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Monday, April 29, 2013

Kinematics - Next generation robotic creativity tool

The future of robotics will be driven by next generation kids exploring the world with digital and robotic tools such as iPhone, iPad and Lego Mindstorm.
A new highly creative modular robotic system, Kinematics, invented and developed by German product designer Leonhard Oschütz, allows a wide range of applications. It is possible to construct models based on bionics as well as autonomously moving vehicles – anything is possible.
Kinematics for kids is a modular robotic construction kit, consisting of kinetic modules and adaptor blocks, which can be connected freely and without the use of cables. Kinematics is suitable for children from the age of 5 years and upwards, and with no computer skills being necessary, they may build interactive robots which have the ability to move. Exploring and playing with the Kinematic Blocks introduces children to the world of mechanics, sensors and renewable energy. The construction kit is a highly entertaining and useful teaching tool with an intuitive interface. The adaptor blocks enable Kinematics to be connected to other leading
construction kits.
Check out the video below for a short introduction.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

iRobot shipped 421.000 home robot units in Q1, 2013

Credit: iRobot
iRobot Corp., the leader in home consumer robotics, has shipped 421.000 home robot units in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 392.000 for the same quarter one year ago, according to data released today.
The average gross selling price for a home robot unit was $230 or $16 higher than in Q1 2012.

Domestic Home Robot revenue of $92.7, a  growth of 44 percent, drove a 14 percent year-over-year increase in quarterly Home Robot revenue. International Home Robot revenue of $61.3 million comprised 66 percent of total Home Robot Q1 2013 revenue.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Who will drive 2,5 billion vehicles in 2050?

The first motor truck was built in 1896 by the German automotive pioneer Gottlieb Daimler. Since then the number of global registrations of cars and commercial vehicles jumped to 1 billion.
According to the IAE World Energy Outlook 2012, some 1.7 billion vehicles are expected to be on the roads in 2035 and the 2012 Transport Outlook of the OECD's International Transport Forum forecasts that the number of cars worldwide could reach 2,5 billion by 2050.
So far motor vehicles have to be operated by licensed human drivers. In 2011, there were nearly 210 million licensed drivers and 242 million vehicles in the United States. An estimated 60% of the European Union’s population holds a valid driving licence, around 300 million citizens.
Credit: U.S. DOT

Vehicle driving accidents

The cost of human driving is high including the risks and effects of traffic accidents. Worldwide it was estimated in 2004 that 1.2 million people were killed (2.2% of all deaths) and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions. India recorded 105,000 traffic deaths in a year, followed by China with over 96,000 deaths.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motor vehicle crashes killed more than 33,000 people and injured over 2.2 million others in the U.S. in 2009. In 2011, 32,310 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 1.7 percent from 2010.

Economic costs of motor vehicle accidents: $500 billion

The global economic cost of motor vehicle accidents was estimated at $518 billion per year in 2003 with $100 billion of that occurring in developing countries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2010 that the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle crash injuries was over $99 billion, or nearly $500, for each licensed driver in the U.S.. Based on data from 2005, every 10 seconds an American is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.
Over 95% of motor vehicle accidents involve some degree of driver behavior, usually the primary cause. Most accidents are caused by excessive speed or aggressive driver behavior. According to Mark Edwards, director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the USA have driver distraction as their root cause.
According to FBI data over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

U.S. professional driver costs: $ 122 billion

The total cost of wages of about 3,8 million professional drivers in the U.S. including truck drivers, delivery truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, subway and streetcar operators is about $ 122 billion, based on 2010 average wages. Replacing millions of human drivers by intelligent unmanned vehicles is a future vision driven by military and industry players to safe human life and operating costs.

A driverless future?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicted that up to 75 per cent of cars on the road in 2040 will be of the driver-less variety. Beyond that, the group suggested that driving infrastructure and attitudes may change once autonomous cars become the norm.
Credit: NHTSA, Connected vehicles
According to the Texas Transportation Institute, American drivers spent 4.8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2010—the equivalent of nearly one full work week for every traveler on our roadways each year. Connected vehicle technology could enable drivers and transportation system operators to make smart choices to reduce travel delay. 

