- November 2011
The first regional meeting for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) planning took place in Atlanta on October 14. More than 200 people almost exclusive from industries in the South East and predominantly from small and medium sized companies showed up for the meeting to discuss how new initiatives in manufacturing, material and robotics can be utilized to grow their business. There were great discussions during the day and quite a few ideas as to how new initiatives can be leveraged. It is interesting to see that robotics is identified as a key technology to generate more agility and to build small-scale flexible manufacturing systems that are needed in the new economy of highly customized products. This meeting stemmed from the President’s directive to establish U.S. leadership in next-generation robotics and as part of his AMP initiative.
The RoboBusiness Leadership Summit took place on November 2-3. Hundreds of the world’s top roboticists, academics and intelligent systems industry executives from across the globe converged in Boston for two full days packed with education and networking with the goal of accelerating the growth of the robotics industry. Innovative robotics companies can change the world,” said Colin Angle, co-founder and CEO of iRobot, in his keynote on “Robots that Matter,” explaining how “robots that matter solve problems.” They are achievable and do “physical and ugly jobs.” By way of example, Angle explained how his company’s robots made a difference in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan, and now in the war in Afghanistan. One challenge left to solve, however, is developing robots to care for our elderly, he said, and urged the audience to “make more robots that matter.”
Kaier Engineering, a custom automated robotics integrator, located in a Pittsburgh suburb, is currently incorporating six (6) robotic work cells into three different production lines at several multi million dollar companies. One production line utilizes three 6-axis robots to aid in the manufacturing of steel kitchen cookware. The robotic cells will handle the hole punching and polishing of the inside and outside of the lids. Automating the hole punching system eliminates an inherently dangerous operation currently performed by a person and offers a more precise and repeatable hole placement. The automating of the polishing process using robotics gives the product a better and more consistent finish and eliminates a dangerous procedure. All of the different parts of this robotic automation system are designed to work simultaneously and in cooperation with the other machines and equipment in the factory to achieve the desired end result.
Universal Robotics, Inc. creates control system software called NeocortexT and sensor bundles including Spatial VisionT, which enable machines to learn from experience, react and adapt to their surroundings, and perform tasks that are costly, dangerous or difficult for humans to undertake. Universal Robotics is Automating IntelligenceR.
Neocortex is a new form of artificial intelligence developed at NASA and Vanderbilt University which couples instantaneous sensor data and long term memory patterns with motor control to increase the flexibility of automation in unstructured environments. Highly scalable, it is Software with an IQT, useful anywhere the benefits of automation improve efficiency and worker safety, including warehousing, mining, handling hazardous waste and automating vehicles such as forklifts. The first application is in the materials handling supply chain as the control system for a Yaskawa Motoman industrial robot tasked with moving mixed size boxes inside distribution center warehouses.
Universal's sensor expertise has led to the release of Spatial VisionT and Spatial Vision Robotics, software products which allow for the calibration of loosely placed webcams to generate highly accurate 3D positioning.
Evolution Robotics, Inc., a leading robotics technology company announced in October the expanded U.S. retail availability of its popular Mint™ product line available at Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Target and Walmart, and online at Amazon.com. This cleaner sweeps and mops hard surface floors using popular cleaning cloths. Its principle features are a turbo charging cradle, NorthStar® technology, and a sleek, compact design.
The inaugural RoboBowl business plan competition with a focus on health care and quality of life industries was held on October 13 at Carnegie Mellon University. The event was sponsored by the Robotics Technology Consortium, Carnegie Mellon University and the Innovation Accelerator. Interbots’ consumer robot for autism therapy won top prize.
This was a first in a series of national “next-generation robotics” venture competitions intended to find and foster startup and early-stage companies seeking to develop products and services that address unmet and underserved market needs in targeted industrial sectors. RoboBowl is part of the National Robotics Initiative intended to create new business ideas for commercial robotics applications, with other ones to follow in the areas of manufacturing robotics, infrastructure and environmental robotics, and education robotics.
4moms designs and manufactures juvenile products, and is preparing to launch the world's first power-folding stroller this January. Called the Origami, this robotic stroller folds at the touch of a button, eliminating the complicated and difficult steps many strollers require a user to remember in order to fold them manually. As seen on The Today Show, the Origami is powered by a generator in the rear wheels that charges the stroller as it's pushed - and can even charge your cell phone. It sports a thermometer, speedometer, daytime running lights, and the built-in child safety sensors that prevent its folding by accident. 4moms' other products include a bathtub faucet cover and infant bathtub with built-in digital thermometers, and the mamaRoo, an infant seat built on a dual-motion coordinated robotic platform that mimics the natural motions parents make to comfort their babies.
Astrobotic Technology is developing a robotic Moon expedition and they have been
invited to address a key space exploration planning panel on November 8 in Houston. They will speak to the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group organized by the Lunar and Planetary Institute for NASA. Astrobotic Technology is a spinout from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Last month, Astrobotic delivered an invited lecture to the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) at the University of Colorado-Boulder. LUNAR is funded by NASA's Science Directorate to develop astrophysics experiments that benefit from the Moon's unique environment -- no atmospheric interference, cryogenic cold at the poles for infrared observations, and freedom from Earth radio noise on the far side that's always turned away from the home plant.
A medical doctor and research professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, and Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh invents a hand-held robotic system for surgery that amplifies the surgeon's sense of touch, was awarded first-place for posters at the recent Augmented Environments for Computer Assisted Interventions Workshop. The device is patent pending.
A Master of Science Degree in Robotic Systems Development (MRSD) is now offered at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. This is the first professional degree with required (i) combination of technical and business courses, (ii) project courses, and (iii) internship with industry before the students obtain a degree.
RE2, Inc., recently named the tenth fastest-growing engineering firm in the U.S., announced that it has been competitively selected to develop multiple technology components for the First Increment of the Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) for Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams managed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center EOD Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV). RE2 will be developing the Manipulator Arm, End-Effector, End-Effector Interface, and the Master Capability Module for the dismounted class of AEODRS robots.
Microsoft Robotics released RDS 4 Beta in September and is available as a free of charge download at www.microsoft.com/robotics. It’s a further example of current US commercial activity in robotics, including a new robot release from Parallax, Inc.
Questions or comments, please contact Patti Rote or Erica Wissolik.
09 November 2011