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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quadcopter Dance Enseble

Credit: AEC
The Quadcopter Dance Ensemble is the hottest international sensation in professional event & show business. It’s a swarm of up to 50 LED-equipped quadcopters that fly in formation and perform cool feats of airborne choreography. The accompanying lighting and sound effects create an extraordinary aesthetic experience. The Quadcopter Dance Ensemble was one of the featured attractions at the 2012 voestalpine Klangwolke. An audience of 90,000+ gathered along the Danube in Linz to witness a world record: the first outdoor flight by a formation of 50 quadcopters. The Quadcopter Dance Ensemble can be booked for shows, product presentations and events. Check out the video below for a demo show. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Robots replace migrant workers and save U.S. famers

Credit: NREC/CMU
According to the new, updated Roadmap for U.S. Robotics 2013, new robot applications for crop spraying, harvesting, and picking offer the promise of reduced costs, increased safety, greater yields, increased operational flexibility, including nighttime operations, and reduced use of chemicals.

Robotic farms of the future

The the world’s largest robotics research and development organization, the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), an operating unit within Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute (RI), is envisioning and developing new concepts for robotic farms for the future.
In the fully-automated Farm of the Future, dedicated robots will take on the tough farming jobs that once could be done only by people. Farmers will supervise robots in their daily tasks, but won’t need to directly operate them. In more than 20 years NREC has demonstrated autonomous agricultural equipment for field and specialty crop applications. Recent work with strawberry sorters, and the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative support the development of advanced harvesting and manipulation, crop sorting with machine vision, and disease detection and monitoring.

Robots can replace migrant workers

According to NREC the U.S. ornamental horticulture is an $11 billion dollar a year industry tied to a dwindling migrant work force. Unskilled seasonal labor is becoming more costly and harder to find, but it is still needed several times a year to move potted plants to and from fields and sheds.
Autonomous and semi-autonomous robotic systems for moving containerized plants to and from the field can handled the task of picking up, moving, and setting down multiple containers at the same time.  The NREC prototype and field tested systems were designed to handle 35,000 containers per 8-hour day with one or two operators. This reduces the horticulture industry's reliance on manual labor, increases nursery productivity, improves field safety, and reduces plant handling costs.

Robots can save American family farmers

NREC believes that applying the power of robotics to completely automate common farming tasks will help American family farmers to significantly lower their operating costs, reduce their need for labor, and increase their efficiency and yields. It will allow American agriculture to remain competitive worldwide. It will enable small farms (like most of Pennsylvania’s farms) to compete globally. It will also help farmers to satisfy the growing demand for locally-produced food. This can mean the difference between a viable family farm and yet another subdivision.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

€100 million for French robotics

Wired UK reports that the French robotic scene is to receive a serious financial boost, with 250 companies receiving a total of €100 million (£85 million) in funding. Addressing the European Robotics Forum in Lyon, France's minister for industrial renewal Arnaud Montebourg stated that the new funds will help make up for "lost competitiveness" in the French robotics sector, and would see the nation become an industry leader by 2020.
Bruno Bonnell, ex Atari CEO, founder of French Federation of service robots SYROBO and actual CEO of Robopolis launched a 60 million Euro (80 million USD) investment fund named Robolution Capital in 2012 to support the development of Robotics in Europe. It was the First European investment fund dedicated to service robot and will invest in 30 startups, ranging from 300,000 to $3 million for each. The fund is supported by Orkos Capital and CDC Enterprises, a public group and long term investor serving general interest and the economic development of the country.

Robots on Tour 2013

Highlights from the 2013 Robots on Tour Congress held in Zürich on March 08-09, 2013, by Ars Electronica. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Military robots overview

This is an overview of leading manufacturers of military robots including, Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USVs), Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUVs), compiled in March 2013 from the Global Robotics Brain. 
Click the image to enlarge. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Humanitarian Demining Robotic Toolbox

According to the 14th annual Landmine Monitor 2012 report, published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a total of 4,286 new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) were recorded in 2011. At least 1,320 people were killed and another 2,907 people were injured. The 2011 figure is similar to the number of casualties identified in 2009 and 2010, or approximately 11-12 casualties per day. The annual incidence rate is about a third of what it was one decade ago, when there were at least 32 casualties per day.

