Fastbrick Robotics' bricklaying machine builds investor interest

Tim Boreham for The Australian:  According to Fastbrick Robotics chief Mike Pivac, the art of bricklaying hasn’t changed much in the past 5000 years.  For brickies’ labourers in particular, it remains an unsafe and back-breaking game of messy mortar-mixing and lugging hods at height or over uneven surfaces. Backed with seed funding from the publicly listed Brickworks, Mr Pivac and his cousin Mark have devised a robotic bricklaying machine to eliminate the drudge work.  About the size of a garbage truck, the prototype Hadrian 105 unit can erect an average house in one to two days, within an accuracy of half a millimetre.  That’s far more accurate than the brickies’ time-honoured string and spirit level method. Led by Cygnet Capital, the ­Pivacs have been on an investor roadshow ahead of a $3 million raising and reverse IPO, via the shell of former winery owner DMY Capital.  Interest has been enormous, with inquiries from as far afield as Saudi Arabia and Russia.  “We had 500,000 hits on our website in just over five days,’’ Mr Pivac says.  “We have had interest from 35 countries, including some outstanding big organisations.’’  Cygnet Capital director of ­corporate finance Darien Jagger says no other IPO has attracted as much interest.  “We have fielded thousands of emails from all sorts of parties.’’  The Hadrian unit has already demonstrated end-to-end construction, without the need for human intervention. The innovation lies not with the robotic arms, but the laser-guided system that allows the bricks to be placed accurately.  “If you put this machine on a rocking boat it would lay a house on the shore correctly to an inch or two,’’ Mr Pivac said.   Cont'd...

Why Drones are Ditching their DIY Roots

By AINSLEY O'CONNELL for FastCompany:  When hobbyist drone pilot Michael Kolowich ordered his Cinestar-8 octocopter in 2013, he traveled from Boston to Montana, where it had been assembled, to pick it up. "I went up there for four days of training in how to fly it safely, how to get great shots with it, the ins and outs of the platform," he says. "It really did take that much training to get the most out of it." How the world has changed in just two years. "Almost every serious video drone then was somewhat custom-built," he says. Now, for a fraction of what Kolowich paid, aspiring drone pilots can pick up a "serious" drone at their local Best Buy. The drone community, circa 2015, is at an inflection point, with DIY tinkering giving way to mass-market distribution. "A year or two ago it was far more custom builds. Now you see it standardizing quite a bit," says Dan Burton, CEO and cofounder of Dronebase, an online platform for booking commercial drone services. Burton was first introduced to drones while serving in the Marines; after returning to the U.S. and attending business school, he began helping commercial drone pilots manage their financials. Dronebase, which effectively allows pilots to outsource their sales and operations, is a natural extension of that hands-on experience. Burton describes the drone community as comprised of "very passionate hobbyists." But increasingly, the community’s creative, maker mindset is directed toward the cinematics of operating the drone camera, rather than toward the construction of the flying robot itself.   Cont'd...

Drones Deliver New Vision to Films

Some big budget film/TV production houses are using these more expensive systems and still come in under budget, compared to using a big helicopter for just a few hours a day or multiple camera cranes/dollies.

Toyota Accelerates Home Helper Robot Program

Toyota is accelerating development of a robot that can perform tasks in the home to help elderly and disabled people lead independent lives. The Human Support Robot (HSR) is its response to the rising demand for long-term elderly care. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2050, 22 per cent of the world’s population will be over 60 years old. The HSR is compact and highly manoeuvrable, with a lightweight, cylindrical body and a folding arm. It can pick up objects off the floor, reach things down from shelves and perform a variety of other tasks. Toyota is teaming up with a number of research bodies to set up the HSR Developers’ Community, making a combined effort to hasten development and early practical adoption of the HSR. Artificial intelligence is not yet a substitute for human care, but the HSR will be able to be operated remotely by family and friends, with the operator’s face and voice being relayed in real-time. This will allow for genuine human interaction as the HSR goes about its work.   Cont'd...

Japan`s Vision as Robotics Super Power; New Industrial Revolution Driven by Robots

For 2015, a Grand Robot Exhibition in Japan is taking place during December 2nd to 5th as a joint venture of Japan Robot Association and the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun.

How to Prepare Now for the Industrial Internet of Things

The inevitable Internet of Things is already taking shape, absorbing the world of consumer devices and hovering on the horizon of industrial manufacturing.

