The North American robotics market has recorded its strongest year ever in 2012, according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry's trade group. A total of 22,598 robots valued at $1.48 billion were sold to companies in North America in 2012, beating the previous record of 19,337 robots sold in 2011. When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 25,557 robots valued at $1.66 billion. Compared to 2011, North American orders were up 17% in units and 27% in dollars. "The Automotive industry has continued to be the strongest driver of the North American robotics market," said Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis for RIA. "Robots sold to automotive OEMs in North America jumped 47% over a then record-setting 2011, while robots sold to automotive component suppliers increased 21%," he noted. Sales were also up in metalworking industries (+12%) and life sciences/pharmaceuticals (+3%). In terms of applications, increases were seen in assembly (+40%), spot welding (+37%), arc welding (+24%), coating & dispensing (+13%), and material handling (+3%). The fourth quarter of 2012 was the strongest quarter ever recorded by RIA (the association began reporting data in 1984) in terms of units ordered, with 6,235 robots sold to North American companies. The fourth quarter was up nine percent in units and 21% in dollars over the same period in 2011.
On Febuary 7th Channel 4 in the UK will air the special "How To Build A Bionic Man". From bionic arms and legs to artificial organs, science is beginning to catch up with science fiction in the race to replace body parts with man-made alternatives. How to Build a Bionic Man follows psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who has a bionic hand himself, as he meets scientists working at the cutting edge of research to find out just how far this new technology can go. Meanwhile, a team of roboticists create a complete 'bionic man' for the first time, using nearly $1 million-worth of state-of-the-art limbs and organs - the products of billions of dollars of research - borrowed from some of the world's leading laboratories and manufacturers.
The little device is called a milli-motein — a name melding its millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which naturally fold themselves into incredibly complex shapes. This minuscule robot may be a harbinger of future devices that could fold themselves up into almost any shape imaginable. The device was conceived by Neil Gershenfeld, head of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, visiting scientist Ara Knaian and graduate student Kenneth Cheung, and is described in a paper presented recently at the 2012 Intelligent Robots and Systems conference. Its key feature, Gershenfeld says: "It's effectively a one-dimensional robot that can be made in a continuous strip, without conventionally moving parts, and then folded into arbitrary shapes."
Momentum Machines is a Silicon Valley startup that is aims to build a fully automated gourmet quality burger production line. They plan to first open their own restaurant using the technology and then sell the hardware to others in the future. Here is their bullet points from the current alpha hardware: Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.It does everything employees can do except better: It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible. Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem. Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices. It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
If you live in US you can stream last nights episode of the science show NOVA from the PBS webpage here . Program Description: Drones. These unmanned flying robots–some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds–do things straight out of science fiction. Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the U.S. military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful as we see how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center. From cameras that can capture every detail of an entire city at a glance to swarming robots that can make decisions on their own to giant air frames that can stay aloft for days on end, drones are changing our relationship to war, surveillance, and each other. And it's just the beginning. Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history as NOVA gets ready for "Rise of the Drones."
The Adept Lynx is an Autonomous Indoor Vehicle (AIV) available to developers for custom applications and payloads. The Lynx includes Adept’s proprietary self-navigation software ideal for use in crowded environments, tight hallways, and applications where a small automated vehicle is advantageous. Adept OEM partners and payload developers enjoy access to a reliable drive system, an on-board power supply, automated self-charging, and I/O for integrating payload hardware onto the mobile platform. The Adept Lynx is capable of transporting up to 60kg with a runtime of up to 19 hours a day. Simplifies payload integration with a small mobile platform Self-navigation software safely avoids people and obstacles Reliable drive system optimized for self-navigation Structural support of payloads up to 60kg on level surfaces Navigates through the use of a digital map Easy to deploy, no facilities modifications required Manages power and self charging operations
A project by Mattias Jones: Towards the end of 2012, as part of The Festival of the Mind in Sheffield, myself and a small team of technicians, coders and mathematicians developed a drawing system and put it to work. The robots drew one line pattern solutions, the shortest line possible, derived from theories on how bees fly from flower to flower. It ended up covering three walls and the floor of a twenty foot cube in one unbroken line.
CU-Boulder researchers are working to build a swarm of small robots that can work together to accomplish complex tasks. In the future, teams of intelligent robots could be deployed to tackle a number of challenging problems, from containing an oil spill to self-assembling into a piece of hardware after being launched into space. For now, the CU researchers, led by Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll, have built a swarm of 20 robots, each about the size of a pingpong ball, in their lab.
