Trump's freeze on new regulation means that we won't get drone delivery anytime soon

April Glaser for RECODE:  When President Trump signed an executive order last week requiring two federal regulations to be rescinded for every new one passed, he simultaneously put the brakes on the future of drone delivery in the United States. While many industries see the prospect of less regulation as positive, the nascent drone industry actually needs regulations in order to grow. The reason drones need regulations is that in 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board classified drones as aircraft, which means drones need to abide by FAA regulations in order to fly. The problem is that many drone regulations don’t yet exist, and the FAA will have a hard time killing existing rules to make room for new ones. “If regulations for unmanned aircraft are held up or are stripped away, there’s actually no way for drones to access the airspace,” said Gregory McNeal, co-founder of Airmap, a drone mapping company.   Cont'd...

How Dynamic Group Quadrupled Production Capacity with Collaborative Robots

This application produces a medical device with parts that are extremely heat sensitive, so cycle times have to be consistent from part to part.

Raspberry Pi-powered arm: This kit aims to make robotics simple enough for kids

Nick Heath for TechRepublic:  Think it's tricky to build and program a robot arm? Think again. Powered by the Raspberry Pi, the MeArm Pi is a robot arm designed to be simple enough that kids aged 11+ can build and program it. The lightweight plastic arm, which can pick up small objects such as Lego bricks, comes as a kit that keeps the number of screws to a minimum and is relatively straightforward to assemble using the included hex keys. It can be controlled via the Pi, either using joysticks attached to the included Pi HAT add-on board or by programming it from the Pi.   Cont'd...

Rethink Robotics Releases Intera 5: A New Approach to Automation

Rethink Robotics announced Intera® 5, a first-of-its-kind software platform that connects everything from a single robot controller, extending the smart, flexible power of Rethink Robotics' Sawyer™ to the entire work cell and simplifying automation with unparalleled ease of deployment.  Built on the backbone of the industry's best train-by-demonstration software that powers the world's fastest-to-deploy robots, Intera 5 is paving the way for connected manufacturing environments and helping companies build factories of the future. Intera 5 fundamentally changes the need for integration, making it substantially easier and more affordable, allowing manufacturers to deploy full work cell automation in a matter of hours, not weeks.  Intera 5 is much more than the latest version of Rethink Robotics' software; it's a new way to approach automation that allows manufacturers to control the robots, orchestrate the work cell and collect data.    Full Press Release:

Deep-Domain Conversational Artificial Intelligence

Conversational applications may seem simple on the surface, but building truly useful conversational experiences represents one of the hardest AI challenges solvable today.

Inside Amazon's robot-run supermarket that needs just 3 human workers

Josh Kosman for NY Post:  If you’re a robot stealing somebody’s job, it’s best to stay hidden. That’s what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appears to be thinking, as his Seattle-based web giant has contemplated a two-story, automated grocery store in which a staff of robots on the floor upstairs grabs and bags items for shoppers below. The ground level of the futuristic prototype — a supermarket-sized version of its recently unveiled “Amazon Go” convenience store, with a bigger layout that could span anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet — would be devoted to goods that shoppers typically like to touch, sources briefed on the plans told The Post.   Cont'd...

Robotics-focused ETFs see big gains, Trump could hasten trend

Ryan Vlastelica for MarketWatch:  If robots are taking jobs, should you invest in the robot makers? That’s the argument behind a pair of outperforming exchange-traded funds that track the robotics industry, which could continue seeing strong growth as more positions get automated by machines or algorithms. In a Jan. 23 note, UBS named automation and robotics as one of the two areas of technological innovation that would drive productivity over the coming decade, along with the digital data industry. “Both have the potential to profoundly transform the structure of our economy, disrupt existing business models, but also create substantial growth opportunities for those well-positioned to participate,” the firm wrote, singling out the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index ETF ROBO, +0.59%  as a fund that would benefit from this trend, with the investment time horizon of a decade.   Cont'd...

