Minimalist Telepresence Robots

Double Robotics' new robot is a two wheeled adjustable height telepresence based on the iPad.  A retractable kickstands will automatically deploy to conserve power when you are not moving around and the internal battery is capable of powering the robot for 8 hours of normal use. Navigation is controlled by included iPad software and the company hopes to ship the first batch in December for $1,999.

Point Grey Adds 120 FPS VGA Models to World's Smallest GigE Camera Line

Point Grey announces FL3-GE-03S1 GigE Vision digital camera, which delivers VGA resolution at 120 FPS in a low-cost, ultra-compact, GigE package. The FL3-GE-03S1 features Sony's ICX618 CCD sensor with EXview global shutter architecture to maximize quantum efficiency and near IR response. The camera operates at 120 FPS in full 648 x 488 resolution and even faster in smaller regions of interest. The Flea3 measures just 29 x 29 x30 mm and with an aluminum casting enclosure weighs 38 grams without optics. This combination of speed, sensitivity, size, and low cost make these models ideal for machine vision applications and perfect for analog camera replacement. It has an 8-pin opto-isolated GPIO for industrial triggering and strobe output; 1 MB non-volatile flash memory for user data storage; and on-camera frame buffer for retransmitting images. It complies with version 1.2 of the GigE Vision specification, which allows the camera to work seamlessly with software from Cognex, Mathworks, Matrox, MVTec, and NI, as well as with Point Grey's own FlyCapture SDK. The Flea3 FL3-GE-03S1C (color) and Flea3 FL3-GE-03S1M (monochrome) models are list priced at USD $495

A New Programming Language For Image-processing Algorithms

Halide is a new programming language designed to make it easier to write high-performance image processing code on modern machines. Its current front end is an embedding in C++. Hardware targets include x86-64/SSE, ARM v7/NEON, and CUDA. Created by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) Halide was used to rewrite several common image-processing algorithms whose performance had already been optimized by seasoned programmers. The Halide versions were typically about one-third as long but offered significant performance gains — two-, three-, or even six-fold speedups. In one instance, the Halide program was actually longer than the original — but the speedup was 70-fold. The paper is available here  and the source will be posted within the next couple of days on github and the projects home here .

North American Robotics Industry Posts Best Quarter Ever

From Robotic Industries Association: North American robotics companies sold more industrial robots in the second quarter of 2012 than any previous quarter in history, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry's trade group.  A total of 5,556 robots valued at $403.1 million were sold to North American companies, a jump of 14% in units and 28% in dollars over the same quarter in 2011. Orders in the first half of 2012 totaled 10,652 robots valued at $747 million, increases of 20% in units and 29% in dollars over the same period last year.  "Obviously, we're thrilled about the great results so far this year," said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. The strong sales reflect increased demand for robotics in industries such as automotive, plastics & rubber, and metals. However, as the economy slows, it's not clear that these numbers will remain as strong heading forward."  Orders for spot welding robots, used primarily in automotive solutions, jumped 68% in the first half of 2012. Other big jumps were seen in coating & dispensing (+42%), arc welding (+20%), and assembly (+19%). Material removal orders, a smaller application area, rose 364 percent.  Automotive related orders accounted for 65% of units and 64% of dollars in the first half of 2012. This represents sharp gains of 44% in units and 56% in dollars over the opening half of 2011.  "It's great that the auto related numbers continue to post huge gains, but as we know, automotive industry purchases are cyclical," Burnstein explained. "However, we were disappointed to see non-automotive related orders fall eight percent in units and one percent in dollars in the first half of the year, with even sharper declines in the second quarter alone."  RIA estimates that some 220,000 robots are now used in the United States, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use. 

Challenges In Moving Goods

We might never see warehouses that employ robots exclusively, but the ratio of robots to humans will continue to grow, as more jobs are automated. Robots are safer and they don't call in on Monday with a hangover.

Silvus Demonstrates Robot Repeater Capability on TALON & FasTac

Silvus Technologies demonstrated its MIMO radio repeater capability integrated into QinetiQ's TALON and iRobot's FasTac robots at the Army Expeditionary Warfighters Experiment (AEWE) Spiral G. TARDEC's Ground Vehicle Robotics group requested Silvus to integrate its SC3500 MIMO radio into both robotic platforms as part of TARDEC's ISR Mission Concepts platform.

QinetiQ Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robots

QinetiQ is primarily focused on the defense and security markets today; however, we are seeing growing interest in robotics for the agricultural and mining industries where robotics can provide more efficient operations in harsh environments.

