NEWSLETTER - July 2011

Do you know that robots can have a positive impact on jobs? Marlin Steel Wire, a Baltimore, MD company uses robots to successfully compete with companies in China that pay its workers 30 cents per hour, versus Marlin’s president thanking robots for adding jobs to handle increased business and can pay his workers $30 per hour plus benefits. Click here to watch a CNBC video with the Robotic Industries Association President, Jeff Burnstein, during the Automate 2011 Show and Conference.

U.S. Government unveils its newest tool for safeguarding public health – a robot capable of screening thousands of chemicals each week for potential human toxicity.

National Robotics Week, April 9-17 – This year, NRW was celebrated across the US with more than 100 affiliated events in 22 states, DC, and Puerto Rico.  With twice as many events as in 2010, we are optimistic that we reached as many as 45,000+ people, including over 25,000 students. For updates,

Autonomous Robots move in Formation to Spell Words – A Georgia Tech master's student has developed a set of small robots that work together without communicating, a predefined memory or knowledge of their location that collectively form different shapes. The project focused on getting robots to figure out where to go and also make a formation simultaneously, using trial and error.

Medical Robots to become a $2 billion market by 2016

Boeing has initiated a Strategic University Partnership with MIT, Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon to develop the next generation of assembly technology utilizing right sized equipment and robotic systems. Despite Boeing's success and dominance in the aerospace industry, there is very limited use of automation in many parts of the assembly process. Drawing from the expertise of Drs. Christensen, Choset, and Rus, Boeing has commenced a five-year program pursuing the following key topics of university research:

-  Coordination and planning for a multiple robot system with distributed control targeted towards automated panel build.

-  Coordinated object manipulation and part handling with multiple robots.

-  Development of sensing technology for alignment of opposing tool points with a wing panel/structure between them.

-  Innovative concepts in manipulation and mechanisms for positioning the process tooling.

-  Machine Vision for Confined Space Automation.

Astrobotic Technology, Inc., a Pittsburgh, PA-based company, is reaching for the moon. The moon expedition led by Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University is about to start testing the structure of the spacecraft that will deliver its robotic explorer to the lunar surface.  The 10-foot wide spacecraft will be placed on an aerospace “shake table” to duplicate the fierce vibrations it will experience when launched to the moon on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX.  Results from the test will be delivered to NASA to fulfill one task order under a $10 million contract awarded to Astrobotic last year. Astrobotic and CMU in January won an additional NASA contract to develop a robot able to mine the volatiles at the moon’s south pole.  The $600,000 two-year assignment from the Small Business Innovation Research program gets under way this month.  More information is at

Engineers at The McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University set their sights on designing specialized robots that perform specific tasks, creating an autonomous puppet system for use in prosthetics, and discovering how humans and robots collaborate:

University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory and University of Southern California's Robotic Embedded Systems Laboratory (RESL) developed methods for robotic oil-spill skimming and cleanup. Two robotic boats connected to a skimmer automatically control and coordinate their motion so that the skimmer is optimally dragged along the water surface. PhD students and professors from both universities developed the algorithms and program for the robots.

The "Robotics Refueling MIssion," built by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is going up on the last shuttle flight (STS-135). See how NASA will robotically refuel and repair a satellite that was never designed to be serviced in space.

Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI), Rockville, MD, in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins University and Kinea Design, Evanston, IL, was awarded a Phase I SBIR from the OSD/Army to develop a novel Hands-Free Kinetic System for Medical Simulation (KineSys MedSim). Many human-computer interaction and virtual environment systems use haptic devices which interface with the user through the sense of touch. However, they are limited by feedback from artificial materials or resolved forces in virtual reality simulators. Medical simulators that integrate the cutaneous sensations of direct interaction with kinesthetic feedback can provide a complete haptic experience. The objective of the project is to develop a haptic surgical simulator that will simulate kinesthetic and cutaneous properties of open surgery like stiffness, friction, texture and temperature of skin, bone, muscle and internal organs. This project will lead to a new generation of surgical simulators for assessment and training of open surgery.


Questions or comments, please contact Patti Rote or Erica Wissolik.


Last Updated: 30 June 2011


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