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  • Let's start a conversation about finishing...

    Catherine Elie showcases Robotiq's new Sanding Kit as we get ready to delve into the world of sanding, polishing, deburring and grinding with cobots. 

    Finishing processes are difficult, time-consuming, repetitive and potentially hazardous to your health.  This makes processes such as deburring, polishing and sanding ideal candidates for automation through human-robot collaboration.  

    However, until now, collaborative sanding systems took days, weeks --and sometimes even months-- to set up.  

    With the launch of Robotiq's new Sanding Kit all that has changed. 

    As the only hardware and software sanding solution for Universal Robots, Robotiq's Sanding Kit enables you to set up and deploy a collaborative sanding job in just minutes. 

    Join Catherine Elie as she showcases a Sanding Kit demo from Automate 2019...




    Sanding is one of those tasks where the three Ds of robotics --the dull, dirty, and dangerous-- really come together.  The time-consuming and repetitive nature of sanding tasks present obvious challenges for human attention spans.  And so, the introduction of automation leads to immediate gains in productivity and product quality. 

    All that said, one of the strongest cases for the adoption of cobot sanding solutions is in the area of worker safety. 

    The hazards faced by people performing sanding tasks range from noise pollution and dust exposure to potentially serious hand and eye injuries. 

    Furthermore, over years of regular sanding work, many people end up suffering from hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) --"a constellation of vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal signs and symptoms that may occur in workers who use handheld vibrating tools." 

    Enter Robotiq's Sanding Kit, the  only hardware and software sanding solution for Universal Robots. 

    Designed to free human hands from the time-consuming and potentially dangerous work of sanding, this all-in-one sanding solution radically reduces workers' exposure to the hazards typically associated with sanding tasks.



    Robotiq's Sanding Kit in action.  Credit: Robotiq

    With a built-in path generator and Finishing Copilot software, the Sanding Kit ensures consistent force at each cycle, ensuring consistently high product quality.  The kit can be used with wood, plastic, metal, fiberglass, solid surfaces and carbon fiber.


    Credit: Robotiq

    By combining the flexibility and versatility of Universal Robots' cobots with Robotiq's specialist Sanding Kit, your set up time is a matter of minutes --enabling you to quickly deploy collaborative sanding solutions when and where your business needs them. 

    And it all means a safer environment for workers too. 

    talk about sanding
    Credit: Robotiq

    So, things are going to get gritty on this blog over the coming weeks and months as we explore the benefits of collaborative sanding solutions.  We'll compare traditional automated sanding offerings to those built on flexible, safe cobot technology.  We'll share tips and insights for getting the most out of your Sanding Kits. 

    We also have advice and information on polishing, deburring and grinding to come.  Join in the conversation about finishing in our discussion forum too.   

    Learn more about the Sanding Kit 

    Read more »
  • What's New In Robotics?  19.04.2019

    Good morning.  In this week's news mix, Fanuc reveals early-stage bin-picking system, RG Group and Doosan announce US partnership, and Renault showcases cobot adoption.  We also praise the bots of Notre-Dame, run into Promobot (again), marvel at Boston Dynamics' latest video and much more!    

    Cobots & manufacturing

    Industrial automation giant Fanuc unveiled an early-stage, artificial intelligence-based bin-picking system at TechCrunch’s Robotics + AI Sessions this week.  Designed to teach bots "how to pick the right objects out of a bin with simple annotations and sensor technology, reducing the training process by hours," the system can be used to train several robots at the same time, TechCrunch reported:

    Credit:  Screengrab via TechCrunch

    [the] human operator just needs to look at a photo of parts jumbled in a bin on a screen and tap a few examples of what needs to be picked up, like showing a small child how to sort toys.

    Eckhart showcased a surface inspection system that uses cobots from Universal Robots...


    U.S.-based RG Group announced a distribution and integration partnership with cobot maker Doosan Robotics this week.  Patrick Gross, vp of business development, via Robotics Tomorrow:

    "After in-depth analysis of Doosan's collaborative robotic offering we have decided it's the right move for our company. It's truly an honor to be Doosan's first partner in the United States. I look forward to many years of mutual success between both organizations."

    Robotics & Automation News interviewed Molly McCarthy VP sales & business development at Massachusetts-based startup Veo Robotics about the firm's forthcoming technology, which is designed to transform traditional industrial robots into collaborative robots...


    Car manufacturing giant Renault offered some fascinating insight into its use of Industry 4.0 technologies this week --8,000 robots and counting-- and it turns out that cobots are an essential component of the firm's manufacturing processes:

    Human-robot collaboration at Renault.  Credit: Renault. 

    Robots and machines of all sorts work alongside human operators. Automatic trolleys zip around continuously, carrying the required kits, articulated arms help operators in their work, a cobot or collaborative robot fits parts with a high degree of precision, alongside an operator...  In industry 4.0, people and robots work together.

    Somehow, this video manages to combine YouTube celebrity PewDiePie, a cobot from Universal Robots and a Robotiq gripper!  I'd probably end up watching animal videos for half a day if I started doing YouTube background research though, so, slightly baffled and without taking sides in any online ratings battles, I present the following...


