Exhibition Charts 500 Years of Evolution of Robots

Lynne ODonnell for Sci-Tech Today:  Inspired by his belief that human beings are essentially terrified of robots, Ben Russell set about charting the evolution of automatons for an exhibition he hopes will force people to think about how androids and other robotic forms can enhance their lives. Robots, says Russell, have been with us for centuries -- as "Robots," his exhibit opening Wednesday at London's Science Museum, shows. From a 15th century Spanish clockwork monk who kisses his rosary and beats his breast in contrition, to a Japanese "childoid" newsreader, created in 2014 with lifelike facial expressions, the exhibition tracks the development of robotics and mankind's obsession with replicating itself.   Cont'd...

What went seriously wrong with Lily Robotics

Kayla Matthews for VentureBeat:  Lying in general is a bad idea, but lying to your would-be customers is an especially awful thing to do. That’s the lesson allegedly being learned by Lily Robotics, which, at the end of January, was raided by San Francisco police as part of a potential criminal investigation. Let’s back up. Why is the SFPD raiding the headquarters of a robotics company? It’s been a long, strange road, but let’s go back to the beginning. In 2016, Lily Robotics took more than 60,000 preorders for an upcoming product — preorders valued at more than $34 million. Naturally, these customers expected the product to be delivered within the specified time frame and to work as depicted in the company’s promotional videos.   Cont'd...

Ford invests $1B in robotics startup in driverless car quest

Ford Motor Company announces it is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, to develop a virtual driver system for the automaker's autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 - and for potential license to other companies.  Founded by former Google and Uber leaders, Argo AI is bringing together some of the most experienced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy from inside and outside of Ford. The team of experts in robotics and artificial intelligence is led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, company CEO, and Peter Rander, company COO. Both are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively.  "The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford's moving assembly line did 100 years ago," said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.   Full Press Release:

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...

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...

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.. .

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.

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...

Car Work: The Long-Term View of Autonomous Transportation

The logical question arises then--if the thing is going to pick me up and take me from point A to Point B; why even buy a car, since 90 plus percent of the time it's just sitting and losing value?

Segway's 'mobility robot platform' to begin mass production

Liu Zheng for China Daily:  A China-made mobile robot is set to begin mass production for consumers later this year. Ninebot (Beijing) Tech Co Ltd, backed by Smartphone maker Xiaomi, unveiled its self-balancing two-wheeled robot on Thursday in Beijing. Named "Loomo", the robot was transformed from the Ninebot Mini series scooter, which was first launched in October 2015, months after the company made an announcement to acquire the 12-year-old US-based balancing-scooter pioneer Segway Inc, and became one of the largest patent holders in the industry. The acquisition followed an $80 million investment in Ninebot by Xiaomi, Sequoia Capital and other investors.   Cont'd...

$18.867 billion Paid to Acquire 50 Robotics Companies in 2016

Companies are reinventing themselves, looking at their business in a new way with regards to how can they be a disrupter, and how they can prevent being disrupted - and this opens up deal flow.

Brave New World of RPA

RPA ultimately empowers your workforce to deliver more engaging (and profitable) work. Implement it smartly, and RPA may be the single most important investment you make this year… or this decade.

US Military Unleashes Swarm of Micro Drones Over California

From Seeker:  The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries after officials on Monday said it had successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones. The important step in the development of new autonomous weapon systems was made possible by improvements in artificial intelligence, holding open the possibility that groups of small robots could act together under human direction. Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defenses with their great numbers. The test of the world's largest micro-drone swarm in California in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement. "The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing," it said.   Cont'd...

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