The ABC of RPA, Part 10: At What Point Should I Also Consider Bringing Artificial Intelligence Into The Office Environment?

Once a number of robots have been successfully implemented within your internal team and your process experts have a thorough understanding of how these robots have impacted the operating environment - then you can progress to artificial intelligence.

The First Autonomous, Entirely Soft Robot

From Leah Burrows and Harvard:   A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3-D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3-D-printed robot — nicknamed the “octobot” — could pave the way for a new generation of such machines... ...Through our hybrid assembly approach, we were able to 3-D print each of the functional components required within the soft robot body, including the fuel storage, power, and actuation, in a rapid manner,” said Lewis. “The octobot is a simple embodiment designed to demonstrate our integrated design and additive fabrication strategy for embedding autonomous functionality.”... (full article)  

Dexmo Robotics has created a mechanical exoskeleton glove for VR use

Julia Alexander for Polygon:  With HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets, the first wave of mainstream, consumer VR has officially arrived, and with it, comes the question of how to constantly better the experience for those using it. As it stands right now, those who want to use devices like the Vive or Rift must do so with controllers; the Rift uses an Xbox One controller while the Vive comes with its own dedicated peripheral. Both are functional and serve their purpose, but they come with certain limitations when trying to achieve the ideal VR experience. Now, Dexmo Robotics has unveiled what it thinks will solve some of those frustrations: a mechanical exoskeleton glove that can be paired with VR headsets. The glove, which can be seen in the video above, provides 11 degrees of freedom for movement, and the company touts the fact that each finger comes with a pressured sensor. Essentially, if you're playing a first-person shooter, you'll be able to feel the in-game gun's trigger bring squeezed as well as the recoil.   Full Article:

The ABC of RPA, Part 9: How Do I Measure Performance of a Robot Versus Humans?

If a robot gets a company's product out the door one or two days sooner, that equates to revenue, and thus cash, in the door one or two days sooner.

AMAZON HAS BEGUN TESTING DRONES AT THIS ENGLISH FARM

Kelsey D. Atherton for Popular Science:  Flying machines are hard secrets to keep. By their very nature, they soar into the heavens, above the heads of those below. America's military tends to keep its secret planes secret by only flying them in vast swathes of empty desert, until they’re ready for public debut. But that’s not really an option for Amazon, which is testing delivery drones in the United Kingdom (while it attempts to weave its way through U.S. regulations). So where, exactly, are Amazon drones flying? A field eight miles south of Cambridge named “Worsted Lodge.” No, really. In a thorough photo-essay at Business Insider, reporter Sam Shead pinpoints and explores the site and the field, until turned away by a security guard.   Cont'd...

Robot Octopus Points the Way to Soft Robotics With Eight Wiggly Arms

Cecilia Laschi for IEEE Spectrum:  The sun was sparkling on the Mediterranean Sea on the afternoon when a graduate student from my lab tossed our prize robot into the water for the first time. I watched nervously as our electronic creation sank beneath the waves. But the bot didn’t falter: When we gave it the command to swim, it filled its expandable mantle with water, then jetted out the fluid to shoot forward. When we ordered it to crawl, it stiffened its eight floppy arms in sequence to push itself along the sandy bottom and over scattered rocks. And when we instructed it to explore a tight space beneath the dock, the robot inserted its soft body into the narrow gap without difficulty. As a professor at the BioRobotics Institute at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in Pisa, Italy, I lead a team investigating soft robotics. This relatively new field of research has the potential to upend our ideas about what robots are capable of and where they can be useful. I chose to build robots that mimic the form of the octopus for two reasons. First, because they’re well suited to demonstrate the many advantages that come when a machine can flex and squish as needed. Also, it’s an excellent engineering challenge: An octopus with eight wiggly arms, which must work together in the face of complex hydrodynamic forces, is very difficult to design and control.   Cont'd...

NASA's new $1 million Space Robotics Challenge to prepare robots for Mars journey

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Last year at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, NASA announced a new challenge for humanoid robots: the Space Robotics Challenge (SRC), which will “prepare robots for the journey to Mars.” Just like the DRC, the first stage of the SRC will consist of a virtual challenge, run in the Gazebo simulator, followed up by a physical challenge using NASA’s R5 Valkyrie robots. As of yesterday, NASA has opened registration for the SRC, and we’ll take a look at the format of the competition, the challenges that teams will need to complete, and what they can take home for winning.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA, Part 8: Can robots and humans work in harmony?

Humans will always be required within an operation because they will need to process the one-off transactions that the robot has not been equipped to handle, and the robot will need to be programmed for any process changes.

Insect-Sized Drone Will Spy On Terrorists

Source - Sky News:  An insect-sized spy drone with four flapping wings and four legs is set to become Britain's latest weapon in the war on terror. The Dragonfly drone fits in the palm of a hand and has four flapping wings and four legs. It can fly through the air with great agility, allowing it to penetrate buildings through open windows, and perch on surfaces to eavesdrop. It can detect incoming objects and buildings, meaning it can avoid obstacles at high speeds. It is one of a number of pieces of kit being developed by the Ministry of Defence as part of an innovation drive.   Cont'd...

Is That Drone a Weapon?

Many police departments have purchased or plan to buy drones for search-and-rescue, arson, disaster relief, and accident investigations. Police officials say the devices can keep officers out of dangerous situations and cover more ground quickly, especially in the case of a missing child or an armed suspect on the run, especially in rural areas.

18 Questions to Ask Your AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) Vendor: Part 1

You need an AGV solution that will grow with your company, adapting to your changing industry and taking on the challenges you face as your business grows.

Upcoming Tradeshow, Conference & Exhibition Summary - September - December 2016

Here is a summary of what Tradeshows, Conferences & Exhibitions to look forward to in the coming months.

The ABC of RPA, Part 7: How will robotics and automation affect my employees?

In the long term, job roles will shift away from their traditional remits and evolve to meet the needs of the modern, automated workplace.

Stanford's 'Jackrabbot' paves way for social robotics

Caitlin Ju for The Stanford Daily:  Stanford researchers in the Computational Vision and Geometry Lab have designed an autonomously navigating robot prototype that they say understands implicit social conventions and human behavior. Named “Jackrabbot” after the swift but cautious jackrabbit, the visually intelligent and socially amicable robot is able to maneuver crowds and pedestrian spaces. A white ball on wheels, the Jackrabbot is built on a Segway system and contains a computing unit and multiple sensors that acquire a 3-D structure of the surrounding environment. 360-degree cameras and GPS also enhance the robot’s navigation and detection capabilities. To interact smoothly in public settings, the robot has to know how to avoid someone in a natural way, how to yield the right-of-way and how to leave personal space, among other skills.   Cont'd...

Siemens' World-record Electric Aircraft Motor Punches Above Its Weight

From Gizmag:   Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground... ... As a result, the new aircraft electric drive system achieves a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram. This ratio is an exceptional figure – especially if compared to similarly powerful industrial electric motors used in heavy machinery that produce less than 1 kW per kilogram, or even to more efficient electric motors for vehicles that generate around 2 kW per kilogram... (full article)  

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