Boston Dynamics introduces new warehouse robot ‘Stretch’

US robotics company Boston Dynamics on Monday unveiled a new robot called Stretch, designed to perform one very specific warehouse job: moving boxes.

Stretch is the first robot for one task that the company has built, based on requests received from companies around the world, said Michael Perry, vice president of business development for Boston Dynamics.

“We heard pretty much universally across warehousing that truck unloading is one of the most physically difficult and unpleasant jobs … And that’s where Stretch comes into play,” Perry told Reuters.

Stretch has a small mobile base that allows it to move around tight spaces in existing warehouses without having to reconfigure them for automation. It is equipped with an arm and a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and computer vision cameras that can identify and handle a large variety of boxed and shrink wrapped cases.

“We’re looking at picking up boxes around 50 pounds and our maximum rate of picking up and moving boxes can reach up to 800 cases per hour. So, it’s a fast-moving, highly versatile robot,” Perry said.

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This is Boston Dynamics’ next commercial robot

Handle’s descendant Stretch finds the company making a big play for logistics

Brian Heater

Boston Dynamics’ transitionfrom a decades-long research robotics firm to a company that productizes and sells hardware has been a fascinating one to watch. There have been some tough lessons along the way, including the very real lesson that at the end of the day, most robots in the world will be deployed for mundane tasks.

Sure, the company will continue to court the public with fun viral videos of its technology dancing to the oldies, but when it comes to actually selling robotics, the targets continue to be the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs we humans just don’t want to do. Or, as I’ve been putting it for a while now, robotics are — more often than not — cool technology performing decidedly uncool tasks.

Spot has found most of its success as an inspection robot. The quadruped has been deployed to oil rigs, nuclear plants and other places where most people would rather limit their time, given a choice. That takes care of the dangerous part of the three Ds, and you could make a reasonable argument that the company’s second commercially available robot is going after the dull bit.

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Ocean floor mapping robotics startup Bedrock announces an $8M raise

By Brian Heater

“It seems quite odd that no one has built the SpaceX equivalent for the ocean,” Anthony DiMare tells TechCrunch. “There’s no big, modern technology company that fits the space yet.”

DiMare cofounded Bedrock Ocean Exploration last year, with Charles Chiau. The latter brought a depth of robotics expertise to the space, while DiMare has experience with the oceans. His previous company, Nautilus Labs, which specialized in ocean fleet logistical planning, raised an $11 million Series A back 2019.

After leaving the startup, DiMare says he met up with Chiau at a San Francisco diner, where the pair discussed the challenges and opportunities in mapping the ocean floor. Today Bedrock is announcing that it has raised an $8 million seed round led by Eniac Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, Quiet Capital and R7.

The company notes that more than 80% of the ocean remains unmapped. And those parts are often at fairly low resolution. As the CEO puts it in a press release tied this morning’s news, “A far greater percentage of the surfaces of the Moon and Mars have been mapped and studied than our own ocean floor has.”

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This Fingertip for Robots Uses Magnets to ‘Feel’ Things

By sensing the subtle changes in the finger’s own magnetic field, this new technology could one day make for ultra-sensitive prosthetic hands.

By MATT SIMON

IMAGINE, IF YOU will, the home robot of the future. It picks clutter off the floor, sweeps, and does the dishes. And it has to do so  perfectly: If the robot has an error rate of just 1 percent, it will drop one dish out of a hundred. Totally unacceptable. In no time, your floor would be covered in shards and the robot would get stuck in a sad, vicious feedback loop, dropping dishes and sweeping them up and dropping more dishes, ad infinitum.

To avoid this domestic nightmare, engineers will have to give robots a keen sense of touch. And for that, the machines will need fingertips, perhaps like the one recently described in the journal Science Robotics. It feels in a decidedly nonhuman way, by sensing the subtle changes in the finger’s own magnetic field, and it could one day make for ultra-sensitive prosthetic hands and robots that don’t maim tableware (or people) because they can’t control their grasp.

You, a human, can feel pressures and textures with your fingertips, thanks to specialized sensory cells in the skin called mechanoreceptors. These, along with the nervous system at large, translate mechanical information from the environment into signals your brain can comprehend as the perception of “touch.” Combined with thermoreceptors (which sense temperature) and nociceptors (which sense pain), you’re able to manipulate the world around you without hurting yourself.

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RoboEatz Shows Off Ark 03 Autonomous Robotic Meal Making Kiosk

By Chris Albrecht

It’s pretty remarkable to think of how much food robots have evolved over the three years I’ve been covering them. At the start of that time period, we had Flippy the robotic arm that could grill up burgers, and even that required human help. Fast forward to 2021, and RoboEatz is showing off its fully autonomous robotic meal-preparation system that can put together 1,000 meals on its own before a human is needed to refill its ingredients. 

RoboEatz Ark 03 is a 200 sq. ft. standalone kiosk featuring an articulating arm, 110 fresh ingredients (30 of which are liquids like soups and salad dressings), an induction cooker and a number of cubbies that hold orders for pickup. After an order is placed (via mobile app or tablet), the robot arm grabs ingredients, places them in the rotating induction cooker, and puts the finished meal container in a cubby. You can see it in action in this video: 

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Researchers create a device that can detect hand gestures

Shane McGlaun 

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Researchers at UC Berkeley have created a device that uses wearable sensors and artificial intelligence software to recognize what hand gesture a person intends to make. The sensors and AI are able to determine the hand gesture a person intends to make based on electrical signal patterns in the forearm. Researchers say the device paves the way for improved prosthetic control and interaction with electronic devices.

