Robots to fan out across world’s oceans to monitor their health

The top of a robotic near-shore ocean float is seen floating in a test tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing

By Nathan Frandino

MOSS LANDING, California (Reuters) – After years studying the icy waters of the Southern Ocean with floating robotic monitors, a consortium of oceanographers and other researchers is deploying them across the planet, from the north Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

The project known as the Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array, or GO-BGC, started in March with the launch of the first of 500 new floating robotic monitors containing computers, hydraulics, batteries and an array of sensors scientists say will relay a more comprehensive picture of the ocean and its health.

“The ocean is extremely important to the climate, to the sustainability of the earth, its supply of food, protein to enormous numbers of people. We don’t monitor it very well,” said Ken Johnson, GO-BGC’s project director and a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, California.

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Barney the Swiss robot bartender ready to shake up cocktails

A robotic arm serves a Campari Soda at the Barney Cocktail Bar

ZURICH (Reuters) – Barney is a bit different from your usual Swiss bartender. He is fully automated, mixes dozens of cocktails and even makes terrible jokes.

Developer F & P Robotics says it is seeing rising interest in “The Barney Bar” and hopes it will be a hit among hotels, bars and shopping centres looking to reduce human contact during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Barney can mix 16 different spirits and eight different sodas for customers who place their orders via their mobile phones, as well as offering beer and prosecco. The robot, who can disinfect his own robotic arm, tells them their drink is ready via a large video display above the bar.

A barista version making different coffees has also been developed. Both versions can be loaded up with conversations, so Barney can make “jokes” about being offered a role in the latest Terminator film, for example.

“We are getting quite a bit of interest,” Chief Sales Officer Gery Colombo told Reuters. “We think Barney can be a fun attraction, that can bring people to a bar because he’s constantly moving and is so different.”

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Chick-fil-A is testing out deliveries with a robot that can wink and transport chicken sandwiches

The newest Kiwibot.

Kiwibot

  • Chick-fil-A is testing out robot delivery in California.
  • The chicken chain is working with Kiwibot, which makes tiny, semi-autonomous delivery robots.
  • Several other chains are also working on robot deliveries, including Domino’s and Chipotle.

Chick-fil-A is testing out robot deliveries in California, Restaurant Business Online reported.

Small, semi-autonomous Kiwibots will be an option at checkout for Chick-fil-A customers at three locations in Santa Monica, California through a partnership between the two companies. Deliveries will use the newest version, Kiwibot 4.0, to make short deliveries.

“What we promise is to at least halve the time it takes for all orders a mile or closer, and more than half the cost” of average deliveries, Kiwibot COO Diego Varela Prada told Restaurant Business Online. The average Chick-fil-A delivery costs $1.99 and takes 30 minutes, according to Chick-fil-A.

The Kiwibots are four-wheeled, semi-autonomous rovers. They’re designed to detect obstacles including people, vehicles, and traffic lights, and they’re able to navigate terrain like sidewalks. Though the new Kiwibots have the most advanced sensors of the brand’s robots yet, they aren’t totally autonomous and still require monitoring.

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‘Wearable Robot’ Exoskeletons Could Reduce Factory Injuries

SuitX’s Iron Man-like exoskeleton prevents injuries in a variety of jobs that involve heavy lifting.

By  Chris Young

Much has been said about the rising need for warehouse robots to meet the recent surge in demand for e-commerce products. 

One company, SuitX has a different plan altogether. By using mechanical exoskeletons, the company, founded by the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Engineering Lab, is improving the efficiency of warehouse workers as well as preventing injuries.

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REV-1 robot takes on snow for last-mile delivery

Refraction AI’s recent $4.2M raise helps deploy more practical robot 

By Grace Sharkey

Refraction AI entered into the $80 billion robotics market in 2019 with a mission to bring a practical, economical and deployable robot to the last-mile delivery space. 

While working at the University of Michigan’s Robotics Program, co-founders Matthew Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan noticed a gap in autonomous vehicle (AV) mobility: extreme weather conditions. The pair developed their“Goldilocks of autonomous vehicles,” REV-1, a last-mile delivery robot that could handle the harsh weather a majority of the country experiences.

In developing REV-1, Refraction AI discovered many last-mile AVs used a sensor system known as LiDAR, which was causing bottlenecks in deploying these vehicles into the real world.

LiDAR, an acronym for light detection and ranging, determines ranges with a laser by measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. These sensors are not able to recognize different human behavior, like a cyclist looking over his or her shoulder before changing lanes. They can find it difficult to register winter weather if not used in tangent with other sensor systems. 

These LiDAR- based sensor systems also can be incredibly expensive, making the investment in AVs challenging for businesses that are looking for last-mile solutions.

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Agility Robotics ‘Delivery Robot’ Knocks at Door to Bring Package, Avoiding Face-to-Face Interaction

By Isaiah Alonzo

However, that was not the case, and the Albany-based robotics company has only finished its prototypes now and is previewing it to the public, showing a highly-advanced form of robot available to man. Its designs resemble the stereotypical look of a “walking robot” whose purpose is to deliver packages on certain sci-fi films.

