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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Future of European Robotics

Credit: euRobotics  
The European robotics community led by the two networks EURON and EUROP has started to reorganize for the next European Commission (EC) programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, running from 2014 to 2020 with an indicative €80 billion budget. 
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness and to create new growth and jobs in Europe. Horizon 2020 buzz words are increasing impact and simplification. 
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)
As a part of Horizon 2020, the EC is seeking the establishment of so called public-private partnerships (PPP), which are addressing major societal challenges by strengthening Europe‘s competitive position in a particular business sector.
According to Libor Král, Head of Unit Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission Europe has a strong robotics industry with world-class research potential. Eight years ago the Cognitive Systems and Robotics unit within the EU’s FP7 research framework programme, ICT theme, was created to support projects and partners with 70-80 M€ funding of new projects per year. Usually one call per year was announced resulting in up to 200 proposals and 20 new projects launched every year. Between 2007 and 2012 approx. 570 M€ have been invested in European robotics projects, the largest non-military public funding programme in the world. 
The outcome has been a large number of scientific and technical publications, papers and presentations. More than 10.000 roboticists have traveled around the world to meet and exchange information at conferences, seminars and project meetings. New robotics knowledge has been applied in areas such as manufacturing, logistics, transport, healthcare, search & rescue and agriculture. The general public as been informed via robotic events and media to increase the acceptance of robots in daily life and future society. 
The forthcoming challenges according to Mr. Král are to overcome fragmentation of research and to use resources more effectively. Due to saturation of classical markets new application areas need to be identified and closer links between industry and academia. The EU invites the European robotics community to focus on societal challenges, competitiveness and research excellence. What is needed are coherent support for projects and organisations across the innovation cycle from research to retail and stronger support for innovation, including non-technological innovation and market take up.

Robotic Innovations from Europe
Credit: DLR LWR
When asked to list some European success stories Prof. Dr. Bruno Siciliano, Università di Napoli Federico II lists industrial robot innovations such as the 7-axis light-weight robot designed and built by German DLR, the force control system developed at Swedish ABB Corporate Research in cooperation with several Universities, an automatic identification of robot payloads algorithms developed at University of Naples and implemented in COMAU C4G controller. 

Robotics 2020 PPP
According to Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Coordinator Cooperative Research, KUKA Laboratories GmbH and Chairman of EUROP "the European robotics community will lead the world in robotics by creating, designing, developing, innovating, manufacturing and distributing robotic product and services: thereby meeting many societal needs of EU citizens." 
Objectives of the Robotics 2020 PPP is to develop strategic goals of European robotics and foster their implementation, to improve industrial competitiveness of Europe through innovative robotic technologies, to provide robotic products and services as key enablers for solving Europe‘s societal challenges, strengthen networking activities of the European robotics community, promote European Robotics, reach out to existing and new users and markets and to contribute to policy development and addressing ethical, legal and social issues.  
A new legal entity called, euRobotics aisbl, will be established merging the two robotics networks EURON and EUROP. September 18, 2012 a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between EC and 
euRobotics aisbl.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Public Private Partnership in European Robotics

Credit: EUROP,  Letter of support meeting June 12, 2012   
The European Robotics Public Private Partnership (PPP) is the teaming up of the robotics industry, research, academia and the European Commission to launch a joint research, development and innovation programme in order to strengthen the position of European robotics as a whole. The programme will be jointly developed by the private side (robotics manufacturers, component manufacturers, systems integrators, end users, research institutes, universities) and the public side (the European Commission). 
There will be the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Robotics PPP by Commissioner Neelie Kroes on 18 September 2012, which will be a special event in Brussels. There are also plans to update the Strategic Research Agenda for Robotics (SRA) engaging an expert roadmapping specialist and involving the robotics community.
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with an indicative €80 billion budget, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe. As a part of Horizon 2020, the European Commission is seeking the establishment of so called public-private partnerships (PPP), which are addressing major societal challenges by strengthening Europe‘s competitive position in a particular business sector.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Industrial Robotics Market Forecast 2012-2017

