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What's New In Robotics This Week - Oct 13

Emmet Cole
by Emmet Cole. Last updated on Oct 13, 2017 7:00 AM
Posted on Oct 13, 2017 7:00 AM. 10 min read time

 -Manufacturing & Cobot Roundup
-GM Acquires Strobe
-Sony's Aibo Robot Set For A Comeback?
-Robots, Contaminants, & Mars Exploration
...and much more! 

Manufacturing & Cobot Roundup 

Germany managed to quadruple the number of industrial robots over the last 20 years without causing human redundancies, according to a new report

Via Quartz

They found that despite the significant growth in the use of robots, they hadn’t made any dent in aggregate German employment. “Once industry structures and demographics are taken into account, we find effects close to zero,” the researchers said in the report.

“It’s not like jobs were destroyed, in the sense that a manufacturing robot is installed and then the workers are fired because of the robots—that never really happened in Germany,” study co-author Jens Südekum, from Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, told Quartz. “What happened instead is that in industries where they had more robots, they just created fewer jobs for entrants.”

Tampere University of Technology, Finland, showed off some their work with cobots... 



The Robotic Industries Association announced the signing of an alliance partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and HealthZDNet reports: 

"RIA has a long history of helping to keep around industrial robotics," says Jeff Burnstein, the organization's president. "We developed the first American national robot safety standard in 1986 and we've kept it up-to-date since then."

Burnstein adds, "This new alliance with OSHA and NIOSH [the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] will help us to continue advancing worker safety as more robots enter the workplace." 

Lean Robotics can help you design safe collaborative robot cells. Find out more here

HMK released video of a TM5 collaborative conveyor setup... 



A "silent cobot revolution" is brewing in Indian workspaces, according to Economic Times

For Denmark-based Universal Robots, India has become its fastest growing market in less than two years of starting operations in the country , Jürgen von Hollen, president, Universal Robots told ET. The company , which is one of the leading player in `Cobots' or (Collaborative Robots that work alongside human beings), already has automotive companies such as Bajaj Auto and Royal Enfield as its customers along with healthcare provider Aravind Eye Hospital and educational and research institute[s].

Elsewhere, Voodoo Manufacturing tripled 3D printing production using collaborative robots and John Santagate, Research, director for service robotics at Manufacturing Insights talked about the current state of the industry with Modern Materials Handling.  

Universal Robots showed how you can make the most of your CNC machine with cobots... 



Lufthansa Technik AG has filed patents applications for a new composite repair robot designed to improve repair procedures for structures made of fiber-reinforced composites. Via MRO Network:

The robot, which was developed through LHT's Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair (CAIRE) project, is mounted on an aircraft component using suction cups. The robot's specially developed software scans and diagnoses damage, identifies the surface and calculates the scarf joint's form and a milling path before cutting out the damaged material. Once this is complete, technicians can cut repair layers to size, insert them into the 3D scarfing surface the robot created and finish by gluing and curing the newly inserted part.

Robots are turning up in the 'craft barrel' manufacturing business... 



General Motors Acquires Strobe

GM announced that it has acquired Strobe --a company that specializes in laser-imaging technology for use by autonomous vehicles-- and incorporate operations into Cruise Automation, a subsidiary dedicated to the development of self-driving technology.

The New York Times reports:  

The deal gives G.M. in-house engineering expertise in the development of so-called lidar sensors that create high-definition images for vehicles operated by computers.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Adding Strobe to its Cruise operations will allow G.M. to accelerate its efforts to build and test electric cars with self-driving capabilities.


In other GM-related robotics news, the firm has announced that it plans to “take full responsibility” if a crash takes place during an autonomous driving trip.

Brad Templeton at Robohub is not surprised that GM is the latest firm to take this position:

Even to this day I still see articles which ask the question, “who is liable in an accident?” and then don’t answer it as though the answer is unknown or hard to figure out. It never was. There was never any doubt that the creators of these vehicles would take responsibility for any accidents they cause. 

