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Robotics

  • The Quebec-based Company APN Increases CNC Machine Uptime

    To help increase CNC machine uptime, APN, a Quebec-based company that has been a leader in part machining for the aerospace industry for the past 40 years, automated its machine tending with a Universal Robots UR5, Robotiq 2F-85 Adaptive Gripper, and Wrist Camera, the only solution on the market capable of meeting its requirements for flexibility, efficiency, and precision. APN earned an ROI within a year and achieved an average increase in CNC machine uptime of 15%.

    Businesses see robots as a way to overcome the global talent shortage.

    Designing and manufacturing complex parts for the aerospace sector—which demands full compliance with the strictest requirements—is a challenging endeavor that’s made even tougher by the ongoing global talent shortage. As a leader in this industry, APN is well aware of the need to continuously innovate to drive efficiency and growth.

    Unlock human potential

    Whereas mainstream media often portray state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 technologies, like robots or artificial intelligence, as job-stealing threats to humanity, the reality is very different.

    In fact, these technologies are helping people do their jobs better than ever before. “I can perform maintenance while production runs, along with lots of other things. My team leader could say ‘I need your help for ten minutes,’ and it’s no problem! Production is constant, and the robot will keep processing my parts while I’m away,” said APN machinist Jean-François Rivest-Gagné.

    By automating its machine tending with a Universal Robots UR5, Robotiq 2F-85 Adaptive Gripper, and Wrist Camera, APN enabled its machinists to break free from boring, repetitive tasks and focus their time and energy on greater value-added projects.

    Scale operations

    “It took two years to become efficient after the installation of our first robot. But after that we implemented eight robots in as many months,” Yves Proteau, co-president of APN, told Robotiq.

    Specifically, APN wanted to have a robot automatically bring parts from one machine to another for measuring, which would eliminate the need for a human operator to perform this monotonous task manually many times a day.

    Such a task was easily accomplished with the help of Robotiq’s collaborative robot products, namely the 2F-85—the world’s best-selling gripper for cobots (collaborative robots)—and Robotiq’s Wrist Camera. Unlike other grippers on the market, the 2F-85 has a very wide stroke (up to 85 mm) that allows it to effortlessly pick up almost any object, and its automatic part detection and position feedback settings make it exceptionally simple to program.

    APN’s Director of Continuous Improvement, Joël Lessard, first noticed the Wrist Camera at Robotiq’s booth at the 2016 IMTS show. Until then, he didn’t have access to technology that could efficiently detect all 300 of the different types of parts that APN processes. “Image recognition software is readily available, but it’s quite complex to program,” he said. “Fortunately, the IMTS show let me finally discover a setup that was easy to program and that we could recreate here at APN.”

     

     

    Secure a competitive advantage

    APN Co-President Yves Proteau believes that businesses that continue to hesitate when it comes to robots, and automation in general, might find it hard to remain competitive in the future. Considering that the industrial market for robots is expected to reach $37.75 billion by 2024, it’s clear that the demand for robots as a way to automate some of the most repetitive processes across industries is increasing at a rapid pace (further reading: Industrial Robotics Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 - 2024)).

    Just like APN, other businesses are hoping that their new robotic crews will help them secure the competitive advantage they need to remain as profitable as they can be. Businesses also see robots as a way to overcome the global talent shortage, which has made it exceedingly difficult to find qualified employees. In Quebec City, where APN, is located, the unemployment rate is around 4%, so the demand for workers greatly exceeds the supply.

    Instead of fearing the disruptive potential of robots or being intimidated by their apparent complexity, businesses of all sizes should learn to embrace automation as yet another useful tool: one that improves both quality and productivity by freeing human hands from repetitive tasks and creating room for human minds to thrive. With products from Robotiq and the lean robotics methodology, anyone can achieve the same great results as APN.

    Download the APN case study

    To learn how exactly APN used Robotiq’s 2F-85 and Wrist Camera to increase its CNC machine uptime, read the full case study.