Credit: Marketsandmarekts 
According to the market research report “Industrial Robotics Market - Global Forecast & Analysis by Applications, Functions, Product & Geography (2012 - 2017)” published by MarketsandMarkets, the total industrial robotics market is expected to reach $32.8 billion by 2017 at a CAGR of 5.0% from 2012 to 2017.
In terms of unit shipments, it is estimated to ship 176,586 units in 2012 and 234,122 units in 2017, at a compound grow rate of 5.8% from 2012 to 2017. Growing non-automotive applications of industrial robotics, increasing use of industrial robots in emerging countries, and benefits like increased productivity and reduction in manufacturing costs are certain factors driving the industrial robotics market. 
Some of the major competing players in this market are ABB ltd (Sweden), Kuka AG (Germany), Fanuc (Japan), Yaskawa (Japan), Kawasaki Robotics (Japan), DENSO Robotics (Japan), Adept Technologies (U.S), Yamaha Robotics (Japan), Toshiba Machine (Japan), EPSON Robots (Japan), Panasonic Welding Solutions Ltd (Japan) and Stäubli Robotics (Germany).

Samsung filed Humanoid Robot Patent

Credit: Samsung Eletronics
Korean Samsung Electronics have filed a patent for a "humanoid" robot. The application filed at The United States Patent and Trade Marks Office (USPTO) describes a walking robot and a control method thereof. The control method includes storing angle change data according to time corresponding to at least one joint unit of the robot using human walking data, extracting reference knot points from the angle change data according to time, and generating a reference walking trajectory using the extracted reference knot points, calculating a walking change factor to perform change between walking patterns of the robot, generating a target walking trajectory through an arithmetic operation between the reference walking trajectory and the calculated walking change factor, calculating a control torque to track the generated target walking trajectory, and transmitting the calculated control torque to the at least one joint unit so as to control walking of the robot, thereby achieving various walking patterns through a comparatively simple arithmetic operation process.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

$30 Million Funding to Rethink Robotics (formerly Heartland Robotics)

Heartland Robotics, founded by iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks to develop a new class of manufacturing robots, today announced that it is changing its name to Rethink Robotics, Inc and had secured $30 million in Series C financing. The funding round was led by Sigma Partners, with participation from all prior investors as well as a new investor, Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The funds will be used to launch the company’s new robot product, begin development of new product lines, and expand sales, marketing, and services operations.
The company is developing a new generation of robots to improve productivity in manufacturing environments. The company claims that its robots will be intuitive to use, capable of atonomously sensing and adapting to their environment, versatile, and flexible. They’ll be also easy to buy, train, and deploy and will be much less expensive than traditional industrial robots.
So far Rethink Robotics has received $57 million in start-up funding by Charles River Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Jeff Bezos.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bosch Robotic Lawnmower

Credit: Bosch, Indego

German Bosch recently released a new robotic lawnmower based on patented logicut technology. The Bosch Indego lawnmower identifies the lawn area up to 1000 sqm by itself and is four times faster than other lawnmower robots thanks to its cutting scheme. The robot is activated via a pin code and protected with an alarm system.
On a single charge the robot can mow 200 sqm, which takes about 20 minutes. Then the robot drives itself back to the charger, charges for 90 minutes and then continues where it left off. It takes about 10 hours to mow 1000 square meters. The robot is also economical and environment friendly as a clipping of the lawn will cost under SEK 1 ($ 0,14). For a conventional gasoline-powered lawn mower costs in Sweden about 10 times as much to mow the same area. Sales of a limited number of Indego robots will start in Denmark and Sweden in summer 2012. The robot is prized in SEK 14.995 ($ 2118).

Check out the animation video below.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Robotsurgery Cost

The main benefits of robots are often related to productivity, safety, and saving time and money.
In robot surgery reduction of personell in the operation room, and the opportunity of telesurgery are claimed as cost advantages. Hospitals can save on costs by decreasing the length of a patient's stay due to a shorter recovery period when using surgery robots.
But in reality the cost advantage is not sure. While Intuitive Surgical Inc. the manufacturer of the da Vinci surgical robots reported total revenue growth of 24 percent in 2011 to $1.7 billion, one of its customers, the UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh is loosing an average $4,013 on each robot-assisted case according to a study from The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh Business times reports. The study analyzed the cost of robot-assisted, laparoscopic surgery for prostate cancer at UPMC Shadyside Hospital. In what was among the first studies based on actual direct and indirect costs, rather than computer models, researchers found that the mean total cost per case of robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery was 62 percent higher than the cost of conventional open radical surgery without a significant reduction in length of stay. Overall, the cost of the robot-assisted surgery was $5,300 higher than the conventional approach although the reimbursement for each method is nearly equivalent.