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Monday, January 12, 2015

Rethink Robotics Announces $26.6 Million Series D Round of Financing

Credit: Rethink Robotics
Rethink Robotics today announced $26.6 million in Series D financing, led by GE Ventures, with additional participation from Goldman Sachs, both new investors. All of Rethink Robotics’ earlier investors are also participating in the round, including Bezos Expeditions, CRV, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Two Sigma Ventures. The funding will be used to support the company’s continued innovation, growth, and international expansion, and reflects Rethink Robotics’ position as a leader in the emerging market of collaborative robotics. This new investment brings the company’s total funding to more than $100 million since its founding in 2008.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Self-driving concept car from Mercedes-Benz

At the CES 2015 in Las Vegas German Mercedes-Benz presented its self-driving research vehicle F015 Luxury in Motion. By 2030, the number of mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants will increase from about 30 to over 40. "The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time," says Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "Autonomously driving cars by Mercedes-Benz shall offer exactly that. With the F 015 Luxury in Motion, this revolutionary concept of mobility becomes tangible for the first time." Check out the promo video below.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics

Credit: DHL
DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, has today published the new trend report ‘Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics’, highlighting the key elements and significant potential of autonomous technologies in the logistic industry. As a first step in the self-driving journey, the trend report contains various best-practice applications from different industries and also examines concrete use cases of self-driving vehicles across the entire logistics value chain. Applications for self-driving vehicles that are discussed in the report include:

  • Autonomous transport and assisted picking in warehouses
  • Autonomous outdoor logistics like yard, harbor and airport operations
  • Assisted highway trucking and convoying in line-haul transportation
  • Last-mile delivery

The report lists a wide range of crucial benefits of self-drivingvehicles including improved road safety, greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact. However, as the trend report explains, autonomous technologies still have some way to go before reaching full maturity. Considerable catching up is also required regarding regulations, public acceptance, and issues of liability. Despite these barriers, some compelling use cases have already emerged, clearly indicating that many organizations are willing to develop and deploy self-driving technologies.
Read the complete report here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

No Swedish UAVs to China

The Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP) has rejected an application from Swedish CybAero, which develops and sells autonomous unmanned helicopters (VTOL UAVs), for a license to export to Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). CybAero is now in discussions with ISP and planning to submit a new application.

CybAero announced in July 2014 an order placed by AVIC guarantee worth SEK 700-800 million through an eight-year framework agreement. The major focus of AVIC is to efficiently develop indigenous military technologies and to eventually compete with Boeing and Airbus in the civilian airline industry. AVIC has over 400,000 employees.

CybAero signed a framework agreement with AVIC for delivery of at least 70 helicopter systems in total, with at least 20 in the first three years and at least 50 the following five years. CybAero applied for an export license from ISP on September 8th and supplemented its application on September 30th with a request for a license to deliver only the first 20 systems in the next two years.

CybAero was founded in 2003, but the foundation of its business were laid in 1992 through research collaboration between Linköping University and the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI). CybAero is now established as a global VTOL UAV leader. The Company's APID product attracts much attention globally for being user-friendly, robust and price-efficient. The company has over 40 employees and has been listed on the NASDAQ OMX First North since 2007.

Chinese Aviation interested in Swedish Defence Research 
Last month the Swedish television program Uppdrag Granskning revealed that the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) has had commercial research cooperation talks on parts of a unique Swedish research program, Edge, which may be used for military purposes, with Chinese Aeronautical Establishment (CAE), affiliated with AVIC, using the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) as a front. Since Sweden officially supports the EU weapons embargo against China and Sweden's official stance is not to have any military cooperation with the dictatorship, it is strictly forbidden for FOI to deal with China directly, and that is why KTH has been used as a middle man.
KTH officials claim that the research program contains generic knowledge only, but has not sought permission from Swedish authority ISP for its activities. The Director General of the FOI, Jan-Olov Linde, denies allegations of using KTH as a front, and blames his researchers for the set-up between the Swedish research institute and its Chinese counterpart.

Edge is a CFD flow solver for unstructured grids of arbitrary elements. Edge is available as a complete source package, subject to the FOI license agreement. A limited feature copy of Edge can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New generation cleaning robots

Samsung Powerbot VR9000

Samsung Electronics recently announced the launch of the Powerbot VR9000, a visionary cleaning device that provides hands-free automated floor cleaning with strong suction power and convenience thanks to the company’s advanced technologies.