    Read more »
  • What's New In Robotics?  16.08.2019

    Good morning.  In this week's news mix:  UR and Philips Corp. announce distributor agreement, ABI Research predicts huge growth for cobot market and Airline Hydraulics resolves puppy vs. cobot conundrum.  We also tremble as a gun-toting humanoid prepares for ISS trip, meet Astro the robodog, find zen with a Japanese android and much more!

    Cobots & manufacturing

    Researchers from Georgia Tech's Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning lab have created a stunning system that enables robots to create tools from everyday objects. Their robot of choice? A TM cobot fitted with an adaptive 2-finger gripper from Robotiq.

    macgyvering-main
    Credit: Georgia Tech

    ZDNet reports:

    The robot relies on machine learning to match shapes of the tools it cobbles together with potential applications that can facilitate a particular outcome. One example from the team concerns the concavity of bowls, from which the robot deduces the structures that can hold liquid. That knowledge is crucial if the robot decides the tool it needs for a specific job is a spoon, say.

    Cobot maker Universal Robots and leading CNC machine distributor Phillips Corp. have announced a distributor agreement to "further the rapid deployment of cobots with Haas CNC machines."  (H/T The Robot Report, where you will also find an exclusive interview with representatives of both companies.)

     


    Yearly global revenue for cobot arms will reach US$11.8 billion by 2030, a massive increase from just US$711 million in 2019, according to a new analysis from leading global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.  The analysis also found that while revenue from cobot arms accounts for 5% of global industrial robot hardware, that will increase to 29% by 2030: 

    “The prospects for the collaborative robotics market remain strong, despite some very visible inhibitors,” says Rian Whitton, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “The hardware innovation is still trailing behind, and most of the value related to cobots does not come from collaboration. It comes through ease-of-use, re-programmability, lower total cost compared to industrial systems, and re-deployability. In essence, the value is one of lowering barriers rather than building entirely new use-cases for robots.”

    The team at Airline Hydraulics released a fun video this week that answers one of the most important questions surrounding cobot technology; i.e. 'Who can learn a new trick faster, a puppy or a cobot?!' Joking aside, the video highlights just how easy it is to get up and running with cobot projects... 

    • Humans and robots work in harmony (Food Processing)
    • Manufacturing Obscurity Is a Fate Worse Than the Robopocalypse (Industry Week)
    • 5 Applications Of Collaborative Robots In Manufacturing (Forbes)
    • Monitoring human physiological responses to improve interactions with robots (TechXplore)
    • How Warehouse Robotics Reduce Worker Injuries (EHS Today)

    Elsewhere...

    Watch out aliens!  Russia's space agency Roscosmos is preparing to send its gun-toting Fedor humanoid robot (also known as 'Skybot F-850') to the International Space Station (ISS) on August 22 aboard the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft. The bot, which can be remotely operated but is also capable of some autonomy, is expected to spend just over two weeks on the ISS, returning to Earth on September 7.   It is not known whether Fedor plans to bring its handguns along. 

    fedor
    Credit: Roscosmos

    Via Newsweek:

    One of the goals of the robot is to send it to the moon ahead of manned missions. "First, we will send a humanoid robot there, and only after that we will send humans, after we study all the risks and learn to cope with them," Rogozin told Russian news agency Tass last month, after announcing the trip to the ISS.

    Researchers have developed a tiny pump that could play an important role in the development of autonomous soft robots.

    unnamed-2
    Credit: NCCR

    Weighing just one gram, the pump is completely silent and consumes very little power, which it gets from a 2 cm by 2 cm circuit that includes a rechargeable battery.  (H/T Science Daily)

    A 400-year old temple in Kyoto, Japan has introduced an android priest in an attempt to "hot-wire interest in Buddhism," The Japan Times reported this week:

    n-priest-a-20190816
    Credit: AFP-JIJI

    “This robot will never die; it will just keep updating itself and evolving,” said priest Tensho Goto. “That’s the beauty of a robot. It can store knowledge forever and limitlessly.  With AI we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism,” he added.

