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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Robotic suite for factory workers

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO is partner in the Robo-Mate project, starting in September 2013. Together with 11 European partners this research project aims at designing a human-guided exoskeleton to improve work safety and enhance productivity in the industrial environment. According to the Work Foundation Alliance (UK), as many as 44 million workers in the European Union are affected by work-place related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), representing a total annual cost of more than 240 billion Euros.
The goal of the project is to develop a user-friendly intelligent cooperative light weight wearable human-robotic exoskeleton for manual handling work. Direct physical interaction using haptic technologies will be combined with perception enhancement using cognitive science programming paradigms to drive the exoskeleton, thus not requiring any programming skills from its users. Robo-Mate shall increase both efficiency and safety of manual production processes in industrial environments. This shall increase the productivity of companies and lower the currently high costs induced by musculoskeletal disorders. The Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) will test the exoskeleton in their lab and on the Fiat shop floor to demonstrate the benefits of the device.
Funded with €4.5 million by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union (FP7), the 3-year project will be led by Prof. Dr. Hans Wernher van de Venn, Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW), and managed by accelopment AG in Switzerland

Milking robots improve working conditions but decrease profit

Credit: SLU, milking robot 
The first automatic milking system (AMS) was installed in the Netherlands in 1992 and came to Sweden in 1998. In 2009 there were about 8000 farms worldwide using AMS and 28 per cent of the Swedish cows were milked in an AMS at the end of 2011.

A new study of Swedish agro researchers Karin Bergman and Ewa Rabinowicz at Agrifood Economic Centre in Lund, Sweden, comprising adopters and non-adopters of an automatic milking system (AMS) in Sweden, shows that farmers report non-profit-related reasons as the most important for the decision to adopt an AMS, whereas profit-related reasons are the most important for the decision not to adopt the AMS. Despite problems with profitability, over 90 per cent of the AMS farmers would recommend the AMS to other milk producers. A probit estimation of the probability of investing in an AMS finds positive effects of the social network, positive beliefs of future profitability and existence of a successor, and negative effects of age, experience, education, share of tenured land and regular use of advisors. According to the Swedish researchers only 18 per cent of Swedish farmers reported increased profitability, whereas 32 per cent reported decreased profitability. But 36 per cent reported an increase in the production of milk per cow. Hence, there is some ambiguity concerning the efficiency of this new technology. One should also keep in mind that this study only covers 16 per cent of all Swedish milk producers and that there could be some bias in the results.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hight speed 3D printed robot crawler

Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have introduced a new high speed 3D printed robot designed to be flexible enough to manoeuver under a door. The segmented robot named the Sprawl Tuned Autonoumous Robot (STAR),  has two natural positions: in its default posture, its body is raised between two ski-like legs, giving it a higher profile. When it encounters a tight passage, however, it spreads its legs to flatten its body and scoot under the door with a series of fan-like feet. Check the video below.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Packrobot - a new parcel delivery solution

PackRobot is a new self-service parcel delivery solution, which uses the latest technology and is the most cost-efficient model on the market. The PackRobot, developed by Estonian Cleveron can be implemented both indoors and outdoors. PackRobot uses a 3D lift system to deliver parcels from different sections in the machine to one sliding door. The one door system brings out the best ergonomics – all activities are done in one place so that customers and couriers don’t have to move around. The door is located at optimal height for all customers - including children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The PackRobot includes a multiload system for couriers, which enables to insert similar size parcels into different slots at the same time, thus making the loading system much faster and easier. PackRobot makes the best use of limited floor space (only 2,2 m2 needed) and uses the height for its advantage. The client can determine the number and size of the slots in the machine and change them in the course of operation. The PackRobot is easily expandable and can fit up to 720 parcels.
Watch the promo video below.