Smart robots do all the work at Nissan’s ‘intelligent’ plant

Nissan’s “intelligent factory” hardly has any human workers

By YURI KAGEYAMA

KAMINO KAWA, Japan — Nissan’s “intelligent factory” hardly has any human workers. The robots do the work, including welding and mounting. They do the paint jobs and inspect their own paint jobs.

The factory, on the outskirts of Tokyo, is set to be up and running sometime before April, according to Nissan Motor Co.

Its assembly line is designed so that all three types of models — electric; e-Power, which has both a motor and an engine, and those powered by regular combustion engine — can be built on the same line. Each vehicle is equipped with the right powertrain as it moves along the line.

The workers at the factory can focus on more skilled work such as analyzing data collected by the robots, and on maintaining the equipment.

All automakers are working on robotic technology that can increase adaptability and enable them to respond quickly to market demand.

During the tour, giant mechanical arms equipped with large displays shone light from the displays on to the car’s surfaces from various angles so that cameras could detect the tiniest flaws.

A mechanism quickly wound wires around a metal object that looked like a giant spool, a motor part that Nissan is using to replace magnets now used in electric vehicles. The company says the innovation eliminates the need for rare earth materials, cutting costs.

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Caltech Researchers Develop Bipedal Robot LEONARDO, Which Can Walk, Fly And Even Skate

Bipedal robots like LEONARDO are being considered extremely promising as they are able to tackle complex real-world terrains more easily than humans.

By Harsh Vardhan 

In a stunning development, researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a bipedal robot named LEONARDO that seamlessly works on two types of locomotion i.e. walking and flying. According to Caltech’s official report, this new technology will make even the most complex of movements extremely smooth. Moreover, the scientists believe that if successful, LEONARDO can be deployed for missions on alien planets like Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan.

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Peach picking robots could be the future for Georgia growers

Robot picking peaches More than 130 million pounds of peaches are produced in Georgia per year, and the Southern staple has a total farm gate value in excess of $71 million, according to recent estimates. 

By Sabrina Cupit

More than 130 million pounds of peaches are produced in Georgia per year, and the Southern staple has a total farm gate value in excess of $71 million, according to recent estimates.

But cultivating peaches is a complex and manually-intensive process that has put a strain on many farms stretched for time and workers. To solve this problem, the Georgia Tech Research Institute has developed an intelligent robot that is designed to handle the human-based tasks of thinning and pruning peach trees, which could result in significant cost savings for peach farms in Georgia.

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Honda is working on small rockets, electric aircraft and robots for the Moon

It wants to send humans to the ‘fourth dimension.’ Yeah, it’s pretty weird.

By RONAN GLON

Honda builds a surprisingly diverse selection of products that includes cars, motorcycles, generators, lawn mowers and planes. It will branch out into even more sectors over the coming years by adding robots, small rockets, and a second plane.

The expansion is part of Honda’s 2030 Vision of serving people worldwide with what it calls “the joy of expanding their life’s potential” — even if that means putting down the snowblower (built by Honda, of course) and taking a quick jaunt to outer space. The firm explained that it wants to expand the potential of mobility in the third dimension before turning its attention to the fourth dimension, which we’re told defies the constraints of time and space, and ultimately head into space. 

Honda, which has made the HondaJet for years, will initially develop an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that won’t be as electric as its name suggests. Shown in the gallery above, it will be propelled by a hybrid powertrain built around a gas turbine, and it will have enough range to carry passengers from one city to the next. On paper, it sounds a lot like the flying taxis that several other carmakers are hoping to pelt into the sky at some point in the future. Like many of its rivals, Honda plans to create an ecosystem in which its aircraft can operate while connecting it to some of its land-bound products.

Profitably building and operating an eVTOL makes autonomous driving look easy; the technology isn’t ready, the regulations are murky, and the infrastructure is nearly non-existent beyond helipads and airports. And yet, Honda’s entry into this much-hyped segment is more credible than most. It operates a successful plane-building division that makes the HondaJet, which was recently updated with more range.

