Thursday, April 17, 2014


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Titan Aerospace sells again—this time to Google

Posted on 04/17/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Filling in the puzzle pieces of Willow Garage and Savioke

Posted on 04/13/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 04/04/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Consumer AI devices entering the marketplace

Posted on 04/03/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Apple buys UK speech recognition firm Novauris to help improve Siri

Posted on 04/03/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 04/01/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Facebook plans to offer Internet service using aerial robots

Posted on 03/29/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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April is a busy month for robotic events

Posted on 03/25/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 03/24/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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ROV operations expenditures to grow to $1.5 billion by 2017

Posted on 03/23/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Are telepresence robots robots? Part II

Posted on 03/20/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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How quickly things change

Posted on 03/17/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 03/15/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Are telepresence robots robots?

Posted on 03/13/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Chess, Jeopardy and now… Ping Pong?

Posted on 03/12/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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American nuclear materials storage site guarded by robots

Posted on 03/08/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Proletarian Robots Getting Cheaper to Exploit

Posted on 03/05/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 03/04/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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Mazor Robotics is gaining momentum

Posted on 03/02/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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

Posted on 02/20/14 by Frank Tobe

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

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