Adept Robotics for the Solar Industry

Today's ultra-thin solar cells require precise and gentle handling. And with the increasing demand on solar manufacturers for product, automation must deliver the highest throughput possible.

Silvus SC3500 MIMO Radio Delivers 16 Mbps Bidirectional Link to Bomb Squad Taurus Robot

Advanced wireless capabilities have not been available to bomb squads, who have had to rely on a tethered approach, until now. With Silvus' cutting edge MIMO radios, EOD UGV operators can now wirelessly examine suspicious objects with 3D HD video and haptic feedback precision from safe NLOS distances of a few hundred meters.

Forbes: The End of Chinese Manufacturing and Rebirth of U.S. Industry

Forbes article on China's manufacturing bubble, the impact of robotics and 3d printing, and the possibility of a resurgence in US manufacturing.

IEEE Spectrum Tours iRobot's Museum Of Robots

Nancy Dussault Smith, vice president of marketing communications at iRobot, gave IEEE Spectrum a 25 minute tour of the iRobot museum and all the robots and prototypes from the companies past.

Auto Pan-Tilt Camera System For Tracking Fast Moving Objects

A team at the University of Japan have developed a camera system for tracking fast moving objects automatically and accurately without motion prediction. The example video shown on their website demonstrates the camera tracking a ping pong game. Even a high-speed object like a bouncing pingpong ball in play can be tracked at the center due to a high-speed optical gaze controller Saccade Mirror and a 1000-fps high-speed vision. The Saccade Mirror controls a camera's gazing direction not by moving the camera itself but by rotating two-axis small galvanometer mirrors. It takes no more than 3.5 ms even if it controls the gaze by 60 deg, the widest angle, for both pan and tilt. The newest prototype system accesses a Full HD image quality for an actual broadcasting service.

XBee Customizable Handheld Controller

Quantum Robotics is looking for funding on Kickstarter for two XBee based controller. They already reached their goal of $7,000 but you can still contribute and get a first run controller. Q4 Controller 32 Channels 4 Gimbals Joysticks (Horizontal, Vertical, & Push-button control) 4 (10K Ohm Linear) Potentiometer Dial Controls 10 Push-buttons 6 Toggle Switch Controls 1 Power On/Off Toggle Micro SD Card Slot 2x20 Serial LCD Power requirements: 6-9 VDC (2S 500mAh Lipo or 9V battery Q2 Controller 24 Channels 2 RC Gimbals (Horizontal & Vertical control) 4 (10K Ohm Linear) Potentiometer Dial Controls 10 Push-buttons 6 Toggle Switch Controls 1 Power On/Off Toggle Micro SD Card Slot 2x20 Serial LCD Power requirements: 6-9 VDC (2S 500mAh Lipo or 9V battery)  

KUKAprc: Parametric Robot Control for Visual Programming Language Grasshopper

The International Association for Robots in Architecture has released an update to it's Grasshopper plugin: KUKA:prc. Grasshopper is visual programming language built on top of the Rhino3D modeler. Grasshopper can be used to generate complex 3d structures procedurally by chaining together operations using its node-based IDE. KUKA:prc enables you to program industrial robots directly out of the parametric modeling environment, including a full kinematic simulation of the robot. The generated files can be executed at the KUKA robot, without requiring any additional software. The new release includes several preset profiles existing KUKA robots and is free (at least for the time being) to download and test here .

Automated Pallet Tracking in Food & Beverage Logistics

Without proper pallet tracking, manufacturers run the risk of costly product recalls, as well as negative impact on brand image. Often entire batches of affected product must be recalled due to insufficient pallet identification, even when errors exist for only a portion of a given shipment.

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Midwest Motion Products Inc - “GRA52” Right Angled Gearmotor System

Midwest Motion Products Inc - "GRA52" Right Angled Gearmotor System

Midwest Motion Products Inc., based in Howard Lake, Minnesota, is pleased to announce the release of the new "GRA52" Right Angled Gearmotor System. This new 1:1 Right Angled Gearbox allows for significantly increased versatility, and design whose geometry allows for the unit to be mounted in tight spaces. We employ our Standard Brushed or Brushless DC Motors and Planetary Gearheads to complete the new R/A Design. Features/Benefits: Cost effective design - as low as $250*, Very Versatile - Output Ratios ranging from 3.7:1 to 2076:1, Fully Reversible Design, Readily available - Samples can be built from Stock Material, High Volume capacity.