Monday, December 5, 2016

Self-driving cars, networks, and the companies and people that are stimulating development

Intel is establishing an autonomous driving division; hacker George Hotz is open-sourcing his self-driving software in a bid to become a network company; LiDAR and distancing devices are changing. What's it all mean?

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Posted on 12/02/16

November fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

Seventeen robotics-related companies got funded for a combined total of over $225 million. Four more got acquired. Three went public to raise funds. And one failed.

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Posted on 12/01/16

Rising need for nursery, indoor and vertical farming

To meet rising food demands from a growing global population, over 250 million acres of arable land will be needed – about 20% more land than all of Brazil.

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Posted on 11/26/16

Let’s hope Trump does what he says regarding robots and robotics

In President-elect Trump's interview with the NY Times yesterday, when discussing jobs, closed factories and factories that may leave the country, he was asked: "Are you worried that those companies will keep their factories here, but the jobs will be replaced by robots?

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Posted on 11/23/16

US auto industry installed 135,000 robots AND added 230,000 jobs

In the last six years, (2010–2015), according to the IFR (International Federation of Robotics), US industry has installed around 135,000 new industrial robots. The principal driver is automation in the car industry. During this same period, (2010–2015), the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000.

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Posted on 11/23/16

Two robotic stock IPOs coming to market

For the last many years there have been very few stock IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). Promising companies have been acquired instead, eg: Kiva Systems and Universal Robots. But two robotics-related companies have recently filed: one for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the other for the New York Stock Exchange.

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Posted on 11/21/16

Some social robots are selling well; others are stalled or failing

Amazon's Echo sales have exceeded 4 million and they are ramping up to sell 10 million in 2017; Google's Home has received positive reviews and have just begun selling in large numbers; but SoftBank's Pepper and Cynthia Breazeal's Jibo have either failed or are stalled. Why?

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Posted on 11/16/16

Lofty goals crash land while B2B drones prosper

Key executives leaving (or were requested to leave) Goggle's drone delivery Project Wing; GoPro recalls all of its newly launched Karma drones and doesn't offer a replacement; DJI slashes prices. What's going on?

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Posted on 11/15/16

Digital farms are already a reality

Farmers, ranchers and growers the world over are transitioning to precision agricultural methods, i.e., subdividing their acreage into many unique sub-plots -- in some cases right down to the individual plant, tree, or animal.

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Posted on 11/07/16

Zoox raises $50 million for their stealthy Silicon Valley venture

Zoox, the secretive Silicon Valley startup working to build its own self-driving cars, has quietly raised $50 million (in October) in a Series A round led by Composite Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based hedge fund. This brings Zoox's total equity funding to $290 million.

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Posted on 11/07/16

October fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

October fundings for robotics-related startups totaled $291.75 million bringing the year-to-date funding figure very close to $1.5 billion. For acquisitions, three of the six companies acquired reported that $390.5 million traded hands. All in all another strong month for robotics.

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Posted on 11/01/16

The delicate balance between brilliance, safety and arrogance

Silicon Valley and other technology centers have their share of brilliant minds. Some of them have similarly outstanding egos. A few of those have very short fuses. Such is the story of George Hotz.

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Posted on 10/30/16

The changing landscape of drone funding

CB Insights Drone Quarterly Financing Trends to VC-Backed Companies shows a downward trend. The Robot Report's monthly funding reports shows something different: a change in the nature of drone applications getting funded.

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Posted on 10/25/16

Why DJI is succeeding in making and selling drones and 3DR didn’t

It was clear that DJI was winning the drone war by the end of 2015. Today's best sellers are mostly DJI products. Other makers (Parrot, 3D Robotics, Autel, Yuneec et al) haven't been able to capture any significant portion of the camera drone market. Most saw the writing on the wall and began switching to becoming drone service providers in other marketplaces.

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Posted on 10/17/16

IFR’s two reports for 2015 show double-digit growth for remainder of decade

Each year the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) surveys and tabulates data from its worldwide network of robotics associations. The two 2016 annual World Robotics Industrial Robots and World Robotics Service Robots reports represent the IFR's analysis of 2015 results.

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Posted on 10/15/16

“AI is on the verge of changing everything” said Charlie Rose on CBS 60 Minutes

In a quest to understand why and where all the billions of dollars are being spent on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Charlie Rose and the CBS 60 Minutes team took us on a journey to a cancer hospital in North Carolina, Austin, Texas, and the Carnegie Mellon University robotics lab in Pittsburgh.

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Posted on 10/14/16

Zymergen gets $130 million from SoftBank and other VCs

SoftBank, the Japanese telecom conglomerate, led a group that included Iconiq Capital, Prelude Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, and seven others in a $130 million funding round for Zymergen to help the company grow its workforce and scale its operations in Silicon Valley.

