Wal-Mart Experimenting With Robotic Shopping Cart for Stores

Spencer Soper & Shannon Pettypiece for Bloomberg:  Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is working with a robotics company to develop a shopping cart that helps customers find items on their lists and saves them from pushing a heavy cart through a sprawling store and parking lot, according to a person familiar with the matter. Such carts are an emerging opportunity for robotics companies as brick-and-mortar stores look for innovative ways to match the convenience of Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers, said Wendy Roberts, founder and chief executive officer of Five Elements Robotics. Roberts, who spoke Tuesday on a robotics panel at the Bloomberg Technology Conference 2016, said her company was working with the “world’s largest retailer” on such a shopping cart. That retailer is Wal-Mart, which is evaluating a prototype in its lab and giving feedback to the New Jersey robotics company, a person familiar said. Wal-Mart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said he couldn’t immediately comment on the robotic shopping cart.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA, Part 2: What are the opportunities to automate?

Robotic process automation can be applied across departments, from HR and Customer Service to Finance and Operations. 70-80 per cent of rules-based processes can be automated,

Google's developing its own version of the Laws of Robotics

Graham Templeton for ExtremeTech:  Google’s artificial intelligence researchers are starting to have to code around their own code, writing patches that limit a robot’s abilities so that it continues to develop down the path desired by the researchers — not by the robot itself. It’s the beginning of a long-term trend in robotics and AI in general: once we’ve put in all this work to increase the insight of an artificial intelligence, how can we make sure that insight will only be applied in the ways we would like? That’s why researchers from Google’s DeepMind and the Future of Humanity Institute have published a paper outlining a software “killswitch” they claim can stop those instances of learning that could make an AI less useful — or, in the future, less safe. It’s really less a killswitch than a blind spot, removing from the AI the ability to learn the wrong lessons.   Cont'd...

Vyo Is a Fascinating and Unique Take on Social Domestic Robots

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:   A group of researchers including Michal Luria, Guy Hoffman, Benny Megidish, Oren Zuckerman, Roberto Aimi, and Sung Park from IDC Herzliya, Cornell, and SK Telecom have developed a prototype social robot called Vyo. Vyo is “a personal assistant serving as a centralized interface for smart home devices.” Nothing new there, but what sets Vyo apart is how you interact with it: it combines non-anthropomorphic design with anthropomorphic expressiveness and a tactile object-based control system into a social robot that’s totally, adorably different. But is it practical?   Full Article:

The ABC of RPA: What is robotics and automation in the office?

Robotics and automation in the office is actually much more subtle, and typically works behind the scenes.

Sushi Robots and Vending-Machine Pizza Will Reinvent the Automat

Leslie Patton  for Bloomberg:  Decades from now, historians may look back on 2016 as the year Earthlings ate pizza from vending machines, bought burritos from a box in New York’s Grand Central Terminal and devoured sushi rolled by robots. “Automation is coming whether we want it to come or not,” said Andy Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains. “It’s everywhere. It’s in everything.” At a time when more consumers are embracing hand-made artisanal foods, 24/7 Pizza Box, Burritobox and Sushi Station are headed in the other direction. Vending-machine pizza will start popping up in Florida later this year and chipotle-chicken burritos, accompanied by guacamole and salsa, can now be ordered from an automated box. Sushi-making robots from Japan are already operating in U.S. restaurants and university cafeterias.   Cont'd...

New Muscle-Inspired Actuators Hold Potential to Build Safer, Soft-Bodied Robots

Robots should be safer and softer in order to make them more cooperative and execute tasks in close contact with humans. George Whitesides, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), along with his team, has created a new actuator that moves like human skeletal muscles by using vacuum power for automating soft, rubber beams. These actuators are soft and shock absorbing similar to real muscles, and do not pose any danger to their surroundings or the human beings working along with them or the future robots containing them. This study was published in the June 1 issue of the Advanced Materials Technologies journal.  Cont'd...

Robot wars: Boston Dynamics fell out with Google over humanoid Atlas

Mary-Ann Russon for International Business Times:  When former Boston Dynamics employees released video of humanoid robot Atlas – walking unassisted over difficult terrain, such as rocks and snow – Google was reportedly displeased; despite the research receiving high praise from roboticists while wowing the public. And the real reason Google is selling off Boston Dynamics is, by and large, due to insiders telling Tech Insider that the robotics firm was unwilling to fall in line with the internet giant's vision of a consumer robot for the home. Google reportedly envisioned the firm as one of nine in a division called Replicant. Initially, under the guidance of Android co-founder Andy Rubin, the firms would continue with existing research and Google would see what ideas and innovations they came up with.   Cont'd...

Safety for Collaborative Robots: New ISO/TS 15066

Collaborative robots are the latest technology, and may provide just the solution you are looking for to improve your production process, but you must still make sure any risks associated with your robotic application are recognized and managed appropriately.

Types of Robotic Actuators

Actuators have become a crucial part of the automated system, as they help with controlling equipment using hydraulic, pneumatic or in some of the cases electronic signals.

Chrysalix partners with Dutch RoboValley on €100 million robotics fund

Terry Dawes for Cantech Letter:  Vancouver-based Chrysalix Venture Capital has announced a €100 million fund aimed at driving the global robotics revolution, in partnership withRoboValley, a centre for robotics commercialization based at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The RoboValley Fund is Chrysalix’s first robotics fund, and will concentrate on disbursing seed and Series A rounds of funding to early-stage companies developing component technology, intelligent software, and other breakthrough robotics technologies. “Robotics is predicted to be the next big step in the digital revolution having an unprecedented impact on the way that we live, and provides an answer to some of the grand challenges of the 21st Century,” said RoboValley managing director Arie van den Ende. “Together with Chrysalix long-standing expertise in commercializing early stage industrial innovations, the RoboValley Fund will bring much needed capital and accelerated paths to market for our most promising next generation robotics technologies.”   Cont'd...

Robotic Pickers and Forklifts

The new robotic movers no longer need to travel fixed routes, as they can be programmed while on the move. Focusing on automated materials handling processes, and the underlying robot perception technology, companies will be employing this sophisticated, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence now and in the future.

Symmetric Multiprocessing or Virtualization: Maximizing the Value and Power of a Soft-Control Architecture

For a truly simplified and streamlined architecture that is high-performing, scalable, efficient. and built for long-term value, an SMP-enabled Soft-Control Architecture is recommended.

OpenAI Gym Beta

From the OpenAI team: We're releasing the public beta of  OpenAI Gym , a toolkit for developing and comparing  reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. It consists of a growing suite of environments  (from  simulated robots  to  Atari  games), and a site for  comparing and reproducing  results. OpenAI Gym is compatible with algorithms written in any framework, such as Tensorflow  and  Theano . The environments are written in Python, but we'll soon make them easy to use from any language. We originally built OpenAI Gym as a tool to accelerate our own RL research. We hope it will be just as useful for the broader community.   Getting started:   If you'd like to dive in right away, you can work through our  tutorial ...  (full intro post)

Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Labourers With Robots in China

Subhrojit Mallick  for GIZMODO India:    Apple and Samsung phone manufacturer, Foxconn has already taken a step towards the dystopian future. The South China Morning Post reported the manufacturing giant has replaced 60,000 laborers with robots. The total strength of Foxconn factory workers reduced from 110,000 to 50,000, marking a huge shift towards automation of routine jobs.  The Foxconn technology group confirmed to the BBC that they are automating many of the manufacturing tasks associated with their operations by introducing robots. However, they maintained the move will not affect long-term job losses.    Cont'd...

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