Robotics startup Exotec raises $3.5 million to help warehouses pack and dispatch goods using mini robots

Paul Sawers for Venture Beat:  A French robotics startup has raised €3.3 million ($3.5 million) to build and grow a fleet of mobile robots that help warehouses prepare orders for delivery.

The company was founded in 2015 by former GE Healthcare software architect Renaud Heitz and BA Systèmes technical director Romain Moulin,  and Exotec Solutions (“Exotec”) robots have already been tested across a number of industries. With $3.5 million more in its coffers, the company expects to launch its first robot — called Exo — into the wild in early 2017. The most recent round was raised from 360 Capital Partners, Breega Capital, and a handful of its existing investors.

The miniature robots are being targeted at any logistics operator that relies on humans to traverse large warehouses picking items off shelves, and it promises to cut employees’ average daily distance covered from 15km to 4km per day and to “[double] the productivity” of each worker. The robots are controlled by what the company calls a “centralized intelligence system,” which liaises between the humans and the robots on the ground.  Cont'd...

Metallic glass gears make for graceful robots

Science Daily:  Throw a baseball, and you might say it's all in the wrist.  For robots, it's all in the gears.  

Gears are essential for precision robotics. They allow limbs to turn smoothly and stop on command; low-quality gears cause limbs to jerk or shake. If you're designing a robot to scoop samples or grip a ledge, the kind of gears you'll need won't come from a hardware store.

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators are building a better gear. Hofmann is the lead author of two recent papers on gears made from bulk metallic glass (BMG), a specially crafted alloy with properties that make it ideal for robotics.  Cont'd...

A new standard in robotics

Phys.org:  On the wall of Aaron Dollar's office is a poster for R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), the 1920 Czech play that gave us the word "robot." The story ends with the nominal robots seizing control of the factory of their origin and then wiping out nearly all of humanity. Dollar, fortunately, has something more cheerful in mind for the future of human-robot relations.

He sees them as helpers in our daily lives—performing tasks like setting the table or assisting with the assembly of your new bookcase. But getting to the point where robots can work in the unstructured environment of our homes (as opposed to industrial settings) would take a major technological leap and a massive coordination of efforts from roboticists around the globe. The living room has been called the last frontier for robots—but first, the robotics community needs some standards that everyone can agree on.

Enter a suitcase-sized box containing 77 objects. It contains things like hammers, a cordless drill, a can of Spam and a nine-hole peg test. As ordinary as they may seem, these carefully curated household items could be the future of a new kind of standardization for robotics. Known as the Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set, the intent is to provide universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics around the world.  Cont'd...

Meet the robot whisperer who trains "big, monstrous, industrial robots" to follow her every command

Charlotte Whistlecroft for DigitalSpy:  If you think you're happy with your job, Madeline Gannon will definitely make you question your life, as this woman has managed to train giant robots to do things for her.

Nope, we're not joking - the founder of the Madlab Research Studio created "big, monstrous, industrial robots" and then tamed then, and she even has a nickname to prove it: The Robot Whisperer.

Which is all pretty impressive, if not terrifying, stuff.

Speaking at the WIRED Next Generation event in London, Madeline passed on her robot-taming skills to the audience of 12-18 year olds and shared her passion for turning 6-foot-tall factory line robots into tools any human can communicate with.  Cont'd...

Dual Check Safety Improves Stop Position Prediction

The process of having employees work alongside robots is constantly improving. While this change may seem to be a small change, it does give more space for actual collaboration.

ASU Robot learns to shoot hoops

ASU Interactive Robotics Lab:  The video shows a bi-manual robot that learns to throw a ball into the hoop using reinforcement learning. A novel reinforcement learning algorithm "Sparse Latent Space Policy Search" allows the robot to learn the task within only about 2 hours.

The robot repeatedly throws the ball and receives a reward based on the distance of the ball to the center of the hoop. Algorithmic details about the method can be found here: 

RR Floody's Powerful New Flexible Feeder System Pairs Mitsubishi Electric Robot and Cognex Vision System

With manufacturers more and more concerned about being able to change product and component mix on the fly, they are demanding a more flexible feeder bowl solution that allows for changing component recognition without expensive and time-consuming retooling of the system every time.

Tru-Trac™ Keeps Frankenstein Alive

This machine was assembled from various parts from other machines, so "Frankenstein" was really the only logical name for it.

Mobility for Robots

IPR's Robot Transport Units (RTU) Increase Both the Action Radius of Robots and the Productivity of Loading Stations

Brushless Motors: What's the Big Difference?

The electronic switching of currents to the coils of the BLDC motor is more efficient than the mechanical switching of the DC motor.

Robotics 101 at Loyola University

I think it is realistic for a robot of some sort to be in every classroom. But, the education system will need to lead the way towards that future.

Japan Regional Service Robot Expo - Expediting Opportunities in the Domestic Market

Coupled with the Government`s new Robot initiative and plenty of reasons such as short fall of labor and so on, it is becoming inevitably to adapt to new and advanced robotic process for sustaining the production strength in regional factories thus paving a new and huge potential domestic market opportunity for Robotic equipment's and services.

RoboBusiness 2016: Our Takeaways

Just like at Automatica last summer, it almost felt as if the robotics event was morphing into an IT event. So much so that Michael Loughlin of nelmia Robotics Insight joked that it looked like manufacturers forgot that their job is actually to build stuff.

Is a Robot After Your Job?

Robots may be after your job, but you could be their boss.

Vision-guided Collaborative Robots Deliver Fast Return on Investment in Production of Firehose Valves

The Universal Robot is so simple and non-intimidating that our programmers were already in the mindset of I don't need any guidance, I can do this on my own. It was almost like a PlayStation video game where they could pick up the controller and figure it out without reading the rules to the game.

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

SCHUNK's New Safety Gripping System EGN

SCHUNK's New Safety Gripping System EGN

With the SLS, SOS, and STO functionalities, the SCHUNK EGN gripping system certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 13849 enables safe human/machine collaboration. If the production process is interrupted by an emergency shut-off, the SCHUNK EGN goes into either a safely limited speed mode or a safe stop mode depending on the activated protection zone. In contrast to other solutions available on the market, the SCHUNK safety gripping system is continuously powered even in the safe operating stop so that the gripped parts are reliably held even without mechanical maintenance of gripping force. As soon as the protection zone is released, the gripper immediately switches back to the regular operating mode without the system having to be restarted.