Saturday, August 27, 2016

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

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

Midea’s masterplan to become China’s robot powerhouse

Chinese consumer manufacturer Midea, after having spent over $4 billion to acquire 94% of German robot maker Kuka, is planning to spend an additional $1.5 billion to turn itself into China's preeminent robot powerhouse.

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Posted on 08/17/16

IDC awards 5 warehouse robotics innovators

International Data Corporation (IDC) has awarded five pioneering players in the warehouse robotics market with the 2016 IDC Innovators Award. Companies selected met the following criteria: revenue of less than $50 million with an innovative technology, or a groundbreaking new business model, or both.

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Posted on 08/16/16

What happens when a robot company sells off a division?

Spin-offs are disrupting but often necessary. Here are two recent examples: iRobot sold off its Defense & Security Business Unit to a private equity firm, and Harvest Automation sold the IP and work in process of its warehousing robot group to a new venture-backed startup.

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Posted on 08/10/16

As Intuitive Surgical continues to shine, competitors are entering the fray

Robotic surgery has long been dominated by Intuitive Surgical which has placed more than 3,600 of its da Vinci machines in hospitals around the world. Nevertheless, an increasing number of new players are entering the marketplace.

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Posted on 08/04/16

July fundings, acquisitions and failures

Despite all the high-profile billion-dollar acquisitions, eg: ARM by SoftBank, KUKA by Midea and Uber China by Didi Chuxing, M&A are down 19% this year according to both Forbes and CB Insights.

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Posted on 08/02/16

Singapore to begin testing on-demand robot taxis

Delphi Automotive, the global provider of vehicle electronics components, will begin testing 6 phone-dispatched autonomous taxis in Singapore that will go point-to-point based on customer requests with a goal of providing no-driver-in-the-car service by 2019 and cars without steering wheels by 2022.

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Posted on 08/01/16

Swiss startup makes good on Broadway

Flying robots perform 100th show on Broadway, using new localization technology and algorithms designed and created by Verity Studios of Zurich in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil for their new show PARAMOUR.

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Posted on 07/29/16

AUTOMATICA 2016: digitalization and collaborative robotics

AUTOMATICA 2016, held in June in Munich at the massive Messe tradefair facility, is a gigantic show focused on automation, mechatronics, robotics and emerging technologies as they relate to the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

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Posted on 07/24/16

Midea now owns 85.69% of KUKA’s shares

Since the announcement of the month-long tender offer by Midea to buy 49% of the shares of German robot maker KUKA AG - and private negotiations - Midea now has 85.69% of the shares.

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Posted on 07/20/16

SoftBank jumpstarts IoT by buying ARM for $32 billion

Today's announcement that SoftBank will spend $32 billion to acquire ARM Holdings means the Japanese firm is buying the most important company in the world of mobile processors for smartphones and Internet of Things devices.

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Posted on 07/18/16

“Deep learning is the most fundamental advance in AI research since AI started in 1956”

Frank Chen, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital and private equity firm, said, "It is absolutely non-controversial that deep learning is the most fundamental advance in A.I. research since the start [of A.I.] in 1956."

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Posted on 07/14/16

Coming very soon: robots from Sony, robot-made hamburgers, mobile robot deliveries

Re-joining the ranks, Sony announced a return to robotics. Momentum is opening a robot hamburger shop. And Starship is beginning to delivery food to 3 cities in Europe.

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Posted on 07/11/16

62 market research reports study robotics industry

The number of research reports studying the robotics industry is growing exponentially. To date in 2016 there have been 109 on subjects ranging from overly broad to very drilled-down views of the industry. Prices range from $800 to $6,500.

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Posted on 07/10/16

Logistic companies Swisslog, Dematic, Egemin and Intelligrated have all been acquired

First the KION Group acquires Dematic for $2.5 billion and a week later Honeywell acquires Intelligrated for $1.5 billion. Earlier KION acquired Retrotech and earlier still Egemin while Kuka acquired Swisslog. What's going on?

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Posted on 07/03/16

June fundings, acquisitions and failures

Six months worth of funding deals thus far in 2016 indicate that investments in robotics - equity fundings, and acquisitions - are accelerating, particularly in big deals involving Chinese money.

