China's Midea buys nearly half of German robotics firm Kuka

The Star:  Chinese appliances giant Midea moved a step closer to fulfilling its ambition to acquire German industrial robotics firm Kuka with two weekend deals raising its stake to nearly a majority.  Two of Kuka’s biggest German shareholders – technology company Voith and entrepreneur Friedhelm Loh – said they had decided to take up Midea’s offer of €115 (RM512) per share and sell their stakes.  German news agency DPA reported that Voith had agreed to sell its stake of 25.1% for €1.2bil (RM5.34bil).  And Loh told the business daily Handelsblatt he had decided to sell his stake of 10% for nearly €500mil (RM2.22bil).  Combined with its existing holding of 13.5% in Kuka, the two purchases mean Midea now holds 48.5%, or not far from the outright majority, in the Augsburg-based robot builder.   Cont'd.. .

Robots, Jobs and Productivity in the Manufacturing Industry

Industrial robotics is changing the U.S. manufacturing industry portrait.

Innovative Flexible Automation Drives Rapid Growth

A manufacturing cell can reduce part transportation because the close proximity of the cell's resources makes part transportation almost non-existent.

Toyota's U.S. Robotics Boss Promises Results Within 5 Years

Yuri Kageyama for News Factor:  The U.S. robotics expert tapped to head Toyota's Silicon Valley research company says the $1 billion investment by the giant Japanese automaker will start showing results within five years. Gill Pratt [pictured above] told reporters that the Toyota Research Institute is also looking ahead into the distant future when there will be cars that anyone, including children and the elderly, can ride in on their own, as well as robots that help out in homes. Pratt, a former program manager at the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, joined Toyota Motor Corp. first as a technical adviser when it set up its artificial intelligence research effort at Stanford University and MIT. He said safety features will be the first types of AI applications to appear in Toyota vehicles. Such features are already offered on some models now being sold, such as sensors that help cars brake or warn drivers before a possible crash, and cars that drive themselves automatically into parking spaces or on certain roads. "I expect something to come out during those five years," Pratt told reporters recently at Toyota's Tokyo office of the timeframe seen for the investment.   Cont'd...

Boston Dynamics posts video of one of the quietest robots ever being built

John DiPietro for NHVoice:  Lately, Boston Dynamics has released a new video of its robot called Mini Spot. In the video, the robot is seen running around outside, planning around objects in a home and climbing up stairs. The best part of the video is how delicately the robot picks up a wine glass and puts into the dishwasher. The wine-glass act has been highlight as it could be judged as to how much skilled is the robot in handling delicate things. For robots to safely operate around humans they need to be able to sense their environment and capable of knowing how mighty they are. Mini Spot weighs 55 lbs and is all electric and runs for around 90 minutes on a charge depending on what is it doing. The robot is having many sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro and proprioception sensors in its limbs.   Cont'd...

Flexible Feeding - Greater Speed

The system has been designed to enable the picking surface to be changed very quickly.

Transforming 64-Bit Windows to Deliver Software-Only Real-Time Performance

Freed from the isolation of the real-time system and from other functions such as the user interface, OEMs are able to explore more innovative solutions with less risk and overhead.

Robotic Motion Planning

George Konidaris and Daniel Sorin of Duke University have developed a new technology that cuts robotic motion planning times by 10,000 while consuming a small fraction of the power compared to current options. Watch one of their robotic arms in action as they explain how their innovative solution works.

Hebocon World Championship 2016

HEBOCON is a robot contest for the technically ungifted. They held the first tournament in Tokyo in July 19,2014... (Facebook page)

The ABC of RPA, Part 3: What Steps Should I Take in Order to Start the Robotics Journey?

Identifying the departments with the biggest backlog, the most amount of overtime or the area that receives the highest number of complaints is a straight forward way to prioritize which areas of the organization to automate.

Why the Future of Robotics Lies in the Code

While the exterior mechanics of a robot may be fascinating, it is their programming and software that has the most utility for future workforces.

Artificial Intelligence Produces Realistic Sounds That Fool Humans

From MIT News:   Video-trained system from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab could help robots understand how objects interact with the world.  Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have demonstrated an algorithm that has effectively learned how to predict sound: When shown a silent video clip of an object being hit, the algorithm can produce a sound for the hit that is realistic enough to fool human viewers. This “Turing Test for sound” represents much more than just a clever computer trick: Researchers envision future versions of similar algorithms being used to automatically produce sound effects for movies and TV shows, as well as to help robots better understand objects’ properties... (full article) (full paper)  

Aerospace: KUKA Omnimove Delivers Gigantic Aircraft Components With Millimeter Precision

Construction of the Airbus A380 in Hamburg involves moving aircraft components measuring 15 meters in length and weighing up to 90 tonnes.

Future Focus: Robotic Automation and Generation Z

Generation Z is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the surge in the development and implementation of robotic systems that increase productivity and cut costs in a variety of industries.

Teaching robots the physics of sliding and pushing objects

Jiaji Zhou for RoboHub:  The Manipulation Lab at the CMU Robotics Institute proposes a computational model that relates an applied robot action to the resultant object motion. Their research won the Best Conference Paper Award atICRA 2016.   Understanding the mechanics of manipulation is essential for robots to autonomously interact with the physical world. One of the common manipulation scenarios involves pushing objects in a plane subject to dry friction. We propose a planar friction (force-motion) model that relates an applied robot action to the resultant object motion.   Cont'd...

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