Category Archives: Robotics

Misty Robotics Launches First Misty II Application for Concierge Use



Misty Robotics, the creators of the Misty II platform robot announced the launch of the Misty as a Concierge application template, which provides developers with a robust starting point to build robot skills and quickly put Misty II to work.

The Misty II application templates are open source code for developers to build upon and customize for a specific assignment or task. The Misty as a Concierge application template has utility in environments such as entertainment and sports venues, hotels, eldercare, retail, commercial real estate, museums, and more.

The Misty as a Concierge application template leverages her ability to detect humans in her presence, greet them, and interact with them to provide information and responses to their questions by integrating with third-party APIs such as FourSquare, etc. Developers can extend the utility of the concierge robot skill with other capabilities such as reservations, point of sale systems, call for assistance, directions, etc.

The application templates created by Misty will consist of the code that facilitates the skill, an implementation guide as well as a recorded workshop on how to use it. While initially seeded by Misty Robotics, templates will be supported and maintained by the community where developers are invited to extend the utility of the application and contribute their own code.

The Misty as a Concierge application template has practical use in a wide range of settings including:

  •  Hospitality – hotels (in room and lobby), luxury suites in entertainment venues
  • Eldercare – facilities (in room, lobby central gathering rooms), individual homes
  • Retail – front desk, non-staffed locations (e.g. printing desk, Floor Displays, e.g. a new car showroom), in-store display
  • Commercial Real Estate – front lobby, meeting rooms, visitor centers
  • Healthcare – Hospitals (in room and lobby), doctor’s offices
  • Education – school lobby, front offices
  • Museums – front lobby, specialized installations
  • Marketing – Events and activations

Visit Misty Robotics at the Venetian Tower, Hospitality, VEN 36-108 at CES 2020.


The Future of Robots Takes Center Stage with UBTECH at CES 2020



The future of robots will be on display with UBTECH at CES 2020. UBTECH will be showing its newest and most innovative robots, including the latest updates to Walker, the intelligent humanoid service robot that wowed audiences at last year’s CES, plus autonomous indoor monitoring robot AIMBOT, enterprise service robot Cruzr, and award-winning JIMU Robot kits for kids.

Walker, a finalist for the Best of 2019 award, will be back at CES 2020 with new capabilities and functionality improvements including faster motion performance, improved mobility interactions, and enhanced environmental perception. This year’s presentation will demonstrate Walker’s faster, human-like walking as well as yoga poses with dynamic stability showing its huge improvement in motion control.

Walker will also demonstrate new abilities such as the ability to push a cart, draw pictures, and write characters, showing improved static balance with full-body compliance control. Visual servoing now allows Walker to perform more complex grasping actions such as pouring liquid into a cup, using smart environmental perception to adjust the grasping posture of its palms in real time.

Demos of Walker will run throughout CES 2020. All show attendees are invited to see the robot’s newest capabilities on stage. Other robots on display in UBTECH’s Booth 26015 include:

AIMBOT, the autonomous monitoring robot built for intelligent inspection, efficient inventory management, safety and security of data centers, and power distribution rooms. UBTECH is demoing AIMBOT in a data center environment built for CES 2020, showing how AIMBOT can actively monitor indicator lights on server racks, detect readings on digital instruments, assist with inventory management through RFID technology, and more.

Cruzr, the customizable, cloud-based, intelligent humanoid service robot designed for Retail 4.0, exhibitions, hotels, healthcare, finance, and other enterprise service scenarios, Cruzr is where service meets intelligence, creating value for businesses to better attend to their customers’ needs, while allowing human teams to focus on more complex issues requiring human interaction. At CES 2020, UBTECH is demoing Cruzr’s U-SLAM navigation and obstacle avoidance, multi-modal interaction, facial recognition, humanoid design, and more.

JIMU Robot, the award-winning robotic building block system that actively prepares kids for a world in which robotics and STEM knowledge will be essential, while packaging this learning into fun, creative play. Ready to test at the booth will be the new Mythical Series: FireBot Kit, Competitive Series: ChampBot Kit and MeeBot 2.0 Kit, among others.