    Come by next week for more of the latest robotics news!  Until then, please enjoy..

    Five vids for Friday

    1.  Fresh video from New China TV showcases autonomous farming vehicles from Lovol being tested on a farm in Jinchang, Gansu, NW China. 

     

    2.  The More-Than-One Robotics Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada released video this week demonstrating a prototype system that uses a drone as a guide for terrestrial robot swarms.  

     

    3.  Video released Monday shows a prototype, autonomous system developed by TBG Solutions and Brunel University that's designed to perform crucial fluid service tasks on passenger trains.  

     

     

    4.  University of San Diego students have been showing off a solar-powered robot designed to combat plastic debris in the ocean.


    5.  Florida Atlantic University unveiled a four-legged robodog this week.  Dubbed 'Astro,' the bot responds to voice commands and could be used to "sniff out explosives residue for law enforcement, act as a service dog or be an assistant for first responders."  (H/T c|net

     

    Read more »
  • 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from a Cobot Security Breach

    There's no need to be alarmed but cobots are just as at risk of cyber attacks as other technologies. Plus, the repercussions can be even more grave. Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

    Conceptual digital image of lock on circuit background-1The worst response we can have to cybersecurity is to say "that will never happen to me".

    Cybersecurity should be the top of the list of priorities for every modern business. It's not just a case of "set it and forget it" either. As new types of cyber attack are developed and hacking technologies become more and more advanced, we all have to keep ourselves up-to-date with cybersecurity.

    Collaborative robots are just as susceptible to attacks as other industrial technologies. But, as we explained in a previous article, there are some added risks caused by the fact that cobots are programmable mechanical devices which are designed to operate safely around humans.

    For example, if printers are hacked, as happened on a huge scale in December 2018, the worst things that can happen are that a lot of uninvited print-outs are made, or data is stolen or altered. If a cobot is hacked, on the other hand, there could be a real danger to human safety.

    Thankfully, there are some things we can do to protect ourselves from cobot security breaches. Here are 10 things that you can do right now.

    1. Don't keep your head in the sand

    The worst response we can have to cybersecurity is to say "that will never happen to me" or "we're too small for cyber attacks." According to a recent report, small businesses face an average of 5 cyber attacks every 12 months. The clean-up costs after a bad cyber attack can be enough to put a small company out of business.

    We have to be especially vigilant when we are using robots due the potential safety consequences of a bad hack.

    Don't keep your head in the sand!

    2. Keep your IT systems secure

    The most effective way to keep your collaborative robot secure is the same as with other types of hack — keep your IT systems secure. Robots can only be compromised if the hacker is able to access the robot's control software.

    If your robot controller is isolated within the company network and the network is secure, your robot will be secure from hacks. Of course, the rising popularity of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies make complete network isolation is becoming impossible, which leads us to…

    3. Use secure cobot IoT software

    The surefire way to ensure that your robot isn't hacked is to never attach it to the internet at all — this doesn't remove the risk completely but it helps a lot. However, this is just not feasible if we want to use IoT/IIoT software which requires internet access.

    If you are using IIoT, make sure that it has security built-in. Robotiq's Insights, for example, has various security features to ensure that the link between your robot and the cloud remains secure. See the security sheet for more details.

    4. Identify potential threats

    You can only prepare for cyber attacks if you know what forms they might take. This requires you to do a little bit of work to identify which threats might be applicable for your situation.

    Make a list of all the potential threats and plan how you will protect yourself from them.

    Check out our previous post for 5 potential attacks that hackers could use to compromise a collaborative robot.

    5. Regularly test product quality

    One of the most potentially damaging robot attacks involves hackers breaking into the robot controller to subtly change its configuration properties and/or programming. This can change the robot's path in a way that is imperceptible to the human eye but could compromise the product quality, potentially leading to product recalls and even product safety issues.

