DARPA Robotics Contest Announced

The Pentagon’s research and development agency has announced a contest to develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can utilize available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles.The DARPA Robotics Challenge will consist of three key events – a Virtual Disaster Challenge, and two (2) Disaster Response Challenges. Participation in the Virtual Disaster Challenge is required only for teams working exclusively on control software development. The agency has not yet announced how much it intends to spend on the program or the size of the prize but previous contest awarded two million dollars for the top prize with one million dollars for the runner up. The full contest details and registration can be found here .

Why are there more unmanned platforms than customers?

Why are unmanned systems developers offering so many different kinds of platforms and ideas, when there is comparatively little demand by the civilian market? Why are there more offerings than customers?

Interview with Dr. Tom Van Doren, COO of HDT Robotics

Headquartered in Solon, Ohio, HDT Global is widely recognized as the world leader in the design and manufacture of many products in use by U.S. and allied military units, civilian governments, and commercial customers today.

Is Your Business Employing Automation?

It will be worth your time to analyze each segment of your business and decide if automation is right for your business and if automation can produce more efficiency or profit.

Printable Robots From MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours. The project envisions a future desktop technology that prints actual programmable hybrid electro-mechanical devices from simple descriptions on-demand, anywhere, and with performance one would expect from a team of professional engineers, using advanced materials. The project aims to transform manufacturing as dramatically as the personal computer democratized information technology and transformed how we communicate.  

Boston Dynamics Sand Flea Jumping Robot

Sand Flea is an 11 pound robot that drives like an RC car on flat terrain, but can jump 30 ft into the air to overcome obstacles. That is high enough to jump over a compound wall, onto the roof of a house, up a set of stairs or into a second story window. The robot uses gyro stabilization to stay level during flight, to provide a clear view from the onboard camera, and to ensure a smooth landing. Sand Flea can jump about 25 times on one charge.

Robotic Industries Association Launches New Certified Robot Integrator Program

Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s largest trade group representing over 265 companies, has announced the launch of their Certified Robot Integrator Program. “The new RIA Certified Robot Integrator program began from a simple question: What can the RIA do to help the industry develop more successful robot applications?” said RIA President, Jeff Burnstein. Focus groups were held with leading system integrators and collaborative end users. Users told the RIA that a robot certification program would be useful as a way to help them develop a baseline for the evaluation of robot integrators. System integrators told the RIA this would be a great way for them to benchmark themselves against best industry practices. After more than two years of touring the country to get input from integrators, users, robot suppliers and other interested parties, the program was officially launched in January 2012. “I think there is great excitement about it throughout the industry,” Burnstein explained. EXAM CRITERIA: There are three basic parts to the on-site exam and audit: Hands-On section Expert Response Section: (Participant industry tenure & biography) On-site audit of business infrastructure per completed “Self Score Card”. Supporting evidence will be gathered before any certification date is scheduled. RIA's full press release can be read here . They have also set up a landing page for the Certified Robot Integrator program here .

Doctor Robot at Your Service

Future robots might incorporate the ability for a surgeon to program the surgery and just supervise the procedure, as the robot performs most of the tasks. The possibilities for improvement and advancement are only limited by imagination and cost.

Robotics going Mainstream: Improve Warehouse Productivity and Safety

This document explains how companies can utilize advanced and emerging technologies to help deliver superior results. Prepare for the unexpected, understand your process, look at all the options, go back to the fundamentals, reengineer, gain stakeholder acceptance through a pilot program, and finally deliver. The savings are there for the taking.

Extra! Extra! Nanobots Kill Cancer!

The small nanobots that are being deployed to fight cancer are nothing like what we imagine. Instead of being made of metal, plastic, and circuitry, cancer nanobots are created using "DNA origami," or "folding" DNA chains to form a barrel-shaped container for a payload of cancer antibodies.

Amazon.com Inc. To Buy Kiva Systems Inc. for $775 million.

The all-cash deal for closely held Kiva will close in the second quarter, Seattle-based Amazon said today in a statement. Kiva’s orange robots, which can slide under shelves and bins of products, are used by Quidsi Inc. -- the company behind Soap.com and Diapers.com that Amazon acquired for about $545 million last year. Kiva, whose headquarters will remain in North Reading, Massachusetts, will help Amazon make shipping more efficient, the company said. “Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow,” Dave Clark, vice president of global customer fulfillment at Amazon, said in the statement. Bloomberg has the entire financial details here.  

'Making Things See' Kinect Book by Greg Borenstein

'Making Things See' from O'Reilly Media / Make shows you how to build Kinect projects with inexpensive off-the-shelf components, including the open source Processing programming language and the Arduino microcontroller. Things covered in the book include:   Create Kinect applications on Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux Track people with pose detection and skeletonization, and use blob tracking to detect objects Analyze and manipulate point clouds Make models for design and fabrication, using 3D scanning technology Use MakerBot, RepRap, or Shapeways to print 3D objects Delve into motion tracking for animation and games Build a simple robot arm that can imitate your arm movements Discover how skilled artists have used Kinect to build fascinating projects   The book is available now on Amazon .  

Robotic Glove For Auto Workers And Astronauts

General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from NASA and GM's Robonaut 2 – or R2 – project, which launched the first humanoid robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station. When engineers, researchers and scientists from GM and NASA began collaborating on R2 in 2007, one of the design requirements was for the robot to operate tools designed for humans, alongside astronauts in outer space and factory workers on Earth. The team achieved an unprecedented level of hand dexterity on R2 by using leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand. Research shows that continuously gripping a tool can cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes, but initial testing of the Robo-Glove indicates the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably. For example, an astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15 to 20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation but with the robotic glove they might need to apply only five to 10 pounds of force. Inspired by the finger actuation system of R2, actuators are embedded into the upper portion of the glove to provide grasping support to human fingers. The pressure sensors, similar to the sensors that give R2 its sense of touch, are incorporated into the fingertips of the glove to detect when the user is grasping a tool. When the user grasps the tool, the synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released.

New Medical Technology Saving Lives

Most of the medical advances that we have seen have been with pharmaceuticals, as drug companies compete to introduce new more effective drugs because the patents on many blockbuster drugs are about to expire. But the coolest advances have to do with medical equipment. The age of high-tech medicine is here with even greater advances in development.

Interview - Wireless Assembly Line Robotics - Joseph Citrano III, of Honeywell

A robot has multiple axis, so a wireless switch is sensing position on those different axis. A Limitless™ wireless solution includes wireless switches and I/O devices that are paired and communicate with a PLC or controller interface.

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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.