JIMU PRO Mars Expedition Kit, a preview of new and even more advanced robot building kits. This fun and inspiring robotic system allows children to create different types of multi-functional robots using modular parts that form an astronaut, a Mars rover vehicle, or a planetary base.

Each robot is designed to inspire children’s imagination about space exploration while giving them access to advanced, highly programable technologies such as a new Artificial Intelligence system, a camera with powerful image recognition ability and first-person view, precision steering module, high-resolution LED screen, and more. UBTECH will release JIMU PRO Mars Expedition Kit later in 2020.


Ambarella will Demonstrate New Robotics Platform at CES 2020



Ambarella, an AI vision silicon company, today announced that it will demonstrate its new robotics platform during CES 2020. Based on Ambarella’s CVflow architecture, it targets automated guided vehicles (AGV), consumer robots, industrial robots, and emerging industry 4.0 applications.

The robotics platform provides a unified software infrastructure for robotic perception across Ambarella’s CVflow SoC family including the CV2, CV22, CV25, and S6LM. It provides easy access and acceleration for the most common robotics functions including stereo processing, key points extraction, neural network processing, and Open Source Computer Vision Library (OpenCV) functions.

“With all eyes on the future of home and industrial robotics, we are thrilled to introduce and demonstrate this high performance robotics platform during CES to our manufacturing partners and customers,” said Jerome Gigot, senior director of marketing at Ambarella. “Combining the best of Ambarella’s advanced imaging capabilities with our high-performance CVflow architecture for computer vision, the new platform will help enable a new breed of smarter and more efficient consumer and industrial robots.”

The platform supports both the Linux operating system as well as the ThreadX RTOS for systems requiring functional safety, and it comes with a complete toolkit for image turning, neural network porting, and computer vision algorithm development. It also supports the Robotics Operating System (ROS) for easier development and visualization. A rich set of APIs makes it possible for applications developers to efficiently run higher-level algorithms including optical flow, visual odometry, and obstacle detection.

The new robotics platform and its related development kits are available today and can be paired with various mono and stereo configurations, as well as rolling shutter, global shutter, and IR sensor options.

Ambarella will demonstrate the new platform to select customers and partners during CES 2020.


DJI Introduces RoboMaster S1 Advanced Educational Robot



DJI, the global leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, takes a step into educational technology by launching the RoboMaster S1, the company’s first ground-based robot. The S1 was built to introduce users to the fun and possibilities of robotic technology, with powerful brushless motors, a chassis that can move in all directions, a high-precision gimbal, and interactive modes for programming, play, and competition.

S1 users can have fun while assembling designated and custom hardware, learning to maneuver the rover, programming with Python or Scratch and competing with friends in multiple modes.

The S1, short for “Step 1”, is a highly advanced rover designed to give new users an easy introduction to AI, engineering, and robotics. With simple controls, a dedicated RoboMaster app, easily navigable menus, and a wealth of tutorials, the S1 is approachable to newcomers while offering advanced features to users already experienced in AI, engineering, and robotics.

The S1 is equipped with 31 sensors to help map the world around it, including six on its intelligent body armor, which are used to detect hits. Atop the durable S1 frame is a first-person view (FPV) camera that sends a stabilized live feed from the S1 to the RoboMaster app.

It also features a specialized gimbal with an infrared and nontoxic gel bead Blaster, which automatically limits launching rate and angle to ensure safety. The S1 is modular with DJI parts and also includes six Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control ports so advanced users can take advantage of third-party hardware.

Using the FPV camera and machine vision technology, the S1 can identify different objects automatically, recognize and respond to sounds, and receive signals from other S1 units. The powerful central processing unit and industrial-grade CAN-bus cable enable it to process large amounts of data, maintaining a stable transmission signal even while performing multiple tasks.

Along with its brushless motor, the S1 has four Mecanum wheels, most commonly found on competitive robots, each with 12 rollers that allow omnidirectional movement and precision control while operating.

