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What's New In Robotics? 13.03.2020

Emmet Cole
by Emmet Cole. Last updated on Mar 13, 2020 7:41 AM
Posted on Mar 13, 2020 7:00 AM. 8 min read time

Good morning. In this week's news mix: Universal Robots launches UR+ Application Kits, Kassow begins new cobot production and KUKA's LBR Med picks up major award. We also cheer insect-inspired Mars bots, explore robot-human vulnerability, marvel at salmon-robot interaction and much more!

Cobots & manufacturing

Universal Robots launched 'UR+ Applications Kits' this week. Each kit --there are 20 so far and more in the pipeline-- was developed with a specific set of applications in mind, such as screwdriving, gluing, and polishing. The end result is an impressive range of component and software packages designed to further simplify cobot deployments. 

Capture-10Credit: Universal Robots

Robotics Tomorrow reports:

An example is Robotiq's Surface Finishing Kit now compatible with over 20 pneumatic and electrical orbital tools from leading, worldwide brands. The kit allows manufacturers with polishing or sanding processes to utilize the kit's built-in path generator to ensure consistent applied force in each cycle, increasing quality and productivity while reducing programming time from hours to minutes.

Meanwhile, Kassow Robots announced this week that it has started production of its new KR 1410 and KR 1805 cobots.

Credit: Kassow Robots

Via Robotics & Automation News:

Kristian Kassow, founder and CEO of Kassow Robots, says: “After first presenting our company in 2018 and introducing the first two models in 2019, we can now offer a strong product family of four cobots. For small and medium-sized enterprises, they are a strong, cost-efficient cobot package with almost infinite potential applications.”

On Wednesday in London, KUKA picked up Frost & Sullivan's prestigious 2020 Global Company of the Year Award for its medical robotics business unit and "especially for its best-in-class LBR Med" cobot. 

kuka-2Credit: KUKA


With a uniquely configurable programming platform and valuable certifications, the LBR Med is one of the most advanced off-the-shelf robots in the market. As the first robotic component certified for medical product integration worldwide, the LBR Med is strategically positioned to dominate the medical robotics market.

Cool new video from Omron shows just how easy it is to perform CNC machine tending applications when you bring a TM cobot, an adaptive Robotiq gripper and a mobile base together...



NASA JPL unveiled the latest version of its Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (A-PUFFER) bot this week. Designed for lunar scouting missions, the bot now has larger wheels, an upgraded onboard computer with a wireless radio and a stereo camera.

A-PUFFER-MAIN-16A-PUFFER being put through its paces.  Credit: NASA JPL


Because each A-PUFFER is small enough to fit in a shoebox, multiple robots can be deployed to work together and collaborate on their task. The team of three successfully trekked the sandy and rocky terrain of JPL's Mars Yard while simultaneously mapping the environment using sensors.

Salmon can get really stressed out when a human diver enters their space to perform inspections. With that in mind, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST) have been exploring whether the fish will accept robots in their midst more easily and if so, which type of robot is most acceptable. (Paper)

salmonMaarja Kruusmaa is exploring ethical and effective ways
for robots to inspect farmed salmon. Credit: NUST

Lead researcher Maarja Kruusmaa told New Scientist:

“Size matters. In fact, it seems to be the only thing that matters significantly to how the fish react to an interloper. You can make a very complicated robot that’s extremely quiet and has a smiley face and speaks fish language, but that would be hugely costly and the fish don’t seem to care.”

Come back next week for more of the latest robotics news! Until then, please enjoy...

Five vids for Friday

1.  It's widely accepted that all humans make mistooks mistakes. It's also widely accepted that there is something instantly likeable about people who can admit to their mistakes and get on with things. But what is the effect on a group of humans when a robot expresses vulnerability in a similar way? Researchers from Yale University tried to find out. (Yale University | Paper

2.   Researchers at MIT unveiled a robot learning system this week that "gives robots the human-like planning ability to simultaneously weigh many ambiguous – and potentially contradictory – requirements to reach an end goal." (H/T The Robot Report | Paper

3.  The bio-inspired RoboFly was developed by engineers at the Autonomous Insect Robotics Laboratory at the University of Washington. Seeker reported on the project this week.

4. Meanwhile, NASA 360 released nifty new video about the work its researchers doing to develop swarms of robotic bees for Mars exploration. 


5. The University of Tokyo's Kanako Harada once had plans to become a surgeon, but was put off by the thought of blood. Instead, she became an engineer and now works on the development of advanced medical robots.


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Emmet Cole
Written by Emmet Cole
A freelance robotics writer since 2006, Emmet is an Economist contributor, and a regular contributor to Robotics Business Review and Robotics Trends. His writing on robots has also appeared in Wired, BBC Future, BBC Focus magazine, Space Quarterly, and numerous other outlets.
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