. This after suffering a net loss and reduced margins for FY 2012.
... Adept’s stock took a hit last November when it became known that the company would initiate a restructuring plan and a second recent hit upon notice of the change in leadership.
... The Oshkosh TerraMax UGV (right) is capable of tele-operations, being a leader or follower, and fully autonomous operation. The Marine Corps are evaluating it as part of their Cargo UGV initiative.
... Lockheed Martin’s SMSSs (squad mission support systems) (left) are rolling off the line for deployment in Afghanistan after winning the Army Project Workhorse competition. The SMSS has the capability to be remotely operated via satellite link. It can also carry 1,100 pounds of cargo and serve as a remote surveillance unit.
... O-Duster is an O-Cedar product from Channell Chemical Company, a division of the Freudenberg Group, a German conglomerate.
... The O-Duster has an auto-navigation feature and mops an area similar to the way other robotic vacuums do.
... The O-Duster will be available at U.S. retailers including HEB, Publix, ShopRite, Target, Wal-Mart and Winn Dixie for $39.99. Electrostatic pad refills are available in packs of 20 for $8.99.
... Automate 2013 held last week in Chicago seemed all about integrating vision capabilities into robotic tasks. The epitome of this was the Industrial Perception robot quickly choosing and grabbing randomly sized and stacked boxes from the back of a truck.
... The new collaborative cage-free robots from Rethink Robotics and Universal Robots drew large crowds.
... Another crowd-pleaser was Adept’s new mobility platform, Lynx, which doesn’t require floor or ceiling markings for it to safely guide itself from place to place.
... The vendors at ProMat don’t call their robots robots; they referred to them as being automatic or autonomous material handling devices and systems.
... Read more.
... 4th quarter earnings were 23% higher than last year’s Q4 and income rose 16%. That’s 15 straight quarters beating analysts expectations. 2012 revenue was $2.178 billion. Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) expects revenue growth to be 16%-19% for 2013.
... iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) didn’t report earnings or expectations. It announced that it’s autonomous platform used by InTouch Health in their new RP-VITA remote presence robot had received FDA approval to move from point to point within a hospital. This form of autonomous movement is a big thing because it doesn’t require floor markings and certifies that iRobot’s mobility and sensoring technologies are safe in the hospital environment.
... In keynote, Dr. Henrik Christensen, Director of Robotics, GA Tech, described the technologies, advancements and myriad evidences of dramatic movement in robotics.
... The Roadmap for U.S. Robotics is being revised to reflect these changes and advancements—and will be presented to Congress in March.
... Christensen cited as a significant evidence that Foxconn, Apple and Lennovo are all building new factories—in America!
... Chicago is having a severe chill but Automate and ProMat are well-attended and lively.
... Details and highlights will follow after show closes.
... Hot new Leap Motion Kinect-like product gets another $30 million (bringing the total to $44 million).
... Leap Motion controller senses individual hand and finger movements so you can interact directly with your computer.
... Device covers range of 8 cubic feet of 3D interaction space.
... Sales price of $70. Available in the spring.
... Bye bye mice.
... All the projections suggested that industrial robot stocks would perform well this year (and for the foreseeable future), and they did.
... KUKA’s stock did particular well on expectations that their extensive movement into the Chinese marketplace (with new offices and factories in China) would yield significant rewards.
... Click to enlarge.
... Many new vendors selling robotic consumer products at this year’s show. Robstep showing off their Segway-like devices; iRobot with their floor and pool cleaner bots and AVA platform; lots of toys; even IEEE and their new iPad app about robots have a booth.
... ECOVACS’ Winbot window cleaning robot (shown above) is getting a lot of pre-press hoopla.
... 3D printer companies 3D Systems, Affinia and MakerBot all have booths.
... Most of the car companies will be showing and telling about their new autonomous technologies, eg, Mercedes will be displaying their new robotic steering assist option for their 2014 S-Class cars.
... Click here to see the complete exhibitor list.
... In 2011, Motoman USA partnered with SwRI (Southwest Research Institute) to enable ROS software to be available to Motoman users. “The next step for industrial robotics is to be more sensor aware; to be able to accomodate the many new capabilities showing up in the service sector. It’s clear that ROS is able to handle all of these,” said Erik Nieves, Technology Director for Yaskawa America’s Motoman Robotics Division.
... From that venture came the SwRI-led ROS-Industrial Consortium (2012), dedicated to providing a common interoperable software language for existing industrial hardware. Last month, Fraunhofer IPA became the ROS-I organizer for the EU.
... ROS-I enables workcell visualization and simulation capabilities, and material handling in dynamic environments with on-the-fly object ID and grasp planning. It allows 2D-vision and 3D-point cloud perception systems.
... “It’s an exciting time in industrial robotics,” said SwRI senior research engineer Shaun Edwards. “After the economic downturn, the U.S. is now seeing a new government focus on manufacturing, a surge of venture capital spending in this area, and a trend toward returning manufacturing to homeland countries due to rising labor costs in other countries.”
... This is also the 5th anniversary of ROS. There are many hundreds of robots running ROS. More than 90 types and 28 robots come with supported installation instructions.
... In a revealing NY Times interview with Google’s Andy Rubin, some heretofor unknown things came to light. Google is now in the robotics business. They’ve made seven acquisitions in the last six months to give them some talent and a head start. And they are as closed mouthed about their plans for their new robotics division as Google has been about everything else.
... In a follow-up story in the SF Chronicle, a bit more detail has come to the surface, particularly in relation to the artificial intelligence that powers robotic products, but also from a quote by Google’s CEO Larry Page about Andy Rubin and his new project: “His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets. It is still very early days for this [new project], but I can’t wait to see the progress.”
... Apple’s investing $11 billion in automation and robotics; Amazon is planning on half-hour drone deliveries and now Google has set up a Robotics Division. What’s it all mean? Read this writer’s opinion.
... UPDATE 11/12/13: NASDAQ’s 10-story tall sign was all about Robo-stox LLC, ROBO the ETF, and a Universal Robot with a Schunk hand ringing the NASDAQ closing bell. Quite a spectacle. Neat video.
... NASDAQ:ROBO is a new ETF (exchange traded fund) launched today at a price of $25. First day volume was over 225,000 shares.
... The new ETF uses a specially formulated index which attempts to reflect the global robotics industry. The index is comprised of 77 companies - 38% domestic; 62% international - in the rapidly developing global robotics and automation industry, with operations in over 15 different countries around the world and listings on multiple foreign and domestic exchanges.
... The ROBO-STOX™ Global Robotics and Automation Index, by Robo-stox LLC, is the algorithm licensed to the ETF. Founders of Robo-stox LLC believe that their index empowers investors worldwide to capitalize on the accelerating growth in the robotics and automation sector.
... Frank Tobe, editor and publisher of The Robot Report, is a co-founder of Robo-stox LLC. Read his story here: Robo-stox: A Dream Come True.
... Industrial robots use proprietary software and control systems but whole industries have been set up to bridge those barriers so that multi-vendor solutions can happen.
... Bob Bauer, from Willow Garage and Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, debated the open vs. closed debate in a spontaneous discussion last year in France and reported here on The Robot Report.
... As the debate rages on, very pragmatic solutions are also happening including providing multi-vendor solutions like Tesla did at their new auto factory, or as others are doing with the use of ROS-Industrial.
... Some of the big robot makers are beginning to make an effort, e.g., ABB launched RobotStudio to make programming and simulation easier.
... Two start-up companies, Rethink Robotics and Universal Robots, both use ROS as they penetrate the small and medium-sized shops and factories that need flexibility for their short runs. Soon they may have app stores to share their apps.
... Two events, from different parts of the world, on the same day and subject: geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) and the use of “layering” to map, analyze and design.
... Today is 4-H National Youth Science Day, and 4-H Maps & Apps will be introduced to millions of American youth to exhibit and examine the power of geospatial technologies. “We created this year’s experiment to inspire young people to be critical thinkers by embracing a technology that can help change and shape communities in innovative ways.”
... Also today, senseFly, the Swiss start-up recently acquired by French wireless devices provider Parrot (also famed for providing the AR.Drone quadcopter), announced that they will begin providing swarm technology for mapping. The new swarm capability has been incorporated into senseFly’s ground control software and includes in-flight collision avoidance and shared waypoints.
... Spectacular video showing how mapping the Paris Air Show is done using two ebee drones and senseFly’s new swarm technology.
... Harvest Automation targeted their business after reviewing the top 10 areas where low-cost and often hard-to-find labor was most needed. They chose the ag business.
... Boating and shipping are another market. There are close to 1,500,000 large ships in service (UNCTAD) - all of which need their hulls, tanks and ballasts cleaned and inspected regularly; very labor-intensive and costly.
... A few new robotic products are attempting to do the tasks using novel robotic systems. Sea Robotics, a Florida company, offers “Hull BUG”, a ROV underwater grooming system which doesn’t need a dry dock. SIR, a project at the ETH in Zurich, focuses on ships tank inspection with an ingenious magnetic robot that can best be appreciated in this video and article. CMU’s NREC is also working on laser paint stripping using an autonomous mobile robotic platform. Finally, there’s the Roving BAT from eca Robotics, an underwater inspection and hull cleaning ROV, and the HERO inspection ROV from DCNS.
... Small boats and yachts are a much larger market. Two underwater robot start-ups are targeting this marketplace: Hulltimo in France and Boatwashers in Finland.
... Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) to acquire MAKO Surgical Corp (NASDAQ:MAKO) for $1.65 billion - an action which brought MAKO’s stock from $16 to $29 in one fell swoop.
... Stryker is a medical technology company providing a wide array of medical devices and equipment.
... The combination of Stryker’s established industry presence can provide wider distribution for MAKO’s innovative products such as it’s RIO Robotic-Arm Interactive Orthopedic system (shown in the photo above) for knee and hip procedures.
... The acquisition may boost the credibility of robotic medical and surgical equipment providers, particularly Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) who has received almost a year of bad news on a variety of fronts.
... A real-life million-dollar bionic man with artificial organs, synthetic blood and robotic limbs has been created to (1) showcase what’s possible with modern science and (2) hint at the future of prosthetics. The resulting bionic man has been exhibited at the London Science Museum and in Washington, DC at the Smithsonian. On October 20, at 9 pm, the Smithsonian Channel will air a documentary about how it was built and what it can do.
... More than 50% of the human body was able to be “rebuilt” surprising most involved with the Smithsonian-funded project.
... Often bioethicists, theologians and others question how much of a human can be replaced and still be considered a human. In this documentary, the emphasis is on making prosthetics where the aesthetics match the engineering and make the disabled feel whole again.
... Two short video trailers are available here.
... 26,000 attendees are expected for this year’s PackExpo being held in Las Vegas, September 23-25.
... Over 150 robotics-related companies are exhibiting including Rockwell Automation, Adept, ABB, Yaskawa Motoman, Fanuc and start-ups Universal Robots and Rethink Robotics.
... Material handling was one of the areas that did well in 2012 according to the IFR in their new World Robotics 2013 reports. In an article from RIA entitled “Robotics Industry Expected to Thrive in 2013,” packaging and palletizing applications were singled out for their accelerating growth.
