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What's New In Robotics This Week - 27.07.2018

Emmet Cole
by Emmet Cole on Jul 27, 2018 7:00:00 AM

-Manufacturing & Cobot Roundup 
-P&G to increase automation deployments 
-Esben Østergaard talks cobots 
-ABB to acquire Intrion
-Meet Centauro 
-Farewell Kuri 
-And much more! 

Manufacturing & cobot roundup 

Procter & Gamble announced plans to increase the number of robots it uses from 3,000 to a total of 5,000 over the next five years.   Cobots are expected to be an important element of the firm's overall automation strategy.    

proctorCaption: A modified cobot from Universal Robots packing diapers. Credit: Ann Thompson / WVXU

Via WXVU

"Managers say the reason for the robotic increase is due to advances in vision and gripping, as well as robots that can work alongside people.  P&G has 150-200 collaborative robots (ones that work with people) including some at its Lima, Ohio plant."  

With no robotics experience, the family-owned Zippertubing Company in Phoenix, Arizona, integrated cobots from Universal Robots in vision-guided applications tending snap fastening machines for wrap-around cable jacketing.  The result?  A defect rate of zero and a doubling of production output...

 

 

ABB is set to acquire Intrion, a European firm specializing in logistics automation solutions and services for the warehouse and distribution, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. The value of the deal --which is due to close in Q3/Q4 of this year-- has not been disclosed. 

Researchers at MIT are trying to develop a cobot system that can predict human motion and integrate these predictions into its path planning... 

 

 

In a Q&A with VisionSystems, Universal Robots co-founder and Engelberger Robotics Award for Technology winner, Esben Østergaard discussed the rise of collaborative robots, the role of machine vision in cobots and the firm's amazing e-Series:

We start shipping the e-Series August 1, 2018, so no deployments yet but we expect users with applications that i.e. require force control right out of the box such as sanding, buffing, polishing and deburring where force-feedback is paramount to benefit. Increased repeatability of 30 microns (0.03mm) in the UR3e and UR5e models and 50 microns (0.05mm) in the UR10e also makes the new cobots suitable for precise finishing, assembly and electronics tasks.

Gideon Brothers, a Croatian startup that develops autonomous robots for work in warehouses and other industrial logistics raised US$765,000 in funding. (H/T TechCrunch.) 

Automaker Opel sold around 1.13 million vehicles in 2017. In cooperation with FANUC, Opel installed an "innovative collaborative robot application" on a production line... 

 


Fanuc announced that its net profit grew 9.5% on the year to 44.7 billion yen ($403 million) for Q1 2018. Despite sales growing 8.5% to 182.8 billion yen the company said that it expects to see a 20% decline in the bottom line to 145.2 billion yen over the rest of the year.  A 34% decline in orders from China "suggests Chinese buyers are pulling back on investment over fears of damage from a trade war with the U.S.," Nikkei Asian Review reported. 

China's domestic robot production has seen 20 percent annual growth each year for the past five years, according to the China Robot Industry Alliance.  131,000 industrial robots were made in China in 2017.  However, the market shares of domestically made industrial robots fell for the first time in five years, shrinking to below 27 percent in 2017.  (H/T Xinhua.) 

UK-based lighting manufacturer ASD recently installed two cobots on their street lighting production line. "This is a bold move for ASD with concerns that automation will replace jobs, however this couldn’t be further from the truth," says the firm...

 

 

In other news

CBS8 San Diego explored the word of cobots, declaring "Now it is not Man vs. Machine, it's Man WITH machine!"

- Mike Fair, product manager at Rethink Robotics, spoke with Packaging Digest about the opportunities for cobots in today's packaging facilities

-New cost structures like Robots as a Service can help manufacturers adapt to a changing workforce within the manufacturing space, according to engineering firm and systems integrator QDS Systems.  (H/T Robotics Business Review.) 

- E-commerce and order fulfillment firm Capacity LLC, announced plans to partner with RightHand Robotics to integrate the RightPick automation system into Capacity's fulfillment solution.  

 

Elsewhere... 

Engineers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have developed an impressive new robot, dubbed 'Centauro.'  The 1.5-meter-tall (5 ft), 93-kg (205-lb) robot was designed for disaster relief.  (H/T IEEE Spectrum.) 

centauro-robot-3Caption: Centauro struts its stuff.  Credit: Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst GmbH 

As more robots are connected to the internet, they will become targets for cybercrime and mischief, with the end result that "hordes of research robots could be hijacked for fun and sabotage," Will Knight warned in MIT Technology Review:

Researchers at Brown University, led by Stefanie Tellex, scanned the internet for machines running ROS, a popular open-source operating system used on many research robots. Tellex and her team discovered more than a hundred systems vulnerable to being accessed and even manipulated over the internet. Not a huge number—but a warning for the research community, Tellex says.

Roboticist Jaroslaw Ceborski is founder of the newly-established Autom, a firm created to develop a domestic robot that can obey voice commands, climb stairs, and employ a gripper for various tasks around the home.  Here's Ceborski on the topic of home robots... 

 

 

Mayfield Robotics announced that it is to cease production of its Kuri domestic bots.  While the firm will refund all pre-order deposits to customers, Kuri robots that have already been made will not ship.  (H/T Mashable.) 

https_2F2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com2Fuploads2Fcard2Fimage2F8174392F6b2cbc9b-28ee-47ac-a538-6d18f0a3317dCaption: Farewell Kuri.  Credit: Mayfield Robotics 

More details emerged about Boston Dynamics' plans to sell its amazing, biologically-inspired SpotMini bot. 

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Caption: SpotMini robot strides through a conference room. Credit: Charles Krupa / AP. 

Via The Washington Post

“This robot will be available next year," he said, referring to SpotMini. “We’ve built 10 by hand, we’re building 100 with manufacturers at the end of this year, and in the middle of 2019, we’re going to begin production at the rate of about 1,000 a year.”

One item that remains a mystery?  Just how much a SpotMini will cost. 

I'll be back next Friday with more robotics news.  Until then... 

Five vids for Friday 

1.  A robot-themed restaurant has opened in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore, India.  The robots --which can understand English and Tamil-- are used to pick up food from the kitchen and deliver it to customers' tables. The robot-friendly restaurant claims to be the first of its kind in the country. 

 

 

 

2.   Kanta Dihal is an expert on artificial intelligence and a researcher at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge.  In a new talk, she looks back on the history of the legal category of 'personhood' and argues that the more autonomous machines become, the less likely we are to grant them rights and responsibilities.  

 

 

 

3.  In this fascinating talk, robobiologist Anjali Jaiprakash explains how she used a robotic vision technology called Light Field to build a retina-imaging device that she hopes will help to eliminate preventable blindness around the world. 

 

 

 

4.   The Australian Institute of Marine Science is using aerial and underwater robots to improve remote monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef.  (H/T BusinessInsider.) 

 

 

 

5.  Researcher at Europe's EPFL have created an insect-inspired drone that deforms upon impact --without breaking-- and then returns to its original shape.  

 


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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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