Left Column Top Stories
Amazon isn’t the only delivery service testing flying robots
Posted 12/10/13 at 05:41 AM
... 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.
Upcoming Robotic Events
Posted 12/01/13 at 10:39 AM
... Consumer Electronics Show (CES), January 7-10, Las Vegas, Nevada
... Robotics Industry Forum, January 22-24, Orlando, Florida
... 7th Intl Expert Days Service Robotics, February 26-27, Hausen, Germany
... EU Robotics Forum 2014, March 12-14, Roverto, Italy
... MODEX 2014, March 17-20, Atlanta, Georgia
... Innorobo, March 18-20, Lyon, France
... We Robot 2014 Conf on Robotics-Related Legal & Policy Issues, April 4-5, Coral Gables, Florida
Apple buys Israel’s PrimeSense for $350 million
Posted 11/28/13 at 09:57 PM
... 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.
Global Machine Vision market to grow at 9.4% CAGR
Posted 11/25/13 at 01:48 PM
... 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.
8 Robotic Gifts for the 2013 Holiday Season
Posted 11/24/13 at 07:22 PM
... 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 on a roll
Posted 11/24/13 at 12:22 PM
... 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.
Two Boston Notables Get More Money
Posted 11/07/13 at 07:47 PM
... 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?
Robotics Expo in Moscow
Posted 11/02/13 at 04:52 PM
... 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.
46 robot photos you haven’t seen before
Posted 10/23/13 at 07:13 PM
... The Atlantic’s online magazine has a photo piece called Robots at Work and Play. It has 32 pictures of robots in space, healthcare, public safety, entertainment, defense and more. Pictures can be seen at 1,025 or 1,280 pixels (very impressive at 1,280!).
... The NY Times Science section adds another 14 pictures: 5 from a slide series called “Entering a New Era of Robots” and 9 from a series called “Robotic Crowd-Pleasers of the Past.”
... A caption with each photo tells the story of what you are seeing and all 46 photos are worth seeing.
Soon Internet crowdfunding sites will let investors buy stock
Posted 10/23/13 at 12:06 PM
... 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!
5 Interesting Start-ups
Posted 10/19/13 at 10:02 PM
... 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.
ABB, Nike and a Silicon Valley VC invest $3 million in Grabit
Posted 10/07/13 at 07:58 PM
... 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.
SEDASYS - a robotic anesthesiologist
Posted 09/28/13 at 11:45 AM
... 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 gets $30 million to mainstream aerial robotics
Posted 09/27/13 at 12:01 PM
... 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.
From the mouths of babes (or in this case, iCubs)
Posted 09/20/13 at 10:29 AM
... 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.
It’s time to think about robotic Christmas gifts
Posted 09/19/13 at 12:05 PM
... 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 interesting uses for robots
Posted 09/14/13 at 12:18 PM
... 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.
Adept’s restructuring is paying off: earnings better and stock higher
Posted 09/09/13 at 11:11 AM
... 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.
Get ready for IROS and iREX in Tokyo this November 3-9
Posted 08/31/13 at 03:16 AM
... 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.
25 Russian Companies Added to The Robot Report’s Global Map of Robot Providers
Posted 08/23/13 at 12:42 PM
... 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.
Posted 08/18/13 at 01:00 AM
... 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.
National Geographic uses AGVs and drones for photo story about lions
Posted 08/12/13 at 12:16 AM
... 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.
CSAIL demos two robots assembling IKEA furniture
Posted 08/11/13 at 12:16 AM
... 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.
After a lackluster 2nd qtr, Hansen Medical gets a $93 million equity infusion
Posted 07/31/13 at 07:10 AM
... 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.
Intuitive Surgical stock takes another big hit
Posted 07/20/13 at 12:27 AM
... 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.
China now largest market for robots
Posted 07/11/13 at 09:47 AM
... 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).
Global Future 2045 Conference Takes A Hard Look At Today
Posted 06/22/13 at 10:09 PM
... 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..
First responder and military ground robots to grow at close to 20%
Posted 06/14/13 at 05:39 AM
... 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 headlines about killer robots obscuring the valuable use of drones for other purposes?
Posted 06/09/13 at 11:18 AM
... 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.