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PizzaHQ’s Founders Are Building a Robot-Powered Pizza Chain of the Future

by Michael Wolf

Darryl Dueltgen and Jason Udrija had a choice: Expand their successful New Jersey pizza restaurant brand called Pizza Love, or start a tech-powered pizza concept that could change the pizza industry.

They decided to start a revolution.

“We’ve put a lot of time into building a labor-reduced, tech-driven concept that we believe will revolutionize the pizza industry,” said Udrija, who cofounded PizzaHQ alongside partners Dueltgen and Matt Bassil.

According to Udrija, PizzaHQ will utilize robotics and other technology to create a more affordable pizza (“almost a 50% lower price point”) while using the same recipe and high-quality ingredients of the pies made at their dine-in restaurant. 

“Our POS will directly inject the customer order into the Picnic system,” said Udrija. “The Picnic conveyer feeds straight into our ovens and then gets cut and boxed before pick up for delivery.”

Once the pizza is boxed, it’s loaded into delivery vans and distributed to heated pickup lockers around Totowa, New Jersey, a borough about thirty minutes north of Newark. Customers will be able to track their delivery and will scan a QR code to pick up the pizza waiting for them in a locker. Third party delivery partners like UberEats will also be able to pick up orders from the pickup lockers and deliver to customers.

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Remote assessment of health by robots from anywhere in the world

by  University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Intelligent sensing and tele-presence robotic technology, enabling health practitioners to remotely assess a person’s physical and cognitive health from anywhere in the world, is being pioneered in research co-led at the University of Strathclyde.

The technology could aid cost-effective diagnosis, more regular monitoring and health assessments alongside assistance, especially for people living with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.

The system was demonstrated for the first time to the UK Government Minister, Iain Stewart during a visit to the construction site of the National Robotarium, hosted at Heriot-Watt University, which is co-leading the research with Strathclyde.

Dr. Mario Parra Rodriguez, a senior lecturer in Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences & Health, said: “The experience of inhabiting a distant robot through which I can remotely guide, assess, and support vulnerable adults affected by devastating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, grants me confidence that challenges we are currently experiencing to mitigate the impact of such diseases will soon be overcome through revolutionary technologies.”

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Airports of the future: Your first-hand look at robot mobile food ordering and gate delivery

By Harriet Baskas

As travelers return to airports, airports are expanding their offerings of amenities that help make the terminal experience safe and stress-free.

Topping the list of welcome and much-used new services are mobile food ordering programs that offer contactless ordering, payment, pick-up, or delivery.

With the roll-out of OrderSEA, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is the latest airport to offer mobile food ordering with the option of airport-wide gate delivery. Runners from At Your Gate pick up the food and make the deliveries, sometimes with the aid of Gita, a two-wheeled cargo-carrying robot created by Piaggio Fast Forward, a Boston-area startup that is a subsidiary of Piaggio, the manufacturer of Vespa scooters.

As it is at most other airports offering this service, OrderSEA is powered by Servy’s Grab Airport Marketplace technology in partnership with AtYourGate. Travelers can place orders via the airport’s FLYSEA app, through OrderSEA.org, or through the AtYourGate or Grab apps. Right now, menus from sixteen airport restaurants are available, with more on the way. Travelers use their phones to peruse the menus, make and pay for their orders, and then choose pick-up or delivery to a gate or another post-security spot in the terminal.

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Hyundai and Boston Dynamics Developed a Robot to Keep Factories Secured After Hours

by Tudor Serban

Since the lack of personnel is a hard truth for most employers worldwide, Hyundai found a way to reduce its security staff, especially during after hours. 8 photos

While most guards that are working the night shifts are taking a nap every now and then, a robot won’t do that. It also won’t drink, or eat, or watch games when on duty. Boston Dynamics already had a quadruped robot named Spot, which proved to be very creative thanks to its AI functions. 

Built with an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR, the robot can detect high-temperature areas and alert the fire department for potentially hazardous situations. In addition, its integrated 3D map allows it to roam around the factory and check for opened doors or detect uninvited guests. Of course, it won’t fire at them (yet), but at least it can spread the image thanks to its live stream images sent to a secured webpage. 

