How Open-Source Robotics Hardware Is Accelerating Research and Innovation

Erico Guizzo for IEEE Spectrum: We've seen how, over the last several years, open source software-platforms like the Robot Operating System (ROS), Gazebo, and OpenCV, among others-has played a huge role in helping researchers and companies build robots better and faster. Can the same thing happen with robot hardware?

Drone Use Will Skyrocket By 2021, Government Says

Jonathan Vanian for Fortune: In addition to data about hobbyist-owned drones, the FAA said that it expects roughly 442,000 drones to be used by businesses by 2021 for tasks like taking pictures of farmland or inspecting cell phone towers. That's nearly ten times as many drones than the 42,000 the FAA said businesses used in 2016.

Drone Use Will Skyrocket By 2021, Government Says

Jonathan Vanian for Fortune: In addition to data about hobbyist-owned drones, the FAA said that it expects roughly 442,000 drones to be used by businesses by 2021 for tasks like taking pictures of farmland or inspecting cell phone towers. That's nearly ten times as many drones than the 42,000 the FAA said businesses used in 2016.

Drone Defense Startups Flock to the Rescue

Reuters: Airspace is among some 70 companies working on counter-drone systems as small consumer and commercial drones proliferate. But unlike others, it aims to catch drones instead of disabling them or shooting them down.

First Robot Cop to join Dubai Police Force in May

Janice Williams for Newsweek: The first robot cop is expected to join Dubai's police force in May. Officials in Dubai unveiled plans to introduce a robotic police officer to the United Arab Emirates during a policing forum recently and said they intend to have robot cops serving as about 25 percent of the force by 2030.

How Sensors, Robotics And Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Agriculture

In a new initiative called FarmView, researchers are working to combine sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence to create a fleet of mobile field robots they hope will improve plant breeding and crop-management practices.

America may miss out on the next industrial revolution

Preparing for automation means investing in robotics  

Nick Statt for The Verge:  Robots are inevitably going to automate millions of jobs in the US and around the world, but there’s an even more complex scenario on the horizon, said roboticist Matt Rendall. In a talk Tuesday at SXSW, Rendall painted a picture of the future of robotic job displacement that focused less on automation and more on the realistic ways in which the robotics industry will reshape global manufacturing.

The takeaway was that America, which has outsourced much of its manufacturing and lacks serious investment in industrial robotics, may miss out on the world’s next radical shift in how goods are produced. That’s because the robot makers — as in, the robots that make the robots — could play a key role in determining how automation expands across the globe.  Full article:  

Are Robotics a Key to the Next Phase of Recycling?

Arlene Karidis for Waste360:  About 10 years ago, computer scientist Matanya Horowitz became intrigued at how far robotics had come within some industries and he started thinking about its potential in recycling, particularly for recognizing and sorting materials. Horowitz postulated that intelligent systems could have a huge impact if they could be designed to identify any material in a waste stream and pull it out.

But there were unique challenges to address within the recycling niche, and Horowitz went to work to troubleshoot them. After years of tweaking, the proprietary technology he created under the Denver-based company, AMP Robotics, is running in several material recovery facilities (MRFs). The robotic system, called the AMP Cortex Robotic Sorter, has the attention of several stakeholders, including the Closed Loop Foundation and a federal government agency.  Cont'd...

Crashing Drones Into Test Dummies for Safety

Alan Levin for Bloomberg:  Hank sat impassively on a Virginia Tech athletic field, ready to take it on the chin for the future of drone commerce.

About 30 yards away, an eight-rotor unmanned copter hovered, buzzing like a swarm of bees. The 21-pound drone tilted forward, accelerated sharply and slammed into Hank’s head, smacking the crash-test dummy’s neck backward and embedding shards of shattered propeller in his plastic face.

There is little disagreement that the small- and medium-sized drones flooding the U.S. market can seriously injure or even kill someone. Understanding and minimizing the risk will be key to convincing regulators to expand their permitted uses, clearing the way for plans by Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. to have them deliver packages or news outlets such as Time Warner Inc.’s CNN to use them for aerial video.  Cont'd...

Miso Robotics Unveils "Flippy" in CaliBurger Kitchen, Plans Worldwide Rollout

Miso Robotics and Cali Group today unveiled Flippy, an artificial intelligence-driven robot that will work alongside kitchen staff to grill burgers at CaliBurger restaurants. Flippy had its debut at the CaliBurger location in Pasadena, California. A video demonstration captured the robotic kitchen assistant flipping burgers and placing them on buns. Flippy will roll out in early 2018 and expand to more than 50 CaliBurger restaurants worldwide by the end of 2019. 
Miso Robotics is pioneering the use of computer vision and deep learning software to bring low-cost, adaptable robotics into restaurants. The company's collaborative kitchen assistant handles the hazardous, tedious and time-sensitive aspects of grilling and cooks burgers to perfection every time. It easily integrates into CaliBurger's current kitchen layout without needing to reconfigure existing equipment.   Full Press Release:

Brain-controlled robots

CSAIL system enables people to correct robot mistakes using brain signals.
Adam Conner-Simons via MIT News:  For robots to do what we want, they need to understand us. Too often, this means having to meet them halfway: teaching them the intricacies of human language, for example, or giving them explicit commands for very specific tasks.

But what if we could develop robots that were a more natural extension of us and that could actually do whatever we are thinking?

A team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Boston University is working on this problem, creating a feedback system that lets people correct robot mistakes instantly with nothing more than their brains.  Cont'd...

Table tennis playing robot breaks world record - Japan Tour

Developed by Omron Corporation, FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic Theoretics) has officially been given the Guinness World Records title for being the First robot table tennis tutor for its unique technological intelligence and educational capabilities.  
According to the project's lead developer Taku Oya, the goal of FORPHEUS was to harmonise humans and robots, by way of teaching the game of table tennis to human players. 

Cobalt Robotics Introduces a (Mostly) Autonomous Mobile Security Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Today, Cobalt Robotics (a startup based in Palo Alto, Calif.) is announcing an autonomous mobile robot designed for indoor security applications that can “work alongside human guards to provide better security than people can do alone.”

The key realization here is that security guards spend the vast majority of their time doing almost nothing, and even in a worst case scenario (like someone trying to break in, or a fire or other serious problem), their primary responsibility is making the right phone call as quickly as possible as opposed to dealing with the situation directly.  Full article:

Dyson backs Britain plc with $2.5bn AI and robotics investment

Andrew Orlowski for The Register:  Britain's most successful engineer Sir James Dyson is taking on Google and Facebook with a $2.5bn investment to turn the former RAF base at Hullavington near Malmesbury into a research campus for robotics, AI, and other advanced technology, including batteries and vision systems.

The size of the planned facility dwarfs the existing HQ.  The investment marks both a change of direction for Dyson, which will now begin to challenge US data giants in the race to find practical implementations of AI, and expresses a vote of confidence in a post-EU British economy. The founder recently hinted that it was examining how to incorporate pattern recognition and decision making into its 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner.  Cont'd...

Introducing Handle from Boston Dynamics

Handle is a research robot that stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps 4​ ​feet vertically. ​It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. ​​​

Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles​ found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds.

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