Coming soon to protect texters (like you?)
Posted 05/24/13 at 03:58 AM
... 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.
Is the commercialization of UASs passing the U.S. by?
Posted 05/20/13 at 06:24 AM
... 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.
Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Universal Robots Succeeding
Posted 05/14/13 at 05:11 PM
... 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.
Othermill: a new high quality CNC circuit board fabricator
Posted 05/13/13 at 03:12 AM
... 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.
All Eyes on Intuitive Surgical Suit
Posted 05/10/13 at 08:36 AM
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.
A conversation with Henri Seydoux
Posted 05/03/13 at 07:20 PM
... 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.
Online job postings for robotic positions up 10% compared to the same 90-day period in 2012
Posted 05/01/13 at 04:01 PM
... 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.
Blimp-in-a-box contract causes acquisition
Posted 04/05/13 at 04:00 PM
... 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.
Updated Robotics Roadmap Presented to US Congress
Posted 03/23/13 at 08:25 AM
... 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.
Which companies provide robotic systems to the military?
Posted 03/20/13 at 10:14 AM
... 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.
Management Shakeup at Adept Technology
Posted 02/25/13 at 03:35 PM
... 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.
Oshkosh and Lockheed Capitalizing On Demand For Military AGVs
Posted 02/21/13 at 01:39 PM
... 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.
Is this the cheapest floor robot?
Posted 02/16/13 at 02:32 PM
... 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 and ProMat in Freezing Chicago: A Recap
Posted 01/28/13 at 08:25 PM
... 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.
Intuitive Surgical’s stock jumps 11% in two days; iRobot is up 9% in a single day
Posted 01/23/13 at 04:31 PM
... 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.
GA Tech’s Henrik Christensen Gives Keynote Speech at Automate 2013
Posted 01/21/13 at 06:55 PM
... 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.
Leap Motion gets $30 million for new Kinect-like device
Posted 01/07/13 at 05:50 PM
... 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.
Big 4 Robotic Stocks Outperform Dow Jones
Posted 01/03/13 at 01:09 PM
... 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.
Center Column Featured Links
Google makes big robotics investment
Posted 12/05/13 at 04:55 PM
... 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.
New ETF (NASDAQ:ROBO) focuses on robotics industry
Posted 11/04/13 at 10:50 AM
... 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.
Open vs. Closed Robot Systems
Posted 10/09/13 at 03:12 PM
... 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.
Maps & Apps
Posted 10/08/13 at 10:09 AM
... 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.
Ship hull cleaning & inspection - ideal for robots
Posted 09/30/13 at 12:26 PM
... 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.
MAKO Surgical sells to Stryker for $1.65 billion
Posted 09/25/13 at 09:48 AM
... 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.
Bionic Man documentary to air October 20 at 9 pm in US
Posted 09/21/13 at 12:47 PM
... 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.
150 robotics-related exhibitors in Las Vegas for PackExpo
Posted 09/20/13 at 10:00 AM
... 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.
Interest in industrial robots seen at Taipei Intl. Industrial Automation Exhibition and Robot Show
Posted 09/13/13 at 09:44 AM
... 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.
Progress report on Hoaloha Robotics’ assistive-care robot
Posted 09/09/13 at 02:53 PM
... 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’s single-pass floor-mopping robots vs O’Cedar’s cheap duster robot
Posted 08/26/13 at 01:37 AM
... 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 5-Year Plan targets robotics as a growth industry
Posted 08/11/13 at 04:22 AM
... 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.
Talking robot sent into space
Posted 08/04/13 at 06:43 AM
... 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 approved by FAA for civilian use in the U.S.
Posted 07/27/13 at 02:26 PM
... 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 soaring
Posted 07/20/13 at 01:03 AM
... 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.
3,400 healthcare jobs in the US required robotics experience and skills
Posted 07/16/13 at 11:07 AM
... 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?
High risk high reward
Posted 07/15/13 at 03:07 AM
... 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.
Intuitive Surgical stock sinks
Posted 07/09/13 at 10:16 PM
... 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.
2 cute robots: one funded by Japan’s Space Agency the other by Kickstarter
Posted 06/30/13 at 03:47 AM
... 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.