    Ensure that you have a good inspection process so that you have a way to catch any issues caused by a malicious hack.

    6. Investigate odd behavior

    Sometimes, robots just act in strange ways — or it looks that way at least. However, as I always say to people when they complain about a robot acting oddly: "A robot only does what you tell it to do. The problem is that you don't know what you've told it to do."

    Robot hacks are only one reason that a robot might act oddly. However, hacking is one potential reason that you should definitely add to your box of debugging tools.

    7. Train employees on cybersecurity

    Your team will only be able to spot potential cyber attacks if they are aware that hacks are a possibility. Train your team to recognize the most common types of robot hack and tell them to report strange behavior instead of ignoring it.

    When everyone is aware of cybersecurity issues, it becomes much easier to spot them and deal with them quickly.

    8. Perform updates of cobot firmware

    As we've mentioned before, one of the most common risks with cobots is that people don't update their software often enough. It's becoming more and more important to update to your robot firmware as soon as an update is released.

    According to a recent article from the Robotics Business Review, IIoT devices can suffer from security flaws for much longer than consumer devices due to their longer lifespans. Updating the firmware regularly is the only way to counteract these flaws.

    9. Beware of old exposed systems

    Cloud systems, like Robotiq Insights, are built with cybersecurity in mind. They can be updated rapidly by the software manufacturer to combat security issues.

    Not all systems are this secure. Older systems, particularly those built before the current rise of IoT, are often less secure and harder to protect. Keep your eye out for old systems which could be exposed to hacking and make changes to your IT network to protect them.

    10. Keep on top of the latest attacks

    The world of hacking and cybersecurity is changing constantly. It can take time to keep on top of all the new hacks and security flaws. But, it's important that you keep yourself up-to-date, just as it's important to keep your robot software up-to-date.

    You don't need to be overly worried by collaborative robot hacks… but you do need to be prepared.

    What would be your first step if you thought that your robot had been hacked? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or the DoF professional robotics community.

    Read more »

NASA Breaking News

  • NASA Television to Broadcast Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council
    NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the sixth meeting of the National Space Council at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 20, from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Read more »
  • NASA Administrator, Members of Congress to Discuss Ohio’s Role in Artemis Program
    Media are invited to accompany NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, U.S. Senator Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio Wednesday, Aug. 21, as they visit the agency’s Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland and Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, to view progress on the agency’s Artemis program. Read more »
  • NASA Awards Contract for Specialized Engineering, Evaluation, Test Services
    NASA has awarded the NASA-wide Specialized Engineering, Evaluation and Test Services (NSEETS) contract to the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, to provide on- and off-site project management, independent multidisciplinary engineering services, testing, consulting, contractor on-site monitoring, and evaluation of project and/or progra Read more »

Space News

Universe Today

European Space Agency Articles

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    Günther Hasinger, ESA-Direktor für Wissenschaft, erklärt, welche Rolle CHEOPS und die Folgemissionen für das Verständnis von der Entstehung der Planetensysteme spielen. Read more »
  • Der Transit der Sternenbegleiter

    CHEOPS ist die erste von drei Missionen der ESA, die ab Herbst 2019 die Erforschung von Exoplaneten in den Blick nimmt. Das Weltraumteleskop des Satelliten soll die Größe und Beschaffenheit mehrerer hundert extrasolarer Himmelskörper untersuchen. Forscher hoffen auf Antworten zur Entstehung des Sonnensystems. Erstmals übernimmt die Schweiz eine führende Rolle bei einer wissenschaftlichen ESA Mission.

    Read more »
  • Fortsetzung der ExoMars-Fallschirmtests

    Letzte Woche scheiterte ein Höhentest mit den Fallschirmen für die ExoMars-Mission, die im nächsten Jahr starten soll. Sämtliche Hardware, Videos und aufgezeichnete Telemetriegeräte werden derzeit ausgewertet, um die  Grundursache der Anomalie aufzudecken.

    Read more »

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