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.
Two self-driving car events of note: Uber just began operating a fleet of Volvo self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and nuTonomy launched the first autonomous pilot taxi program last month in Singapore. Both still require a driver, although he/she will be as hands-off as much as possible.
InterDrone concluded their 2nd annual trade show and conference in Las Vegas. The differences between the 2015 event and this one reflect the rapid changes in the industry and can be seen as a predictor for the next few years.
For many years integrators have engineered, built and installed automation machinery for their manufacturer clients. As manufacturing has begun to move from mass production to mass customization, the integration process has required more flexibility and increasingly used robots as part, if not all, of the solution.
On my recent research trip to Odense, Denmark, the value offered by integration firms was clearly evident in the integrator companies I visited. Each quietly went about helping their manufacturer clients solve production problems by designing, building, testing and installing complete or partial automated manufacturing lines and systems. They all appeared to be having success pains: each had recently moved into larger quarters and were quickly filling the new space, and each was finding it difficult to hire all the technical talent they sought.
PrecisionAg’s editor Eric Sfiligoj has prepared a list of the top 10 technologies that are shaping precision ag today. Most involve some level of robotics, navigation, sensors and variable rate dispensing.
Case IH (Case New Holland International Harvester) displayed their new cab-less tractor at a farming show in Iowa. The presentation was to show off what they hope will be the future: an autonomous tractor without a steering wheel, pedals or a cab for the driver.
August was another big month for funding robotic startups. 18 deals. Almost $430 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus, another $1 billion paid in August for four acquisitions.
In anticipation of the need for LiDAR devices in cars with assisted steering and other self-driving technologies, both Velodyne and Quanergy received funding. Quanergy raised $90 million and Velodyne got $150 million.
Bringing a complex new product to market is an intensive process fraught with problems. Getting hardware ready for manufacturing is often the easy part; it’s the software and regulatory compliance that’s often the most challenging. Here are three examples: Ford Motor Co., Velodyne LiDAR and Jibo.
Chinese consumer manufacturer Midea, after having spent over $4 billion to acquire 94% of German robot maker Kuka, is planning to spend an additional $1.5 billion to turn itself into China’s preeminent robot powerhouse.
International Data Corporation (IDC) has awarded five pioneering players in the warehouse robotics market with the 2016 IDC Innovators Award. Companies selected met the following criteria: revenue of less than $50 million with an innovative technology, or a groundbreaking new business model, or both.
Spin-offs are disrupting, but often necessary. Here are two recent examples: iRobot sold off its Defense & Security Business Unit to a private equity firm, and Harvest Automation sold the IP and work in process of its warehousing robot group to a new venture-backed startup.
Robotic surgery has long been dominated by Intuitive Surgical which has placed more than 3,600 of its da Vinci machines in hospitals around the world. Nevertheless, an increasing number of new players are entering the marketplace.
Despite all the high-profile billion-dollar acquisitions, eg: ARM by SoftBank, KUKA by Midea and Uber China by Didi Chuxing, M&A are down 19% this year, according to both Forbes and CB Insights. Buyers are buying, but they are seeking cash-positive market-realistic targets. Values (both monetary and vanity) are taking a hit. What’s a startup to do?
According to CB Insights, startups can (1) get bought at a lower valuation and take the hit; (2) lower their cash burn rate and play the long game; or, (3), if they already have strong fundamentals and good growth, continue on.
Delphi Automotive, the global provider of vehicle electronics components, will begin testing 6 phone-dispatched autonomous taxis in Singapore that will go point-to-point based on customer requests with a goal of providing no-driver-in-the-car service by 2019, and cars without steering wheels by 2022.