Hadrian X brick-laying robot ups the ante to 200 blocks an hour

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The Hadrian robot was created by Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics (FBR) and is named after the UK’s Hadrian Wall

Back in 2015 we looked at an interesting approach to automated construction in the form of a brick-laying robot, capable of putting together full-sized homes in just two days. The engineers behind the Hadrian X have continued making software improvements and have now announced a new record brick-laying speed, which they say makes the robot commercially competitive with manual workers around much of the world.

The Hadrian X robot was created by Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics (FBR) and is named after the UK’s Hadrian Wall. It features a telescopic boom that mounts to an excavator or truck, which is fed a 3D CAD model of a house and goes about placing bricks along with mortar and adhesive to build out the structure.

While the team has concept demonstrator robots designed to one day achieve laying rates of more than 1,000 bricks an hour, on the practical side things have been a little more slow-going. Software upgrades to the Hadrian X have seen it go from laying around 85 blocks an hour before the COVID-19 pandemic, to around 150 blocks an hour, and then onward to up over 200 blocks an hour.

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Stanford makes giant soft robot from inflatable tubes

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As much as we love soft robots (and we really love soft robots), the vast majority of them operate pneumatically (or hydraulically) at larger scales, especially when they need to exert significant amounts of force. This causes complications, because pneumatics and hydraulics generally require a pump somewhere to move fluid around, so you often see soft robots tethered to external and decidedly non-soft power sources. There’s nothing wrong with this, really, because there are plenty of challenges that you can still tackle that way, and there are some up-and-coming technologies that might result in soft pumps or gas generators.

Researchers at Stanford have developed a new kind of (mostly) soft robot based around a series of compliant, air-filled tubes. It’s human scale, moves around, doesn’t require a pump or tether, is more or less as safe as large robots get, and even manages to play a little bit of basketball.

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Skin-like, flexible sensor lets robots detect us

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A new sensor for robots is designed to make our physical interactions with these machines a little smoother—and safer. The sensor, which is now being commercialized, allows robots to measure the distance and angle of approach of a human or object in close proximity.

Industrial robots often work autonomously to complete tasks. But increasingly, collaborative robots are working alongside humans. To avoid collisions in these circumstances, collaborative robots need highly accurate sensors to detect when someone (or something) is getting a little too close.

Many sensors have been developed for this purpose, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Those that rely on sound and light (for example, infrared or ultrasonic time-of-flight sensors) measure the reflections of those signals and must therefore be closely aligned with the approaching object, which limits their field of detection.

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AI is growing, but the robots are not coming for customer service

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Recent data out of the World Economic Forum in Davos has shed new light on the role that AI and customer service are playing in shaping the future of work. Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy provides much-needed insights into emerging global employment opportunities and the skill sets needed to maximize those opportunities. Interestingly, the report, supported by data from LinkedIn, found that demand for both “digital” and “human” factors is fueling growth in the jobs of tomorrow, raising important considerations for a breadth of industries worldwide.

The report predicts that in the next three years, 37% of job openings in emerging professions will be in the care economy; 17% in sales, marketing and content; 16% in data and AI; 12% in engineering and cloud computing; and 8% in people and culture. Among the roles with fastest projected growth include specialists in both AI and customer success, underscoring the need for technology, yes, but technology that incorporates the human touch.

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3D-Printed Homes: The concept is now turning into something solid

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Homes of the future, made through 3-D printing

In a Northeast Austin neighborhood, new 3-D-printed homes are taking their distinctive shape on the grounds of the Community First Village, where about 180 formerly homeless people have found shelter and camaraderie in the most expensive city in Texas. (Regan Morton Photography)

AUSTIN — Tim Shea is counting the days until he can move into a new 3-D-printed house. Shea, 69, will be the first to live in one of six such rentals created by what some in the housing industry call a futuristic approach that could revolutionize home construction.

Shea is among a growing number of seniors in America who have struggled to keep affordable housing. He has, at times, been homeless. He has arthritis and manages to get around with the aid of a walker. He said he looks forward to giving up the steep ramp he’s had to negotiate when entering or exiting the RV he’s called home.

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How hard will the robots make us work

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In warehouses, call centers, and other sectors, intelligent machines are managing humans, and they’re making work more stressful, grueling, and dangerous

On conference stages and at campaign rallies, tech executives and politicians warn of a looming automation crisis — one where workers are gradually, then all at once, replaced by intelligent machines. But their warnings mask the fact that an automation crisis has already arrived. The robots are here, they’re working in management, and they’re grinding workers into the ground.

The robots are watching over hotel housekeepers, telling them which room to clean and tracking how quickly they do it. They’re managing software developers, monitoring their clicks and scrolls and docking their pay if they work too slowly. They’re listening to call center workers, telling them what to say, how to say it, and keeping them constantly, maximally busy. While we’ve been watching the horizon for the self-driving trucks, perpetually five years away, the robots arrived in the form of the supervisor, the foreman, the middle manager.