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Posted on 10/11/16

Samsung acquires Viv—it’s a long story

Dag Kittlaus was the founder and CEO of Siri, Inc. which produced an app that went into the Apple App Store in February 2010. The app quickly rose to 1st place in the Lifestyle section of the app store. In March, 2010, Steve Jobs called Kittlaus and started the dialogue that ended when Apple acquired Siri at the end of April 2010.

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Posted on 10/07/16

September fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

September continued the big-money spree for funding robotic startups. 10 good-sized deals and three little ones. Almost $220 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus another $2.2 billion paid in September for six acquisitions.

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Posted on 10/04/16

Review of Commercial UAV Show Asia held in Singapore

Alejandro Alonso-Puig, the CTO of Singapore UAS startup Infinium Robotics, visited and spoke at the Commercial UAV Show Asia 2016 held in conjunction with the IoT Show 2016, September 1-2, at the Suntec Convention Centre in Singapore. Puig has given permission to republish his review of the show.

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Posted on 10/04/16

A look at a Danish robotics cluster

There are many robotics clusters around the world successfully providing for the needs of their respective communities and a few not really achieving their desired goals. Odense and the Danish clusters certainly fall into the former category. They do so because they are organized at every level to be offering and have people that are business smart, humble and cooperative in approach, and public-spirited in nature.

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Posted on 10/03/16

GoPro unveils long-awaited Karma stabilized drone system and kit

GoPro fans and the financial world have been looking forward to GoPro's new Karma since GoPro announced last December that it was working on building its first drone. When they delayed the release from early summer until now, it only served to raise expectations.

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Posted on 09/24/16

46 research reports analyze the robotics industry and autonomous vehicles

As autonomous cars begin to hit world markets in pilot tests and other ways, and before the International Federation of Robotics clarifies whether those vehicles are robots or not, two research firms have combined those vehicles with other robots. Their results are highlighted in yellow below.

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Posted on 09/23/16

Pittsburgh and Singapore are now pilot sites for self-driving car services

Two self-driving car events of note: Uber just began operating a fleet of Volvo self driving cars in Pittsburgh, and nuTonomy launched the first autonomous pilot taxi program last month in Singapore. (Both still require a driver although he/she will be as hands-off as possible.)

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Posted on 09/14/16

InterDrone 2016 vs. 2015: the trend is towards professionalism

InterDrone just concluded their 2nd annual trade show and conference in Las Vegas. The differences between the 2015 event and this one reflect the rapid changes in the industry and can be seen as a predictor for the next few years.

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Posted on 09/14/16

Integrators are dead; long live the integrator

For many years integrators have engineered, built and installed automation machinery for their manufacturer clients. As manufacturing has begun to move from mass production to mass customization, the integration process has required more flexibility and increasingly used robots as part, if not all, of the solution.

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Posted on 09/13/16

Advances and commercial uses in prosthetics

“When the greater public thinks about exoskeletons, they generally think of the robotic suits you might find in a Marvel comic,” said Samantha, COO of Open Bionics. “The reality is that with exoskeletons, we are just scratching the surface of this technology!"

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Posted on 09/13/16

Top 10 technologies in precision agriculture

PrecisionAg's editor Eric Sfiligoj has prepared a list of the top 10 technologies that are shaping precision ag today. Most involve some level of robotics, navigation, sensors and variable rate dispensing. Check them out!

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Posted on 09/09/16

Case IH displays new cab-less concept tractor

Case IH (Case New Holland International Harvester) displayed their new cab-less tractor at a farming show in Iowa. The presentation was to show off what they hope will be the future: an autonomous tractor without a steering wheel, pedals or a cab for the driver.

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Posted on 09/04/16

August fundings and acquisitions

August was another big month for funding robotic startups. 18 deals. Almost $430 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus another $1 billion paid in August for four acquisitions.

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Posted on 09/02/16

Two LiDAR makers each get big funding

In anticipation of the need for LiDAR devices in cars with assisted steering and other self-driving technologies, both Velodyne and Quarnergy received funding. Quanergy raised $90 million and Velodyne got $150 million.

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Posted on 08/25/16

News bureaus and networks setting up drone divisions

CNN just inaugurated their new drone division. So have many other news organizations. Network providers are also setting up drone operations for a variety of purposes.

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Posted on 08/20/16

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As Ford sets a date, Jibo retracts theirs

Bringing a complex product to market is an intensive process fraught with problems. Getting hardware ready for manufacturing is often the easy part; it's the software and regulatory compliance that's often the most challenging. Here are three examples: Ford Motor Co., Velodyne LiDAR and Jibo.

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Posted on 08/17/16