    In other cobot news:

    • Today’s Technological Innovations in Collaborative Robots  (RIA)
    • For Job Security at the Factory, Learn How to Repair a Robot  (Bloomberg)
    • Cobot Roundup: Makers Show New Applications for Collaborative Uses  (Robotics Business Review)
    • Automate/ProMat 2019: 10 takeaways for robotics developers  (The Robot Report)
    • Robots and More Robots at Automate/ProMat 2019  (MachineDesign)



    When news broke early this week that Paris' famous Notre-Dame cathedral was on fire and the steeple had already tumbled to the ground, many people feared that the entire building was going to be lost.  Amazingly, with 30-45 minutes to spare before those fears were realized, firefighters managed to get the blaze under control, saving much of the structure and most of the priceless relics and artworks within it. 

    Image of Notre-Dame cathedral on fire taken by DJI's Mavic Pro drone.  Credit:  Paris Fire Brigade

    According to Paris Fire Brigade spokesperson Gabriel Plus, robots were crucial to the mission's success.  Via The Verge:

    “The drones allowed us to correctly use what we had at our disposal,” Plus said in comments translated from French. Firefighters also relied on the Mavic Pro’s visible light camera and optical and electronic zoom, according to DJI’s director of public safety integration, Romeo Durscher, who has Parisian contacts.


    Shark Robotics' Colossus fire-fighting robot (payload: 1,200 lbs/544 kg) was also involved that night.  Colossus headed straight for the interior of the building, enabling firefighters to remotely assess damage and direct water at key targets without putting themselves in danger.   (Jalopnik has more on Colossus' role.)  



    The conditions Colossus faced were intense...


    Prediction: The next time someone tells me that automation is in conflict with all that is good in human history and tradition, I'm going to counter with the story of the 2019 Notre-Dame cathedral fire and explain how history was saved that night through rapid, real-time human-robot collaboration. 

    Promobot, the Russian robotics firm with the extremely-apt name, has been in the news again (see here and here, for our previous coverage of Promobot's adventures).  This time, 'Alex,' a humanoid TV news presenter developed by the company has been generating publicity controversy. 

    Credit:  BBC

    The BBC reports:

    Production of the robot began in 2017 and should be fully complete later this year, according to Promobot.  It said Alex had cost more than one million roubles (USD15,600; STG12,000) to develop and that it had received orders for 12 more humanoids.

    More than half of all workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam face a high risk of job loss due to automation in the coming two decades, according to a 2016 report from the International Labor Organization, with female workers in the textile industry being hit particularly hard.  This week, Mashable reported on a new video game from Shimmy Upskill that trains people how to operate textile robots, helping to keep them in employment despite the rise of automation:

    Credit: Shimmy Upskill

    These [women garment workers] really are not even considered for technical training when they enter the factories," says Chisato Sakamoto, product manager at Shimmy Upskill. "They are not even in the pipeline, so through our software, we’re really trying to create that access and trying to chip away at some of the barriers that prevent women from even entering this pipeline."

    In other news:

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


    Five vids for Friday 

    1.  Boston Dynamics' SpotMini is an impressive robot.  Ten working together on a truck-pulling job is pretty spectacular. 



    2.  Parents of teenagers rejoice!  Toshiba and Preferred Networks are collaborating on a robot that can tidy bedrooms, performing feats beyond the capabilities of many humans such as placing toys in the toy box and socks in the laundry holder.  (H/T BBC



    3.  Hanson Robotics released video this week that shows the development of humanoid robot Sophia's legs, from their beginnings in a collaboration between the Rainbow Robotics Lab at the University of Las Vegas and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.  (The Hanson Robotics blog has more.)



    4.  South China Morning Post reported on how drone-based precision agriculture has enabled a Chinese lemon producer to reduce pesticide spraying times from a typical two weeks to just one day. 


    5.  Researchers at the University of Alabama have developed an EEG-based, brainwave-reading system for drone operation.  In video released this week, one participant in 'drone races' based on the technology explained that he focused his mental attention on familiar pieces of music to control the drone's movements! 





    Read more »
  • What's New In Robotics?  12.04.2019

     Hi!  In this week's news mix: Berkeley unveils dual-arm cobot for AI research, new cobot products launch, and what cobots and tractors have in common.  We marvel at a recycling robot from MIT, wonder what went wrong with Israel's moon bot, giggle at a robot burglary suspect and much more!


    Cobots & manufacturing

    Researchers at Berkeley have developed a dual-arm cobot research platform that could one day lead to the widespread availability of low cost, general purpose cobots for use in homes.  Their 'Blue' platform (which costs around US$5,000 to manufacture) is designed to build on recent advances in artificial intelligence and deep reinforcement learning to "master intricate human tasks"... 

