Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as a provider of computer direct marketing and consulting to the Democratic National Committee, major presidential and other campaigns and initiatives, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. In 2013 he co-founded Robo-STOX™ LLC (renamed in 2015 to ROBO-Global) and developed a tracking index for the robotics industry: the ROBO-Global™ Robotics & Automation Index.
Frank is a member of Robohub and also a panel member for panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.
AUTOMATICA 2016, held in June in Munich at the massive Messe tradefair facility, is a gigantic show focused on automation, mechatronics, robotics and emerging technologies as they relate to the industrial and manufacturing sectors.
The announcement that SoftBank will spend $32 billion to acquire ARM Holdings means the Japanese firm is buying the most important company in the world of mobile processors for smartphone and Internet of Things devices.
Frank Chen, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital and private equity firm, said, “It is absolutely non-controversial that deep learning is the most fundamental advance in AI research since the start [of A.I.] in 1956.”
The number of research reports studying the robotics industry is growing exponentially. To date in 2016 there have been 109 on subjects ranging from overly broad to very drilled-down views of the industry. Prices range from $800 to $6,500.
Below are short profiles of 62 of those reports and the other 47 can be seen here. Many of the reports duplicate the coverage of others and frequently differ in their forecasts about the future. Some reports are marginally useful, others are full of valuable information. Bottom line: almost all of the reports are forecasting positive double-digit growth for most segments of the robotics industry.
First, the KION Group acquires Dematic for $2.5 billion. A week later, Honeywell acquires Intelligrated for $1.5 billion. KION acquires Retrotech and earlier still Egemin, while Kuka acquires Swisslog. What’s going on?
Industrial robots used to be dumb, somewhat inflexible, and mostly blind – but also fast, precise and very efficient. As the cost of components, sensors and vision systems has been dropping, vision-enabled robots are becoming more prevalent and capable, and the industry is dramatically changing.
Worldwide sales of industrial robots set a new record: 248,000 units sold in 2015, 12% more than 2014. 66,700 units sold in China of which 20,400 were made in China.
Asia is still the strongest growth market with 156,000 units for the region, a 16% increase over 2014, but that figure is much lower than the 27% projected. The rate of growth of China-made robots penetrating the market also didn’t grow at the projected rate but it did grow at a healthy 31% rate.
IAI’s RoBattle unmanned, heavy duty, highly maneuverable, combat and support robotic system (UGV) is being shown at the Eurosatory 2016 Land and Airland Defence and Security tradeshow in Paris this week.
The latest acquisition is Gimatic, an Italian pneumatic and electric grippers, sensors and positioners maker, by Agic Capital. The Financial Times reported the sale price to be between $112 and $169 million.
Xiaomi, one of China’s star Internet, phone and electronics startups, develops cut-rate but reliable phones and consumer devices and markets them directly to consumers online. Their new HD drone starts at $380, and the 4K video model at $450. Both directly compete – at half the price – with DJI’s popular Phantom drones.
FANUC, the world’s largest maker of industrial robots, plans to start connecting 400,000 of their installed systems by the end of this year. The goal is to collect data about their operations and, through the use of deep learning, improve performance. Similarly, Kuka is building a deep-learning AI network for their industrial robots.
What is a robot? There are business, legal, insurance and safety considerations which make that definition important and the Tech Policy Lab at the University of Washington gave it a try with an interesting 6-minute video.