Starting June 12, the RoboMaster S1 will be available for purchase for the retail price of $499. A “PlayMore Kit”, which includes the dedicated gamepad, additional gel beads, one battery, and a gel bead container, will be available for purchase at a later date.


The Robots are Coming to Take Your Jobs



Brookings released a report titled: “Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How machines are affecting people and places”. It focuses on areas of potential occupational change that can affect people and communities in the United States.

According to Brookings, “The gravest disruptions from automation in the coming decades will affect men, young workers, and underrepresented groups.” The report states that men, young workers, and underrepresented groups appear likely to face significantly more acute challenges from automation in the next phase than do women, prime-age workers, and whites.

Why is this so? One reason is because male workers make up 70 percent of production occupations, and over 80 percent of transportation occupations, and over 90 percent of construction and installation occupations. All of those occupations have above-average projected automation exposure.

Women, however, make up 70 percent of the labor force in occupations that are relatively safe from automation. These jobs include health care, personal services, and education occupations.

This does not mean women will be unaffected by AI and automation. Brookings says women make up 70 percent of the country’s clerical and administrative workforce. Those workers will face significant change driven by the adoption of more sophisticated software and AI tools.

The report also states that automation exposure varies across age groups. Prime-age workers (people ages 25 to 54) have an average current-task automation potential of 40 percent in the next few decades. For young workers (people ages 16 to 24), that number is 49 percent. Older workers (people age 55 to 64) see potential current-task automation of 41 percent.

Nearly half of young workers (people under the age of 25) are employed in the six occupation groups where average automation potential of current tasks exceeds 50 percent. These jobs include low-wage food prep jobs, which are projected to see as much as 80 percent task change in coming decades.

The report states that Hispanic and black workers face average current-task automation potentials of 47 percent and 44 percent for their jobs, well above those likely for their white counterparts (40 percent) and Asian counterparts (39 percent).

Ideally, companies who hire a lot of workers will take this into consideration and make an effort to find ways to keep people employed. Unfortunately, according to The New York Times, “many of your bosses want machines to replace you as soon as possible”. In my opinion, the United States should seriously consider instituting Universal Basic Income to help people when the robots come to take their jobs.


Walmart’s Alphabot Robots will Collect Groceries



Walmart announced that they are set to launch a new pilot called Alphabot. It uses first-of-its-kind automation to help Walmart associates to fill online grocery orders faster than ever before. In other words, Walmart will use specially made robots to gather up groceries for orders that were placed online.

The Alphabot system was developed by Alert Innovation especially for Walmart. The Alphabot Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and Automated Each-Picking System (AEPS), in addition to a highly innovative picking workstation, creates the world’s “goods-to-picker” each-picking technology.

Individual Alphabots move through a specially designed warehouse with a bin. They go around and collect the items that are on a Walmart customer’s online shopping list. The Alphabots are under the control of a single Master Control System (MCS).

Each Alphabot will automatically bring items from storage to Walmart associates who will consolidate the items in the order. Human workers will handpick the fresh produce and meats that are part of an individual grocery order.

The Alphabot system is being installed at the Walmart Supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, as part of that store’s grand opening. Walmart plans to have Alphabot online and running by the end of the year.


Code Your Crab and Train Your Tortoise with BinaryBots at CES 2018



Self-assembly robots and smart toys are great for introducing and teaching children the basics of coding. It’s a hot area at the moment, especially with Nintendo Labo coming soon, but here we have British outfit BinaryBots and their animal-themed programmable robots. Todd and Chris play with the smart pets.

The team at BinaryBots have a range of robotic toys starting with straightforward cardboard-based models through to more complex creations using the Totem construction kits. There are crabs, spiders and tortoises, each will unique actions. The robots can be connected up to a BBC micro:bit computer for coding and programming. Children can code their robot and to see how it responds to light and other stimuli.

The cardboard-based robots are available now with the new Totem-based ones arriving in April. They’re priced at GB£40 / US$55 for the cardboard models and GB£60 / US$80 for the Totem, though you’ll need to buy your own micro:bit for the latter.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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