... The trade show, held the last week of August in Taipei, had a record 550 exhibitors. “It is the age of intelligence and automation,” said Eric Chuo, chairman of TAIROA (Taiwan Automation Intelligence and Robotics Association).
... Chuo is also CEO of Hiwin Technologies, a components manufacturer. He said “robotics will account for 15% of Hiwin’s revenues in 2014.”
... Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visited the show (and is seen hugging a robot in photo above) and noted that robot output (components, systems and robots) in or produced by Taiwan-based companies totaled $32 billion in 2012, 43% of which were exports. He added that he has confidence that the figure could top $36 billion this year.
... Tandy Trower, the founder of Microsoft’s Robotics Studio software and initiative, and now founder and CEO of Seattle-based Hoaloha Robotics, wrote about his progress to date. His blog post is an important evaluation of the complexities of the process but is also illuminating of what we need and he proposes for the future regarding personal care robotics.
... He identifies many companies working on similar robots but concluded that Hoaloha should go it alone. Further, he concluded that there is value in managing both the hardware and software design to facilitate the best design and user experience.
... His story is worth reading. Click to read.
... iRobot recently announced their new Braava floor-mopping robot line of products. The $199 robots sweep and mop hard floors in a single pass while it navigates under and around furniture and other obstacles. The Braava is the rebranded Mint from Evolution, acquired last year by iRobot.
... The new Braava comes in two models: dry mop - which sweeps in straight lines and uses cloths to pick up dust, dirt and hair; and damp mop - which uses damp cleaning cloths and a special back and forth mopping action to lift surface dirt.
... Braava competes with O’Cedar’s $39.99 O-Duster Robotic Floor Cleaner. The O-Duster uses disposable electrostatic cleaning cloths and an automatic navigation system that changes direction when it detects objects and walls, and is self-rotating for additional cleaning power—a lot like a spinning bumper car. It’s less professional than the Braava but much cheaper.
... iRobot has sold over 10 million home robots worldwide in just over 10 years.
... China’s 12th 5-Year Plan targeted robotics as a growth industry necessary for China’s development. It expects a compound growth rate of 25%, said Wang Weiming, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The ministry has set up incentives and 5 geographical areas for Chinese companies to develop (and improve the quality of) their robot products and capabilities. The ambitious plan includes a goal of 30% to be produced with homegrown technologies, Wang said.
... In addition to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, authorities in Liaoning province are constructing a robot industrial complex so that by 2017 they expect $8 billion for robots and other automation equipment.
... Growth is not limited to Chinese companies. Japanese Nachi-Fujikoshi, Fanuc and Yaskawa Electric join European KUKA, Reis Robotics, Staubli and ABB in opening manufacturing facilities in China instead of just having sales and integrator offices. Also, Japan, because of it’s mandatory retirement program, is providing consulting assistance in the form of thousands of retired engineers and technicians to China’s new robotics industry as well.
... Picture shows new Nachi factory in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province.
... Kirobo, a 13” humanoid robot, was launched today and is on its way to the International Space Station.
... A mashup of the Japanese word for hope, “Kibo”, and “robot”, Kirobo is designed to be a companion and communicator for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who is expected to arrive at the space station later this year.
... Designers from Dentsu, the University of Tokyo and Toyota have worked together on the Kibo-Robo Project to enable the little robot to be able to work in a gravity-free environment and use facial and voice recognition and natural language processing to be able to speak and provide information upon request from Wakata.
... “I wish for this robot to function as a mediator between person and machine, or person and Internet and sometimes even between people,” said robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi.
... Videos can be seen here.
... Two small drones, Insitu‘s Scan Eagle X200 (left) and AeroVironment‘s PUMA (right), have become the first federally certified unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for civilian use in the US. One will operate off the Alaska coast to survey ice floats and wildlife; the other will conduct commercial environmental monitoring in the Arctic Circle, assist emergency response teams in oil spill monitoring and conduct wildlife observations.
... Both drones have fixed wings, weigh less than 55 pounds each, and have wingspans of less than 10 feet.
... Robo-stox™ 5½ year chart shows service robotics fully recovered from the economic crash of 2008/9 and soaring so far this year.
... Intuitive Surgical’s drop in July will somewhat quell that rise but the chart is clear that service robotics are doing quite well and industrial robot stocks are almost fully recovered as well.
... More than 3,400 healthcare jobs in the US required robotics experience and skills - a 32% gain year-over-year, according to WANTED Analytics.
... The most advertised job titles for these robotics related jobs were Physician Assistant, Director of Surgical Services, Surgical Technician, Surgical Technologist and Research Associate.
... The metropolitan areas with the most robotic skilled healthcare ads were San Diego, Sacramento, Spokane, New York and Tampa.
... In a recent Forbes story by Jacquelyn Smith, she listed the top 10 companies with STEM job openings: Microsoft, Amazon, SAIC, Lockheed Martin, Apple, HP, Oracle, Northrop Grumman, Dell and Intel. Where’s Google?
... In a special focus section on Robohub.org, a discussion was held regarding high-risk, high-reward.
... High risk high reward is a phrase often used for longer-term projects or startups. Particularly where some special problem has to be solved before the goal can be translated into a solution.
... Often the original risk takers don’t reap the benefits, or the full benefits, of a successful venture. An example is Intuitive Surgical and their da Vinci robotic surgical system. It was an offshoot of the original project to enable remote Americans to get surgical attention in space, at war, etc., a project still ongoing.
... After months of negative news about poorly trained surgeons, class action suits claiming poor communications with shareholders, an FDA review, an article saying that procedure costs were too high, particularly for gynecological operations, and an NBC exposé, the news that stuck and affected the stock (NASDAQ:ISRG) where it hurts seems to be the JAMA article.
... The article showed that although the number of robotically assisted procedures is up, their effectiveness is the same as laparoscopic methods but their costs are about $2,000 higher per procedure. That got hospitals to stop and reevaluate their purchases. Shortly after that, the ACOG (American Congress of Gynecologists) suggested that doctors help patients separate marketing hype from reality regarding hysterectomies.
... Yesterday Intuitive Surgical reported that quarterly sales were slightly down, and expectations for the next quarter were also lowered.
... Intuitive’s shares were downgraded by at least four analysts.
... Japan’s cute talking robot will take off August 4th for the Space Station. Kirobo, a 13” 2# mini-humanoid robot remembers faces, can move its head and arms, and is expected to help keep company and have conversations with the Japanese astronaut aboard the station including relaying information to and from the ground crew.
... Rapiro, a UK Kickstarter success story, is a low-cost kit designed to work with a Raspberry Pi, the credit card sized computer that runs Linux. The kit with Raspberry Pi and camera module is expected to sell for about $400. When assembled the little robot can be controlled by a smartphone or game controller; with the camera module installed you can make a mini-security robot.
... Using LIDAR technology to create terrain maps, archaeologists have uncovered a whole city in Cambodia by discovering unexplained “bumps”.
... Instead of using maps and sifting through slowly unfolding digs, with this new tech researchers can see whole cities at a time and determine where best to begin.
... In Cambodia, where unexploded land mines from previous wars remain, LIDAR mapping is particularly helpful.
... Interesting video.
... NBC’s Rock Center focused on the case of a da Vinci surgical robot used to do a hysterectomy where dangerous complications ensued. A suit is in progress.
... The ACOG (American Congress of Gynocologists) suggests that doctors help patients separate marketing hype from reality regarding hysterectomies.
... NBC’s bottom line: “Hospitals have a responsibility to set the bar higher than they have. This is really exciting technology. But great technology does not make great surgeons; great surgeons make the technology even better.”
... Watch the NBC video.
… Read about a just-concluded trial where Intuitive Surgical was found not guilty here.
... Roboticist and entrepreneur Travis Deyle keeps tract of venture funding during the year and has provided not just a list, but a profile of the companies receiving the money.
... Report doesn’t include big-buck acquisitions of Kiva for $775 million, Evolution Robotics for $74 million, Aldebaran for $100 million, and smaller than a million fundings.
... 2012 funding list.
... 2011 funding list.
... First thing shown at Apple Developer’s Conference was Anki’s new AnkiDrive app and cars.
... Three self-driving cars steered themselves around a track. The cars sense their surroundings and adjust their speeds based on the same processes our brains perform while driving.
... “We are bringing video games to life on the floor of your livingroom,” CEO Boris Sofman said during his presentation.
... $50 million funding from 3 VCs led by Andreessen, Horowitz.
... Watch the teaser video.
... Forsyth Central High School student Brandon Gross writes about his school, his city (Cumming, GA) and Forsyth County involvement in competitive robotics as a method to teach and learn about engineering, math, science and technology.
... The underlying issues are the use of robotics to stimulate STEM training in middle and high schools and the need for mentoring and local business participation, all of which are described in this interesting and inspiring article.
... The Tibion Bionic Leg won the 2013 IERA (Invention and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation) Prize at the recent ICRA Conference in Karlsruhe, Germany.
... The device is not a prosthesis (artificial limb), or a device a patient wears indefinitely. It is a robotic aid worn during therapy sessions over weeks or months, until the patient recovers their gait so they can walk without it.
... Previous winners of the IERA award include the Kiva robot, the exoskeleton HAL by Cyberdyne, the Aldebaran NAO robot and the UR5 and UR10 robots from Universal Robots.
... Tibion was recently acquired by AlterG, a rehab products company.
... Jurors reached a 10-2 verdict after a 5-week trial. Intuitive Surgical owes no damages based on claims by the family that Intuitive had inadequately trained the doctor who performed the operation.
... The win may reduce the steam in the kettle of the pending class action suits about false claims by the company regarding their financial performance.
... In after hours trading, and then during the trading day, as news of the verdict came out, the stock (NASDAQ:ISRG) rose to $501, a 5% gain.
... For further details, see the Bloomberg story, watch the video from the local TV station and read the review by Everything-Robotic.
... IndieGoGo-funded swiveling personal camera and follow-me device has sold 10,000 units thus far; 1,250 to schools and universities.
... Now they are scaling up with upgraded capabilities and a new round of funding including $500,000 from Grishin Robotics.
... New SWIVL can handle iPads and tablets, cloud services and SDKs from Apple and Android.
... Educators and business people are finding it helpful for capturing classroom and meeting content.
... Tech startups can lead to big business. Last year Y Combinator reported their top 21 projects were worth $4.7 billion! Just last week Airware, a Y Combinator startup, received the biggest round of funding in YC history ($10.7 million).
... Y Combinator is certainly the most well known and the most visual leader in the new accelerator model of startup funding, i.e., invest a small amount of money in a large number of startups. The startups move close by for a few months during which the cadre works intensively with the startup team to get them into the best possible shape for investors.
... Last year Forbes produced a Top 10 Startup Incubators and Accelerators List.
... This year Robohub contributor Andra Keay produced a robotics-friendly list.
... Airware, a Newport Beach, CA start-up offering autopilots for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) enabling UAS manufacturers to rapidly develop diverse and price competitive solutions while maintaining their intellectual property.
... Airware made it into Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class. The company’s $10.4M Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures is the biggest post-Demo Day round in YC history.
