By Corinne Iozzio for Scientific American: Hong Kong–based WowWee's success stems from bringing university research projects to life that might otherwise languish in the prototype stage. A licensing agreement with the Flow Control and Coordinated Robotics Labs at the University of California, San Diego, for example, provides WowWee with access to patents and the labs with a healthy cash infusion. The collaboration has already netted a series of toy robots that balance like Segways. More recently, the avionics lab at Concordia University in Montreal began working with the company to perfect flight algorithms for a four-rotor drone. Next, chief technology officer Davin Sufer says he has his eye on the Georgia Institute of Technology and its work with swarming behaviors, which would allow a group of robots to function in tandem.
In the case of Switchbot, WowWee adapted a locomotion system developed in part by former U.C. San Diego student Nick Morozovsky. The robot moves on tank-tread legs either horizontally to navigate uneven terrain or on end to stand and scoot fully upright. Morozovsky built his prototype with off-the-shelf parts, including a set of $50 motors. The motors were a compromise; each one had the size and torque he wanted but not the speed. Over the past few years he has worked with WowWee to customize a motor with the exact parameters needed and to cut the final cost of the part down to single digits.
That back and forth yields low-cost, mass-producible parts, which means university-level robotics could become available to everyday people. “One of the reasons I went into mechanical engineering was so I could create real things that have a direct impact,” Morozovsky says. “I didn't expect that to necessarily happen in the process of grad school.” Cont'd...
Polymaker and Covestro Co-Develop a New Line of Polycarbonate-Based 3D Printing Materials with Market-Leading Engineering and Functional Properties
Chad Fraser for The Street: Soon, robots could be doing much more than just vacuuming your house or assembling your next car-they could also invade your investment portfolio. If you're looking for the industry's fastest growth, you'll want to pay particular attention to what's happening on the consumer/office side, where sales are set to grow at a 17% compound annual rate between 2014 and 2019, according to a May report from Business Insider -- seven times quicker than the industrial-robot market. In addition, a number of radical new applications for robotics are emerging in the medical and defense markets, as outlined in this presentation from Investing Daily.
Even though the automation trend is clearly set, there still aren't many pure ways for investors to play it. But that doesn't mean there are no intriguing options out there. Here are five robot makers to keep on your radar screen:
HASCO COMBINES STRATASYS 3D PRINTING WITH QUICK-CHANGE MOLD SYSTEM TO CREATE NEW PRICE/PERFORMANCE BENCHMARK FOR LOW VOLUME INJECTION MOLDING
New Thomson video shows how the Motorized Lead Screw's Taper Lock allows quick, easy de-coupling in the field
Indiegogo - BUDDY, the Companion Robot from Blue Frog Robotics, Raises More Than $600,000 on Indiegogo
Qualcomm Announces Reference Platform with High-end Performance Capabilities to Advance Consumer Drones
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