FMC Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: FTI) announced today that it has given notice to exercise its purchase option for the remaining 55% of outstanding shares of Schilling Robotics LLC ("Schilling"). The transaction is expected to close on or about March 30, 2012. FMC purchased its existing 45% interest in Schilling and obtained the purchase option in 2008. Schilling is a leading producer of remotely operated vehicles ("ROVs"), ROV manipulator systems, control systems and other high-technology equipment and services for oil and gas subsea exploration and production. FMC and Schilling have collaborated on a variety of projects and technology advances over the past three years, including an innovative control system for Petrobras' Congro/Corvina project that will use subsea robotics technology to operate the manifold and separation station valves. "We are pleased that Schilling will become part of FMC," said John Gremp, Chairman, President and CEO of FMC Technologies. "Their technologies will help us develop additional solutions to further strengthen our subsea leadership position."
Compass Automation has rapidly become an industry-leading provider of high resolution, in-line vision inspection systems. In the fall of 2011 Compass completed the project highlighted below for Mitchel & Scott Machine Company, providing an automated vision inspection and thread checker system. Compass was able to provide Mitchel & Scott with an outstanding product in an extremely tight timeline. This system exceeded the quoted performance, providing a repeatability of 2 microns, a reproducability of 4 microns, and passing a Gage R&R with a score of 7.4%.
Bill Zurn was inspired to develop a road repair machine patent after being frustrated by all of the potholes on the freeways & city streets. He postulated that a more efficient method of repairing roads was possible by adding robotic modules and computer controlling methods to repair machines.
Recently there's been a clammer for (and against) a universal open-source robotic operating system. The proponents main argument is that such a system is beneficial particularly for rapid prototyping in the development of new systems while almost all of the industrial robot manufacturers argue that their robots are performing mission critical tasks which require secure and fail-safe operating systems - which they have developed and optimized over the past 50 years.
When a company announces its intention to introduce Lean practices and implement automated solutions to improve efficiencies, the first concern internally is the displacement of labor. But that was not the case for Otis Technology, a forward-thinking company specializing in the design and manufacturing of gun cleaning systems in upstate New York. The priority was to redeploy labor into value-added tasks in line with its commitment to a Lean philosophy.
Stratasys is now offering monthly leases options for the uPrint SE 3D Print Pack and the uPrint SE Plus 3D Print Pack. Monthly lease packages are USD $290 for uPrint SE and USD $380 for uPrint SE Plus. Besides the printer, the 3D Print Packs include startup supplies, a support-removal system, and cleaning agent.
Aldebaran Robotics just released a promo video for their next NAO robot. The new model includes 2 cameras, 4 microphones, sonar rangefinder, 2 IR emitters and receivers, 1 inertial board, 9 tactile sensors, and 8 pressure sensors. NAOqi, their proprietary embedded software, provides functionality for task such as speech recognition, object recognition, and access to all the sensors. Code development can take place in Windows, Mac OS, or Linux and be called from many languages, including C++, Python, Urbi, and .Net.
Humans are good at recognizing full facial expressions which present a rich source of affective information. However, psychological studies have shown that affect also manifests itself as micro-expressions. These are very rapid 1/3 to 1/25 second involuntary facial expressions which give a brief glimpse to feelings that people undergo but try not to express. Researchers at Oxford University and Oulu University are developing software that can recognize these ‘micro-expressions’. The initial experiments do indicate that the approach can distinguish deceptive from truthful micro-expressions, but further experiments need to be conducted to confirm it. The full paper is available here .
Companies considering a new material handling system are often simultaneously evaluating warehouse management systems (WMS) or have already implemented a WMS. When considering an automated material handling solution such as the Kiva Mobile Robotic Fulfillment System, companies often ask how the systems will work together.
Using Robotmaster software for off-line programming of a 7-axis robot used for the precise trimming required in the manufacturing of General Atomics Predator Drone.
Professor George Whitesides, Robert Shepherd and their colleagues from Harvard University have designed a prototype soft, agile robot capable of crawling and squeezing under obstacles current rigid robots are can't handle. The flexible robot motion is controlled by a series of chambers within the 'elastomer' layer that can be inflated with compressed air. The air is fed through tubes attached to the robot.
FroboMind is a conceptual architecture for field robots. The idea is to use the same generic architecture on all field robots and hereby maximizing efficiency, reliability, modularity, extendability and code reuse. FroboMind is open source and is implemented in Robot Operating System. The project includes ASuBot , a research project focusing on weeding in organic orchards, Armadillo , a tracked toolcarrier within precision navigation in row crops, Casmobot , a semi-autonomous slope mower, and Hortibot , a tool carrier capable of traversing a field of row crops.
Boeing video showing its Unmanned Little Bird helicopter landing autonomously on a trailer moving along a runway at speeds up to 15 knots. The test was part of a program with France's Thales and DCNS to demonstrate technology for unmanned VTOL deck landings and take-offs on moving ships.
Here is a video of some of the highlights from The International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Competition held in September. The competition part of the conference required the tiny autonomous flying robots perform missions in at an indoor and outdoor tasks like collecting objects from within a structure, popping balloons or dropping objects in specific locations. A summary of all the aircrafts that participated are available in this pdf.
Ideas in Action is a weekly PBS program hosted by Jim Glassman. A recent episode focused on the future of the American economy and the role of intelligent computers and robots will play. His two guests were Martin Ford, author of "The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future" and Dr. Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University. The entire episode is available here .
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