... Airware will be competing with 3D Robotics’ PX4FMU, an open source high-performance autopilot targeted towards high-end research, amateur and industry needs. PX4FMU is for fixed wing, multi rotors, helicopters, cars, boats and any other robotic platform that can move, and Dreamhammer’s Ballista control system, a commercial version of their drone control software already used by the military.
... ROS-I is developing and promoting a manufacturer-independent open-source library of drivers and the transfer of established components from research to industry - not just h/w interfaces and MS, IOS and Android support, but legal and standardization issues as well.
... Interchangeability of h/w components through standardized interfaces and intelligent software components for flexible production are the benefits.
... With centers covering The Americas (located at SwRI in Texas) and for Europe (located at Fraunhofer IPA in Germany), ROS-I is looking for a partner to cover Asia.
... A one-year video montage shows some industrial robotics applications made possible by ROS-I. One can see ROS-I controlling robots by ABB, KUKA, Fanuc, Adept, Universal Robots, and Yaskawa-Motoman.
... The Edison Awards, created by the American Marketing Association in 1987 but now a self-sustaining non-profit, jury-selects and annually awards for innovation and innovators in technology.
... 2013’s winners include 13 robotic companies and 4 more that came from the fields of automation or sensing. Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, iRobot’s Looj and Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider all won gold medals in their respective categories.
... All 17 companies are profiled here.
... For an amount “in the low double digit million Euro range,” KUKA has acquired the engineering services, toolmaking and integration divisions of US-based Utica Enterprises. 300 people are involved in the acquisition.
... “With this acquisition KUKA Systems is leveraging its technologies. Our customers will benefit from an expanded manufacturing footprint, talent pool and knowledge base with greater economies of scale” said Lawrence Drake, CEO of KUKA Systems North America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KUKA AG, one of the world’s leading suppliers of robotics and plant and systems engineering.
... Japan robotics companies are rebounding quite well, helped by recovery from the twin disasters of 2012 and the value of the yen going down.
... Israel service robot companies, particularly medical and defense related, are also doing well.
... US and EU companies are doing about as well as the DJIA and NASDAQ indices.
... Rethink Robotics just launched a version of their Baxter robot armed with a new SDK providing educators and researchers with almost limitless capabilities at an affordable cost. Using ROS and the new SDK, educators and researchers have the ability to share innovations and build on each other’s work and know-how. Read their press release.
... Aldebaran Robotics’ launched their ASK NAO (Autism Solution for Kids) initiative for use in special education and for children with autism. More humanoid than Baxter, NAO is kid-sized, the new program provides educators with planning, monitoring and analyzing interactions to help set up lessons with NAO. Read the press release.
... Although Baxter and NAO have different capabilities, the ability for researchers and educators to easily program applications - and share those apps with others - is hoped by both companies (Aldebaran and Rethink) to accelerate new capabilities and apps for commercial use.
... iRobot’s stock (ISRG:NASDAQ) jumped 14% today on yesterday’s earnings report which exceeded analysts’ expectations for both the quarterly earnings and the annual projections.
... “We kicked off 2013 with an outstanding quarter,” said Colin Angle, chairman and chief executive of iRobot in a statement. “The results and outlook for our home Robot business are excellent.”
... Domestic home robot revenue grew 44% in Q1 representing 14% year-over-year increase. International home robot revenue was $61.3 million (66% of total for quarter).
... “The DoD announced a $14.4 million order for FirstLook robots during the quarter which gives us confidence in achieving our full year expectations.”
... At an International Federation of Robotics (IFR) CEO Round Table held at Automate 2013, in Chicago, IFR executives presented a recap of a new research report on the positive impact of industrial robots on employment.
... The report, prepared by British market research company Metra Martech, updates a 2011 report on the same subject with three conclusions:
1. Only robots can produce precision and consistency standards at an affordable cost demanded by the global economy.
2. Although the recession has temporarily reduced attention to unsatisfactory work conditions, enhancing work conditions is a driving force for using robots.
3. Robots are a critical factor in re-balancing of world manufacturing economies by reducing the threat by low labor cost countries (off-shoring).
... Based on IFR data through 2011, the report projects potential job creation by robotics between 2012 and 2020 to be 1.9 to 3.5 million jobs. This is the sum of new robotic products (.55 to 1.4 million), current industry expansion (.45 to .70) and downstream jobs (.90 to 1.4).
... The report also projects an additional 2-3 million jobs from downstream activities.
... The updated report, which can be downloaded here, is sufficiently transparent such that one can readily accept their position regarding projecting 2-3.5 million new jobs from 2012 to 2020.
... But the report is seriously unsubstantiated in the effects of offsets for jobs displaced and in the multiplier effect of downstream jobs. Details of the review can be read here.
... The robotics industry as a whole appears to have fully recovered from the stock market crash in 2008 and, in most cases, has returned to or surpassed their highs of 2007.
... Some of the country-by-country results are slightly skewed because of dramatic stock increases by a few performers in volatile sectors: Mazor Surgical (MZOR:IL), MDA (MDA:TSO) and the 3D printer manufacturers 3D Systems (DDD:NYSE) and Stratasys (SSYS:NASDAQ) are cases in point.
... Although the industrial robotics sector is still down from 2007/2008, the big four are doing quite well—click here to see the chart.
... A squadron of 30 LED-studded Ascending Technologies quadcopters hovered above Potters Fields Park near London’s Tower Bridge and, in conjunction with Earth Hour, formed a three-dimensional Star Trek logo in the night sky - a treat slash advertisement from Paramount, the producer of the new movie “Star Trek - Into Darkness” which will be released in May.
... Similar in theatrics to the Kmel Robotics and Saatchi & Saatchi show last year at the Cannes Film Festival, the Ars Electronica Futurelab Paramount swarming quadcopter light shows in London and Linz, Austria took to the outdoors, away from overhead control sensors, and into the wild beyond to produce a wildly interesting and colorful flight show.
... Videos of the Cannes show are here; videos from London and Linz are here.
... Liquid Robotics today is a far cry from it’s initial goal of recording whale songs. Today that function and those recordings are the domain of the Jupiter Foundation and Liquid is focusing on making wave gliders for industry, government and science.
... Liquid Robotics just received a $45 million “E” round of funding and adds Riverwood Capital (of GoPro fame) to their stable of VCs. Total funding since 2005 is $85 million.
... 200+ Liquid Robotics Wave Gliders are at work on the seas in one of three areas of oceanography: (1) monitoring oil and gas operations, (2) assisting naval ops with classified activities, and (3) providing scientific, weather and other oceanographic data for commercial and scientific purposes.
... Liquid plans to expand their marketing and sales staff and to double their fleet by the end of 2013, hence the need for the additional capital. “Approximately half of the fleet is involved with the Schlumberger oil and gas joint venture,” said Steven Springsteel, Liquid’s new COO/CFO. Springsteel also said that the vast majority of Liquid’s activities are profit-making and profitable.
... Springsteel commented that the new funds will be used to grow the business to a sustainable profitability without having to go public.
... Ilian Bonev, a robotics prof at the ÉTS in Quebec, blogged “The truth about Foxconns Foxbot industrial robots,” and included a 2008 Foxbot brochure which shows the specs for their entire robotics product line. Also included is a video showing a row of Foxbots handling, grinding and sanding what appears to be iPad back covers.
... Click to see the Foxbot brochure.
... Prof. Bonev thinks that with their present line-up of Foxbots, Foxconn won’t be able to meet Chairman Gou’s timetable to deploy 1 million robots by 2015 and in fact were only able to produce and install 15-30,000 Foxbots in 2012.
... The WSJ also reported on Foxconn’s lack of robot deployment progress in an article entitled: “Hon Hai Hits Obstacles in Push to Use Robots”.
… But, according to Liu Kun, a spokesman for Foxconn, “We have canceled hiring entry level workers, a decision that is partly associated with our efforts in production automation.” This is what Foxconn Chairman Gou said would happen when he began the massive robot deployment program in Foxconn factories.
... Eight new gadgets, gimmicks and toys will hit the market this year.
... Shown above is the new Grillbot; others include a little robot to clean your iPhone or iPad screen; WowWee’s new robot that can replace it’s head with your iPhone and you can remotely operate it; the new sleekly styled Romo; a new updated version of Lego’s Mindstorm kit which takes advantage of new sensors, cameras and capabilities; and a few more.
... Read the article..
... In a recent $4,650 research report by Market & Market, a TX-based research firm, they projected that machine vision systems and components will grow at an annual rate of 8%+ for 2013 to 2018. They attribute this growth to increased processing power, reduced costs and growth in robotics and automation thereby increasing the scope and need of machine vision technology in a wider range of production applications.
... Cognex (NASDAQ:CGNX), one of the largest providers in the machine vision industry, just set new records for 2012 revenue. Net profits were 21%!
... Grishin Robotics continues it’s formulaic long-term investment strategy in robotics by partnering into the start-up mechanism. In this case its a new hardware incubator called Bolt located in Boston and connected with local robotics angel investors Colin Angle, Mick Mountz, Brad Feld, Semyon Dukach, and many other VCs.
... Bolt, a Boston-based hardware incubator (and not to be confused with Bolt Technology of CT), plans to help robotic and other connected device hardware startups with seed capital, an extensive mentorship program, and access to manufacturing DFM and DFA expertise as well as a shop full of metalworking, electronics, model-making and other prototyping equipment.
... Boston already has 5 Hackerspaces, and 10+ incubators but none as robotically focused as the new Bolt. We wish them well!
... Willow Garage announced today that they are changing direction and deciding to focus on additional commercial opportunities that can become self-supporting.
... The generous funding from founder Scott Hassan will stop within 3 months and WG employes have been notified.
... PR2 robots around the world will continue to be supported as will ROS and its libraries through the Open Source OpenCV Foundation.
... Details can be found here.
... Dental students have robotic simulators, med students and surgeons have theirs too, and now Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has one. They have a simulation center with two fully equipped exam rooms, two rooms for live video-feed observation and debriefing, and two robotic pets - a dog and a cat.
... Cornell’s Dr. Dan Fletcher says, “Through the use of these new facilities we can enhance CPR scenarios and can simulate a slew of other conditions.”
... Using open source hardware and software, Fletcher and his team developed their system and share it with other universities and veterinary centers.
... Click photo to enlarge.
... Verizon TV advertisements feature VGo Communications mobile telepresence robots streaming large amounts of data through their 4G LTE network. One ad shows a young home-bound student remotely attending and participating in a class; the other shows how kids, far away from the ocean, participated in a field trip to an ocean aquarium.
... GE’s TV ads feature a variety of brilliant machines (robots and smart jet engines) for transforming the way we work.
... Both ads are positive, favorable, and stimulate the public’s imagination about the value of robots in everyday life.
... Click to see videos of the ads.
... UPDATED 3/6/2013 to reflect 5 critiques and objections to the CBS segment on robotics.
... CBS New 60 Minutes did a segment on robots, robotics and jobs Sunday evening.
... They coined a new definition of robotics: “The broad universal definition is a machine that can perform the job of a human. The machine can be mobile or stationary, hardware or software.”
... They also presented the viewpoints of MIT professors Brynjolfsson and McAfee whose book “Race Against the Machine” was referenced in the report.
