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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Amazon Picking Challenge 2015

Credit: Amazon.com
E-commerce giant Amazon has announced the first Amazon Picking Challenge to be held at ICRA in May 2015 in Seattle, WA, USA.
The competition will challenge entrants to build their own robot hardware and software that can attempt simplified versions of the general task of picking items from shelves. The robots will be presented with a stationary lightly populated inventory shelf and be asked to pick a subset of the products and put them on a table. The challenge combines object recognition, pose recognition, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, and error detection and recovery. The robots will be scored by how many items are picked in a fixed amount of time, with $26,000 in prizes being awarded. Participants will be encouraged to share and disseminate their approach to improve future challenge results and industrial implementations.
Amazon´s goal is to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions to some of the big problems in unstructured automation. To this end the contest will be awarding travel grants to ICRA 2015, practice equipment, and a large prize pool for the competition winners.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

IFR World Robotics 2014

According to the latest robot statistics for 2013 and forecast 2014-2017 released by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) 2013 was a very successful year for new robot installations with the highest number of industrial (and service) robots ever sold.

Industrial robots

In 2013, industrial robot sales increased by 12% to 178,132 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Sales of industrial robots to the automotive, the chemical, and the rubber and plastics industries, as well as to the food industry continued to increase in 2013. The electrical/electronic industry also increased the number of robot installations in 2013 after the reduction of investments in 2012. China became the biggest robot market with a share of 20% of the total supply in 2013. About 70% of the total robot sales in 2013 were in Japan, China, the United States, Korea and Germany. Between 2008 and 2013 the average robot sales increase was at 9.5% per year (CAGR).

Professional service robots 

The total number of professional service robots sold in 2013 rose by a relatively low 4% compared to 2012 to 21,000 units up from 20,200 in 2012. The sales value slightly decreased by 1.9% to US$3.57 billion.

Service robots for personal and domestic

In 2013, about 4 million service robots for personal and domestic use were sold, 28% more than in 2012. The value of sales increased to US$1.7 billion.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Microsoft shuts down its robotics group

IEEE Spectrum reports that Microsoft seven years after Bill Gates predicted that robotics was the next hot field, shuts down its Robotics Group. It iseems to be the result of the ongoing reconstruction and refocusing of the company after the Nokia merger. Robotics continues to be a hot field to loose money as experienced earlier by Honda, Sony, Willow Garage and many others. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ABB unveils dual arm robot YuMi®

ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, har unveiled a human-friendly dual arm robot, called YuMi, designed for a new era of automation, for example in small parts assembly, where people and robots work hand-in-hand on the same tasks. YuMi is short for ‘you and me,’ working together. According to Pekka Tiitinen, head of the Discrete Automation and Motion division, “YuMi is going to change many of mankind’s assumptions about manufacturing and industrial processes.It will open endless possibilities and is the start of a very exciting new era for industrial automation.” YuMi will be commercially launched on April 13, 2015, at the Hannover Messe in Germany, the world’s largest industrial technology fair. Check out the promo video below.





Thursday, June 05, 2014

The world’s largest civilian robotics programme SPARC.

The European Commission and 180 companies and research organisations (under the umbrella of euRobotics) have launched the world’s largest civilian research and innovation programme in robotics. Covering manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the initiative – called SPARC – is the EU’s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe’s position in the global robotics market (€60 billion a year by 2020). This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe’s share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics €2.1 billion.
SPARC is open to all European companies and research institutions. The partnership launched today is based on a contract signed with euRobotics aisbl on 17 December 2013 (press release).

The first call for proposals related to SPARC are run under the pillar LEIT – Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies of the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 #H2020.

The next funding call will be published in October 2014 with an April 2015 deadline.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

No robot caregivers for Americans

According a new national survey by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine, which asked Americans about a wide range of potential scientific developments—from near-term advances like robotics and bioengineering, to more “futuristic” possibilities like teleportation or space colonization. Americans are generally wary to use robot caregivers to help care for a rapidly aging population. Some 65% think it would be a change for the worse if robots become the primary caregivers to the elderly and people in poor health. Interestingly, opinions on this question are nearly identical across the entire age spectrum: young, middle aged, and older Americans are equally united in the assertion that widespread use of robot caregivers would generally be a negative development.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

IFR robot statistics 2013

The International Federation of Robotics, IFR, has recently published the results of the IFR Quarterly Statistics, and estimates that in 2013 about 168,000 industrial robots were sold, 5% more than in 2012. Robot sales to the Americas continued to increase due to necessary automation processes in the North American industry. Robot sales to Asia rose considerably due to strong demand from China, South Korea and other growing Asian markets. In the fourth quarter 2013, the start of recovery in the euro-zone pushed robot demand substantially. Due to the rather weak development in the first three quarters, robot sales in Europe stagnated in 2013.

The Table Tennis Challenge 2014

On March 11th! Timo Boll, Germany’s table tennis champion, currently ranked 8th in the world, will go up against a KUKA Agilus robot armed with special vision and software and a paddle. Check out the 
the promo video below!