Big week for robotic mergers and acquisitions
Posted 06/21/13 at 07:49 AM
... MakerBot sells out to Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) for $403 million plus another $200 million if it meets certain targets. Stratasys adds a low-priced product to it’s line of 3D printing products. Note that Amazon’s Bezos Expeditions was a funder of MakerBot and that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) recently set up a section to sell 3D printers and supplies.
... Privately held software company Agile Planet sells to Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, the US subsidiary of Japanese Yaskawa Electric (TYO:6506) for an unknown amount.
... Stanmore Implants agrees to sell it’s robotic business acquired through the acquisition in 2010 of Acrobot, to Mako Surgical (NASDAQ:MAKO) in a settlement whose terms weren’t disclosed. The settlement was to avoid patent-infringement trial costs.
... UPDATE 6-24-2013: AV&R Vision & Robotics and IMAC Automation, both Canadian firms, merged to form AV&R. No financial information was given.
LIDAR finds a lost city in Cambodia
Posted 06/17/13 at 07:37 AM
... 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.
Use of da Vinci surgical robots discussed on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams
Posted 06/16/13 at 04:45 AM
... 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.
$201 million in venture funding in 2012; up from $194 in 2011
Posted 06/12/13 at 01:00 AM
... 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.
New robot cars and AI app shown at Apple Developer’s Conference
Posted 06/10/13 at 11:30 PM
... 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.
An inspiring story by an aspiring roboticist
Posted 06/08/13 at 06:09 AM
... 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.
Tibion Bionic Leg Wins IERA Award
Posted 05/25/13 at 01:19 AM
... 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.
Jury finds Intuitive Surgical’s training practices NOT at fault
Posted 05/24/13 at 02:49 AM
... 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.
SWIVL finds it’s niche
Posted 05/23/13 at 04:58 AM
... 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.
Are Accelerators the new Incubators and Angel Investors?
Posted 05/19/13 at 09:19 AM
... 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 Gets $10.7M from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures to Build Autopilot Systems for UASs
Posted 05/15/13 at 06:16 AM
... 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 Industrial celebrates one-year anniversary
Posted 05/13/13 at 01:56 AM
... 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.
13 robotic innovations among 2013 Edison Award winners
Posted 05/07/13 at 07:50 AM
... 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.
KUKA acquires US integrator and toolmaker
Posted 05/05/13 at 01:21 PM
... 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.
Robo-Stox™ Y-T-D country-by-country results confusing
Posted 05/01/13 at 08:23 PM
... 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 and Aldebaran both launch robots for research, teaching and custom development
Posted 04/26/13 at 10:14 AM
... 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 stock jumps 14% on Q1 earnings and 2013 projections
Posted 04/24/13 at 10:42 AM
... 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.”
New Report Shows That Robots CREATE Jobs
Posted 04/09/13 at 11:11 AM
... 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.
Year-to-date Robo-Stox™ Results
Posted 03/30/13 at 12:18 PM
... 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.
Quadcopters Advertising New Star Trek Movie
Posted 03/24/13 at 09:15 AM
... 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 Gets $45 Million To Continue Double-Digit Growth
Posted 03/19/13 at 09:35 AM
... 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.
Foxconn Foxbot Update
Posted 03/07/13 at 01:27 PM
... 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 robotic toys and gadgets hitting the market this year
Posted 02/26/13 at 02:45 AM
... 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..
Robot Vision Systems Providers Doing Well
Posted 02/21/13 at 02:48 PM
... 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 Fund Invests In Hardware Incubator
Posted 02/20/13 at 10:19 AM
... 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 Changes Direction
Posted 02/11/13 at 10:56 PM
... 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.
Open Source Vet Simulation Center
Posted 02/07/13 at 10:11 PM
... 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.
GE and Verizon Advertise using robots
Posted 02/03/13 at 10:37 PM
... 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.
CBS News’ 60 Minutes Provides New Definition of Robots
Posted 01/14/13 at 12:50 PM
... 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.
$100 million P-P-P suggestion for healthcare robotics
Posted 01/07/13 at 11:14 PM
... 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: Filling a need or feeding a diversion?
Posted 01/02/13 at 12:13 PM
... 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....