... CBS 60 Minutes also provided interviews with Adept CEO John Dulchinos and ReThink Robotics CEO Rodney Brooks along with plenty of interesting video showing Tessla Motors robots, Adepts, ReThink Robotics, VGo Communications, Aethon’s tugs and InTouch Health and iRobot’s RP-VITA remote presence robot.
... Op-ed piece suggesting $100 million be invested in developing eldercare robot similar to the robot in the movie “Robot & Frank.”
... EU is already funding a similar project called Companionable with their robot named Hector.
... If America doesn’t lead in robotics, they will continue to be a buyer of robots made in Germany and Japan.
... America launched the industrial robotics industry but all but one of the major robot manufacturers are offshore. $100 million invested in a public-private-partnership to develop, design, engineer, manufacture and market home health and elder care robots could change that dynamic.
... Read more.
... 2012 has been a year of really great inventions, silly ones, temporary solutions (like the new tethered drone from CyPhy Works), and diversions. All happening seemingly simultaneously, without moderation, guidance and little direction. And most are transitional (or at least incremental) with better solutions in the labs or courtrooms waiting for breakthroughs.
... But there are also toys and other robotic items that have withered because the developer didn’t want to be diverted into a business when all he/she wanted was to build something fresh and fun. Many of the tele-presence devices getting crowd-funding in recent months are fun-tech gimmick products with no long-term business plan or even interest in having one.
... One could make a case that with strategic guidance and management, robotic development could happen quicker. That we could truly fill a need instead of feeding a diversion. Read more....
... Bezos said the secret to Amazon’s success is trial and error: “We are on our 7th generation of fulfillment centers - and we’ve gotten better every time…. Amazon is a symphony of people, a symphony of software and… a symphony of robots.”
... Bezos also revealed a new concept delivery service: Amazon PrimeAir. The goal is to deliver less than 5# parcels up to 10 miles from an Amazon distribution center (there are presently 96 with more schedule each year) within a half hour of order placement.
... Media has been abundant. Over 10 million people have seen the youTube video of the PrimeAir octocopter in action.
... Details here.
... As the need for training on new-tech devices increases, virtual and physical simulation systems are in demand at medical schools and hospitals worldwide. One novel new robotic invention is Patrick, the robotic prostate exam mannequin. Developed by a MD and a virtual experiences research team, Patrick is being trailed at two hospital teaching centers in the US.
... Although there are no current plans for commercialization, Assoc. Prof. Benjamin Lok said: “In the experience, the student talks to a virtual person and is able to practice their communication skills. The mannequin is instrumented with force sensors that can measure where the student is examining and with how much pressure. This enables the system to provide a realistic encounter with a virtual patient that includes communication and physical exam components.”
... Patrick joins Showa Hanako 2, the dental training robot seen in this video and many other training systems. IEEE/Spectrum had a recent review of surgical simulations in this post.
... 3D Systems new Sense 3D scanner, at $399 including software, is a serious competitor for Makerbot’s $1,400 Digitizer scanner.
... The new Sense scanner is hand held and you have to slowly wave the device at the object being scanned, watch the viewer to insure coverage, and scan until you are happy with the visual effects.
... The MakerBot Digitizer is a turntable where cameras and lasers do a 9-minute scan while the table slowly turns. There are many enthusiastic reviews for this scanner.
... As costs of 3D printers continue to drop, these two new low-cost 3D scanners add to the magic of 3D printing by enabling users to easily make scans. The scanners can also be used for other activities like gaming, cake manequins, clothing marketing, etc.
... In a new TV series on the Fox Channel, set in 2048 and entitled “Almost Human,” every cop is paired with a highly evolved human-like android partner.
... The show stars Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, is produced by J.J. Abrams (“Person of Interest,” “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible”), and begins Sunday evening, November 17th.
... Which one is the robot?
... In a packed 1,000-seat hall at iREX 2013 in Tokyo, six prominent robot executives from ABB, Fanuc, Yaskawa, KUKA, Kawasaki and Nachi faced off against two really big users.
... Dr. Chia Day, VP at Foxconn Technology, described in careful detail where robots are needed in their factories, what tasks they need to do, what hurdles there are, and, to some extent, what they are doing in-house. Their most immediate need is in electronics assembly - machining, polishing, painting, laser welding, die casting, palletizing and inspections. Automated assembly will come later.
... Kei Shimizu, from Nissan Motors, described how Nissan/Renault has grown from a Japanese company to one that is truly global. This requires standardization in robotics in all their factories and lines. Their needs are to add functions (vision and mobility) and flexibility (they do 20-40 line changes every year), and lower costs not only of the robots but also the costs of integration, space, power and training.
... It could have been a terrifically informative story about the future. Instead, all the users received for describing their needs was six nicely presented corporate puff pieces containing little of plans for the future and even less about new technologies to handle user needs.
... UPDATE 10/06/13: CBS News highlights Baxter’s $3/hr metrics in newscast showing Rethink Robotics’ Baxter at work in plastics factory.
... 2 additional videos show how robotic startups are helping small and medium-sized shops and factories (SME’s) compete in the global economy.
... Universal Robots’ video shows a 72-person short-run metal products maker using their new UR robot for CNC machine tending and also for loading and unloading a metal bender.
... Rethink Robotics’ shows how a 100-person plastics manufacturer is using a Baxter robot for various end-of-conveyor completion and packaging tasks.
... Details and links to the videos in this article.
... 235 robotic start-up companies reviewed in this reprint from article by The Robot Report published in World Robotics Service Robots 2013 by the IFR (Intl. Fed. of Robotics).
... From futuristic to practical, from robotic hubs and clusters to far-off places around the globe, from the whimsical to the amazing - everywhere that programmers program and engineers tinker - robotic startup companies are flourishing and giving us a glimpse at our robotic future.
... At the recent Hannover Messe trade fair, KUKA displayed their concept mobile robot showing how it could work a huge turbine blade.
... The device consisted of a KUKA omnimove mobile platform, a KR Quantec shelf-mounted robot arm, a KR C4 controller, and an autonomous nav system.
... KUKA calls it E-mobility for extra large (XXL) workpieces; the press and viewers called it an amazing monster.
... Two new Intl. Federation of Robotics (IFR) world robotics statistical reports covering 2012 with projections to 2016 were released today by the IFR and can be purchased separately or combined at prices beginning at $350.
... The World Robotics Industrial Robotics 2013 report projects a high and continuing demand for industrial robots for many years to come and a 6% average sales gain per year. Regional variations suggest that North America, Brazil, South Korea and particularly the booming robot market in China will be the biggest purchasers.
... The World Robotics Service Robots 2013 shows considerable growth in the logistic systems and medical robots marketplaces as defense spending declines. During the 4-year period from 2013 to and including 2016, new service robots for professional use will gross over $17 billion.
... The IFR gets it’s data from robotic associations in each country who poll their membership for the information. Data is also provided directly to the IFR by most major robot suppliers.
... The global medical robotic systems market was worth $5.48 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2018, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.6% from 2012. Surgical robots are expected to enjoy the largest revenue share.
... The global market for medical robotic systems is driven by factors such as technological advancement in the automation of the healthcare industry, increase in elderly population, non-invasive surgical techniques, and high prevalence of motion-restricting medical conditions.
... Medical robotic systems include: surgical robots, non-invasive radiosurgery robotic systems, prosthetics and exoskeletons, assistive and rehabilitation robots, non-medical robotics in hospitals and emergency response robotic systems, and hold high growth potential in the global market.
... Source: Transparency Market Research.
... At a VW diesel engine production plant in Salzgitter, a Universal Robots UR5 robot carefully picks up delicate glow plugs and puts them into hard-to-reach drill holes. An employee is then responsible for insulating the cylinder head, which is required for the next step in production. The robot, which acts as an assistant, enables the worker to carry out these activities in an upright, healthy posture, unlike previous methods.
... The 6DOF UR5 arm has an integrated safety mode which allows it to collaborate directly with people without any protective guards.
... This is the first collaborative robot in use at VW and a precursor to the direction of co-robots augmenting worker capabilities at factories everywhere.
... A study of small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMEs) in Israel concluded that new tech robots, i.e., those which are easily trainable, relatively safe to work alongside humans, and where user-robot interaction and robot-to-robot collaboration are convenient and understandable to all, will be the easiest to incorporate for SMEs in Israel and the USA as well, according to the survey.
... “Countries like the US and Israel face multiple difficulties keeping the manufacturing value of their own inventions within their borders,” said the report.
... In a surprising move, Scott Hassan, CEO of Suitable Technologies, and previous CEO of Willow Garage, has hired most of the remaining employees of Willow Garage leaving only a support staff for their PR2 robots at Willow.
... Suitable Technologies’ Beam costs $16,000.
... The new employees will further product development, sales and customer support for the Beam product line.
... No information was provided about whether the $250,000 PR2 would continue to be developed.
... Leading roboticists talked about their recent projects and what inspired them to become involved with robotics at a White House hosted Google+ Hangout Friday. The event was covered by many media including the Washington Post.
... Participants in the mostly online chat included Vijay Kumar, Tom Kalil, John Green, Rodney Brooks, Daniela Rus, Matt Mason, Robin Murphy and Allison Okamura.
... What with summer blockbuster movies Pacific Rim, Elysium, World’s End and Iron Man 3 emphasizing that the public loves robots, the White House’s Google+ Hangout, and other similar events, it’s no surprise that the financial community would take notice as well. Exchange Traded Concepts (ETC) just filed regulatory paperwork detailing an exchange traded fund (NASDAQ:ROBO) which will target the growing global robotics industry. [Generally, stocks are launched 75 to 90 days after filing.]
... The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will compile global safety standards for nursing-care robots based on criteria provided by the Japanese government. Nursing care robots are designed to fulfill functions which help patients live independently and reduce the burden on caretakers.
... The main functions to be covered in the initial set of standards are: (1) Providing walking assistance; (2) Helping patients to use the toilet; (3) Assisting caretakers with lifting and moving patients; and (4) Monitoring dementia patients.
... Once standards are in place it will give a boost to full-scale production of nursing-care robots from all over the world but particularly from Japan.
... In an Associated Press article by Gosia Wozniacka, using robots to sort, thin, harvest and handle fruits and vegetables was examined.
... Blue River Technology and their Lettuce Bot; Vision Robotics and their lettuce thinner (and orange harvesting bots); and Spanish company AgroBot and their strawberry harvester were all reviewed.
... Labor saving devices like these new robotic devices are seen as helping fight an inability to secure legal farm workers. “There aren’t enough workers to take the available jobs, so the robots can come and alleviate some of that problem,” said a farming operations manager.
... At Global Future 2045, in NYC, June 15-16, the keynote speaker represented rampant technological change as both a problem and a benefit, and it needed to be addressed as such. He died on June 24.
... Martin established the Oxford Martin School in Oxford to focus on future challenges facing mankind and spoke eloquently about how technologists needed to work with all the other players involved with their products.
... He worked with IBM and was the principal developer of real-time database systems including the American Airlines and BOAC reservation systems. He also wrote The Meaning of the 21st Century, which was made into a major film, narrated by Michael Douglas. He was a Pulitzer nominee for his book The Wired Society.
