Foxconn Stops Recruitment, Moves To Robots: Report

Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Amazon (AMZN) Kindles in China, has stopped hiring workers at its key Zhengzhou and Shenzhen plants in what may be a shift toward robotic production, a Chinese news report said Wednesday. CBN Daily, in a story picked up by other Chinese media, quoted insiders as saying that the recruitment freeze is being done to adjust the production line and prepare for "artificial intelligence production." Taiwan-owned Foxconn's Henan Employment Center in central China is said to have a notice saying that due to production line adjustments, recruitment has been changed. The Zhengzhou plant, which is located in Henan province, also is said to have halted hiring since December and no large-scale recruitment is expected until June. The Shenzhen plant is situated north of Hong Kong in southern China. A worker at the Henan Employment Center reportedly said the recruitment suspension might have something to do "with the diminished output of iPhone 5." Reports since late last year have said that Foxconn has been gradually installing robots on its production lines in Zhengzhou and Shenzhen to improve production of Apple and other devices. Foxconn also has announced plans to install 10,000 robots on its factory lines that could replace up to 1 million workers over several years.

Russian Ostrich!

Inventables: The Hardware Store For Designers

Inventables has all kinds of interesting raw materials available for purchase in small quantities.  Materials include: Aluminum Foam Conductive Velcro Conductive Paint Temperature-Sensitive Glass etc.

Y Combinator Hardware Hackathon

From Upverter: Y Combinator has seen a huge increase in the number of hardware startups they fund. And so in an effort to encourage the renaissance and throw some gas on the fire, we are hosting a hardware hackathon. The focus is on getting like-minded hardware hackers into the same space, sharing ideas, designing hardware and ultimately creating more hardware startups. Want a taste of what goes on in a hardware hackathon? Read about Upverter's first ever hackathon in August 2012:  Day 1 , Day 2  and  the wrap up . We also held a  hardware hackathon at the Open Compute Summit  just this past month. If you’re hardware savvy and interested in starting a hardware startup, you should apply to come and hack with us! Want to start a startup?  Get funded by Y Combinator. Whe​n February 23rd, 2013, 10AM - 10PM Wher​e Y Combinator 320 Pioneer Way Mountain View, CA 94041 map You can apply here .

ABB and andyRobot Develop Standard RoboScreen Packs

Function packages feature five robot and screen size combinations, dedicated software and concert style mixing board for simplified control

Robot Launchpad

Persistence is at the heart of every successful robotics startup, and a lot of pivoting. So the faster you can move from prototyping into customer development, market research and investor meetings, the more likely you are to find a good product/market fit.

Automate and ProMat 2013: Crowds chose collaborative cage-free robots

Industrial Robots; Robot Arms; Cameras, Scanners and Vision Systems; Collaborative Cage-free Robots; Mobile Robots; Robot Operating Systems; Warehousing and Materials Handling; New Technologies, and Jobs

RASC-AL Exploration Robo-ops Competition

Robo-ops gives students an opportunity to engineer a solution to a future NASA mission and be a part of the NASA team. They get to compete and network with other students in their field and have fun while doing it all. NASA gets innovative ideas for its future missions and exposure to some brilliant talent that could soon be part of the NASA team. We all get smarter from this.

Wave Glider - Self Propelled ASV

Propulsion is provided by the conversion of wave energy to thrust. When the float rides a wave, spring-loaded wings on the propulsion unit pivot, but not too much, to mechanically convert that up-and-down motion into horizontal motion.

Cable Wire Protection Systems

Cable Wire Protection is often just an afterthought in robotic work cells. After the end-of-arm tooling is selected, the programming is done and safety mechanisms are installed, the last thought is usually the cabling.

Interviews from Automate 2013

We contacted several presenters from Automate 2013 in order to get a consensus of the conference as well as to give them the opportunity to pass on their experiences and impressions of the industry as a whole. Here are their responses.

Three-legged Robot Uses Exploding Body To Jump 30 Times Its Height

New Scientist: George Whitesides from Harvard University and colleagues have created a three-legged robot lined with tubes filled with a mixture of methane and oxygen. When an electrical spark ignites the gases, the combustion reaction generates bursts of pressure that propel the robot aloft. "By actuating all three legs simultaneously, we caused the robot to jump more than 30 times its height," write the team. As the height of the jump was limited by the size of the experimental chamber, they think it could spring twice as high without the attached tubing.

Changes At Willow Garage

Yesterday IEEE Spectrum reported that Willow Garage might be closing its doors, with information coming from several current employees. Then late last night Steve Cousins, President and CEO, released an official statement on their website: Willow Garage is changing Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model.   The success of the PR2 personal robot and of ROS will continue. There are close to 50 PR2 robots in the world and Willow Garage support of the platform will not diminish. And of course, ROS, as an open source platform, will continue independent of our business model choices. In addition to Willow Garage, its supporters include the Open Source Robotics Foundation and all the other contributors in the ROS community (academic, industrial and individual) who have made it the platform of choice for Robotics. The statement doesn't confirm IEEE Spectrum's story but it doesn't dismiss it either. The original Spectrum story can be found here .

RobotsLab Box

IEEE Spectrum article about RobotsLab new box of robots for making robots available in school systems:

Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle Being Used In Afghanistan

British troops in Afghanistan are the first to use state-of-the-art handheld nano surveillance helicopters. The Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle measures around 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm x 2.5cm) and provides troops on the ground with vital situational awareness. The Black Hornet is equipped with a tiny camera which gives troops reliable full-motion video and still images. Soldiers are using it to peer around corners or over walls and other obstacles to identify any hidden dangers and the images are displayed on a handheld terminal. The Black Hornet weighs as little as 16 grams and has been developed by Prox Dynamics AS of Norway as part of a £20 million contract for 160 units with Marlborough Communications Ltd in Surrey.

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