    For now at least, the team's focus appears to be on accelerating the development of cobots for use in domestic scenarios.  Via Berkeley News:

    “AI has done a lot for existing robots, but we wanted to design a robot that is right for AI,” Abbeel said. “Existing robots are too expensive, not safe around humans and similarly not safe around themselves – if they learn through trial and error, they will easily break themselves. We wanted to create a new robot that is right for the AI age rather than for the high-precision, sub-millimeter, factory automation age.”

    Robotiq launched three new products at the Automate show in Chicago this week: the AirPick and Epick vacuum grippers and a sanding kit for cobots...

    Also at Automate, Productive Robotics unveiled its full line of teachable collaborative robots with a unique “enhanced human sense of vision”. From  The Robot Report

    Credit: Productive Robotics

    The company has added the OB7-Max 8 and OB7-Max 12 to its line of “no programming” cobots. The OB7-Max 8 and OB7-Max 12 can handle larger payloads with a longer reach than other cobots, at 8kg (2.2 lb.) and 1700mm (66.9 in.), and 12kg (26.4 lb.) and 1300mm (51.1 in.), respectively.

    Ready Robotics also unveiled some new products...

    The future looks bright for the global collaborative robots market which is expected to rise in value with a CAGR of 45.64% between now and 2027, according to a new report:

    The market is largely driven by factors like growing need for user-friendly automation, increasing demand for robotics, low capital investment in Cobots leading to a high return on investment (ROI), heavy investments in the research & development field of robotics, the increasing applications of collaborative robots, and the rising government support. 

    The invention of the tractor revolutionized farm labor in ways that that could have not been predicted by its inventor, John Froelich.  Similarly, the rise of the cobot is transforming manufacturing labor, writes Tom Green in a must read piece for Asian Robotics Review:

    The cobot, first introduced by Universal Robots in 2008 in Denmark, transformed manual manufacturing at Linatex, a Danish plastics supplier, into “automated fabrication.”  Manufacturing hasn’t been the same since.  Trillions of dollars in future industries as well as the production of food were birthed when Froehlich rolled out his first machine in Waterloo, Iowa…which is less than 300 miles west of Chicago’s McCormick Center.  The cobot is on a trajectory to do the very same for manufacturing.

    In other cobot news:



     When Washington County Sheriff's Office received a frightened 911 call about a potential intruder, they quickly dispatched officers to apprehend the suspect.  Entering with guns drawn, the fearless police officers and canine unit soon discovered that the 'intruder' was, in fact, a robot vacuum cleaner just doing its job.  (USA Today has more.  See 'Five vids for Friday' below for bodycam footage!) 

    roomba busted
    Credit: Washington County Sheriff's Office | Facebook

    If at first you don't succeed, try again.  Israeli lunar robot Beresheet crashed into the moon yesterday following an apparent failure in the bot's main engine. 

    One of the last images sent back to Earth by Beresheet before it crashed.  Credit: Reuters

    The BBC reports:

    The audience outside had been through a turbulent journey themselves as they watched the first part of the landing go to plan.  As Mr Doron announced that the engine had cut out, groans filled the room.  "We are resetting the spacecraft to try to enable the engine," he said.  The engine came on seconds later and the audience applauded, only for communication with the spacecraft to be lost shortly after. The mission was over.

    Leos is a telepresence robot designed to enable children with illnesses and disabilities to remotely visit the zoo from their hospital bed or from home.

    In a meta moment, an elephant looks at a robot, while the robot looks at the elephant and kids look on from remote locations.  Credit: RTV

    Via NBC 12:

    Leos is controlled by a computer or mobile device, and accompanied by a zookeeper, who explains facts about the animals to the child controlling him.  The robot can also access areas of the zoo which are generally off-limits to visitors.  A hospital psychologist says access to live animals, even just via a screen, helps the hospital's young patients to deal with the boredom of being confined to bed.

    In other reading:

    • Walmart to roll out thousands more robots in stores  (Fox Business)
    • The Construction Industry Needs a Robot Revolution  (Wired)
    • Australia plans to mine moon water within five years  (The Japan Times)
    • There’s an organization devoted to fighting for robot rights  (Quartz)
    • Robots created with 3D printers could be caring for those in golden years  (ScienceDaily)

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

    Five vids for Friday

    1.  Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute have unveiled ROMU --a robot that can autonomously drive interlocking sheet piles into the ground to assist with soil stabilization.  It is hoped that swarms of the robot will help "combat erosion, restore damaged landscapes, and facilitate sustainable land management in a variety of settings." 


    2. "There's the bad guy!"  Washington County Sheriff's Office has released bodycam footage of its officers dealing with a burglary suspect that turned out to be a robot vacuum cleaner. 


     3.  Researchers at MIT CSAIL have unveiled RoCycle --a remarkable robot designed to automate the processing of materials at recycling plants.  RoCycle uses in-hand sensors to detect whether an object is made of paper, plastic or metal. 

     4.  Dr Dave Cameron, a lecturer in human-computer interaction at the University of Sheffield's Information School talks about his work with social robots. 

    5.  Dr Ðula Nađ from the University of Zagreb recently presented a talk on underwater robot projects with a special focu on human-robot collaboration. 



    Read more »

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