Started last year on Kickstarter and now available through their website, as well as several other distributors, OpenBeam is a T-Slot aluminum framing systems that uses standard M3 nuts and bolts. Introduction: T-Slot extruded aluminum framing systems have been in use throughout the manufacturing and automation industries for machine building, prototyping and robotics applications for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, all the vendors in this industry utilize a razor and blade business model; while the extrusions are priced low, they require the use of specialty nuts and plates, which can be priced as high as $3.00 per nut and $10.00 per joining plate. Starter kits cost $80 and include: 4 pieces of 150mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 120mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 90mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 60mm long extrusion 4 pieces of 30mm long extrusion 8 pieces of T bracket 16 pieces of L bracket 100 pack of nuts, 100 pack of bolts and a 2mm hex key
At CES Lego announced their new Mindstorm EV3 robotics platform. The big changes are the improved processor, USB 2.0 WiFi dongle, and the switch from a proprietary OS to an open-source Linux-based OS. Below is the promo video but for further in-depth info read the rundown at The NXT STEP Mindstorm Blog .
NASA Television will broadcast the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event also will be streamed live on NASA’s website. As in past years, NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants for almost 250 teams and sponsors four regional student competitions, including a FIRST regional competition in Washington that will be held March 28-30. Each year, FIRST presents a new robotics competition scenario where each team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot based on the team’s interpretation of the game scenario. Other than dimension and weight restrictions, the look and function of the robots is up to each individual team. This year more than 2,500 teams from 49 states, and 12 countries will participate.
For the past two weeks, in the woods of central Virginia around Fort Pickett, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) four-legged robot has been showing off its capabilities during field testing. Working with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), researchers from DARPA’s LS3 program demonstrated new advances in the robot’s control, stability and maneuverability, including "Leader Follow" decision making, enhanced roll recovery, exact foot placement over rough terrain, the ability to maneuver in an urban environment, and verbal command capability.
The Arduino Esplora is a microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. The Esplora differs from all preceding boards in that it provides a number of built-in, ready-to-use set of onboard sensors for interaction. The Esplora has onboard sound and light output interfaces. It alos has the potential to expand its capabilities with two Tinkerkit input and output connectors, and a socket for a color TFT LCD screen. Like the Leonardo board, the Esplora uses an Atmega32U4 AVR microcontroller with 16 MHz crystal oscillator and a micro USB connection capable of acting as a USB client device, like a mouse or a keyboard. The Esplora has the following on-board inputs and outputs : Analog joystick with central push-button two axis (X and Y) and a center pushbutton. 4 push-buttons laid out in a diamond pattern. Linear potentiometer slider near the bottom of the board. Microphone for getting the loudness (amplitude) of the surrounding environment. Light sensor for getting the brightness. Temperature sensor reads the ambient temperature Three-axis accelerometer measures the board's relation to gravity on three axes (X, Y, and Z) Buzzer can produce square-waves. RGB led bright LED with Red Green and Blue elements for color mixing. 2 TinkerKit Inputs to connect the TinkerKit sensor modules with the 3-pin connectors. 2 TinkerKit Outputs to connect the TinkerKit actuator modules with the 3-pin connectors. TFT display connector connector for an optional color LCD screen, SD card, or other devices that use the SPI protocol.
Helen Greiner left iRobot four years ago to start a new robotics company now called CyPhy Works. Their website has info on two of the robots they have been working on. The Extreme Access System for Entry (EASE) (pictured above)is a small hovering robot designed for inspection and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) applications. EASE is intended for operating in close quarters, beyond line of sight, and in GPS denied areas; all of which are critical when performing search and rescue missions, building clearing, or civil infrastructure inspection. The EASE system consists of a lightweight ground control station (GCS) and a micro Vertical Takeoff and Land (VTOL) air vehicle. It is not dependent on a GPS signal for operation, making it not only effective as a micro UAS in the traditional sense, but also enables it to fly indoors and in confined spaces as effectively as it does in open spaces. It has unmatched endurance due to our patented microfilament technology that enables the use of hot-swappable batteries, which power the entire system from the base station. The fishing-line thin microfilament provides directly connected communication between the GCS and the air vehicle, as well as power. Unlike all other RF controlled UASs, the microfilament makes the EASE impervious to jamming while the microfilament is unaffected by water, power lines, etc. The Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system is designed to provide long term persistent stare capabilities and enable reliable long distance communications. PARC uses CyPhy Works' patented microfilament system to deliver extreme endurance, increased capabilities, and a smaller logistical footprint. PARC flies itself, so very little user training is required; and when operating the system the user can focus on the data that PARC produces, instead of the system itself. The PARC system consists of a Ground Control Station (GCS) and a purpose built quadrotor VTOL air vehicle. The PARC vehicle carries a gyro-stabilized, gimbal mounted, EO/IR camera payload. In addition to the camera system, PARC has additional payload capacity for communications devices. If additional payload capacity is required, the camera payload can be removed. The PARC vehicle can operate at altitudes of up to 1,000 feet above ground level, or 11,000 feet density altitude. This high altitude capability enables long distance communications and extends visual reach.
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