... At the 2nd Global Future 2045 Congress held in New York City June 15-16, one of the featured draws was the unveiling of a new Hanson Robotics head of the Congress’ host, Dmitry Itskov. It didn’t happen.
... Hanson was late and apologized saying: “My robots are complex works of art, and this is the most complex and ambitious one I’ve made yet. I know there are risks and uncertainties that come along with making such robots; however, it’s heartbreaking to me to miss this deadline, and I am sorry.”
... Dmitry Itskov said: “...just like many other technological advances, failure is sometimes a part of the road to success. We hope that we can show you something very soon.”
... New iRobot AVA 500, planned for 2014 delivery, navigates autonomously and can be sent from point A to B using an iPad.
... Base of AVA same as that used by InTouch Health and their successful RP-VITA remote presence robot.
... AVA 500 carriers a Cisco 21.5-inch LCD and has a HD webcam atop it packed with Cisco’s TelePresence videoconferencing software.
... Available for lease and purchase but purchase price not announced. Lease prices start at $2,000.
... The Ava 500 can move in any direction and safely self-navigate real-world environments. It can adjust its height to accomodate who it sees (seated or standing). It thinks on the spot and can moderate speed and alter it’s path if it senses humans nearby and return to it’s charging station after the meeting is over. It requires very little training to operate because the primary focus is the communications; not the technology.
... More details in Boston Globe article by Michael Farrell.
... Frost & Sullivan, a research and consulting firm, reported that Israel’s UAS export revenue totaled $4.6 billion from 2005 to 2012. In terms of the number of systems sold, Israel is the world’s largest exporter of unmanned aircraft the study said.
... “UAS exports have accounted for nearly 10 percent of the country’s total defense export industry, and this is expected to increase” the report said. “Defense exports will increase steadily, as Israel continues aggressive marketing campaigns with countries in growing UAS markets, such as Africa, Asia/Pacific, and South America.”
... The new Kinect, released a few days ago, uses an infrared light to illuminate whatever is in front of the sensor, and the pixels of an infrared camera watch for each pulse to reflect back. Just like radar, distance is calculated by the time it takes for light to reach a particular pixel and reflect back.
... The new Kinect can process 6 people at a time and, instead of the wire-frame skeletal tracking from the past, can now track fingers, muscle and force, facial expressions, joint orientation and do it all in light or dark and without distortion from side or inconsistent light sources.
... Wired has an in-depth video and review.
... It took a few months for hackers to make use of the previous Kinect for robotic apps. With so much added to the new version, robotics is sure to get a major boost from this new Kinect.
... The Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned aircraft made its first aircraft carrier launch this week. Two days later they spent the whole day doing touch-and-go take-offs and landings.
... The US Navy’s Naval Research Lab (NRL) flew a UAV for 48 hours, breaking a fuel-cell-for-flight record. The UAV was powered by a liquid hydrogen fuel in a cryogenic fuel storage tank and delivery system.
... In the UK, two pilots didn’t have anything to do as their BAE Systems passenger aircraft flew a unmanned flight from Lancashire to Inverness, Scotland which was controlled by a pilot in Warton using advanced sensors and on-board robotic systems.
... iRobot’s SUGV’s will be getting a new “batwing” fix which adds a collapsable hook that affixes to a telescoping pole to better examine IEDs.
... In Saskatoon, Canada, RC Mounties launched a Draganflyer UAS equipped with FLIR forward-looking infrared, to find and save the life of a disoriented man in a field on a cold night.
... The cover of the April 22 issue of Time Magazine shows robots chiseling out the words “Made in the USA” and the story is “Manufacturing is back—but where are the jobs?”
... The story makes the case that (1) the “offshoring boom appears to have largely run its course”; (2) labor productivity has been rising sharply in the US over the past decade while remaining flat in China; (3) infrastructure, energy and shipping costs are cheaper in the US; (4) states are providing incentives to companies to build and hire in their states; (5) “It’s win-win when companies can combine low-cost energy with more productive local labor and cost-saving automation technology” [robots].; and (6) although fewer workers will operate these new hi-tech factories, they will be paid higher wages and required STEM skills.
... GE’s $170 million battery factory in upstate NY was used as an example of high-tech methods producing backup power in cell towers all over the world at lower cost and higher quality than any other provider.
... Time’s February cover story “Rise of the Drones: What happens when they’re unleashed at home?” described some of the civilian applications for these UAS. In agriculture, flights to determine where to spray pesticides or fertilizers geo-referenced to enable tractors guided by GPS to precisely spray as they drive over the targeted land; “testing air quality over feed lines, tracking livestock marked with ID chips or taking the temperature of the animal from above to scope out health issues.”
... Instead of just seeing a Lidar spinning around on top of a car, at the block party you could walk around the back and see a sun-shaded monitor showing what the Lidar was seeing. And talk with an eager young salesperson about what you could do with the data.
... One booth stood out as a kid-pleaser. This year’s F.I.R.S.T. contest includes shooting frisbees into a raised box so one high school team was there shooting off frisbees to clutches of happy kids trying to catch them.
... Intuitive Surgical was showing the simplicity of their arm/wrist/fingers but also the amount of complex mechanics that make it work.
... Bosch, although showing their new Indego robotic lawn mower, was really recruiting for all the different types of activities that Bosch Research is involved with.
... No refreshment stands or even bottled water—and it was hot (88)! But it was a beautiful day and the chatter from kids and adults was upbeat and appreciative for the event.
... Boston Dynamics has clothed their Petman (left) humanoid robot to test hazardous conditions and to be able to detect chemicals leaking through the suit. Check out the video here.
... COMAN (right), modeled on a 4-year-old child, from the Italian Institute of Technology, has a new video showing how its variable stiffness joints (which use series elastic actuators) improve the safety and make the robot compliant with being pushed around yet staying on its feet.
... At a weekend Engadget Expand event at Fort Mason in San Francisco, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler spoke about Kickstarter’s success: 17 projects raised $1 million+ in 2012, a 43.66% success rate, with much of the money going to film & video projects, games, design and music.
... Also at the Engadget event were a group of Indiegogo projects and some feisty Indiegogo sales people who emphasized that Indiegogo is the largest global crowdfunding platform and campaigners can launch campaigns from every country in the world. Also, that they are more flexible about funding options, unlike Kickstarter which applies an “all or nothing” rule meaning the campaign must reach a minimum pledge level or none are collected.
... Notable robotics-related projects from these two crowdfunders include Oculus Rift, Form 1 hi-res 3D printers, DiveBot and Dragonfly, the GA Tech robotic insect spin-off which raised over $1 million.
... Kickstarter is located in New York City’s lower east side; Indiegogo in the heart of SOMA in San Francisco. The rivalry is palpable and it’s all for the good of the campaigns.
... Read more.
... Last weekend’s Engaget Expand Event at Fort Mason in San Francisco had one panel of particular interest to robotics-interested people. It was misnamed Robopocalypse: Now. In spite of that, the participants’ presentations were great and you are sure to find the watching of all three videos of value.
... Chris Anderson, CEO of DIY Drones, has sold and supports 40,000 aerial drones. He described how we are all able to get military-grade technology at toy prices in this 16 minute video.
... Marc Raibert, President of Boston Dynamics (of Big Dog fame) describes how DARPA and his firm have developed some amazing locomotion breakthroughs in this 12 minute video
... Steven Cousins, CEO of Willow Garage, talks about having spent six years changing the robotics industry, and how they have now shifted gears to making profitable robots in this 14 minute video.
... Romotiv, the maker of the Romo robot, is moving from Las Vegas to San Francisco. CEO Rinaudo wrote the reason behind the move, which will take place over the next three months, was the company’s desire to be closer to the large pool of tech-savvy programmers and engineers in the Silicon Valley.
... More important, Romotive just signed their single largest order for 10,000 Romos.
... With 20 US employees, Romotive manufactures Romos in China.
... Las Vegas’ Downtown Project, spearheaded by Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, invested $500,000 and provided mentoring and support as Romotiv, which started working out of rental condos, grew from 3 to 20 people.
... A new start-up being spun off from the IRIS labs at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland offers promise of robotically-controlled catheters to support cardiac procedures.
... Aeon Scientific‘s new technology is also a platform for other medical applications including targeted drug delivery.
... In photo, the magnetics are shown on the left and enable moving the micron-sized rectangular medicine delivery system in the retina of an eye on the right, and steer it to the exact right spot.
... In a new report analyzing the uses and needs for remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) by the global oil and gas industry, Visiongain, a British research provider, has projected positive growth for both makers and users. They project rental and manufacturing revenue for ROVs in 2013 to be $2.5 billion.
... Visiongain’s report, ROVs in the Oil Gas Industry 2013-2023, is available for purchase for $2,250.
... The list of companies included in the report is extensive and can be downloaded for free by clicking on the “Companies Listed” tab here.
... 25,500 robots were sold in the US in 2012; $1.66 billion in revenue. This is a 17% year-over-year increase in units and 27% in dollars.
... Robotics Industry Association (RIA) estimates that 225,000 robots are now working in US factories. This represents 10% robot density, i.e., only 10% of companies that could benefit from using robots have done so thus far.
... iRobot’s stock (IRBT:NASDAQ) has suffered once again from not meeting analyst expectations. The stock is down 13% on news that expectations for 2013 show continuing downward pressure on their Defense & Security Division although their Home Robots are doing quite well.
... On a good note, expected earnings for 2013, including those from newly acquired Evolution Robotics, are expected to grow 11% over 2012. Colin Angle, CEO, said, “Our business performance over the next few years will be driven by our rapidly growing home technology business. Home Robots [Division] is expected to grow roughly 20 percent this year and comprise 90 percent of total company revenue. In addition, we have an emerging remote presence business and have stabilized our defense business.”
... 2012 was a good year for many robotics companies and 2013 seems like it will continue the momentum of equal parts finding robotic solutions to workplace needs but also crowd-funded wild ideas and other digressions.
... Industrial robotic providers had a good year.
... Military robot makers saw governmental cutbacks reflected in their stock prices and are widening their sales and transforming their products to sell to municipal governments.
... Surgical and hospital service robot suppliers had a mixed year, the former held up by patents and FDA approvals, the latter (eg, Swisslog) did quite well.
... Most other new-tech robotic companies are privately held, consequently no data except press releases. For example, venture funded Liquid Robotics, during 2012, established a new joint venture with oil conglomerate Schlumberger and a new naval division for governmental and Navy contracts.
... Click chart to enlarge; click headline to see many more charts and details.
... Also see “Filling a need… or feeding a diversion” for additional stocks and info.
... Mobile remote-presence robots by Giraff, Anybots and InTouch Health for critical and remote care consultations and communication.
... Mobile platforms by Aethon, iRobot and Swisslog for various hospital applications from hauling laundry to distributing pills.
... Therapy bots by AnthroTronix and others to help with autistic children, stroke victims and other disabled people that need interactive therapy.
... Feeding bots by Bestic. This is one of two Swedish-supported companies mentioned in the article (Giraff being the other) which strategically solve serious in-country needs with robotic solutions.
... And futuristic microbots that steer through the body by various means to distribute medicines, provide information and remove plaque - from leading universities around the world.
... Curiously omitted are minimally invasive surgical augmentation robots like the new single-port Intuitive Surgical da Vinci robot.