The device has implications that could usher in a new era of controlling computers without using a keyboard or playing games without a controller. The system also has the potential to replace steering wheels inside cars. A more likely use is enabling amputees to control prosthetic devices or interact with electronics.

UC Berkeley doctoral student Ali Moin says reading hand gestures is a way to improve human-computer interaction. Human-computer interaction can be improved using cameras and computer vision, but Moin says the system her team has developed also maintains an individual’s privacy. The team created a flexible armband able to read electric signals from 64 points on the forearm.

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German Bionic raises $20M led by Samsung for exoskeleton tech to supercharge human labor

Ingrid Lunden@ingridlunden 

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Exoskeleton technology has been one of the more interesting developments in the world of robotics: Instead of building machines that replace humans altogether, build hardware that humans can wear to supercharge their abilities. Today, German Bionic, one of the startups designing exoskeletons specifically aimed at industrial and physical applications — it describes its Cray X robot as “the world’s first connected exoskeleton for industrial use,” that is, to help people lifting and working with heavy objects, providing more power, precision and safety — is announcing a funding round that underscores the opportunity ahead.

The Augsburg, Germany-based company has raised $20 million, funding that it plans to use to continue building out its business, as well as its technology, both in terms of the hardware and the cloud-based software platform, German Bionic  IO, that works with the exoskeletons to optimize them and help them “learn” to work better.

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This $330,000 Kitchen robot will make you a tasty meal and even do the dishes

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A lot of people will think a robot won’t be able to manage its way around a kitchen. But not only is this feat achieved, by the looks of it, but the kitchen robot by a London-based robotics company will also outshine even those who like to call themselves an established cook.

You can’t beat a robot that promises to whip up a choice of up to 5,000 recipes at the press of a button? The Moley kitchen robot even cooks from scratch and even cleans up afterward without complaint.

Russian mathematician and computer scientist Mark Oleynik have together created this novel robot developed with the assistance of Tim Anderson, a culinary innovator and winner of the 2011 series of BBC MasterChef. The idea behind creating this not-so-cheap contraption is to get restaurant standard meals without its owner having to lift a finger or order a takeaway.

Still, this comfort and luxury will come for nothing less than nearly $3,31,800. People who find cooking fun and therapeutic will laugh at the sum that brings home the Moley kitchen robot and opt to buy a home, a supercar, or maybe even a yacht for that amount instead! Nicole Pisani and Andrew Clarke to create 30 dishes to show what the Moley Kitchen robot is capable of, with more recipes to be added each month. Kicking back and relaxing comes for a considerable price, and surprisingly, the Moley Kitchen robot has already received 1,205 qualified sales inquiries.

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Singapore-Bound Billionaire James Dyson Plans $3.6 Billion Move Into Batteries And Robotics After Electric Car Failure


David Dawkins

The British industrial designer best-known for his distinctive and much-loved household appliances–vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and hair straighteners–also confirmed long-standing plans to move his global head office from the U.K. to Singapore.

The most likely move for Dyson is further development of the powerful, long-life batteries, intended for its much-hyped but abandoned electric vehicle project that the billionaire was forced to shelve in October last year. Although specifics are yet to be confirmed, Dyson said in a statement today that it will “double” its portfolio of products and enter entirely new fields of innovation including robotics and machine learning by 2025.

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Inside China’s iPhone factory: Fascinating footage shows Apple components being made in a fully automated plant manned by robots

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The manufacturer in southern China’s Shenzhen is entirely staffed by robots

The automated plant is dubbed ‘lights-out’ factory with AI-powered machines

It can save costs on labour and energy while improving product quality, it is said

Apple devices and iPhone components are now being produced in a Chinese out-source factory from dusk till dawn without any human workers.

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Tunisian Startup 3D prints solar-powered bionic hands

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A Tunisian startup is developing a 3D-printed bionic hand, hoping the affordable and solar-powered prosthetic will help amputees and other disabled people across Africa.

Unlike traditional devices, the artificial hand can be customised for children and youths, who otherwise require an expensive series of resized models as they grow up.

The company Cure Bionics also has plans to develop a video game-like virtual reality system that helps youngsters learn how to use the artificial hand through physical therapy.

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GITAI aims to bring autonomous robot workers to space

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An artist’s rendering brings to life GITAI’s vision of robots working on the International Space Station.

GITAI will conduct a technical demonstration of autonomous robot, S1, aboard the ISS in 2021.

Upon hearing the phrase, “robots in space,” one might have an image flash of a corny 60s sci-fi movie, but startup GITAI has its sights on making that a reality in 2021. The space robotics company, which was founded in 2016, is on track for conducting a technical demonstration on the International Space Station (ISS), in collaboration with Nanoracks.

Since its start, GITAI has focused its efforts on various robots for space. Its G1, which is a humanoid torso, was its most advanced machine. It was designed to be controlled by an immersive telepresence system. For the technical demonstration, the company is moving toward more autonomous methods with its S1, a mountable robotic arm with 8 degrees of freedom and 1-meter reach that has an integrated sensing and computing system.

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