Time will tell whether supply chain shortages from the COVID-19 pandemic will hasten the deployment of robots in warehouses. Last week, we reported that autonomous mobile robot suppliers are seeing a surge in demand. Among those beneficiaries is Fetch Robotics, regarded as a leading supplier of autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs. Founded in 2014, CEO Melonee Wise was the second employee at Willow Garage, an R&D lab influential in advancing robotics. DHL, Ryder and Universal Logistics are among those that have deployed AMRs from Fetch Robotics.
The "Autonomous Mobile Robots Market Research Report: By Offering, End User – Global Industry Size, Share and Trends Analysis, Forecast to 2030" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The artist with the remote-controlled robotic body: 'I've made a career out of being a failure'
What a month it was for robotics. Whether it was Boston Dynamics launching its Spot quadruped robot, Shopify acquiring 6 River Systems or Universal Robots launching its strongest cobot ever, the robotics stories didn't disappoint in September 2019. Here are the Top 10 most popular robotics stories on The Robot Report for September 2019. Subscribe to The Robot Report's free weekly newsletter to stay updated on the latest analysis and news from the robotics industry. Since being acquired by SoftBank, Boston Dynamics promised to bring its robots to market.
When you think of canine-inspired robots, your brain probably conjures up images of Boston Dynamics' celebrated dog robot, Spot. Swiss robotics company Anybotics has also created its own audacious, quadruped robot. The size of a large dog and weighing a little under 80 pounds, Anymal aims to be the gold standard in dog-bots. It's capable of autonomously walking, running, and climbing, and can even get back on its feet if it falls over. Although Spot will go on sale for the first time later this year, this gleaming robotic beast is already on the market in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.
At $2,900, Sony's robot dog Aibo sits at the fringe of technology, but it might not stay there. Whether you find it cute or creepy, the tech that makes Aibo tick is continuing to evolve, and it isn't hard to imagine a whole litter of less expensive Aibo competitors aimed at consumers -- and even at children -- in the not-so-distant future. To be clear, Aibo's tech already includes artificial intelligence, sensors and microphones that help it interact with people, and cameras that can recognize faces and help it navigate your home like a Roomba. A reasonable consumer might rightly wonder just how much data this dog gathers as it wanders their home scanning faces and learning about its owners. Perhaps more important -- what exactly does Sony do with that data?
Sheer cliff faces present a traversal challenge for most wheeled robots on the market, but researchers at the University of Tokyo say they've developed a two-robot framework that works pretty reliably in their testing. In a newly published paper on the preprint server Arxiv.org "[We] propose a novel cooperative system for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) which utilizes the UAV not only as a flying sensor but also as a tether attachment device," the authors of the paper explain. "[It enhances] the poor traversability of the UGV by not only providing a wider range of scanning and mapping from the air, but also by allowing the UGV to climb steep terrains with the winding of the tether." The UGV is permanently attached via mechanized winch and cable to the UAV, a custom-made quadcopter with an Nvidia Jetson TX2 chipset, a flight controller, and a raft of sensors including a modular fisheye camera, time-of-flight sensor, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and laser sensor.
Vincross, the company behind the six-legged robot Hexa, said on Tuesday that it's picked up $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Lenovo Capital, the startup fund managed by Lenovo Group. Returning investor GGV Capital and newcomer Seekdource Capital also participated. The company declined to disclose its latest valuation but said the proceeds will go towards research and development as well as new product lines. Neuroscience and artificial intelligence researcher Tianqi Sun started Vincross in Beijing back in 2016 when he raised $220,000 for Hexa on Kickstarter. At the time the insectile, programmable robot had separated itself from the horde of humanoids on the market by billing itself as the first robot that can climb stairs, making it suitable for firefighting and other rescue tasks.
Desert ants are such exemplary navigators that research has stipulated; they use the Earth's magnetic fields for orientation. One thing is for sure, ants always find their way home. Now, researchers took inspiration from these tiny insects to design a robot that can move independently and then find its way back to its base without any GPS or mapping. They have appropriately named it the AntBot. "It is equipped with an optical compass used to determine its heading by means of polarized light, and by an optical movement sensor directed to the sun to measure the distance covered. Armed with this information, AntBot has been shown to be able, like the desert ants, to explore its environment and to return on its own to its base, with the precision of up to 1 cm after having covered a total distance of 14 meters," says the organization's press release.
In case you've been envying the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis lately, don't. Skittering around the Sahara, the insect endures temperatures so brutal, it can sometimes only manage foraging runs of 15 minutes before it burns to death. Making matters worse, the heat obliterates the pheromone chemical trails that ants typically lay for each other to navigate. Get lost out here, and you're literally cooked. Accordingly, desert ants have evolved superpowers.
We love Aibo, because how could you not love Aibo? Not only is it a sophisticated robot that you can actually buy today, but it's super cute as well. To celebrate the one year anniversary of the new Aibo going on sale, Sony is announcing a special edition of the robot, an open API, and some new features that could make it a bit more useful. The most visible new announcement from Sony is a special 2019 limited edition Aibo, a "chocolate" color to commemorate Aibo's first birthday. This slightly beagle-y look comes with an even more limited edition black tail if you order one by February 14, but if you already have an "ivory white" Aibo, don't worry--all the hardware inside is the same, which makes the rest of Sony's announcements much more interesting.