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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Robotic Hand from Japan

Credit: ITK, Handroid 
Japan-based tech startup ITK has developed a advanced robot hand called Handroid, that can be controlled by operators who can control each finger remotely. The Handroid can mimic the operator’s movements, for example in environments where it’s too dangerous to use human hands. At 740g, the Handroid is very light, prompting ITK to look into possibilities to develop a prosthetic hand that could be controlled by brain waves or cerebral nerves.
ITK plans to commercialize the Handroid in about two years for about $6,500 per unit – a very low price for such a device. Check out the demo video below.

ASV Roboat World Championship at WRSC 2011!

WRSC 2011 Roboat
The ASV Roboat from Austrian INNOC research team successfully defeated its World Champion title at the 4th World Robotic Sailing Championship 2011, that took place in Luebeck, Germany. Roboat has been in development by a INNOC research team since 2006.  
Robotic sail boats perform the complex manoeuvres of sailing fully automatically and without human assistance. Starting off by calculating the best route based on weather data and going on to independent tacking and jibing, stand-alone sailing boats are able to sail through to any and every destination. The human being merely has to enter the destination co-ordinates. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge 2011

Zero Robotics is a student competition that takes "arena robotics" to new heights, literally.  The robots are miniature satellites called SPHERES, and the finals are aboard the International Space Station!

Zero Robotics was created in 2009 by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) and astronaut Greg Chamitoff with the goal of opening research on the International Space Station to large groups of secondary school students.  Zero Robotics draws significant inspiration from FIRST robotics (hence the name) and shares common goals including building lifelong skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Zero Robotics is envisioned as a complementary competition to FIRST, since FIRST robotics concentrates on the building of hardware and human control techniques, while Zero Robotics concentrates on the development of autonomous software.

Zero Robotics had a "Pilot" event in 2009 with ten High School students (grades 9-12), a Nationwide Pilot in 2010 with over 200 High School students from 19 US states and a summer program (NASA Summer of Innovation) in 2010 with over 150 middle school students (grades 5-8).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One Million Industrial Robots to replace Chinese Workers

Credit: Bloomberg Business Week
According to a report of Xinhua News, Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidy of the Hon Hai Precision Industries Ltd., and the largest original equipment manufacture (OEM) electronics company in Taiwan plan to replace hundreds of employees with “one million robots” over the next three years to to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company.
The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers.

In 2010 Foxconn has been recognized in western media for workers suicides and military management practices.
Foxconn currently has 10,000 robots on the assembly lines making iPhones and iPads. At the Longhua plant 137,000 iPhones a day, or about 90 a minute are produced.

Foxconn started using ABB robots in year 2000. when the company manufactured enclosures, primarily for desktop PCs and PC servers. The Shenzhen plant, with its more than 80 000 employees is the biggest industry in China, having such prestigious customers as Dell, Apple, HP, Cisco, Symaco and Nokia. In 2007 ABB transfered the production of its IRB 1600 from Västerås, Sweden to ABB’s production unit in Shanghai. Foxconn was a major contributing factor for this move.

ABB is so far the only multinational company to produce industrial robots in China, and its locally developed and manufactured robotic products and systems are shipped around the world to equip the production lines of leading manufacturers. In 2010 ABB Robotics Division presented the IRB 120, the first core product developed by ABB Robotics Division in China. It is the smallest robot of ABB ever with features of alert movement, compact structure and light weight. This robot, weighing only 25 kilograms, can work in a range up to 580mm, and achieves a resetting accuracy at 0.01mm. It only takes it 0.58 second to pick up every kilogram of materials. With a superior performance in materials handling and assembling, it can be used in a wide range of industries, including the electronics, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical and scientific research sectors. It takes an obvious advantage over other similar robots when handling and assembling small parts, especially where space is at a premium.

The Chinese government has stressed the development of robotics in its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), in a bid to increase the level of manufacturing automation, which is key to improving China's competitiveness. Although the robotics business was originally driven by strong demand from the automobile industry, ABB is seeking opportunities in other sectors as more companies expand and seek better quality control and production efficiency.

300.000 Industrial robots annual shipment 2011-2013?
One million industrial robot shipment means about 300.000 units p.a., which is 3 times the global industrial robot shipment in 2010.

According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) about 115,000 industrial robots were shiped in 2010, which means that the number of units sold worldwide almost doubled compared to the very weak year 2009. In 2011 a further increase of robot sales between 10% and 15% is expected which would bring a new peak level of about 130,000 sold units within reach. Between 2012 and 2014 a moderate annual growth rate of 5% (in average) is more likely.

According to a report in January 2011 by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Global Industrial Robotics Market might reach 143.000 shipment units by 2015.

According to US Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a total of 8879 robots valued at $577.8 million were ordered by North American companies in the first six months of the year. When orders from outside North America are added, the totals are 10,476 robots valued at $667.9 million, the best first half for the robotics industry since 2007 according to Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Japanese Elderly Care Assisting Robot

Researchers at Japanese RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research and Tokai Rubber Industries (TRI) have developed RIBA-II, the next generation care-assisting robot using high-precision tactile sensors and flexible motor control technology that takes Japan one step closer to its goal of providing high-quality care for its growing elderly population. The new robot can lift a patient up to 80 kgs in weight off floor-level bedding and into a wheelchair, freeing care facility personnel of one of their most difficult and energy-consuming tasks.

With an elderly population in need of nursing care projected to reach a staggering 5.69 million by 2015, Japan faces an urgent need for new approaches to assist care-giving personnel. One of the most strenuous tasks for such personnel, carried out an average of 40 times every day, is that of lifting a patient from a futon at floor level into a wheelchair. Robots are well-suited to this task, yet none have yet been deployed in care-giving facilities.
Watch a video demonstration at

World Robot Market $30 Billion by 2016

In 2010, the world robots market and related products was valued at $21 billion, and is expected to reach $30 billion by 2016, according to a new report on This represents an increase of 6.7% CAGR for the 2011-2016 reporting period, from a 2011 estimate of $22 billion. The robot industry is comprised of six key segments: domestic service robots; industrial robots; military robots; professional service robots; security robots, and space robots.

The Asian market will show the largest growth over the forecast period. This sector is valued at nearly $7 billion in 2011 and is expected to increase at a 7.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach nearly $11 billion in 2016.

The North American market is estimated to reach nearly $5 billion in 2011 and is expected to increase at a 2.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach nearly $6 billion in 2016.

There are 16 industries which are most reliant on robotic technology, including aerospace, chemical and fuel processing, defense, education and research, food processing, home care, medicine and surgery, pharmaceutical manufacturing and textile/clothing manufacturing.

The 267 page robot research report provides an in-depth analysis of the market, incorporating historic and forecast data for the period 2011-2016. Divers/barriers to growth, technologies, trends, competitive landscape, patents, standards, regulations and numerous other influencing factors are also discussed.