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Posted on 06/30/16

What’s happening in robotics? Five trends to watch

Industrial robots used to be dumb, somewhat inflexible, and mostly blind - but also fast, precise and very efficient. As the cost of components, sensors and vision systems has been dropping, vision-enabled robots are becoming more prevalent and capable, and the industry is dramatically changing.

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Posted on 06/27/16

4,000 student clubs to use Dash and Dot robots in global contest

Wonder Workshop is finding success in teaching computer programming to young students through collaboration and with the use of Dash & Dot robots. 4,000+ student groups have registered for this year's Wonder League Robotics Competition, up from 1,000 in 2015.

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Posted on 06/26/16

FAA announces commercial drone regs

The highly anticipated rules governing commercial operation of small UAS (sUAS) were announced by the FAA and will take effect in late August. Until that time, commercial operators may continue to operate under Section 333 exemptions.

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Posted on 06/23/16

Industrial robot sales for 2015 set new record in spite of troubles in China

Worldwide sales of industrial robots set a new record: 248,000 units sold in 2015, 12% more than 2014. 66,700 units sold in China of which 20,400 were made in China.

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Posted on 06/22/16

Unmanned combat robots beginning to appear

IAI's RoBattle unmanned, heavy duty, highly maneuverable, combat and support robotic system (UGV) is being shown at the Eurosatory 2016 international air land defense and security exhibition in Paris this week.

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Posted on 06/14/16

Chinese investors keep buying international robotics companies

The latest acquisition is Gimatic, an Italian pneumatic and electric grippers, sensors and positioners maker, by Agic Capital. The Financial Times reported the sale price to be between $112 and $169 million.

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Posted on 06/13/16

When will sex robots hit the marketplace?

Ex Machina and Lars and the Real Girl are two recent movies that have brought attention to where things are heading between humans and robots - particularly as regards the state of the art in sex robots. The NY Times even did a 7-minute video on the subject.

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Posted on 06/08/16

Xiaomi challenges DJI with a low-cost drone

Xiaomi, one of China’s star Internet, phone and electronics startups, develops cut-rate but reliable phones and consumer devices and markets them directly to consumers online. Their new HD drone starts at $380, and the 4K video model at $450. Both directly compete - at half the price - with DJI's popular Phantom drones.

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Posted on 06/07/16

Big data, the cloud and . . . FANUC and Kuka?

FANUC, the world’s largest maker of industrial robots, plans to start connecting 400,000 of their installed systems by the end of this year. The goal is to collect data about their operations and, through the use of deep learning, improve performance. Similarly, Kuka is building a deep-learning AI network for their industrial robots.

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Posted on 06/07/16

U of Washington Tech Policy Lab answers the question: What is a robot?

What is a robot? There are business, legal, insurance and safety considerations which make that definition important and the Tech Policy Lab at the University of Washington gave it a try with an interesting 6-minute video.

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Posted on 06/05/16

May fundings, acquisitions and IPOs

May was another big month for robotics - 13 companies were funded to the tune of $111 million. Four companies were acquired with 2 of the 4 reporting selling prices totaling $422 million. And that’s without the $5.2 billion bid for Kuka by Chinese Midea, or the pending sale of Google's Boston Dynamics.

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Posted on 05/31/16

How is Pepper, SoftBank’s emotional robot, doing?

Pepper is a child-height human-shaped robot described as having been designed to be a genuine companion that perceives and acts upon a range of human emotions.

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Posted on 05/27/16

EU’s Horizon 2020 has funded $179 million in robotics PPPs

Over the past two years, research in 5G and robotics PPP projects have received the highest funding awards within Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation program.

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Posted on 05/24/16

Chinese Midea makes $2.5 billion bid for up to 49% of KUKA

In China’s relentless state-stimulated quest to grow their robotics industry, Midea Group, a Chinese appliance manufacturer which already owns 13.5% of KUKA’s shares, has offered to buy up to 49% of the remaining shares at a 59.6% premium.

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Posted on 05/18/16

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Paradigm shift: from Siri to Viv

Artificial intelligence that programs itself on the fly - from the team that developed Siri at SRI and Apple - was demonstrated this week in New York and it quickly performed complex spoken tasks, live and onstage.

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Posted on 05/10/16