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RoboBusiness Summit: Workshops feature experts in manufacturing, assistive robotics

As the official festivities kick off here on Tuesday, Monday’s sessions brought together researchers, business owners, and engineers developing cutting-edge robots for quality of life technology as well as manufacturing. In fact, we also saw the first public demonstration of … Continue reading

Robots In DC made the trip from Washington and we’re ready to kick off our coverage of the unique and exciting RoboBusiness event, which is bringing together leaders from robotics businesses, research & development, and investment. As the official festivities kick off here on Tuesday, Monday’s sessions brought together researchers, business owners, and engineers developing cutting-edge robots for quality of life technology as well as manufacturing. In fact, we also saw the first public demonstration of Baxter, the inexpensive manufacturing robot from Rethink Robotics, which garnered quite a bit of mainstream press coverage when it debuted back in September.

The new robot targets the thousands of small manufacturers that rely on simple, repetitive tasks in their assembly line. Baxter aims to augment the tasks human workers perform in product assembly and packaging. As Chairman and CTO Rodney Brooks discussed the company’s and product’s philosophy and features, product manager Mike Bugda removed a white sheet to unveil the red and gray robot with two (right) arms and a moving LCD screen with varying facial expressions.

In the Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) symposium, researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, University of Texas at Arlington, Denmark, and Sweden discussed robotic technologies in the areas of assistive care, rehabilitation, therapy, and activities of daily life assistance. We’ll have a longer write-up later in the week, but here are some talking points:

  • The QoLT center at CMU has produced 10 technologies, with several entering commercialization: VibeAttire, FPV/Whozat, SleepMedia, Distant Architect, Virtual Valet, Romibo, MemExerciser, PT Coach, Health Kiosk, Ergonomic Lift Chair
  • Robotdalen in Sweden is partnering between academia, industry, and the public to accelerate prototype commercialization, which has proven very successful. One demonstrated product was a robotic sleeve that helps individuals with weak grips by augmenting them.
  • Similarly, in Denmark, academic-industry partnerships are helping get robots into homes and assistive care centers. An assistive device for eating is changing the lives of hundreds of people (and going for a modest $4,000), and the Paro robot, imported from Japan, has been hugely successful in care centers to help improve positive emotions.
Of course, there’s more to come! Stay tuned here and at Robots In DC for continued coverage.

By David Pietrocola

David Pietrocola is a robotics engineer and founder of Robots In DC, a blog covering robotics news, public policy and tutorials from the nation's capital. He is also the CEO of Lifebotics LLC, which is developing robotic solutions for independent living. His research interests include personal and service robots, intelligent systems, and human-robot interaction. From April 2011 to September 2012, he served at the National Science Foundation as an analyst for interdisciplinary research and graduate education. He earned a M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Honors and Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. David has published and presented peer-reviewed research in a variety of areas, including autonomous mobile robots, agent-based modeling, virtual agents, human behavior modeling, serious games, digital copyright laws, and graduate education. He has helped develop several award-winning autonomous robots for outdoor navigation in uncertain environments, and has been a judge, volunteer, and rules writer for the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest since 2006. He is a member of IEEE, the IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Committee, and the IEEE-USA Research and Development Committee.