Credit: SamsungPowerbot 9000
The Powerbot VR9000 is an evolution in home cleaning that conquers the limitations of conventional robot vacuums and sweeps up dust just like a broom. It marks the start of a new generation in cleaning with its superior suction power, which is up to 60 times greater than conventional cleaners thanks to Samsung’s advanced Digital Inverter Technology. In addition, its enlarged brush, which covers a much wider area, ensures a more thorough clean whilst the unique CycloneForce technology reduces the risk of clogged filters to ensure the high performance lasts longer. Moreover, its upgraded scanning system, FullView Sensor™, allows speedy and smooth movement to give you thorough and efficient cleaning by cleverly avoiding obstacles thanks to a suite of sensors that minimise the blind spots.
The Powerbot VR9000 comes in two colour variants; Airborne Copper which blends twinkling gold and chic black or Deep Blue which mixes vivid blue and chic black.The Powerbot VR900 is been priced at eBay at US$ 1135,90.

Dyson 360 Eye

The British company Dyson has announced its first vacuum cleaning robot, the Dyson 360 Eye. It weighs 2.4kg, holds 0.4 liters of debris, auto-docks, and has a lithium-ion battery that claims to last for 20 minutes.
Credit: Dyson, 360 eye
The new vacuum cleaning robot will be available in Japan first before a wider international release and will cost 130,000 Yen -- roughly $1,250.

The Dyson 360 Eye™ robot constantly observes and interprets its surroundings with its unique 360° vision system that uses complex mathematics, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry to map and navigate a room. So it knows where it is, where it’s been and where it’s yet to clean.

Radial Root Cyclone™ technology
Dyson cyclones capture dirt and microscopic dust. For Dyson 360 Eye™ robot, Dyson engineers designed our smallest Radial Root Cyclone™ technology yet. It generates high centrifugal forces to capture particles as small as pollen and mould.
To create powerful suction you need a powerful motor. But powerful motors are big and heavy so Dyson engineers designed the Dyson Digital Motor V2. It’s light and small, yet extremely powerful – using digital pulse technology to enable it to spin at up to 78,000 rpm. It generates the highest suction of any robot vacuum.
Dyson 360 Eye™ robot is the only robot vacuum with continuous tank tracks, engineered for accurate manoeuvring over all floors.
Unlike most robot vacuums, Dyson 360 Eye™ robot provides suction across the full width of the machine. And instead of flimsy bristles and side sweepers, it has Dyson’s most advanced cleaner head technology: two types of bristles for hard floors and carpet.
Available for free on IOS and Android platforms, the Dyson Link app allows you to control and schedule how and when your Dyson 360 Eye™ robot vacuum cleans. It enables you to view maps of cleaning progress, even when you're not at home. It activates your 2 year guarantee, automatically downloads software updates and, should you ever need them, provides access to troubleshooting guides.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cyberdyne Inc. launched HAL® for Task Support

Credit: Cyberdyne
Japanese CYBERDYNE Inc. has launched a new product, HAL® for Task Support–Back Load Reduction Type which aims at work assistance to labors with reduced burden on an user’s back and mitigated risk of backache. By this, the Company will advance to the field of heavy task assistance devices, in addition to its existing field of medical devices.
The new product, controlled by Cybernic Voluntary Control*1 as well as the existing HAL® for Medical Use and HAL® for Wellbeing, is able to assist a user’s motion as he/she wishes with a certain assistance ratio*2. Therefore, it enables the user to perform works safely and naturally with the recognition of a weight of a lifted item. The device assists works by analyzing stress loading on the lumber spine and reducing burden on the low back. As the device is light and compact ( 2.9kg), the user can work for a long time without taking it off, when light work is also involved.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Amazon Picking Challenge 2015

Credit: Amazon.com
E-commerce giant Amazon has announced the first Amazon Picking Challenge to be held at ICRA in May 2015 in Seattle, WA, USA.
The competition will challenge entrants to build their own robot hardware and software that can attempt simplified versions of the general task of picking items from shelves. The robots will be presented with a stationary lightly populated inventory shelf and be asked to pick a subset of the products and put them on a table. The challenge combines object recognition, pose recognition, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, and error detection and recovery. The robots will be scored by how many items are picked in a fixed amount of time, with $26,000 in prizes being awarded. Participants will be encouraged to share and disseminate their approach to improve future challenge results and industrial implementations.
Amazon´s goal is to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions to some of the big problems in unstructured automation. To this end the contest will be awarding travel grants to ICRA 2015, practice equipment, and a large prize pool for the competition winners.