Companies are making human-like robots and they think they've stumbled on the biggest thing since the iPhone

Cadie Thompson for Business Insider:  Downloading apps on your own personal robot may become as common as downloading apps on your smartphone. Robot makers Jibo and Blue Frog Robotics are creating social robots that are aimed at living with humans and in order to entice consumers they are selling them for about the same cost as an iPhone. Jibo’s robot called Jibo is priced at about $749 for pre-order and Blue Frog Robotics’ robot called Buddy is priced at $549. But these companies are also promising consumers that these little live-in robots are going to become the biggest platform since Apple’s iPhone, capable of performing all kinds of functions via apps. “It’s like the iPhone, if we want to reach the mainstream and have success we need many very interesting apps,” said Frack de Visme, the chief financial officer of Blue Frog Robotics. “We are going to have an open system so many developers can develop and create amazing apps so that it become mainstream.”   Cont'd...

Japan's robot hotel: a dinosaur at reception, a machine for room service

The English-speaking receptionist is a vicious-looking dinosaur, and the one speaking Japanese is a female humanoid with blinking lashes. “If you want to check in, push one,” the dinosaur says. The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk and type in information on a touch panel screen. From the front desk to the porter that is an automated trolley taking luggage to the room, this hotel in south-western Japan, aptly called Weird Hotel, is “manned” almost totally by robots to save labour costs. Hideo Sawada, who runs the hotel as part of an amusement park, insists using robots is not a gimmick but a serious effort to use technology and achieve efficiency.   Cont'd...

Innovative new Start-up NoFlyZoneUK working to advance the Commercial UAV Industry

Recent debates have brought a range of UAV driven privacy concerns to light, with key fears including trespassing, nuisance and data protection.

Robots 101 - Lasers

Almost all robots today use lasers for remote sensing. This means that the robot is able to tell, from a distance, some characteristics of an object.

Echoing Government's Productivity 4.0, IoT Automation Boosts Taiwan's Competitiveness

Facing challenges of labor shortages and aging labor forces, Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs is implementing "Productivity 4.0" to stimulate economic growth and upgrade industries.

Creativity in the Workplace

True success in a challenging technical field like robotics requires a team of creative people working together and supporting one another.

Thinking Ahead: An interview with "The Mobility Revolution" author Lukas Neckermann

Once we remove the human-machine interface - in other words, take away pedals and the steering wheel - we shift liability to an outside-operator, much like with driverless public transport systems.

Makeblock mBot: Introducing kids to robotics and programming

By Hitesh Raj Bhagat, ET Bureau:  This cute little fella is the mBot — a do-it-yourself educational robot kit from robotics experts Makeblock. Built around the Arduino open-source platform, it's designed to induct kids into the fields of robotics and programming. The company chose to build around the concept of STEM education: science, technology, engineering & mathematics. Specifically, it helps children get an early start into these disciplines. There are two versions of the mBot: a Bluetooth version for home use 2.4Ghz WiFi version, which is designed for classroom use.  The company took to Kickstarter to generate funds for mBot and promised one unit for $49 (plus shipping). From a modest $20,000 goal, a staggering $285,463 was raised during the campaign. Now, you can buy a kit from Makeblock's website. Coming back to the mBot, everything that you need to build it is in the box — in a nutshell, you need to assemble it using the precise instructions provided and add batteries. There are 45 pieces and it's easy to put them together in about 15 minutes. It's neatly packaged and consists of very high quality materials — including some attractive anodised aluminium parts in your choice of pink or blue. Every little part that you need — from the main Arduino board, DC motors, to each screw, cable and even a set of tools — is in the box. It comes pre-programmed but it's also designed to be tinkered with. Parent of pre-teens might be familiar with Scratch — a free, graphicalbased programming language developed by MIT Media Lab. Well, Makeblock has built their own version for this and called it mBlock (it's based on Scratch 2.0 and free to download from their website). The idea behind mBlock is that younger children can start out with graphical programming and move on to text-based programming as they become more advanced.   Cont'd...

Microscan Gigabit Ethernet Cameras Provide Ampoule Inspection in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Using machine vision inspection with high-performance Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) cameras, ISW GmbH designs turnkey hardware/software solutions for the pharmaceutical industry to specifically ensure accurate dimensions and fill levels of ampoules in production, replacing error-prone manual quality control processes.

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