Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 Archives

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China’s appetite now focused on artificial intelligence

Posted on 07/25/17 by Frank Tobe

China has recently announced their long-term goal to become #1 in A.I. by 2030. They plan to grow their A.I. industry to over $22 billion by 2020, $59 billion by 2025 and $150 billion by 2030. They did this same type of long-term strategic planning for robotics - to make it an in-country industry and to transform the country from a low-cost labor source to a high-tech manufacturing resource... and it’s working.

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Indoor robots gaining momentum - and notoriety

Posted on 07/23/17 by Frank Tobe

Recent events demonstrate the growing presence of indoor mobile robots: (1) Savioke’s hotel butler robot won the 2017 IERA inventors award; (2) Knightscope’s security robot mistook a reflecting pond for a solid floor and dove in face-first to the delight of Twitterdom and the media; and (3) the sale of robotic hospital delivery provider Aethon to a Singaporean conglomerate.

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ST Engineering acquires mobile robot maker Aethon for $36 million

Posted on 07/21/17 by Frank Tobe

Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) has acquired Pittsburgh, PA-based robotics firm Aethon Inc through Vision Technologies Land Systems, Inc. (VTLS), and its wholly-owned subsidiary, VT Robotics, Inc, for $36 million.

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F.I.R.S.T. Global competition off to a rousing start with all teams getting visas

Posted on 07/18/17 by Frank Tobe

After much uproar, media attention, and political pressure, Pres. Trump intervened and enabled all the teams headed to Washington, DC for the F.I.R.S.T Global Robotics Championship whose visas had been held up or denied to get their visas - some as late as two days before the event. Although the Afghan team got all the press, the team from Gambia was also denied when they first applied.

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Hand-wringing hides the fact that Mexico is employing more and fewer are coming to work in the U.S.

Posted on 07/16/17 by Frank Tobe

Manufacturers, robotics associations, ethicists and media pundits are still fighting the robotics and jobs issue yet The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) cites that between 2010 and 2016, 136,748 robots were shipped to the US —the most in any seven-year period in the US robotics industry. At the same time, US manufacturing employment increased by 894,000 and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8% to 4.7%. 

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The ups (and downs) of tech, robotic and AI funding

Posted on 07/13/17 by Frank Tobe

SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robot operation (a joint venture with Foxconn, Alibaba and SoftBank) has incurred a big $274 million loss while Asia more than doubled the amount of funding for tech startups thus far in 2017. No one ever said VC funding was for the faint of heart.

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Robotics industry growing faster than expected

Posted on 07/10/17 by Frank Tobe

Two reputable research resources are reporting that the robotics industry is growing more rapidly than expected. BCG (Boston Consulting Group) is conservatively projecting that the market will reach $87 billion by 2025; Tractica, incorporating the robotic and AI elements of the emerging self-driving industry, is forecasting the market will reach $237 billion by 2022.

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Baidu’s self-driving tech plans revealed

Posted on 07/05/17 by Frank Tobe

In the race to develop self-driving technology, Chinese Internet giant Baidu unveiled its 50+ partners in an open source development program, revised its timeline for introducing autonomous driving capabilities on open city roads, described the Project Apollo consortium and its goals, and declared Apollo to be the ‘Android of the autonomous driving industry.’

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China’s e-commerce dynamo JD makes deliveries via mobile robots

Posted on 07/05/17 by Frank Tobe

China’s second-biggest e-commerce company, JD.com (Alibaba is first), is testing mobile robots to make deliveries to its customers and imagining a future of a fully unmanned logistics system. Story idea and image courtesy of RoboticsToday.com.au.

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June 2017 fundings, acquisitions and IPOs

Posted on 07/01/17 by Frank Tobe

June, 2017 saw two robotics-related companies get $50 million each and 17 others raised $248 million for a monthly total of $348 million. Acquisitions also continued to be substantial with SoftBank's acquisition of Google's robotic properties Boston Dynamics and Schaft plus two others acquisitions.