Robotic Toolbox for Humanitarian Demining 

Humanitarian Demining is a thorough, time-intensive process that seeks to locate all mines so that the land or sea area may be safely returned to normal use. The TIRAMISU project co-funded by the EU with € 14.9 million started in 2012 with the goal to provide the Mine Action community with a toolbox to assist in addressing the many issues related to Humanitarian Demining and thus promoting peace, national and regional security, conflict prevention, social and economic rehabilitation and post-conflict reconstruction. The TIRAMISU consortium, composed of 24 partners representing 11 European countries, is developing a series of cost-effective toolbox including tools to detect mines, submunitions or explosives at close range with remotely controlled Micro (Unmanned) Aerial Vehicles (MAV/UAV), remote controled ground platforms (UGV) or flying biosensors (honeybees).
For more information about the project, please visit the project website.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Library robotics at Stockholm Public Library

At the Stockholm Public Library a new robotics library system from Danish Lyngsoe Systems is sorting up to 2500 items per hour. The library robot SortMate has been installed last year to take care a wide variety of library materials, which each year is returned after lending. It can handle hard bound or soft bound books, books with enclosures, magazines and periodicals, CD’s, DVD’s, audiotapes and videos (single or collection). 
Lyngsoe Systems is one of the worlds' leading software developers and systems integrators of logistics solutions for a wide range of complex logistics chain environments. Lyngsoe provides complete library automation solutions, including RFID and barcode-to-RFID conversions, LMS integration and security systems. 

Credit: Lyngoe Systems and NyTeknik

RoCKIn Robot Challenge

Credit: RoCKIn
RoCKIn is a new EU project co-funded by the EU with €1,7 million that will be run over the next three years, consisting of robot competitions, symposiums, educational RoCKIn camps and technology transfer workshops. The mission of this project is to act as a catalyst for smarter, more dependable robots.
RoCKIn@Home and RoCKIn@Work) which will run concurrently in two competition events (in 2014 and 2015), and three education camps (2013, 2014, 2015) to introduce selected students to the details of RoCKIn competitions. The challenges were selected due to their high relevance and impact on
Europe's societal and industrial needs.
The first introductory camp will take place from 28 June to 1 July 2013 during this year's RoboCup in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The Camp will give an introduction to the new RoCKIn competitions and look at the current status of RoboCup@Home and RoboCup@Work, with the ultimate aim of facilitating the entry of new teams into RoCKIn@Home and RoCKIn@Work. Activities include lectures and participation in the RoboCup symposium.
Students and researchers from the EU, who have an interest in entering the RoCKIn@Home and RoCKIn@work competitions, are all invited to apply for RoCKIn Camp 2013.
For more information please visit the RoCKIn website.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

New general manager of iRobot Home Robots

iRobot has announced that Christian Cerda has joined the company to lead its home robot business unit. He will report directly to Jeff Beck, iRobot’s chief operating officer. Cerda served as General Manager of the Home Depot at Whirlpool Corporation, where he held a number of roles across their global footprint and was responsible for sales, marketing, brand communications, product development and operations. Prior to Whirlpool, Cerda held senior roles at The Boston Consulting Group and Procter and Gamble. Cerda holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Universidad Simon Bolivar and an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Robotics market value forecast value 2018

In a new research study by BCC Research, "Robotics: Technologies and Global Markets," the market for whole robots, robot parts, robot software, and related safety materials now approaches $22 billion. The report forecasts a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% between 2013 and 2018, when it's expected to surpass $29 billion.
According to the report, the bulk of the growth in the European Union is anticipated to be concentrated in the latter part of the forecast period, when robotic development initiatives now being undertaken on an EU-wide basis will result in commercialized products. The distribution of growth among different types of robots also reflects a profoundly different approach in the EU toward encouraging the development of the industry than that in the North American market. The chief difference is an EU-wide emphasis on creating a new class of robots that can safely work in near proximity to humans and safely perform personal-care tasks that will be increasingly required as the European population ages.

