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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Adept Technology acquires MobileRobots

Adept Technology, Inc., the largest U.S.-based manufacturer of industrial robots with annual revenues of $50M, has announced June 14th to enter into an agreement to acquire privately held MobileRobots Inc., a provider of industry leading autonomous robot and automated guided vehicle (AGV) technologies generating $5M in annualized revenues.

Adept Technology´s CEO John Dulchinos explains this acquisition as a strategic step to develop and deliver highly flexible automation solutions aligned with the needs and demands of the companies target markets. Adept will focus MobileRobots solutions to address production logistics which is estimated to be a $1.4B market. This market segment is described by the automation of transference of products to and from production and manufacturing lines.Adept is clearly focused on removing the challenges and costs associated with manual and less sophisticated means of moving critical components through production environments in a flexible manner and MobileRobots extends this value proposition beyond the industry’s traditional application areas.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

UAS in National Skies

Today more than 1,500 types of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are in production worldwide and the commercial interest in UAS is growing. The probability is high that many of the military uses of UAS will migrate over into the civil sectors. The U.S. Border Patrol is using civilian versions of UAS to monitor vast stretches of the border area between Mexico and the U.S. In Japan rotary wing UAS platforms are being used for aerial agricultural crop spraying. In England, smaller fixed wing UAS are being used for monitoring road traffic and congestion, and for tracking suspicious or illegal behaviors by motorists.

But the biggest barrier to routine commercial UAS missions is still the lack of regulatory guidance and standards.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working with the Congress, the Defense Department, Homeland Security and NASA to determine the means and requirements for the integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System.

Recently FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center has established a cooperative research and development agreement with Insitu Inc., of Bingen, Washington, and the New Jersey Air National Guard to conduct research to guide development of recommendations for integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system. The research will be managed by the FAA’s Research and Technology Development office and conducted at the Technical Center.

Insitu Inc., a wholly-owned, independent subsidiary of The Boeing Company, will provide two ScanEagle aircraft and their related support hardware and data to the FAA. The ScanEagle has flown more than 315,000 hours in military operations, providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. It can fly more than 24 hours at a time and has been used in many civil applications, including search-and-rescue operations, fire and flood monitoring, and evacuation efforts conducted in hazardous weather.

European Conference on UAS 2010

The first high-level European Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will be held on 1 July 2010 in Brussels organised by the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Commission (EC). The conference marks a cornerstone in the efforts undertaken by the EDA and the EC in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. As the first European joint civil/defence initiative in the field, it widely opens the path to sustainable technological innovation and offers a bridge into a future European UAS market.

Since 2008 the Air4All consortium is working with EDA to develop a common strategy for the seamless integration of UAS within General Air Traffic. It is expected that this joint approach will lead to a set of coherent projects addressing the commercial as well as the security and defence uses of UAS.

In November 2008 the EDA Steering Board approved a new Category B project on a Future Aerial Unmanned System (FUAS). Seven EDA participating Member States contribute to this project: Germany, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The FUAS project is currently in its Preparation Phase. It aims at fulfilling Army and Navy tactical ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) requirements from the seven contributing Member States, reflected in the Common Staff Requirement (CSR), by means of a Vertical Take Off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System (VTOL-UAS). An initial in service horizon of the FUAS is the timeframe 2016-2018.

UAS in Asia

The Asian UAS market is still in its infacy stage but spending is expected to increase in the next 5-10 years. Most Asian countries have set up UAS development programs but still lack expertise and resources to develop advanced domestic UAS. Japan could be a global leader in UAS technology but is still restricted by international arm adn weapon trade restrictions. China has started UAS development and is expected to become a main player in the region.

(Sources: FAA, EDA, EASA, Eurocontrol, Frost & Sullivan)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Robotics 2010

According to preliminary data from IFR worldwide supply of industrial robots 2009 slumped dramatically by about 45% compared to 2008, one of the most successful years. But in the first quarter 2010 the sales skyrocketed worldwide by more than 50% compared to the first quarter 2009.

Japan, was faced with a decrease of 57% compared to 2008. About 14,000 industrial robots were sold, less than half of the average number of units sold yearly between 2005 and 2008 (about 37,000 units). The other big robot markets, Germany and North America fell by 44% and 48%, respectively. These three countries represented 50% of the annual worldwide robot sales in 2009.

Even the growing robot markets were down. China, the fastest growing market up to 2008, bought 31% less robots in 2009 compared to 2008. Also, the robot shipments to ASEAN countries, India, the Central and Eastern European countries and Brazil were down.

But IFR President Åke Lindqvist is optimistic and predicts annual worldwide sales of almost 100,000 industrial robots by 2013. He is convinced that "manufacturing companies must automate and use robotics to stay competitive – or die.”

The International Federation of Robotics, IFR, is one of the primary resources for world-wide robot industry data. IFR has 50 members representing the global robotics industry including robot suppliers, integrators, R&D institutes and national robot associations with a proposed robotics turnover 2008 of $19 billion.