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Quiet inroads in robotics: 4 company profiles

Posted on 06/28/17 by Frank Tobe

Robots have been around for 50 years welding, painting, handling and performing herculean tasks in harsh environments. But in the last 10 years, service robots have emerged and are performing all sorts of lesser but equally valuable tasks. Consider MiR, MakeBlock, Grey Orange and Ocado and the inroads they are making into their respective industries.

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“I have accepted a group of investors’ request to step aside,” wrote Uber’s Travis Kalanick

Posted on 06/22/17 by Frank Tobe

Kalanick is still on Uber's board. He owns a majority of the voting shares. Some are already comparing this situation to Steve Jobs' ouster from Apple. It's possible Kalanick could someday return in a blaze of glory. But for now, he is out and Uber is searching for a new CEO.

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Answer: Fly your plane; Question: Who or what is CARNAC?

Posted on 06/22/17 by Frank Tobe

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is researching autonomous co-piloting so they can fly without a human pilot on board. The robotic system — called the Common Aircraft Retrofit for Novel Autonomous Control (CARNAC) (not to be confused with the old Johnny Carson Carnac routine) — has the potential to reduce costs, enable new missions, and improve performance.

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Notes and pics from Xponential in Dallas, Innorobo in Paris and ICRA in Singapore

Posted on 06/18/17 by Frank Tobe

Conferences and trade shows, held in interesting locations around the world, can be entertaining, informative and an opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and renew acquaintances. Three recent examples: Xponential, the mostly defense-related unmanned land, sea and air show, held in Dallas; Innorobo, focused on service robotics, in Paris; and ICRA, the IEEE's premier robotics conference, in Singapore.

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Tidal wave of Uber news eclipses regrouping over Levandowski firing

Posted on 06/11/17 by Frank Tobe

Uber, the global ride-sharing transportation company, facing angry drivers, worried investors, the death of the CEO's mother, and a host of sexual harrassment claims, IP infringement suits, and departures and firings of key personnel, has named two replacements to recover from the recent firing of Anthony Levandowski who headed their Advanced Technologies Group, their OTTO trucking unit, and their self-driving team. Levandowski was fired May 30th.

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Finally! Google sells Boston Dynamics to SoftBank

Posted on 06/08/17 by Frank Tobe

In a long-awaited transaction, The New York Times Dealbook announced that SoftBank was buying Boston Dynamics from Alphabet (Google). Also included in the deal is the Japanese startup Schaft. Acquisition details were not disclosed.

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China’s strategic plan for a robotic future is working: 500+ Chinese robot companies

Posted on 06/02/17 by Frank Tobe

In 2015, after much research, I wrote about China having 194 robot companies and used screen shots of The Robot Report's Global Map to show where they were and a chart to show their makeup. We've just concluded another research project and have added hundreds of new Chinese companies to the database and global map.

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May 2017 fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

Posted on 06/01/17 by Frank Tobe

May 2017 saw two robotics-related companies get $9.5 billion in funding and 22 others raised $249 million. Acquisitions also continued to be substantial with Toyota Motor's $260 million acquisition of Bastian Solutions plus three others (where the amounts weren't disclosed).

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Two stars; different fates

Posted on 05/30/17 by Frank Tobe

Andy Rubin, who developed the Android operating system at Google and then went on to lead Google through multiple acquisitions into robotics, has launched a new consumer products company. Anthony Levandowski, who, after many years with Google and their autonomous driving project, launched Otto which Uber acquired, was sued by Google, and just got fired by Uber.

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Christian Slater plays an evil hacker—perfectly!!

Posted on 05/24/17 by Frank Tobe

Here's a video you will want to watch. "The Wolf" is really an ad showing how a hacker can enter a network through an unprotected printer (or robot). Christian Slater stars as the evil hacker. 

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