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.

Mining with Autonomous Vehicles

Mining practices have remained largely unchanged over the past 30 years. Accessible deposits are becoming harder to find with valuable deposits increasingly found only in remote areas of the world or in locations down hundreds of feet. These are expensive and dangerous to reach. Mining companies are going to have to deal with that and the best way is to automate the systems so that the human becomes the supervisor, rather than the direct worker.

What is a Kiosk Robot?

What would you do if you saw a robot approach you and start talking to you? How would you react if a robot looked sad when you walk away? Would you enjoy a robot rolling up to your table in a restaurant and showing you the menu?

How To Build A Bionic Man

On Febuary 7th Channel 4 in the UK will air the special "How To Build A Bionic Man". From bionic arms and legs to artificial organs, science is beginning to catch up with science fiction in the race to replace body parts with man-made alternatives. How to Build a Bionic Man follows psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who has a bionic hand himself, as he meets scientists working at the cutting edge of research to find out just how far this new technology can go. Meanwhile, a team of roboticists create a complete 'bionic man' for the first time, using nearly $1 million-worth of state-of-the-art limbs and organs - the products of billions of dollars of research - borrowed from some of the world's leading laboratories and manufacturers.

Minuscule Reconfigurable Robot From MIT

The little device is called a milli-motein — a name melding its millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which naturally fold themselves into incredibly complex shapes. This minuscule robot may be a harbinger of future devices that could fold themselves up into almost any shape imaginable. The device was conceived by Neil Gershenfeld, head of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, visiting scientist Ara Knaian and graduate student Kenneth Cheung, and is described in a paper presented recently at the 2012 Intelligent Robots and Systems conference. Its key feature, Gershenfeld says: "It's effectively a one-dimensional robot that can be made in a continuous strip, without conventionally moving parts, and then folded into arbitrary shapes."

Fully Autonomous Hamburger Line

Momentum Machines is a Silicon Valley startup that is aims to build a fully automated gourmet quality burger production line. They plan to first open their own restaurant using the technology and then sell the hardware to others in the future. Here is their bullet points from the current alpha hardware:   Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.It does everything employees can do except better: It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible. Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem. Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices. It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

Watch PBS NOVA Episode "Rise Of The Drones"

If you live in US you can stream last nights episode of the science show NOVA from the PBS webpage here .   Program Description: Drones. These unmanned flying robots–some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds–do things straight out of science fiction. Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the U.S. military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful as we see how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center. From cameras that can capture every detail of an entire city at a glance to swarming robots that can make decisions on their own to giant air frames that can stay aloft for days on end, drones are changing our relationship to war, surveillance, and each other. And it's just the beginning. Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history as NOVA gets ready for "Rise of the Drones."

Adept's New Material Automation Robot

The Adept Lynx is an Autonomous Indoor Vehicle (AIV) available to developers for custom applications and payloads. The Lynx includes Adept’s proprietary self-navigation software ideal for use in crowded environments, tight hallways, and applications where a small automated vehicle is advantageous. Adept OEM partners and payload developers enjoy access to a reliable drive system, an on-board power supply, automated self-charging, and I/O for integrating payload hardware onto the mobile platform. The Adept Lynx is capable of transporting up to 60kg with a runtime of up to 19 hours a day.   Simplifies payload integration with a small mobile platform Self-navigation software safely avoids people and obstacles Reliable drive system optimized for self-navigation Structural support of payloads up to 60kg on level surfaces Navigates through the use of a digital map Easy to deploy, no facilities modifications required Manages power and self charging operations

Filling A Room With Single-line Drawing

A project by Mattias Jones: Towards the end of 2012, as part of The Festival of the Mind in Sheffield, myself and a small team of technicians, coders and mathematicians developed a drawing system and put it to work. The robots drew one line pattern solutions, the shortest line possible, derived from theories on how bees fly from flower to flower. It ended up covering three walls and the floor of a twenty foot cube in one unbroken line.

CES Gets Robots All Wrong

We may have reached a tipping point where having a robot zone does everyone a disservice. Outside of a couple of very well known and popular robots, like Paro and Pleo, the robot zone was primarily filled with component company booths.

Case Study: Miltenyi Biotec, Cell Analyzers with 2D Barcode Readers

Autolabeling of samples and barcode detection of MACS Antibodies using the Quadrus MINI help streamline and optimize the workflow in laboratories. Handling is made extremely easy and this saves the researchers valuable time.

Swarm Of Pingpong-Ball-Sized Robots

CU-Boulder researchers are working to build a swarm of small robots that can work together to accomplish complex tasks. In the future, teams of intelligent robots could be deployed to tackle a number of challenging problems, from containing an oil spill to self-assembling into a piece of hardware after being launched into space. For now, the CU researchers, led by Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll, have built a swarm of 20 robots, each about the size of a pingpong ball, in their lab.

OpenBeam

Started last year on Kickstarter and now available through their website, as well as several other distributors, OpenBeam is a T-Slot aluminum framing systems that uses standard M3 nuts and bolts. Introduction: T-Slot extruded aluminum framing systems have been in use throughout the manufacturing and automation industries for machine building, prototyping and robotics applications for the past 30 years.  Unfortunately, all the vendors in this industry utilize a razor and blade business model; while the extrusions are priced low, they require the use of specialty nuts and plates, which can be priced as high as $3.00 per nut and $10.00 per joining plate. Starter kits cost $80 and include: 4 pieces of 150mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 120mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 90mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 60mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 30mm long extrusion 8 pieces of T bracket 16 pieces of L bracket 100 pack of nuts, 100 pack of bolts and a 2mm hex key  

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Harmonic Drive Introduces New Lightweight Versions of Select Gearhead Products.

Harmonic Drive Introduces New Lightweight Versions of Select Gearhead Products.

Harmonic Drive LLC, a leader in high precision motion control introduces new lightweight versions of select gearhead products. The new gearheads are ideal for designs where weight is a critical factor. Building on the success of Harmonic Drive LLCs current gear units, new lightweight versions were the next logical evolution of the CS/ SH product lines. With weight reductions of 20-30% without any reduction in torque ratings, the Lightweight (LW) gear units provide exceptional torque density.