Googly-eyed educational robot launches own Kickstarter

The six-legged educational robot Vorpal Combat Hexapod from Vorpal Robotics used one of its appendages to launch its own Kickstarter campaign. “We gave the honor to the oldest surviving prototype hexapod,” founder and product developer Steve Pendergrast said in a press release. “Its name is Scrum. Every Vorpal Combat Hexapod has an individual name.” The campaign…

New synthetic muscle step forward for soft robotics

A research team from Columbia Engineering’s Creative Machines lab developed a synthetic soft muscle that has a strain density 15 times larger than natural muscle and can lift 1,000 times its own weight that could propel soft robotics creation forward. According to the study “Soft Material for Soft Actuators” published in Nature Communications, the material…

ABB Ltd. to double China robotics production

ABB Ltd. is set to double its robot production capacity in China by increasing the number of research employees in the country, according to CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. The decision comes as ABB is jockeying with competing robotics companies Kuka AG and Fanuc for share in China’s $11 billion robotics industry. “ABB is ahead of Kuka…

Mind-melding robots merge to work together

These mind-melding robots can work autonomously, merge to operate as one and even self-heal by replacing malfunctioning pieces. Researchers at Université libre de Bruxelles developed this series of small robots that are controlled by a single brain and mergeable nervous system. In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers explained how the system consists of a…

Reactive Robotics receives second round funding

Munich-based company Reactive Robotics GmbH secured a second seven-digit funding round to continue its work in rehabilitation robotics development. Investors included new lead investor Dr. Doll Holding GmbH and existing investors MTIP MedTech Innovation Partners AG, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Bayern Kapital and TQ-Group. Reactive Robotics intends to use the funds to further market entry in Germany…

Investors merge firms, raise fund to support AI

Investors Jennifer Gill Roberts and Kelly Coyne are merging their respective companies, seed-stage investment firm Grit Labs and go-to-market firm Pitch, under the name Grit Labs to invest in and guide companies performing research in artificial intelligence and robotics. They have also created a $30 million fund to focus on B2B robotics powered by AI…

DOT updates driverless vehicle guidelines

This week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced updated safety guidelines for driverless vehicles while visiting a testing facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. The new document outlining the guidelines, Automated Driving Systems (ADS): Vision for Safety 2.0, is published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and shares industry best practices and voluntary safety assessments companies…

Johns Hopkins researchers set medical drone delivery record

With a 3-hour, 161-mile flight across the Arizona desert, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine completed a record-distance medical drone delivery. During the flight, the drone’s payload system maintained the temperature of the human blood samples stored in a temperature-controlled chamber onboard, keeping them viable for lab analysis, according to the findings…

Yaskawa MLX300 software for programming robots with PLC language

The MLX300 software option is the newest generation of integration for Yaskawa robots and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). The MLX300 lets operators control and program Yaskawa robots in a standard PLC programming environment, eliminating the need to learn a specific robot-programming language. All program execution is performed by the PLC; the motion control is handled…

Researchers complete automated crop plant and harvest

A team from Harper Adams University and agricultural solutions company Precision Decisions successfully planted, tended and harvested a crop of barley using only autonomous machines, a project they called Hands Free Hectare. “This project aimed to prove that there’s no technological reason why a field can’t be farmed without humans working the land directly now…

Study: artificial ‘skin’ could improve robot sensing

Researchers have found a material that can mimic human skin and improve robots’ sensing capabilities. Usually rigid semiconductor materials that create robots’ circuits limit the machines’ movement or sensing, either because they are not flexible or don’t permit electrons to flow efficiently. But the rubber electronics and sensors tested by a University of Houston team…

Corindus launches post-approval study for CorPath GRX coronary system

Corindus Vascular Robotics announced the first patient enrollment in a post-market study of its second-generation CorPath GRX System, a robot-assisted system for percutaneous coronary interventions such as stenting. “Enrollment of the first patient in the Precision GRX registry is a major milestone for the company and we look forward to the participation of leading centers…