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These Are the Robots Taking Up Dallas’ Open Restaurant Jobs

Plano’s American Robotech provides area businesses, mostly restaurants, with robots like these. Courtesy of American Robotech

BY ALEX MACON 

Restaurants are increasingly turning to automated solutions to their staffing shortages. Is the future of labor a delivery robot on wheels?

If you want a picture of the future of work, maybe it’s this: a cat-like cartoon displayed on an iPad-like screen perched on a vertical aluminum or plastic frame on wheels, rolling right up to your table, forever. The robot also sings “Happy Birthday” at you. And, look there, it has your beer.

You can see it for yourself at several Dallas businesses, including the McKinney Avenue restaurant La Duni, whose owner told the Dallas Morning News that robots have saved him thousands of dollars a month in labor costs as well as the trouble of finding enough human servers to staff his restaurant in a tight market for low-wage workers.

The machines are built in China by Pudu Robotics. But they are programmed and delivered here by the Plano company American Robotech, which has either sold or rented about 30 of its robots to area businesses, mostly restaurants so far. They lease for about $500 a month and sell for anywhere between $10,000 to $17,000 a pop.

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Xpeng Unveils Prancing, Rideable Robot Unicorn, Smarter Than Autonomous Vehicles

by Otilia Drăgan

Forget autonomous vehicles, there’s something even cooler around the corner – a robotic pony that not only can be ridden just like a real one, but is even able to interact in a clever way. Xiaomi-backed Chinese carmaker Xpeng is the one who’s introducing it on the market, and it’s probably safe to say it will be a big hit. 6 photos

Robotic representations of animals aren’t new, with the most famous one probably being Spot, the yellow dog created by Boston Dynamics. Launched last year, the friendly-looking dog delighted fans around the world with his abilities, such as dancing or picking up stuff off the floor – that is, when it wasn’t busy detecting radiation or taking part in military exercises. 

But this new pony takes things further, by blurring the lines between a robot and an autonomous vehicle for kids. A creation of Xpeng Robotics, a new subsidiary of the Xpeng car manufacturing company, this adorable four-legged creature (with a barely-noticeable unicorn) is actually rideable. And, from what we can see in the launch video, its walk is remarkably similar to a pony gait. 

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Headless, Two-Legged Robot Digit Is Now Ready to Take Over Your Duties

by Cristina Mircea

It was “born” in 2019 when its creator, Agility Robotics, first introduced it as a highly-capable robot with legs and arms, suited for both indoor and outdoor use. Now Digit is available for purchase and ready to take over your tedious duties. 7 photos

Digit is a strange-looking humanoid. It is headless, but it has fully functional arms, legs, and a somewhat athletic body. As well it should since Agility Robotics aims to create a fleet of robots that can free humans of their tedious and exhausting tasks, so they can focus on the creativity and decision-making side of things.

The company claims it built Digit as a machine that can work in environments designed for humans. It is why it can climb stairs, navigate autonomously, and perform a variety of tasks with its strong arms.

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Inside NASA’s vision to control space stations with autonomous robots

Our future in space may see ISAAC control space stations, as well as space colonies on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

“What would happen if an astronaut were to lose a sock inside an air vent?” you may wonder. Well wonder no further, as an Astrobee robot named Bumble solved that very test aboard the International Space Station in April 2021.

Engineers provided the small, cube-shaped robotic attendant with a (fictional) warning of a buildup of carbon dioxide aboard the station. (Such an event in real life could quickly prove dangerous for humans aboard the orbiting outpost).

Bumble quickly traveled to an air recirculation vent, identifying the “blockage” — a picture of a sock, standing in for the real thing. The electronic aide-de-camp then called for human assistance in removing the blockage.

The second test for Bumble involved creating a high-resolution map of Bay 6 of the space station’s Japanese Exploration Module. While doing so, the fluttering cyborg encountered cables around which it had to navigate, while encountering “interruptions” in its communications with ground controllers.

Bumble performed its tasks successfully, along with a little help from humans back on Earth.

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