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by   -   April 24, 2014

The assembly line has long been considered one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century. It has shaped the industrial world so strongly that businesses that did not adopt the practice soon became extinct, and it was one of the key factors that helped integrate the automobile into American society.


by   -   April 22, 2014
An adage in tech funding is “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

by   -   April 22, 2014

Google acquires Titan Aerospace for $60 million; Facebook acquires Ascenta for $20 million; Groupe Gorgé, through ECA, acquires Infotron for $10 million and the Navy is building a new UAV center. Here’s a wrap-up of these and other UAV stories in the news:


by   -   April 22, 2014

From left: Devdutt Yellurkar, Partner, Charles River Ventures; Aydin Senkut, Managing Director, Felicis Ventures; Peter Hebert, Managing Partner, Lux Capital; Frank Tobe, Editor, The Robot Report and Co-founder, Robo-Stox LLC; and Rich Mahoney, Director, Robotics Program, SRI International and moderator of panel on “Who’s Investing in Robotics, and Why?”

The 2014 Xconomy Forum: Robo Madness, held in the theater at SRI International in Menlo Park, proved once again, that contacts and relationships are as important as innovation, intellectual property, long hours and a PhD. Breaks and an after-event reception for networking, exchanging cards and promises to meet and discuss things further were an integral part of the day’s program. Silicon Valley and visiting tech and robotics-related stars were there in spades: Scott Hassan, Brian Gerkey, Paolo Pirjanian,  Helen Greiner, James Gosling, David Mindell and John Markoff to name just a few.


by   -   April 22, 2014

Groupe Gorgé, via their subsidiary ECA S.A., has acquired French UAV copter provider Infotron for €2.5 million and 375,000 shares of ECA – a combined value of around $10 million. The acquisition supplements ECA’s line of unmanned underwater and aerial devices and systems with a proven line of mini helicopter-type vertical takeoff drones.


by   -   April 18, 2014

Early in March of this year TechCrunch reported that Facebook was in talks to acquire Titan Aerospace, a UAV start-up that makes solar-powered aerial robots that can fly for up to five years without needing to land. Forbes said that the sale price was likely to be $60 million.


by   -   April 16, 2014

PerezIn a few decades, twenty or thirty years — or sooner – robots and their associated technology will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones are today, at least that is the prediction of Bill Gates; and we would be hard-pressed to find a roboticist, automation expert or economist who could present a strong case against this.


by   -   April 14, 2014

People say the darndest things! And some of those statements add to the puzzle that is Willow Garage.


by   -   April 10, 2014

My latest post on Harvard Business Review is now live:

Using robots in training programs to overcome challenges pushes participants out of their comfort zone. It deepens their awareness of complexity and builds ownership and responsibility.

The array of skills and work techniques that this kind of training offers is more in need today than ever, as technology is rapidly changing the skills demanded in the workplace.

Instead of programming people to act like robots, why not teach them to become programmers, creative thinkers, architects, and engineers? Read more on HBR.org


by   -   April 8, 2014

Helen Greiner who co-founded iRobot 14 years ago spoke yesterday at the DEMO conference. Helen is now the co-founder and CEO of CyPhy Works, a startup developing “Unmanned Ariel Systems” or drones for industrial applications. In her brief DEMO Labs talk (see video below), Helen takes us through the next five years of drones — from hobbyist toys to industrial surveillance.


by   -   April 4, 2014

mv1croppedIn hospitals and nursing homes in Japan, disabled people are learning to walk again by wearing a robot suit. The suit ironically named HAL, for the Hybrid Assistive Limb, is strapped to one or both legs to help the patient regain mobility.

I say ironically because HAL is the Artificial Intelligence villain of science fiction. But the exoskeleton HAL is in fact far friendlier. It has been designed to support and expand the physical capabilities of its users, particularly people with physical disabilities.


by   -   April 4, 2014

 

Voice recognition is a timely science not only because of all the human-automobile communication offered by car companies, but also by smart devices and their growing use of voice interfaces. It won’t be long until we operate many of our appliances by voice command.


by   -   April 2, 2014

 

Economist_Cover_March_2014

The Economist, a prestigious London-based business magazine zealously read around the world, has a 14-page Special Report in their current issue. ‘Rise of the Robots’ offers insight into why robotic technology is so fascinating and so prevalent in the media. The reporter, Oliver Morton, a briefings editor for The Economist, traveled around the world and spent months developing information for the report and ended it with the tagline: “They are coming to work and play among us in ever greater numbers.”


by   -   March 28, 2014

Several debates have arisen around robotics, and of course some of this is science fiction, but then we are increasingly seeing science fiction becoming science fact, there is the debate around ‘strong artificial intelligence’ and robots replacing human beings, a notion that is being redefined by Moravec, who predicts that machines will ‘attain human levels of intelligence by the year 2040, and that by 2050, they will surpass us.’


by   -   March 25, 2014

RUR KapekIn 1920 the Czech author and playwright, Karel Capek introduced the word “robot,” in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). Robot in Czech means “forced labor” or “drudgery.” (A “robotnik” is a peasant or serf.) The play opened in Prague in January 1921. The Robots are mass-produced at the island factory of Rossum’s Universal Robots. According to a the play ‘Robots remember everything, and think of nothing new.’ Domin (the factory director) says: `They’d make fine university professors.’





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