Avitas uses AI to make industrial inspections quicker, safer

General Electric subsidiary Avitas Systems is using artificial intelligence technology from AI company Nvidia to automate industrial inspections, reducing costs, turnaround time and risk. Using a team of drones, crawlers or wheeled robots and autonomous underwater vehicles, Avitas performs inspections at sites in the energy, transportation and oil and gas sectors, such as power plants,…

New Amazon facility combines man-power with automation

Amazon opened a new fulfillment center in Staten Island where employees and robots will interact to carry out operations, creating 2,250 full-time jobs. “We are excited to bring our first fulfillment center to New York and work alongside the state’s incredible workforce,” customer fulfillment VP Sanjay Shah said in a press release. “The support of…

Polar Capital to launch AI, automation fund

Polar Capital said it plans to launch an automation and artificial intelligence fund to support companies worldwide working in industrial automation, AI, robotics and advanced materials. “Technology is changing the world we live in and the pace of disruption is accelerating – knowledge of technology is becoming critical for all investors,” CEO Gavin Rochussen said…

Drones conduct cell tower inspections following Hurricane Harvey

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the New Jersey Innovation Institute Defense & Homeland Security Innovation Lab is working with engineering firm Maser Consulting to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles to inspect cell towers in Houston. “We have teamed with Maser Consulting to have two crews on site in Houston to conduct video inspections for several…

FIRST Tech Challenge reveals season adventure theme

This year’s FIRST Tech Challenge for students in grades 7 to 12 grade will see participation among 60,000 students on 6,000 teams in 25 countries. Founded in 1989, FIRST builds student interest in science, technology, engineering and math through a series of robotics competitions for K-12 students. “The true value of FIRST Tech Challenge is…

NASA funds next phase of robotic satellite assembly project

The National Air & Space Administration awarded the next phase of funding to Space Systems Loral, a spacecraft systems provider, modifying their contract to continue work on the Dragonfly on-orbit satellite assembly program. The partnership between NASA and SSL intends to create a semiautonomous robotic system to assemble satellites in space. The software to run…

California lawmaker pushes robot tax

A California lawmaker wants to use a tax to reduce the possible consequences of robots sucking up jobs as automation becomes more widespread. San Francisco city supervisor Jane Kim launched a campaign in August called Jobs of the Future Fund to study how a statewide tax, essentially an income tax, on robots that displace employees…

Japan company testing robots to counter childcare shortage

Japan is in the throes of a childcare crisis as more mothers go to work, childcare staff are overworked and facility waitlists skyrocket. One child- and elderly-care company is testing out robots as a way to fill the gaps. Global Bridge Holdings, which runs 27 childcare centers in Tokyo, is working with Gunma University to…

IBM and MIT partner on AI research lab

IBM and the Mass. Institute of Technology plan to expand their ongoing partnership to create the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab to perform research on artificial intelligence. IBM is making a 10-year, $240 million investment to establish the Cambridge, Mass. center. The lab will harness the work of 100 scientists, professors and students to develop AI…

WATCH: Robot airbags help protect human workers

As companies and factories introduce more robots and robotics systems into their manufacturing processes and the interaction between robots and humans increases, so does the risk of injury to human workers. Although foam covers or lower working speeds could protect robots’ human counterparts, these measures also make the robots more inefficient. Researchers at Germany’s Institute…

Researchers find way to automate measuring brain cell signals

Engineers at the Mass. Institute of Technology are working to automate the process of recording electrical signals from a brain neuron, which could help researchers more precisely study individual brain cells that affect learning and functioning and cause cognitive diseases. “Knowing how neurons communicate is fundamental to basic and clinical neuroscience,” Ed Boyden, senior author…

Beijing ROS-AI developer Roobo raises $53 million

Beijing-based AI solutions developer Roobo raised $53 million in a Series B funding round led by Seven Seas Partners, a Chinese VC. This is in addition to the $100 million raised last year. The managing partner of Seven Seas, Jeff Xiong, will become Roobo’s new CEO.

ABB to expand Michigan-based factory

Swiss company ABB plans to expand its industrial robot factory in Auburn Hills, Mich., CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer told Reuters this week. He did not comment on new jobs or investments associated with the expansion. The facility, which was first announced in 2015, produced its first robot in March and currently employs about 1,000 people. ABB…