For more information about the report, please visit the report website.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

U.S. Army orders micro unmanned ground vehicles

Credit: iRobot, FirstLook 110
U.S. Department of Defense, DOD, has recently announced two awards of micro unmanned ground vehicle contracts.
iRobot Corp., Bedford, Mass., was awarded with a $14,4 firm-fixed-price contract to deliver  iRobot 110 FirstLook robotic systems, spare part kits and robot accessories.
The iRobot 110 FirstLook is a small, light, throwable robot that provides hasty situational awareness, performs persistent observation and investigates confined spaces. The robot weighs about 5 pounds, is 10 inches long, 9 inches wide and 4 inches tall. According to iRobot specifications the throwable robot can survive 16-foot drops onto concrete and is waterproof to 3 feet. The robot climbs steps up to 7 inches high, overcomes curbs and other obstacles, turns in place and self-rights when flipped over. The robot gets more than 6 hours of runtime on a typical mission and uses IR illumination to enhance low light and no light operations.
Work will be performed in Bedford, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 20, 2013.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-13-C-0124).

Credit: QinetiQ, Dragon Runner 10
QinetiQ North America Inc., Waltham, Mass., was awarded a $12,9 firm-fixed-price contract to deliver Dragon Runner-10 robotic systems and associated spare parts for system sustainment.
The Dragon Runner 10 (DR-10) Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) is a lightweight, compact, multi-mission remote platform developed for supporting small unit dismounted operations.
Work will be performed in Waltham and Franklin, Mass., and Pittsburgh, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 25, 2013.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity

Friday, March 01, 2013

Third EvAAL companion robot competition

Credit: EvAAL, Peccioli Living Lab 
EvAAL, an initiative supported by the AALOA community and organised by the universAAL project aims at bringing together academic and industrial research communities to work together on challenging open problems in Ambient Assisted Living (AAL), with the purpose of evaluating different approaches to AAL and envisioning new research opportunities.
During the competitions data sets in realistic environments (the living labs) are collected, which will be useful as benchmarks to researcher communities for the simulation and test of their solutions.
The competition is composed of three tracks and a final workshop. Track 3 on Companion Robots for AAL, will be held on 15-19 July 2013 at DomoCasa Lab in Pisa, IT
For more information visit the EvAAL website.

Patent Watch: NEC Child-care robot

Japanese NEC Corporation has received a patent for a "Child-care robot and a method of controlling the robot" (U.S. Pat 8376803)

The patent describes "a child-care robot for use in a nursery school associates child behavior patterns with corresponding robot action patterns, and acquires a child behavior pattern when a child behaves in a specified pattern. The robot selects one of the robot action patterns, which is associated with the acquired child behavior pattern, and performs the selected robot action pattern. Additionally, the robot associates child identifiers with parent identifiers, and receives an inquiry message from a remote terminal indicating a parent identifier. The robot detects one of the child identifiers, which is associated with the parent identifier of the inquiry message, acquires an image or a voice of a child identified by the detected child identifier, and transmits the acquired image or voice to the remote terminal. The robot further moves in search of a child, measures the temperature of the child, and associates the temperature with time of day at which it was measured."

NEC Corporation started in 1997 to investigate the "relationship between people and robots. The Communication robot PaPeRo, a research prototype robot, has been extensively tested in kindergartens and care facilities over the years. PaPeRo could be used to control home appliances, allow parents to keep an eye on their children through a real-time cellphone video feed, and access the internet to read emails or rss feeds. NEC envisions PaPeRo as a teacher’s assistant to help motivate kids, and play games and quizzes. Since 2009 NEC has also been leasing the PaPeRo R500 for enterprises aimed at testing the market.

Global safety certificate on nursing-care robot HAL

Credit: Infonaut, Cyberdyne HAL
The Hybrid Assistive Limb, HAL, a power-assisted pair of legs developed by Japanese robot maker Cyberdyne has has become the first nursing-care robot certified on a draft version of an international safety standard for personal robots to be issued as an international standard in the summer of 2013, according to the Japanese Ministry for the Economy, Trade and Industry, METI
Based on the results of the "Project for Practical Application of Service Robots" conducted by NEDO, the Japan Quality Assurance Organization (JQA) will grant certification based on the international safety standards for service robots (ISO/DIS13482) and issue a certificate to the "Robot Suit HAL® for well-being," 
Cyberdyne, based in Tsukuba, northeast of Tokyo, has so far leased some 330 suits to 150 hospitals, welfare and other facilities in Japan since 2010, at 178,000 yen ($1,950) per suit per year.