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What's New In Robotics?  23.11.2018

Emmet Cole
by Emmet Cole. Last updated on Nov 23, 2018 9:23 AM
Posted on Nov 23, 2018 7:00 AM. 9 min read time
-News from UR, Mazda Toyota, Hyundai & Kia
-The Emma Coalition
-AEye breaks record
-Meet Affetto
-Five vids for Friday
-And much more!


Manufacturing & Cobot Roundup

  Cobot maker Universal Robots announced this week that qualified US orders received and processed by December 16, 2018 will be delivered by the end of the year.  This is especially important for manufacturers hoping to meet the December 31 Section 179 tax deduction deadline.

Via BusinessWire:

With the help of the Section 179 tax deduction, US businesses may be able to significantly stretch their use-it-or-lose-it 2018 budgets and purchase collaborative robots to take on the repetitive manufacturing tasks that workers don’t want.   Section 179 requires that qualified equipment and off-the-shelf software is purchased and placed into service by December 31, 2018, but with its unique quick-ship program, Universal Robots can make that happen.

ICONSYS released video showing a cobot system they developed for panel building.  The system combines M-I-R, ICONSYS' interface module, a gripper from Robotiq and a cobot from Universal Robots...



Officials from Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA and the US state of Alabama --with some help from a robot-- broke ground on the automakers’ joint US$1.6 billion plant in Huntsville.  (H/T BizJournals


The auto-manufacturing facility is expected to start production of 300,000 vehicles annually from 2021.  Credit:  Mazda

Forbes profiled Shenzen, China-based robotics firm uArm, which recently completed a successful indiegogo funding round for its 7 axis xArm bot. 

https _blogs-images.forbes.com_bensin_files_2018_11_9AC6BE5B-A3F0-4156-8040-748950684A70-1200x800
Tony Le, co-founder of uArm with the xArm (Payload: 8lb, Reach: 27in.).  Credit: Ben Sin

  A new, non-profit, bi-partisan group created to help prepare the American labor market for changes brought about by robotics and AI has launched in San Francisco. Led by Littler (the world’s largest law firm specializing in labor and employment law) and Washington, DC-based consultancy, Prime Policy Group, the newly launched Emma Coalition is establishing two advisory boards, Asian Robotics Review reported:

The Future Workforce Advisory Board will identify areas of increased labor demand, as well as workers vulnerable to automation.  The Technical and Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board will identify existing best practices for worker retraining and vocational education and help develop curricula for the initiative’s training programs.

CBS Boston explored how bots from Boston-based Locus Robotics are helping to expedite deliveries this holiday season...



TFLCar went behind the scenes at Jeep's Toledo manufacturing facility to see how Jeep Wranglers are made.  The world's largest industrial robot makes an appearance alongside some impressive mobile robots...



Hyundai and Kia revealed "the world’s first robot-based quality test system" for automobile manufacturing this week, built using cobots from Universal Robots.


Via The Dong-A Ilbo:

The collaborative robot made by Hyundai and Kia is able to check six different functions in a single process, including the five ADAS functions, which include the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assistance (BCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and Surround View Monitor (SVM) in addition to the Head-up Display (HUD), in just 85 seconds.

AUDI Belgium released video showing a cobot from FANUC checking welding seams...



In other cobot and manufacturing news...



  Researchers from Australia and India revealed the “Arm-A-Dine” —a prototype robot arm worn in the middle of the chest that picks food from the table and delivers it to you (or your dining partner’s) mouth.


Via The Verge:

Arm-A-Dine not only grabs food from the table, but also makes a judgement on who to feed it to. A facial recognition app running on an attached smartphone scans your dining partner’s expression. If they’re smiling, your arm offers them the food; if they’re frowning, you get it. (And if the expression is neutral, the arm hovers ambiguously in the middle.)

I need a robot like the Arm-A-Dine, but one that has been modified to pinch me whenever I try to exceed my weekly chocolate biscuit allowance.

  Korea is the leading nation for robotics adoption, followed by Singapore, Thailand, China, and Taiwan, according to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). 

Credit:  Axios 

Vi TechRepublic:

The report uses data from the International Federation of Robots to rank industrial robot adoption rates for 27 countries. However, it adjusted the rankings to account for variances in manufacturing worker compensation, as the decision to use robots typically relies on the cost of funding the technology versus funding a human worker's salary.

  In tests conducted on the 914-meter runway of an airport in Byron, California, AEye's iDAR system was able to detect and track a truck at 1,000 meters --some four times the distance detectable by current LiDAR systems. 

Credit:  Aeye

Via UST:

AEye’s test sets a new benchmark for solid-state LiDAR range, and comes shortly after AEye previously announced a new speed record of a 100Hz scan rate.

Meanwhile, driverless vehicle firm Ridecell expanded its Series B equity investment round – raising $60 million in the process  (H/T Robotics & Automation News).

Finally, as part of their Thanksgiving celebrations, the folks at Houston Mechatronics Inc showed off the best way to cook a turkey...




  • Prototype of robot dog nose  (ScienceDaily)
  • Fire ant colonies could inspire robot swarms  (Fox News)
  • Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip  (PhysOrg)
  • Mama Mia It's Sophia: A Show Robot Or Dangerous Platform To Mislead?  (Forbes)
  • Chelsea Finn is teaching Brett the Robot how the world works (Observer Research Foundation)

Make sure to visit next week for more of the latest robotics and AI news!  Until then...

Five vids for Friday

1.  Researchers have shown that controlling just a few self-driving cars could prevent long traffic jams.  Using a video game–style interface to control simulated cars on made-up roadways, the team tested four reinforcement learning algorithms.  (H/T Science Mag)



2.  New video shows Henrik Christensen, one of ROBO Global's strategic advisors (and Qualcomm Chancellor's Chair of Robot Systems professor in the Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering UC San Diego) speaking at a recent event about important trends in robotics and artificial intelligence.



3.  A new restaurant has opened in China, staffed by one human manager and  seven robot cooks. 



4.  Engineers at Stanford's School of Engineering have developed an electronic glove that could one day be used to give robots "the sort of dexterity that humans take for granted."  (Via Stanford News)




5.  Meet Affetto --a child android built by engineers at Osaka University to help them explore how to "effectively control android facial movements to introduce more nuanced expressions, such as smiling and frowning.”  (H/T TechCrunch) 



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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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