What Robots and AI Learned in 2015

By Will Knight for MIT Technology Review:  The  robots didn’t really take over in 2015, but at times it felt as if that might be where we’re headed.

There were signs that machines will soon take over manual work that currently requires human skill. Early in the year details emerged of a contest organized by Amazon to help robots do more work inside its vast product fulfillment centers.

The Amazon Picking challenge, as the event was called, was held at a prominent robotics conference later in the year. Teams competed for a $25,000 prize by designing a robot to identify and grasp items from one of Amazon’s storage shelves as quickly as possible (the winner picked and packed 10 items in 20 minutes). This might seem a trivial task for human workers, but figuring out how to grasp different objects arranged haphazardly on shelves in a real warehouse is still a formidable challenge for robot-kind.  Cont'd...

Startup Gets $11M Funding for GPS-enabled Robots

In our automated future, the navigation capabilities of autonomous vehicles, devices and machines will demand high precision, stability and flexibility.

Four Market Forces That Will Shape Robotics Over The Next Year

Richard Mahoney for TechCrunch:  As 2016 approaches, robotics is poised to traverse from a narrow set of industrial and military use cases to broader market applications that include commercial drones, telepresence robots, delivery robots and, of course, mobile vacuum cleaners.

But, are robots ready to be a part of our daily life?

Gill Pratt, a visionary who served as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and oversaw the DARPA Robotics Challenge, postulated earlier this year that robotics might soon be headed for a “Cambrian Explosion.”

The term refers to a period of time roughly half a billion years ago when the numbers and diversity of animals became critical to evolution.  Pratt offered that technology developments are ushering in a similar upsurge in the diversification and applicability of robotics.  Cont'd...

Technology gap gives foreign firms the edge in China robot wars

BY GERRY SHIH for Reuters:  In a cavernous showroom on the outskirts of this port city in northeastern China, softly whirring lathes and svelte robot arms represent Dalian Machine Tools Group's (DMTG) vision of an automated future for Chinese manufacturing.

On closer inspection, however, most of the machines' control panels bear the logos of Japan's FANUC Corp or the German conglomerate Siemens.

The imported control systems in DMTG's products – used in the assembly of everything from smartphones to cement trucks – are symbolic of the technology gap between Chinese and foreign industrial automation firms, just one of several challenges facing China's ambition to nurture a national robotics industry.

Chinese robotics firms are also grappling with a weakening economy and slumping automotive sector, and industry insiders already predict a market bubble just three years after the central government issued policies to spur robotics development.

"Last year everybody thought they could produce a robot," said Alan Lee, director of Asia sales and business development at Boston-based Rethink Robotics. "When you have market saturation you'll have filtering and M&A. These guys will be the first layer to suffer." 

It is a storyline familiar from other new industries such as solar panels: Beijing's policies and subsides trigger a wave of low-margin, low-cost contenders to rush into the market, where, with no meaningful technology of their own, they struggle to compete on price alone.  Cont'd...

Gecko-inspired technology for 'climbing' space robots

MIT researchers have designed a human-machine interface that allows an exoskeleton-wearing human operator to control the movements and balance of a bipedal robot.

The technology could allow robots to be deployed to a disaster site, where the robot would explore the area, guided by a human operator from a remote location.

"We'd eventually have someone wearing a full-body suit and goggles, so he can feel and see everything the robot does, and vice versa," said PhD student Joao Ramos of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"We plan to have the robot walk as a quadruped, then stand up on two feet to do difficult manipulation tasks such as open a door or clear an obstacle," Ramos said.  Cont'd...

2015 Festo Bionic Learning Network Developments Run the Gamut from Robotic Ants to a Flexible Gripper Inspired by a Chameleon's Tongue

Natural models provide fresh inspiration in automation technology

Factories of the future: Transforming Industry Through Robotics Brings the Hope of a More Human Relationship to Work

A world in which workers no longer have to carry heavy loads, and where difficult handling tasks are performed by intelligent vehicles.

NYU Engineering Student Earns Prestigious NSF Fellowship for Wearable-Robot Research

Henry Clever Hopes His Mathematical Equations Will Someday Deliver Energy-Efficient Exoskeletons to Give People with Disabilities a Natural Gait

Innovators offered chance to develop their ideas with world leading robotics manufacturer ABB Robotics

New industrial robotics accelerator launches today ---- The IdeaHub connecting robotics innovators worldwide with ABB Robotics - leading manufacturer of industrial robots, ---- Applications can be submitted online via: http://www.theideahub.co.uk/challenges.html until 7th July 2015 ---- Winning applicants can receive funding, development support and access to industrial robots to further develop their ideas

Next Generation Smart Miniature Wi-Fi Modules Accelerate IoT and M2M

Low-power, low-cost Wi-Fi modules enable nearly any device to connect with smart phones, tablets and cloud-based applications across The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M).

Graphene - The New Magical Material

Graphene may possibly be the future replacement for silicone. It's a two-dimensional material that measures just one atom thick and has a breaking strength 300 times greater than steel.

Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing The Future of Manufacturing

The next chapter in the industrial revolution is 3D printing, delivering a huge impact on additive manufacturing. It will not only create thousands of new jobs, but it will create many new businesses.

An Uncertain Future for Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is here to shake the existing mechanical, electrical and electronic systems. Modern electronics in particular will not be the same if quantum computing gains acceptance. There're voices of support as well as dissent. In this post, we'll analyze future trends in quantum computing. Keep reading!

Electrospinning NanoFibers

Electrospinning can be used to produce advanced materials that otherwise would not be possible to make.

How Small Can You Go?

Nanorobotics is about creating robots which are so small they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Operating as a swarm, these tiny robots have the promise to do some really incredible things.

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