Autonomous cars 2011
In June 2011, the state of Nevada was the first jurisdiction in the United States to pass a law concerning the operation of autonomous cars. The Nevada law went into effect on March 1, 2012, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first license for a self-driven car in May 2012. The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driver-less technology. So far three U.S. states have passed laws permitting driver-less cars, as of September 2012: Nevada, Florida and California.

Unmanned Truck Operators 

Credit: BLS, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver
Delivery drivers and driver/sales workers 
Transportation of goods and people might be change dramatically with introduction of unmanned cars and trucks and replacing millions of driver jobs by operators controlling  vehicles remotely from their home bases.

One driving force for unmanned vehicles is the challenge to fill and even harder to keep filled truck driver positions in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the demand for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is increasing, up from the 1,6 million truck drivers on the road in 2010.
Truck drivers wanted! 
Employment is projected to grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving. But despite a median pay in 2010 of $37,770 per year or $18.16 per hour, few people want to drive a truck, according to a CNN Money report July 2012. Cost for a commercial driver's license of about $6,000 and the long-haul trucker lifestyle are mentioned as the biggest hurdles.

Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers 
Another group with a physically demanding job are the 1,2 million delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers who pick up, transport, and drop off packages within a small region or urban area.  Most of the time, they transport merchandise from a distribution center to businesses and households.  When loading and unloading cargo, drivers do a lot of lifting, carrying, and walking. The median annual wage of light truck or delivery services drivers was $28,630 in May 2010.
Job Outlook
Employment of light truck or delivery services drivers and driver/sales workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Improved routing through GPS technology can make truck drivers more productive, which may limit the need for more drivers.

Bus- and taxi drivers
In the U.S. about 647,200 bus drivers and about 239,900 taxi drivers transport people between a variety of places including work, school, shopping, and across state borders.
Driving through heavy traffic or dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful for bus drivers. About 54 percent of all bus drivers worked full time in 2010, and 39 percent worked part time. The rest had variable schedules.
Driving for long periods of time, especially in heavy traffic, can be stressful for taxi drivers and chauffeurs. In 2010, 31 percent of taxi drivers and chauffeurs were self-employed. The median annual wage of taxi drivers and chauffeurs was $22,440 in May 2010
Employment of bus drivers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be favorable, especially for school bus drivers as school enrollment grows. Employment of taxi drivers and chauffeurs is projected to grow 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. This will be driven by an increase in public transport systems.

Will unmanned vehicles create new human jobs?

According to a new study of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI),  the world's largest non-profit organization promoting robotics and unmanned systems, the unmanned aircraft industry is poised to create more than 70,000 new American jobs in the first three years following the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into U.S. national airspace system (NAS). Integration is scheduled to take place in 2015. Beyond the first three years, the study projects that more than 100,000 new jobs will be created by 2025.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

U.S. National Robotics Week 2013

The third annual National Robotics Week is a nation wide robotic event recognizing robotics technology as a pillar of 21st century American innovation, highlighting its growing importance in a wide variety of application areas, and emphasizing its ability to inspire technology education. More than 125 robotics-based events, demonstrations and workshops are planned in 50 states to inspire the next generation of innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Check out the NRW Facebook page.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Robots take over e-commerce warehouse jobs

Swisslog, a global supplier of integrated logistics solutions headquartered in Buchs/Aarau, Switzerland, is providing highly efficient robotic goods-to-person solution for e-commerce. The Click&Pick system uses a fleet of robots instead of fixed aisle cranes or shuttles. Any robot can reach any product and deliver it to any workstation. The robots are designed with simplicity in mind, resulting in a highly reliable machine with very low operating costs. 
Swisslog’s Click&Pick high-speed workstations can achieve over 1000 picks per hour per person and eliminate all walking within the warehouse and can reduce the ‘status quo’ labor force by more than half! Click&Pick’s lightning fast operation allows cycle times, from customer order thru picking to shipment, as low as 20 minutes. This makes Click&Pick an attractive order fulfillment solution for the quickly growing e-commerce market. 
Check out the video below for a demo.