... Pics and details here.
... Unmanned Vehicle University just received an Arizona state license to grant Graduate Doctorate and Masters Degrees in Unmanned (Air / Ground / Sea / Space) Systems Engineering.
... The Arizona school also offers UAV pilot training, online courses, and Project Management Certificates for undergraduates.
... VGo Communications wins infringement lawsuit brought on by InTouch Health and also initiated a patent reexamination of four other InTouch patents.
... The court’s decision is a bigger subject than just InTouch vs. VGo. At a recent conference on remote presence telemedicine the most enlightening thing I saw was four hours of tightly-packed presentations by critical care doctors and hospital administrators, all users of InTouch Health’s remote presence robots, all portraying different aspects of why remote presence in health care is relevant, is saving lives and is necessary today and why it will continue to be in the future. Certainly there is room for more companies to assist in this very noble work.
... Patents being used competitively in the robotics healthcare community is a serious issue as this case points out. Read more....
... 200+ industrial robot makers (red markers); 600+ service robot providers (blue markers) and 170+ start-up companies (green markers) covering 37 countries around the world.
... Clusters can be seen surrounding the top 20 robotics universities and research labs (shown in yellow).
... Details here.
... Map here.
... MAKO Surgical gets $43 million from the sale of common stock. MAKO produces a robotic orthopedic surgical platform for implant placement. MAKO’s stock (NASDAQ:MAKO) has had a dramatic downward ride from a high of $45 to it’s present $14 because of missed revenue and earnings projections.
... Revolve Robotics, a San Francisco start-up with a remote telepresence device, shared a $1.85 million round of funding with 4 other start-up companies in the LEMNOS Labs stable of hardware incubator companies.
... Unmanned Innovation, a Newport Beach, CA start-up also in the LEMNOS Labs incubator group, is a producer of auto-pilot components for UAVs and also shares in the $1.85 million funding round.
... VGo Communications received $900,000 debt financing to help the company scale up and focus on providing remote presence for the healthcare industry.
... They’ve changed their website to present the various ways that VGo robots can be useful in hospitals, with visiting nurses, as a post-op communication device and for medically home-bound students.
... VGo has taken in close to $11 million in venture funding and debt financing since it was founded in 2007. But now they are centering their marketing on a particular market niche from which they’ve had much success and good press: healthcare.
... Lockheed Martin acquires ChandlerMay for an undisclosed amount. The new acquisition will join Lockheed’s Mission Systems & Sensors (MS2) business.
... ChandlerMay, with facilities in Huntsville, AL and San Luis Obispo, CA, has produced over 2,500 UAVs for the military, mostly as a subcontractor to Lockheed. ChandlerMay also produces UAS ground control stations and tactical systems software and support.
... Lockheed’s MS2 focuses on UAS including the unmanned K-MAX helicopter the Marines are testing in Afghanistan, the Desert Hawk UAV (which ChandlerMay produced), and provides systems engineering, software development and management.
... Anderson has held the editor-in-chief position for 11 years during which time, in addition to his work at Wired, he authored three books and founded DIY Drones and co-founded 3D Robotics. He also grew Wired’s circulation and won eight magazine awards. In 2010, Adweek named Wired its magazine of the decade.
... Now he is leaving Wired to pursue an entrepreneurial dream by becoming CEO of 3D Robotics, the manufacturing arm for DIY Drones’ UAV product line and store.
... DIY Drones is a 30,600 strong member group focused on amateur UAVs, contests, sharing and the fun of building and flying.
... UPDATE: 11/5:3D Robotics gets $5 million in VC funding from True Ventures, O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures and Chris Michel. With the funding and a new sales, marketing and community development office in the Bay Area, 3D Robotics will accelerate growth and expand into new markets. 3D Robotics already employs 40 people in their R&D facility in San Diego and factory in Tijuana, Mexico.
... One of Liquid Robotics’ Wave Gliders successfully piloted itself through Hurricane Sandy winds and transmitted weather data in real time.
... The Wave Glider was in the region 100 miles off the coast of New Jersey. It’s sensors reported a plunge in barometric pressure to a low of 946 as it battled 70 knot winds.
... It was on a scientific demo run for underwater acoustics company Sonardyne, Rutgers University and the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).
... Foxconn said they would be deploying 1 million robots in their factories in China. The first photographs of one of those appeared in Chinese news last week.
... 10,000 turquoise FoxBots have been installed in a factory in Jincheng, China.
... News sources estimate that Foxconn is behind schedule to meet their goal of 300,000 by the end of 2012; 30,000 appears to be the real number.
... But the big story is that these robots appear to have been built by Foxconn itself.
... “I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumer’s privacy and you care about the national security of the United States of American,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers on CBS 60-Minutes regarding Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunications conglomerates.
... Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine did a cover story and exposé earlier this year as they have done three years in a row… it’s that important of an issue.
... iRobot CEO Colin Angle said recently: Robotics innovation represents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth akin to automobiles, aerospace and information technology. If we are to freely share our ‘intellectual capital’ on the open market we risk losing the economic engine that will advance our economies and send growth and jobs overseas.
... An in-depth review of the issues and concerns can be found in this Wall Street Journal story.
... “Cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash - surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered in rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use.” John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.
... Zen Robotics, a Finnish company which makes recycling systems that use robots, just raised $17 million from Invus/Evergreen and Lifeline Ventures. Additionally, Zen sold a recycling system to the Baetsen Group (The Netherlands) and it will be operational in Q1 of 2013.
... In other trashy news: Grand Rapids, Michigan became the most recent user of a robotic waste bin pickup system. Their system enables the city to price their pickup service based on the quantity of garbage collected. They use trash containers with embedded RFID computer chips and trucks with robotic arms and remote control to pick and empty the bin while validating, computing and recording the charge.
... Mint floor cleaning robots produced by Evolution Robotics differ from iRobot’s methods; plan is for them to be developed and marketed as complementary.
... Evolution’s CEO Paulo Pirjanian will become the new iRobot CTO.
... Financial downside of the acquisition is that iRobot must sell off Evolution’s inventory at breakeven plus they acquired a loss of $7 million and a very low GP margin for the whole product line. So Q4 and the next 2-3 quarters for iRobot are going to take a big hit—as did iRobot’s stock yesterday and today on the news.
... The acquisition includes many US and international patents. iRobot CEO Colin Angle said that the patents and technology acquired from Evolution - particularly involved with visual SLAM technology - will enable iRobot to navigate future floor cleaning robots at lower cost.
… To read a transcript of Colin Angle’s comments and answers to investor questions, click here.
... The Intl. Federation of Robotics has released their 2012 books reflecting 2011 results, and projections for 2012-2015.
... Bottom line: 2011 was very successful for industrial robot manufacturers and growth rates will be in double digits for years to come. 2011 sales of industrial robots—166,000 units; $8.5 billion in sales—are up 38% from 2010 and expected to reach 181,000 robots for 2012. Service robot sales, which include every other type of robot, were up 9% from 2010 and reflected 16,408 units of which 32% were in the defense sector.
... Personal and domestic robot sales were up 15% over 2010 and reflected 2.5 million units, $636 million in sales, mostly in toys and robot vacuums.
... The two books cost $540 each but in-depth free summaries can be found here.
... These are the most comprehensive recaps of what robots are tasked to do, how many of them are doing it, and how much revenue has accrued to the industry.
... The charts and slides shown at this link accompanied the presentation of the announcement (at a press conference in Taipei) of the publication of the two books.
... In a NY Times Weekend Review OpEd piece, three-time Pulitzer winner and prolific author Thomas Friedman saw Rethink Robotics’ new robot. His comments and observations about the new robot and the team that invented it were refreshing and invigorating. They gave example to the prescription Friedman outlined in his most recent book, “That Used To Be Us.”
... “This is the march of progress. It [the new Rethink robot] eliminates bad jobs, empowers good jobs, but always demands more skill and creativity and always enables fewer people to do more things,” wrote Friedman who went on to say: “what this election should be about is how we spawn thousands of Rethinks that create new industries, new jobs and productivity tools. Alas, it isn’t. So I’m just grateful these folks here in Boston didn’t get the word.”
... Read Friedman’s article here.
... Two different approaches to spawn robotics innovation but one common thread: build a product using robotics that satisfies a specific need.
... RE2 (squared) started with defense funding to develop a robotic arm with extraordinary torque and load capacity.
... Liquid Robotics started with personal and non-profit funding to capture the sounds of whales as they migrated along the coasts of Hawaii to Alaska.
... The profiles of these two successful companies make an interesting read but share a common theme: they both provided a solution involving robotics to solve a real need.
... Read the article.
... Parrot, a global leader in wireless devices for mobile phones and car entertainment systems, went out of character a few years ago with the introduction of the augmented reality quad copter AR.Drone, an instant success.
... Now Parrot is investing $2.4 million in Pix4D and $5 million for a majority in sensFly, two spin-off companies from Switzerland’s EPFL.
... Pix4D provides a unique software package that converts thousands of standard pictures into a professional geo-referenced image and a highly accurate 3D model.
... senseFly has a lightweight hi-res camera and flight planning system for drones.
... Both investments enable civilian UAVs - and Parrot’s AR.Drone - to advance into the next-generation mapping, surveying and who knows what else.
... Larry Ellison’s Oracle Investment Management invested $7.5 million; the remainder comes from an issuance of ordinary shares.
... Part of the deal is to upgrade Mazor Robotic‘s Israeli ADR to be listed on the American NASDAQ.
... Mazor sales are rising steadily as more hospitals are acquiring their Renaissance™ spine surgery/implant system. Second quarter financial results reflect a four-fold increase from a year ago. “We have made significant progress in placing our Renaissance systems in prestigious hospital networks, particularly within the important U.S. market,” says company CEO.
... Medrobotics, a robotic surgical products company making cardioARM, a robotic probe controlled remotely and designed to enable surgeries with minimal or no incisions, filed an $8M round of equity, warrants and other options as part of a $20 million Series D offering. A total of 18 investors participated.
... InTouch Health’s new RP-VITA remote presence robot is the first product from the partnership between InTouch and iRobot. It can navigate autonomously or be driven by laptop or iPad.
... Product announced at a workshop where hour-upon-hour of presentations by critical care doctors and hospital administrators, all users of InTouch Health’s existing remote presence robots, and all portraying different aspects of why remote presence in health care is relevant, is saving lives and is necessary.
... Sleek new device has 3 PrimeSense 3D sensors, a laser scanner, and Swedish wheels on the iRobot platform and swiveling wide angle and zoom cameras and screens and sophisticated and secure two-way communications to enable a doctor to be in two places at once.
... Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO, said, “It is definitely the beginning of something important.”
... CMU released papers and videos showing their new smart headlight system which improves visibility by constantly redirecting light to shine between particles of rain. This involves a camera to track the motion of rain and snow and then applying algorithms to predict where those particles will be and then shooting the light so as not to be there… and repeating this process so that it appears seamless to the driver!
... Now the CMU team is working on a more compact version to be installed in a car for road-testing.
... According to a story in Seeking Alphaª, Apple plans to purchase billions of dollars of industrial robots from Fanuc for placement within Foxconn’s factories in China. Neither Apple nor Foxconn have confirmed the piece.