Is Sony's Aibo Robot Set For A Comeback? 

Sony is reportedly getting back into the consumer robot business after a 12-year hiatus. The firm is believed to be putting together a development team that features people formerly involved in the development of Sony's pet-dog-like consumer robot Aibo. 

Nikkei Asian Review broke the story: 

The in-home robot represents a strategic shift for Sony, whose President and CEO Kazuo Hirai suggested in June 2016 that the company may develop robots for industrial use, such as factory automation. Since then, however, the bar for cracking the industrial robot market has been deemed too high and would force Sony to compete with established players that already have high market shares. Sony feels there is a better chance for success in the home-use robot sector since it is still at a nascent stage.

Here's a 2004 promo video of the Aibo ERS-7 in action... 



Asian Robotics Review asks "Is it too late to recapture the magic that made this robot dog loved by so many?" 

That SONY should be part of our robot future is without question; its robot pedigree had, emphasis on “had”, few equals back in the day (circa 1999-2006).

As mentioned, in robotics that’s downright antediluvian.

IEEE Spectrum attributes the move to the growing popularity of home robots: 

Why is Sony resurrecting Aibo now? What seems most likely is that the company has seen the rise of a handful of home robots that are starting to act as Internet interfaces and smart home coordinators. Jibo and Kuri, to take just two examples, are promising to be doing what Aibo would almost certainly have done if a robust Internet and smart homes existed back in 2006. 

Robots, Contaminants, & Mars Exploration 

Under current rules governing space exploration, robotic missions to Mars that have not been appropriately cleaned and sterilized must steer clear of designated Special Regions to avoid introducing Earth-borne biological and organic contaminants. 

Some experts, writing in Astrobiology Journal, claim that this strategy is actually hindering the discovery of Martian life forms and it may be time to relax planetary protection policies governing Mars exploration in advance of human missions. 

figure2.gifCaption: On Earth, life gained a foothold early on and started to diversify (represented by the fat cone), driven by genetic interchange through promiscuous horizontal gene transfer (represented by the lines in the cone), and to transform the planet. The possible biological history of Mars is totally unknown (represented by the hypothetical thinner and blurred cone), maybe including scarce horizontal gene transfer events, resulting in smaller phylogenetic groups. The yellow arrows represent possible natural transfer of microbes from Earth to Mars through meteorites, a common event throughout the entire history of the Solar System. Today, the concern seems to be the possible presence of hitchhikers onboard our spacecrafts. LHB = Late Heavy Bombardment. 

Via Astrobiology Journal:

[We] advocate allowing immediate access to the Special Regions for vehicles with the cleanliness level of Curiosity, Mars2020, or ExoMars. For this, it would be necessary to reevaluate the current Planetary Protection restrictions and make sure they are properly adapted for the new space age we are entering, particularly distinguishing clearly between spacecraft cleanliness for biological reconnaissance and spacecraft cleanliness for planetary protection.

This will reduce the likelihood that spacecraft cleanliness issues create conflicts between planetary protection efforts and science objectives, abiding to the principle that Planetary Protection policies should enable the exploration of Mars and not prohibit it. 

AlphaGaileo has more. 

Appropriately cleaned, but never sterilized, I'll be back next week with more news from the world of robotics. Until then, please enjoy these videos and links! 


























Robot road rage? Impatient drivers causing accidents with law-abiding autonomous cars (AutoBlog)
Epson Europe and the evolution of robotics (Manufacturing Global
The USA is taking on Japan in a giant robot duel you can watch next Tuesday (The Verge
Your robot masseuse will see you now (MedicalXpress
City-centre robot distribution is speeding up one-hour delivery (Wired
Scientists Are Getting Closer to Making Edible Gelatin Robots That Can Function Inside Your Body (Fortune
SF sidewalk delivery robot ban advances toward approval (San Francisco Examiner
The sex robot revolution is approaching, study says (NY Post
When your robot learns from humans, who should train it? (CBC News
Chinese robot police used for crowd control (Sino

Convince your boss to go with cobots!

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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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