Development of a Hydraulic Drive High-power Artificial Muscle

The artificial muscle that was developed using rubber tube and is extremely powerful but lightweight and has strong resistance to impact and vibration

Watch a new robot fly just like a bat

Lindzi Wessel for ScienceMag:  Forget drones. Think bat-bots. Engineers have created a new autonomous flying machine that looks and maneuvers just like a bat. Weighing only 93 grams, the robot’s agility comes from its complex wings made of lightweight silicone-based membranes stretched over carbon-fiber bones, the researchers report today in Science Robotics. In addition to nine joints in each wing, it sports adjustable legs, which help it steer by deforming the membrane of its tail.    Full Article:

MIT Builds Invisible Fish Grabbing Robot

Matthew Humphries for PCMag:  Catching a fish can be tough, even if you are just trying to net a goldfish in a small tank. That's because the fish spots the danger and makes a swim for it. But what if you didn't need a net because you're controlling an invisible grabbing robot? That's what Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT succeeded in creating, but its applications go way beyond catching and releasing fish unharmed. The robot is constructed of a transparent hydrogel, which is strong and durable but mostly made of water. As the video below explains, each arm of the robot is constructed from 3D-printed hollow cubes of hydrogel, which are then linked together. By injecting water using a syringe it's possible to make the arms curl and uncurl quickly in a grabbing motion.   Cont'd...

A robotic barista is now serving - really fast

Jon Swartz for USA TODAY:  Something futuristic is brewing in a shopping complex here. The first robotic barista in the U.S., nicknamed "Gordon," started serving up to 120 coffee drinks an hour Jan. 30— ironically, just several thousand feet away from a Starbucks in the same complex. "A lot of us spend a lot of time in line waiting for coffee," says Henry Hu, CEO of Cafe X Technologies, the local start-up that created the robot. "And we decided to do something about it." For about a year, the firm built a toll-booth-sized Cafe X with a sleek industrial design. The automated cafe offers seven drinks like espresso and cafe latte for $2.25 to $2.95 per 8-ounce cup. An app allows for mobile orders. (A quick sample of drinks, each flavored with hazelnut, caramel or vanilla, can attest to quality. The robotic arm moved a cup between several stations — from beans freshly ground to the pouring of coffee).   Cont'd.. .

Automation in IV Pharmacy Compounding

Automation in the pharmacy for IV drug compounding is still in its infancy.

Taking Flight: Consumer Drones Are Nuisances, Not Profits

The global market for drones is already big and it's getting bigger fast as people see what is possible. Firms like The Teal Group estimate it could be a $91B market over the next few years.

Microbots: Microsoft's multi-pronged robotics play takes shape

Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft:  In the early 2000s, Microsoft was all-in on robotics. By the middle of that decade, the company seemingly had all but abandoned the robotics space. But this may be the year that Microsoft may be ready to get back into robotics, on multiple fronts. When Microsoft founder Bill Gates was still involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, robotics was slated to be one of Microsoft's next big things. Microsoft built a programming model and framework for developers working on anything from Lego robots to industrial-scale robots. However, that product, "Microsoft Robotics Studio," never really went beyond the academic and hobbyist communities and the company's ambitions in this space withered. Cut to 2017. These days, the home for a good chunk of the Microsoft current robotics work is apparently in Microsoft Research (MSR) -- specifically in the AI + Research (AI+R) Group under executive vice president Harry Shum. (I say "apparently" here because Microsoft officials declined to answer any of my questions on the company's robotics initiatives.) Shum is known for his work in computer vision and graphics and has a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon.   Cont'd...

Swarm of Underwater Robots Mimics Ocean Life

UCSD:  Underwater robots developed by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego offer scientists an extraordinary new tool to study ocean currents and the tiny creatures they transport. Swarms of these underwater robots helped answer some basic questions about the most abundant life forms in the ocean—plankton. Scripps research oceanographer Jules Jaffe designed and built the miniature autonomous underwater explorers, or M-AUEs, to study small-scale environmental processes taking place in the ocean. The ocean-probing instruments are equipped with temperature and other sensors to measure the surrounding ocean conditions while the robots “swim” up and down to maintain a constant depth by adjusting their buoyancy. The M-AUEs could potentially be deployed in swarms of hundreds to thousands to capture a three-dimensional view of the interactions between ocean currents and marine life.   Cont'd...

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