... It takes 141 steps to make an iPhone and passes through 325 pairs of hands over 5 days. Although labor only represents about 3% of the cost of building these products, wages of Chinese factory workers have been rising at about 15% a year. Problems managing this workforce have also tarnished Apple’s image. Thus Apple’s move represents an important step.
... The Apple robots deployed by Foxconn and other Apple sub-contractors, will be designated for use in only making iProducts. That’s a strategic move on Apple’s part to tie up a huge chunk of global robot and electronics production and stay ahead of the competition.
... Seeking Alphaª says that Apple will increase it’s capital outlays to $7.1 billion and believes that a significant portion of that sum will be for robot and automated, computerized machine tool purchases.
... “We are at the start of a transformative period for robotics that requires a new breed of risk-taker to drive mass-market adoption,” says Dmitry Grishin, founder of Grishin Robotics.
... With a particular focus on already-working products with mass-market appeal, Grishin aims to facilitate the development of the robotics industry by injecting much-needed capital and providing business counsel for up-and-coming startups. He has seeded the fund with $25 million of his own money.
... Grishin is co-founder and CEO of Mail.Ru Group (61HE on the London stock exchange), the largest Internet and social networking company in the Russian-speaking world.
... KUKA launched a new lightweight and sensitive arm that can be affixed to a tabletop. YASKAWA MOTOMAN has an ambitious and well-thought-out plan to provide human assist robots. ADEPT is acquiring mobility and food-processing tech to add capabilities. BOSCH is buying, partnering and investing in new tech while making their own robots as backup.
... Disruptive startups such as Heartland Robotics and Foxconn could radically change the whole dynamic.
... Read more.
... Today, most catheter and catheter-based technologies for vascular disease use blood vessels as highways to guide their movement to specific parts of the body, manually-controlled, with handheld instruments.
... The Magellan Robotic System offers simultaneous and independent distal tip control of a catheter and a sheath as well as robotic manipulation of standard guide wires, all with incredible stability. This leads to faster, easier, and safer vessel navigation, which may result in less vessel trauma, reduced patient healing time, faster, more predictable procedures, and an improved case rate.
... Hansen Medical plans to offer the Magellan Systems to the same hospitals using their Sensei systems because these institutions already are aware of the benefits of an active intuitive surgical robotics program.
... Compared to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is back to where it started the year, the big four robot manufacturers are down 20% year to date. Yet 2011 robot sales were great (see story below). And prospects for 2012 sales were expected to be just as good. Particularly in Asia. So why are these stocks 20% down?
... Rising wages and demands for faster, safer production are driving Chinese manufacturers to buy more robots. China bought 15,000 robots last year and expects that figure to expand 30-40% annually.
... KUKA, the largest European industrial robot maker, is building a regional hub in China.
... FANUC tripled production capacity to handle new sales into China. It’s stock is the only one of the four that is positive for the year.
... YASKAWA ELECTRIC is building plants in Japan and China to meet the rising demand.
... ABB, the second-largest European robot maker, said that it sells one out of three robots to customers in Asia, and just shipped it’s 200,000th robot to a solar manufacturer in China.
... Nevertheless, stocks of the Big 4 are significantly trailing the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
... “The important advancement in safe robots for the entertainment industry by RoboCoaster and the development of a new generation of simple robots for SME’s by Universal Robots not only represent positive steps forward for the robotics industry but also reflect businesses that have successfully translated technology into commercial success.”
... Runners-up included HiBot‘s Expliner robot for inspection of high-voltage transmission lines, Evolution Robotics’ Mint™ mopper and sweeper robot and Reflexxes library of instantaneous trajectory generation algorithms.
... Awards given at AUTOMATICA 2012, a trade fair for automation and mechatronics held in Munich.
... Click photo to enlarge.
... China, the US and Germany all reached new peak levels between 39% and 51%.
... Auto industry, metals and machinery industries were the main drivers.
... “In 2011, about 165,000 industrial robots were sold worldwide, by far the highest level ever recorded, 37% more than 2010. The increase of demand in 2010 and 2011 following the worldwide economic crisis exceeded all our expectations. We expect 2012 robot sales will further increase and again reach a new peak level.” [Source: Intl. Fed. of Robotics]
... Navy awards Northrop Grumman with $262 million contract for 8 Fire Scouts with plans to add an additional 20 at a later date.
... The Fire Scout has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship, can fly at 125+ knots at up to 20,000 feet, for up to 8 hours.
... The newly upgraded UAV can provide battle damage assessment, be a communications relay device, is interoperable between land and sea-based actions, and can be armed.
... Robotics is becoming a big deal and people want to invest in the industry. But choosing robotics stocks is complicated. Many of the companies are international, some are small subsidiaries within much larger companies, many are start-ups or otherwise privately held, and others are outright wastes of time.
... Here is a list of publicly-traded stocks to whet your appetite - with explanations as to why they are appropriate.
... Health Robotics, an Italian supplier of life-critical intravenous medication automation, produces robotic devices which make sterile, accurate, tamper-evident and ready-to-administer IVs for hospital use worldwide.
... The 31 contracted devices sold in the quarter just ended brings to 150 the total number of units under contract.
... American Public Media’s ‘Marketplace’ has produced a 5-part audio series entitled ‘Robots Ate My Job.’
... The issue of jobs being displaced by automation is very topical. Many reputable sources are providing research or opinion: NY Times, Harvard Business Review, Metra Martech, and the International Federation of Robotics to name a few.
... The recent acquisition of Kiva Systems by Amazon raises the fear that Kiva robots will displace thousands of Amazon warehouse workers.
... In China, Foxconn plans to deploy 1 million robots in the next 3 years - a feat that will displace 500,000 workers. They claim they will try to move the displaced workers up the salary scale.
... Is it true that jobs will be lost or just rearranged when robots are installed? Is it also true that more robots mean fewer jobs lost to offshore sources? Read more....
... Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will acquire privately-held Kiva Systems for approximately $775 million!
... Kiva’s novel warehousing system uses robots to bring the shelves to the picker and packer instead of vice versa.
... The acquisition is expected to close next quarter.
UPDATE 3-25-2012: Translated from an Aldebaran post on their user forum: “Hello everyone. Information originally issued by the Financial Times is false. The reporter called us several times. We have denied, said that its source is not reliable. But the article came out anyway. We are surprised that the FT can leave this type of erroneous article to be published.”
... According to the Financial Times, Softbank paid about $100m for an 80%+ stake in Aldebaran.
... Softbank will also invest an additional $40m to $50m to accelerate development.
... Softbank, a conglomerate engaged in telecommunications and Internet businesses, bought out existing shareholders Intel Capital, CDC Innovation, iSource and Crédit Agricole Private Equity.
... Aldebaran, famous for its Nao line of robots, is also developing Romeo, a bigger robot which will be able to perform more socially assistive tasks such as helping people open doors, fetch items and twist open jars. Romeo is partially funded by the French government to enable eldercare and also therapeutic assistance for autistism and other disabilities.
... One roboticist’s opinion why VC funding for robotics is a tough nut to crack: projects have large capital requirements, few potential acquirers and little “Google-scale” IPO prospects.
... $160 million is a far cry from the $6.9 billion that went into 997 VC funded deals in web and Internet startup companies in 2011.
... Most money went to a company that uses a robot to provide image-guided technology for hair follicle harvesting.
... Read about all 14 companies here.
... This list doesn’t mention the many acquisitions, strategic partnerships and mergers that occurred. The most recent two are the $18 million acquisition of French Cybernetix by Technip, an oil resources and ROV service provider to the industry, and the $100 million acquisition of Aldebaran Robotics by Softbanks (see preceding article).
... After observing that children attentively played with her interactive animatronic robot, she decided that it had commercial value and began her journey.
... Interbots, a small 5-person Boston start-up, is her vehicle. It has received funding through competitions, awards, regional grants and angel investors.
... Interbots’ robots come bundled with software, an interactive website, and lesson plans for therapists and teachers.
... Read the complete story of Seema’s journey thus far, as written by Babs Carryer.
... There were more buyers than in previous years and they appeared to be holistic in their approach to material handling in the factory and picking and packing in the warehouse. Their reasoning and underlying economic drivers detailed in this report.
... Brad Berger, editor-in-chief of SupplyChainBrain magazine, said that investing in automation for material handling is back after a few years of being put off because of the economy. Buyers are creating smart warehouses where RF, voice, barcodes, tablets and software all work together seamlessly as tools in the bigger picture of moving, handling, picking and packing our materials and products.
... 18-20,000 attendees of which 2,000+/- were international, 560 exhibitors, 170,000 sq ft of exhibition space. Very impressive; very busy (and very tiring).
... Two NY Times articles expose details about the treatment of 400,000+ Chinese workers involved in the production of Apple products: (1) In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad and (2) How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.
... Editorial: Two solutions to the question of what can and should Apple and other companies do when their sub-contractors are not abiding to acceptable Western standards?
... This is not just an Apple problem. Amazon, HP and most of the phone makers all use Foxconn and other Chinese manufacturers, e.g.: Nokia just announced plans to stop assembling phones in Europe and shift production to China.
... 25+ robotic vendors; a few hits; some duds; and, except for Nathan’s hotdogs, bad food.
... CES is always a wonderful experience. This year the unadvertised theme was digital to smart to every type of consumer product.
... Lots of pictures and links. Read the review.
... Year-end ROBO-STOX™ results show that robotic industrials are down 28% from their 2007 highs and did poorer than the Dow Jones Industrial Average which is also still down 8.5%. Service robotic stocks are down 15% from 2007 while the NASDAQ is down 2.5%.
... Industrial robot companies represent 62% of the $9.3 billion industry revenue; service is 38% of which 75% was for military/defense.
... Industrials took a big fall from their 2007 highs and have not yet recovered. A small rise in the latter part of 2010 was blown away with the Japanese disasters, Thailand floods and EU economic turmoil.
... Service companies (mostly start-ups or privately held; few are publicly-traded) fall into three main sectors: medical, defense/security and a mixture of academic and consumer niche products. Medical robotic stocks are booming; defense/security stocks are holding steady; and the remainder are all over the place.
... “It feels weird to be a robot sometimes,” the robot said in the interview. “You know, like I shouldn’t exist outside of a science fiction story. It makes me wonder if this is actually real like if it isn’t a dream or a story being written by a science fiction writer.” Throughout the interview and ABC Nightline story, David Hanson’s advanced cognitive artificial intelligent robot projects are visualized and discussed as is David’s passion to have a robot as a friend.
... Similar to the NY Times’ 2010 interview of Bina48, another Hanson robot of a real person, the robot interviewed by ABC Nightline is improved, surprisingly human, not just in mechanics, but also in appearance. It’s a wonderfully illustrative way to end 2011 in robotics with the promise of more wonders from Hanson and others in the years to come.
... Children’s Hospital Boston sends Vgo telepresence robots home with post-op patients in a pilot program that includes the robots into its regular post-op care program. Doctors and nurses now have a direct line of communication and observation between themselves, the patients and their family as they recover at home. Vgo telepresence visits take 10-15 minutes with no commute time and, most importantly, appointments can occur every three days instead of waiting six weeks for a post surgical visit.