Having said this, the “Digit” robot is advanced for this generation, as it features what was initially seen only in fictional movies with the use of CGI, and not an actual prototype that is bulky or massive for its size. The robot’s size is near the fitting of a man that can sit on regular cars, particularly delivery vans, or be stowed with the packages behind.

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Meet Digit: The ostrich-legged robot that might one day deliver you packages

By Luke Dormehl

What’s the robot equivalent of Rocky Balboa running up the 72 stone steps leading up to the entranceway of the Philadelphia Museum of Art? It could well be the sight of Agility Robotics’ biped robot, Digit, climbing up a wet, muddy, and not-all-that-grippable grassy hill at the company’s new HQ in Tangent, Oregon.

While the video is partly designed to show off this new home for Agility, it also demonstrates just how far its Digit tech has developed. If Rocky’s famous climb signifies the everyman overcoming great odds, Agility Robotics’ recent video is a reminder of just how impressively far robots have traveled in being able to traverse the real world. Both figuratively and literally.

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Flying Autonomous Robot Uses AI to Identify and Pick Ripe Fruit

The FAR robot in action

By  Derya Ozdemir   

Multiple robots can harvest an orchard thanks to a single autonomous digital brain in a ground-based unit.

Fruit picking is a physically laborious task that can require a lot of standing, crouching, and climbing for up to eight hours a day. While it may have its up moments, it is generally a low-paid, seasonal, and repetitive work that has few likelihoods for advancement, and as younger generations migrate to urban areas, the pickers are aging and a global shortage of seasonal fruit pickers is worsening.

COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated this situation due to the enforced travel restrictions preventing seasonal workers from crossing borders. In such times, robots that can harvest the crops are gaining traction.

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K.Hartwall launches new ‘autonomous mobile robot’

 BY DAVID EDWARDS

K.Hartwall has launched a new “autonomous mobile robot” called A-Mate. The company says this is the first fully electric free-lift pallet “AGV” with omnidirectional drive on the market. 

K.Hartwall calls its new machine an AGV as well as an AMR, which indicates the ongoing merging of the two technologies across the industry.

The company says the A-Mate is an extremely versatile mobile robot that will bring a new level of automation to intra-logistics, and to the movements of different load carriers, from pallets to roll containers and foldable cages or “gitter” boxes. 

K.Hartwall  says the free SLAM navigation combined with the innovative fleet management allows its customers to have a full overview of and control over their internal logistics operations.

Furthermore, safety has been a central point of focus in the development of A-Mate as AMRs become an integrated part of the overall logistics process.

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We’re teaching robots to evolve autonomously so they can adapt to life alone on distant planets

In the future, robots we’ve programmed may evolve and multiply on distant planets.

by Emma Hart

It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on other planets. Sent ahead to create conditions favorable for humankind, these robots will need to be tough, adaptable and recyclable if they’re to survive within the inhospitable cosmic climates that await them.

Collaborating with roboticists and computer scientists, my team and I have been working on just such a set of robots. Produced via 3-D printer—and assembled autonomously—the robots we’re creating continually evolve in order to rapidly optimize for the conditions they find themselves in. 

Our work represents the latest progress towards the kind of autonomous robot ecosystems that could help build humanity’s future homes, far away from Earth and far away from human oversight. 

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Hyundai unveils hotel robot developed with KT

 BY MAI TAO 

Hyundai Robotics has unveiled a new service robot designed for hotels and developed with KT, formerly Korea Telecom.

The UNI-050H is a mobile service robot co-developed by Hyundai Robotics and KT to perform hotel amenities delivery, and can now be found at the Daegu Marriott Hotel & Residences.

UNI-050H delivers amenities such as towels and bottled water, to guest rooms upon request. 

KT GiGA Genie’s voice command function enables easy ordering, which is expected to allow residents to enjoy the convenience of a hotel and a home at the same time. It is also expected to improve the service quality and efficiency of hotel operations by reducing the simple work hours of the employees.

UNI-050H, introduced in December 2019, uses advanced ICT technologies such as spatial mapping and autonomous driving.

In addition, it includes various features such as the ability to overcome the height difference between the elevator and the floor, a spacious storage design, and an ergonomic design that is convenient for anyone to use regardless of gender.

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Fetch’s warehouse robot is poised to replace forklifts

By Cody DeBos 

Anyone that’s ever been in a warehouse knows that forklifts are an essential piece of equipment. Even so, they aren’t perfect. Estimates suggest that there are nearly 35,000 forklift-related accidents every year that result in serious injury and nearly 62,000 resulting in minor injuries. There are also around 85 forklift-related deaths annually.

Recently, companies have turned to automated solutions to keep employees out of harm’s way. These take a number of different forms. A new robot from San Jose-based startup Fetch Robotics is one of them.

TechCrunch notes that the company’s PalletTransport1500 is designed to replace forklifts in warehouses. The bot could usher in a safer and more efficient future for the logistics industry.

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