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Friday, September 30, 2011

Mobile Telerobot wins European AAL Forum Award 2011

The ExCite Project (Enabling SoCial Interaction Through Embodiment) coordinated by prof. Silvia Coradeschi at Swedish Orebro university has won the first European AAL Forum Award 2011. The project has been selected as the most promising among 80 EUropean projects. A mobile telepresence robot is used to decrease social isolation of elderly people and to increase safety at home.

The primary objective of the ExCITE project is to evaluate user requirements for social interaction via robotic telepresence, and develop insight around the usability and acceptance of this technology. The project is focused on user experience in native settings that accurately represent relevant factors, including user profile, user attitude, home environment, network and the robotic technology itself. A prototype system called the Giraff is used. The Giraff is a remotely controlled mobile, human-height physical avatar integrated with a videoconferencing system.

The European AAL JP Program
The first edition of the AAL Forum's award recognizes the the project from Calls 1 and 2 that demonstrates great promise in terms of innovation, human-centric approaches to development and market potential. The AAL JP programme has invested significantly in almost 60 projects of which several from the 1stand 2ndCalls for Research are now beginning to show results.

The AAL Joint Programme is initially set up for a duration from 2008 to 2013. The programme’s planned total budget is 700 M€, of which approx. 50% is public funding - from the AAL Partner States and the European Commission - and approx. 50% is private funding from participating private organisations (e.g. enterprises).
The objective of the AAL Joint Programme is to enhance the quality of life of older people and strengthen the industrial base in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apps for iRobot AVA robot

iRobot AVA

iRobot has developed a new robot called AVA, that is targeting hospitals, retailers, manufacturers, businesses and eventually regular consumers, planed to be released in 2012. The five-foot-tall, wheeled robot uses both Android and Apple devices as its head and user interface. The aim is to tap into the large communities of Android and iOS developers for apps that could provide additional features and capabilities to the new robot. According to a recent Forbes article CEO Colin Angle believes Google Android developers appear most likely to develop apps for the AVA robot that has a number of potential uses including helping doctors assist in remote hospitals, guiding shoppers around stores, hosting teleconferences in companies and acting as butlers in private homes. Google may have an edge over Apple because Android may offer more functionality for developers who want to create apps for Ava. APIs (Application Programming Interface) will probably be available sooner for i.e. Google’s calling and messaging service Google Talk than for Apple’s video-calling service FaceTime. Google Talk access would enable developers to write more complex programs for the robot — enabling it to recognize and respond to voice commands.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Service Robotics 2011

Sales of service robots for professional use in 2010 increased with 4%. More than 13,700  were sold in 2010 according to IFR Statistics The sales value increased by 15% to US$3.2 billion. 75% of the total unit sales of professional service robots in 2010 were defense or field robots.

US$ 700 million defense robots
Service robots in defense (military) applications accounted for 45% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2010 and about 22% of the total sales. UAVs are the most important application. The value of defense robots can only roughly be estimated at US$ 696 million in 2010.
US$ 744 million field robots
The total number of field robots - mainly milking robots - sold in 2010 was almost 4,200 units, accounting for a share of 30% of the total unit supply of professional service robots. The sales value for field robots was about US$ 744 million, accounting for about 24% of the total value of professional service robot sales.

Forecast 2011-2014

IFR forecasts the number of service robots for professional use to increase to 87,500 units between 2011 and 2014. Thereof, more than 25,500 milking robots are deemed to be sold in the period 2011-2014, followed by service robots for defense applications with more than 22,600 units.
A strong growing sector will be the mobile platforms in general use. Service robot suppliers estimate that about 12,000 mobile platforms in general use will be sold in the period 2011- 2014.

Service robots for personal/domestic use
Service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems, education and research. In 2010, about 540,000 service robots for personal/domestic use were sold. Some 14.4 million units may be added in the period 2011-2014. Sales value in the forecasted period will be about US$ 5.4 billion.

Robotland comments
Surprisingly the IFR statistics seems again exclude some important suppliers. According to the recent annual report of  home robotics market leader iRobot the total number of home robots shipped in fiscal 2010 were 1,269,000 units compared to 988,000 units in fiscal 2009.

Irobot explains that the increase in home robot division revenue and units shipped was primarily attributable to increased international sales of our home robot products resulting from our efforts to increase our global presence. In fiscal 2010, international home robot revenue increased $62.3 million, domestic home robot revenue from our retail channel increased $3.4 million, and domestic home robot revenue from our direct channel decreased $2.2 million as compared to fiscal 2009. Home robot division revenue from international sales, which consist of products having a higher average selling price than products sold to domestic customers, was 66.0% of total home robot division revenue in fiscal 2010 as compared to 53.8% in fiscal 2009.

Important update! 
The IFR service robotics report includes more realistic numbers as reported in the press release. The number of domestic robots sales in 2010 was estimated to 1.445 million including all types. The value of sales increased by 39% to US$538 million.

Industrial Robotics Statistics 2011

Industrial Robotics
According to statistics from IFR industrial robot sales in 2011 increaded 18% to about 140,000 units. In the period between 2012 and 2014 sales will increase about 6% per year on average attaining a level of about 167,000 units in 2014.
The stock of robots operating in the factories world-wide will increase to about 1.3 million units at the end of 2014.
But there are risks that the optimistic forecast might be revised i.e. by weakening growth of the world economy or even a new recession caused by financial problems of major markets.
Driving forces
Automotive industry and electronics industry continue to be the main drivers.
There is an increasing tendency toward using LCD-television including LED lighting, as well as touch screens, OLED technologies and 3-D-displays e.g. for Smart Phones. Demand for solar cells will also continue to substantially increase. The nuclear disaster in Fukushima is intensifying the worldwide demand for alternative energy.
Investments of all other industries are gaining momentum.
Robot Density
At the end of 2010, only about 50 robots are installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry in the world. Japan, the Republic of Korea and Germany are the most automated countries in the world with robot densities between 250 and 300. In contrast, less than 20 robots are in operation in the big emerging markets: China, India, Russia and Brazil.
Japan, has by far the highest robot density in the automotive industry, more than 1,400 industrial robots are installed per 10,000 persons employed. It is followed by Italy, Germany and the United States with a robot density between 1,100 and 1,200.
Robots in China
In China, the huge robot investments in the recent years have resulted in a substantial increase in the robot density of the automotive industry. Between 2006 and 2010, it was up from 37 to 105 robots per 10,000 employees. Also, all other sectors have increased their robot installations considerably, but the robot density is still below 10. The potential for new installations in this market is still tremendous.
At least by 2014, China will surpass other countries to top the robot market worldwide regarding the annual supply.

Robot Contest ROBOTOUR 2011

The sixth editition of Robotour will take place on September 17, 2011 in Vienna, Austria. The task of Robotour 2011 is to deliver a payload to a previously unknown destination inside a park in Vienna. A map of the park (Open Street Map) and the coordinates of the destination will be available. The robots must be fully autonomous and may not leave the roads in the park.