... In Auckland, NZ, the University of Auckland and four Korean and Japanese robot vendors, have placed 31 robots into a retirement village to help older people be more independent, and more socially interactive. The robots will serve as friend, guide, provide comfort, tutor residents in brain stimulating activities, and provide waiter services.The robots will also do simple tasks giving staff more time to spend with the residents.
... Google was granted a US Patent “for transitioning a mixed-mode autonomous vehicle from a human driven mode to an autonomously driven mode.”
... Now comes the endless red tape over safety, negotiations with vehicle manufacturers, etc., that will tie things up for years.
... Patent experts say that Google’s patent will not prevent others developing rival self-drive vehicles.
... But imagine how your commute will change as you sip your coffee, handle emails, and check the latest headlines without jeopardizing anyone’s safety.
... From a highly fragmented industry with few common standards or platforms, there will soon be a universal interface so that 3rd parties can add platforms and modules to robotic systems.
... There won’t be a commercial version of Willow Garage’s ROS nor any other universal robotic operating system, but within academia and the emerging service robotics sector, there will be greater dependence and use of ROS.
... More industrial robot manufacturers will announce plans to migrate to and provide service robots.
... Read more about these projections and trends.
... Toyota displays four new nursing and healthcare robots which are scheduled to be commercialized and available for sale in 2013.
... Two robots assist with walking, another with balance and the fourth is for patient transfer from bed to toilet and back.
... Photos and details here.
... Thailand flooding inundates Honda auto manufacturing plant and many auto parts providers; robots and computers under water.
Flooding continues and the factory remains submerged.
... Toyota shuttered for at least 60 days and prepared for flooding; no damage yet.
... Thailand’s worst flooding in decades has exposed the complexity of the global supply chain and a lack of components has forced Japan’s automakers to halt or slow production in Asia and beyond.
... Peter Thiel, of Google’s driverless car fame, launched Breakout Labs, a new program to help independent scientists and early-stage companies develop their most radical ideas.
... Funding agreements range from $50,000 to $350,000 depending on the nature of the project. Breakout Labs uses a revolving funding model where successful projects help fund the next generation of audacious scientific exploration.
... Cameron wins Breakthrough Leadership Award not only for technologies he has pioneered for his movies, but for his other explorations in providing 3D cameras for NASA’s next Mars rover, for underwater exploration, shipwreck hunting, and for ROVs engineered and used for his movies. Says Cameron, “I believe in exploration.”
... AeroVironment and DARPA’s Robotic hummingbird also wins Breakthrough award for it’s wing design and wing-stroke velocity.
... Winning one of 10 most innovative tech product awards was Microsoft’s Kinect and their software developer kit (SDK). The Kinect device was seen in many booths at last weeks IROS conference in San Francisco.
... Industrial robot sales almost doubled compared to 2009 - to $5.7 billion - with the auto and electronics industries as the main drivers.The IFR expects China to become the world’s largest market for robots by 2014. For the first time, global sales to the electronics sector surpassed those to the auto industry.
... An additional $3.6 billion service robots were sold. $3.1 bn to corporations and governments (75% of which was for security and defense). $0.5 bn for personal and domestic use (a 35% increase).
... Korea’s largest telecom provider SK Telecom is funding a tablet-enabled grocery shopping cart trial. It matches a smartphone purchase list app to a tablet affixed to the cart and, while you move around the store, tells you where your items are, data about the product, discounts and alternatives.
... Expensive but comprehensive research reports covering most aspects of the robotics industry: components, healthcare and medical, defense, security, surveillance, industrial, personal and exoskeletons, prostheses and optical sensory devices.
... ABI Research offers cluster package of reports covering all aspects of the industry.
... Research and Markets just released their Global UAV Market Analysis for 2011-2021.
... Market Research is offering “Robotics: Technologies and Global Markets,” which estimates a $22 billion industry for 2011 and $30 billion by 2016. With Foxconn’s planned installation of 1 million robots over the next three years, those numbers should be on the low side.
... PLUG: Most of the information and companies mentioned in these reports can be seen here or in the archives of The Robot Report for free.
... The Kinect phenomena highlights the market for low-cost sensors and also the ingenuity of the world of roboticists and hackers taking advantage of these breakthroughs.
... iRobot’s AVA - an inexpensive mobile platform connected to a two-way vision tablet - is going to help and is partnering into healthcare and other fields with it’s AVA robot. Other vendors (Vgo, Luna, BiliBot, etc.) also making inroads with low-cost telepresence robots.
... The use of series elastic actuators changes the whole approach to manufacturing robots. Besides being cheaper, robots are able to safely interact with people thereby ridding the necessity for a “cage.”
... Open sourcing and app store concepts (e.g.: RoboEarth) are taking hold in the robotics world as Apple has pioneered and others are following in the computer and communications world.
... Japan’s nuclear power authority didn’t have any emergency robots ready to assist with damage and control. Why were they caught unprepared?
... The ‘safety myth’: From the NY Times: “It’s a fact that there was an unreasonable overconfidence in the technology of Japan’s nuclear power generation.”
... The seniority system: Both iRobot and QinetiQ, companies that volunteered equipment to Tepco, found that senior Tepco employees were chosen to be trained to operate the robots yet they were less suited to the task than the 20-year olds who had gamer experience.
... The robot in Carl’s Jr’s new ad is a symbol for the evil, alien machines that bread other chicken patties before they’re frozen.
... Stephen Colbert does a schtick about Robo-Slackers”—skip forward to 3:26 to see the bit.
... Humor aside, robots ARE involved in food processing and packaging. It’s a rising area of robotics. Food quality, safety, labor costs and productivity are the drivers. ABB, FANUC, Adept and a fleet of integrators are the providers enabling large food and beverage processors to better handle baked goods, meat and poultry products and candy.
... Already in use in the EU and Japan, and seeking approval in the US, Japanese-made robot deboning machines are working in refrigerated rooms on chicken legs and ham thighs.
... U.S. DoD to spend $41.7 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles and systems in 2012-2014 (that’s $13.9 billion per year!) says research firm focused on the aerospace/defense sector.
... Defense spending towers over venture capital investments, eg:
- Aldebaran Robotics (of Nao fame) raised $13 million from Intel Capital, CDC Innovation, iSource and Crédit Agricole Private Equity
- Liquid Robotics (wave gliders) got $22 million from VantagePoint Capital and Schlumberger
- Estonian Fits.me (robotic mannequin) received $1.75 million from the Estonian Development Fund
... RoboDynamics launches Luna - an as-yet not-described telepresence and personal robot. The first 1,000-unit production run, due in Q4, will sell for $3,000 apiece.
... Wonderful design and pictures but an awful video.
... At recent Google Developer Conference, iRobot’s AVA was displayed using ROSJava on an Android tablet and compared to Luna, BiliBot and others. Interesting review on Singularity Hub.
... An eerie telepresence concept from Sony is a helium blimp with the telepresence image projected on the 3’ face of the blimp - it gets around the stairs problem but at what cost?
... Ashley Madison, an online dating site for married people seeking affairs, reported a massive surge in female memberships the day after Mother’s Day.
... Women represent 65% of adult sex toy purchasers, particularly “smart” toys and vibrators while men provide a huge market for porn videos, games and paid websites.
... So… the market is there. But robotics are slow to take off. Future of Sex provides a review of the state of the sex robot market.
... Philips Healthcare invests in Corindus’ vascular robotics start-up.
... New telepresence and hacked Kinect/Roomba platforms rolling out: Kickstarter enables MIT’s Garratt Galagher to get starter funding for his Bilibot.
WillowGarage starts selling $500-$1,000 Turtlebot which, like the Bilibot, includes heavy-duty ROS. iRobot’s AVA adds an iPad to the arsenal. Interview with iRobot’s CEO talking about low-cost benefits and meeting consumer expectations (unlike recent baseball throwing bot which failed miserably throwing out first pitch at a Phillie’s ballgame).
... VCs are offering big development money for robotic apps and consumer products for the Android and iOS platforms.
... Finally, RobotShop is offering to partner and commercialize robotic inventions.
... From Automate 2011 in Chicago: Industrial robotic companies mostly recovered from 2009 lows. Japan is the exception and China accounts for 127% of the growth. Much of the recovery was due to the renewal of facilities for newer hybrid cars in the auto industry.
... From InnoRobo 2011 in Lyon, France: The service sector didn’t go down as much as the industrial companies did—it grew steadily during the recession. But 2/3 of the growth was in defense, security and space.
... Bruno Bonnell, Pres. of the French Union of Service Robotics (Syrobo) said that the service robotic market will multiply to 30 times the current rate this decade and be a $100 billion/year industry by 2020.
... Much more, including economic drivers propelling this growth, here.
... In a presentation at Automate 2011 in Chicago, the NASA and GM Team Leaders provided new details about Robonaut2 (R2).
... General Motors will soon work with a robotics manufacturer to enhance R2 with faster chips, cameras and sensors to take advantage of the flexibility of the hands and lower arm springs.
... The GM representative said that the new two-armed robots on the market lack end-of-arm flexibility and sensors and arm tensioning thereby making them not flexible or safe enough to work side by side with GM factory workers.
... Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Service Robots: Rise of the Machines (Again),” said that the U.S. was ahead in the the race to provide non-manufacturing robots because “the service market is expected to double in size by 2013, and of the 200 or so top companies, nearly 70 are in the U.S., twice as many as are in Germany or Japan.”
... The article also reported that the U.S. had “blown” nearly all of the industrial robot business.
... The International Federation of Robotics, in their $415 2010 WorldRobotics Service Robots Report, detailed all these companies and their robotic offerings.
... iRobot’s CTO Tom Wagner, in smartplanet, talked about robots in defense, homes, healthcare and hospitals, and suggested that, unlike manufacturing, service robots will be mostly autonomous. “On the home side, it’s providing solutions that give you back time; on the defense side, it’s solving problems that put lives in danger.” These we’ll see this decade, well before we see human-robot communication and human-like robots.
... Open house at UC Santa Barbara’s Allosphere Research Facility was like an adult 3D experience. An amazing (trippy) way of visualizing and exploring multi-dimensional input on a massive IMAX-like hemispheric screen in an attempt to gather additional insight from overwhelmingly complex data.
... Grad students (mostly foreign) displayed various augmented reality apps, vision systems and simulation methodologies.
... Good turnout of students, educators and interested business people.
... Illustrates EAST/WEST opposing trends in STEM education: start young, work hard and long, follow an academic/STEM plan and compete, versus Montessori (self-centered) start, reduced school hours and guidance, quickest route to high-paying jobs, and partying (which is the way American students are perceived all over Asia).
... “NextGen Education and Research Robotics” by Robotics Trends, Wednesday, March 10, free, attempts to cover the topic in an all day webinar.
To develop a comprehensive worldwide database of public and private companies that are participants in the robotics industry. The database will be split into two segments: publicly traded stocks and privately-owned companies, and further sliced into the five robotic groupings shown above. Also, to gather and report industry news, track the business of robotics and develop proprietary (ROBO-STOXTM) methods to compare and report industry stock performance to the NASDAQ Composite Index.