These automated systems can detect inefficiencies that a human manager never would — a moment’s downtime between calls, a habit of lingering at the coffee machine after finishing a task, a new route that, if all goes perfectly, could get a few more packages delivered in a day. But for workers, what look like inefficiencies to an algorithm were their last reserves of respite and autonomy, and as these little breaks and minor freedoms get optimized out, their jobs are becoming more intense, stressful, and dangerous. Over the last several months, I’ve spoken with more than 20 workers in six countries. For many of them, their greatest fear isn’t that robots might come for their jobs: it’s that robots have already become their boss.

In few sectors are the perils of automated management more apparent than at Amazon. Almost every aspect of management at the company’s warehouses is directed by software, from when people work to how fast they work to when they get fired for falling behind. Every worker has a “rate,” a certain number of items they have to process per hour, and if they fail to meet it, they can be automatically fired.

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Paralyzed man breaks world record for finishing a marathon in an exoskeleton suit

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Adam Gorlitsky says groups of people kept him going as he finished mile after mile of the 2020 Charleston Marathon.

(CNN)A South Carolina man competing in the 2020 Charleston Marathon has beaten the world record for the fastest time to finish a marathon in an exoskeleton suit.

Adam Gorlitsky, who is paralyzed from the waist down, completed Saturday’s 26.2-mile race with a time of 33 hours, 50 minutes and 23 seconds, Cory Michel, one of the organizers of the Charleston Marathon, told CNN.

The current record holder is British man Simon Kindleysides, who finished the 2018 London Marathon in 36 hours and 46 minutes, according to Guinness World Records.

Guinness has not certified Gorlitsky’s race results, which Gorlitsky said he plans to submit to the organization Monday.

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Scientists build “first living robots” from frog stem cells

 

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“It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”

A team of researchers have built what they claim to be the first living robots. The “xenobots,” they say, can move, pick up objects, and even heal themselves after being cut.

The team is hoping the biological machines could one day be used to clean up microplastics in the ocean or even deliver drugs inside the human body, The Guardian reports.

To build the robots, the team used living cells from frog embryos and assembled them into primitive beings.

“These are novel living machines,” research co-lead Joshua Bongard, robotics expert at the University of Vermont, said in a statement. “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”

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Will robots make doctors obsolete? Nothing could be further from the truth

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“Doctor, will they replace you with a robot?”

The question takes me by surprise but I suppress my instinct to laugh.

His life has been marked by mental illness and cancer. The first diagnosis presented after a series of missed opportunities as he cycled through woeful visits that ignored his symptoms. Finally, one doctor listened and his life changed.

In retrospect, his cancer was just waiting to be found by the first person to seriously entertain the notion that mental illness often coexists with physical illness. Fortunately, the cancer was amenable to a cure.

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Samsung’s ‘artificial human’ project definitely looks like a digital avatar

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It’s realistic, but can it walk and talk like a human?

On Friday we wrote about Samsung’s mysterious “artificial human” project Neon, speculating that the company was building realistic human avatars that could be used for entertainment and business purposes, acting as guides, receptionists, and more.

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Would you want immortal life as a cyborg?

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Transhumanism can mean uploading one’s mind into cyberspace. But some transhumanists hope to slowly morph into “immortal cyborgs” with endlessly replaceable parts.

Five years ago, we were told, we were all turning into cyborgs:

Did you recently welcome a child into the world? Congratulations! An upstanding responsible parent such as yourself is surely doing all you can to prepare your little one for all the pitfalls life has in store. However, thanks to technology, children born in 2014 may face a far different set of issues than you ever had to. And we’re not talking about simply learning to master a new generation of digital doohickeys, we’re talking about living in a world in which the very definition of “human” becomes blurred.

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Guardian XO: A powered exoskeleton that makes you 20 times stronger

Imagine lifting 100 pounds as though it were only five. That’s the promise of the Guardian XO, a wearable robot that helps you lift heavy objects without straining or injuring your body. Bonus? It looks like a super cool powered exoskeleton from science fiction.

Designed for military applications and industries like construction that require a lot of manual labor, the Guardian XO from Sarcos Robotics has been in development for 20 years. The first alpha models will roll out in January to the US military and some industry customers, with commercial units shipping in late 2020. The XO can run for up to eight hours at a time, thanks to hot-swappable batteries. With 24 degrees of freedom, you can move normally while wearing the suit. It doesn’t get in the way when you’re walking, lifting your arms above your head or crouching down.

Sarcos Robotics says this is the world’s first battery-powered robot that can help you safely lift up to 200 pounds (90 kg). I got the chance to see it in action at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, where walking robots, powered prosthetics and exoskeletons line the hallways. Watch the video to see what it’s like to wear the Guardian XO.

Via CNet.com

 

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