Feb 242017
 

–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FIRST ®

Who: FIRST

® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and

Technology) will be joined by numerous public figures to launch the 2016

season of the FIRST®

Robotics Competition – FIRST STRONGHOLDSM –

with a worldwide Kickoff event originating from Manchester, N.H.

The 2016 season will include over 3,100 teams (75,000 high-school

students), grades 9-12, participating in 118 Regional and District

events.

At Kickoff, teams will be shown the FIRST STRONGHOLD game field

and challenge details for the first time, and will receive a Kit of

Parts made up of motors, batteries, control system components,

construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components

– with limited instructions.

Teams will have six weeks to design and build a robot to meet this

year’s engineering challenge.

Dignitaries and public figures will deliver remarks on video and in

person, including:

Dean Kamen, President, DEKA Research & Development and Founder, FIRST;

Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST Distinguished Advisor, and Co-Chair

of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board; Pappalardo Professor

Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of

Technology;

Donald E. Bossi, President, FIRST;

FIRST students & special guests

What: Accomplished inventor Dean

Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of

science and technology in young people. The FIRST Robotics

Competition is an annual competition that challenges high-school

students – working alongside professional Mentors – to construct a robot

and compete in the ultimate Sport for the Mind(TM) that measures the

effectiveness of each robot, the power of teamwork and collaboration,

and each team’s display of Gracious

Professionalism®. Through their

participation, students experience the excitement of science,

engineering, technology, and innovation; build well-rounded life

capabilities such as self-confidence, communication, and leadership; and

qualify for over $25 million in college scholarships.

When: Saturday, January 9, 2016

10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Local Remarks (LIVE Manchester,

N.H. only)

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Comcast NBCUniversal Broadcast

Where*: Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), 2500 North

River Road, Manchester, N.H. *OPEN TO ALL MEDIA: If you would

like to attend as media, please contact Haley Dunn at hdunn@firstinspires.org

or Brooke Blew at bblew@firstinspires.org.

2016 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff

Event Locations:

Photo Opp.: FIRST will unveil the details of the new 2016

robotics competition game after the speaker program. Students take

measurements on the new game field and inspect the challenge in order to

develop strategies for robot construction, and to determine if they will

play offense, defense, or both.

Broadcast Link:

http://comca.st/frc2016

Media Notes:

High resolution photos of previous FIRST competitions are

available in the Photo Gallery: http://www.firstinspires.org/node/1961.

Photos available day of event after 2 p.m. Eastern Time by

contacting hdunn@firstinspires.org

or bblew@firstinspires.org.

Interviews with speakers at the Kickoff event in Manchester, N.H.

available by contacting: Haley Dunn at 603-494-5688 or Brooke Blew

at 585-315-9045 on the day of the event.

About FIRST®

Accomplished

inventor Dean

Kamen founded FIRST®

(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to

inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based

in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative

programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while

motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology,

and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies

and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit

organization hosts the FIRST®

Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST®

Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST®

LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST®

LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-3. Gracious

Professionalism® is a way of doing things that

encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and

respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST,

go to www.firstinspires.org.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160109005004/en/FIRST-Robotics-Competition-Global-Kickoff-Event

 Posted by at 4:11 pm
Feb 242017
 

A pair of Stanford University PhD students at the school’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab have developed what they call MicroTugs, or mini bots that use adhesive power similar to what’s found on the feet of geckos and ants to pull off incredible feats of strength.

One robot weighing less than a third of an ounce can carry a 2.2-pound weight vertically up a glass wall.

Another robot weighs less than half an ounce, but can drag 2,000 times its own weight on a flat surface.

“This is the equivalent of a human adult dragging a blue whale around on land,” the researchers note.

What’s even more amazing is that the tests are actually bound by the limits of the actuators in the robots, not the adhesive power of the feet. That, the research team said in the video description, should allow them to pull almost twice as much — or the equivalent of a human dragging two blue whales.

The tiny bots contain a battery, a winch, a processor, a motor, wheels and an adhesive layer on the belly. The adhesive layer contains small rubber spikes similar to the “setae” that cover the toes of geckos, NBC News reports.

As the video above explains, the adhesive layer doesn’t stick unless the bot is pulling a load with its winch. When it does, the wheels lift and the belly lowers to stick to the surface. Once an object has been pulled, the adhesive belly lifts and the wheels come back down, allowing the robot to move freely again.

Eventually, the technology could be used on larger robots to carry heavy items around a construction site or in emergencies, such as bringing a rope ladder to someone trapped in a tall burning building, according to New Scientist.

The MicroTugs will be the subject of a presentation at next month’s International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle. The authors have also published two papers on their developments, which can be found here and here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/27/gecko-power-robots_n_7157692.html

 Posted by at 9:12 am
Feb 242017
 

By Georgina Prodhan

| MUNICH, Germany

MUNICH, Germany Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.

Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

Some robots are even taking on a human form. Visitors to the world’s biggest travel show in March were greeted by a lifelike robot developed by Japan’s Toshiba (6502.T) and were helped by another made by France’s Aldebaran Robotics.

However, Germany’s VDMA, which represents companies such as automation giant Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and robot maker Kuka (KU2G.DE), says the proposals are too complicated and too early.

German robotics and automation turnover rose 7 percent to 12.2 billion euros ($13.8 billion) last year and the country is keen to keep its edge in the latest industrial technology. Kuka is the target of a takeover bid by China’s Midea (000333.SZ).

The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations”.

It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities.

Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA’s robotic and automation department, said: “That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons – that’s something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years.”

“We think it would be very bureaucratic and would stunt the development of robotics,” he told reporters at the Automatica robotics trade fair in Munich, while acknowledging that a legal framework for self-driving cars would be needed soon.

The report added that robotics and artificial intelligence may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems.

The draft motion, drawn up by the European parliament’s committee on legal affairs also said organizations should have to declare savings they made in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people, for tax purposes.

Schwarzkopf said there was no proven correlation between increasing robot density and unemployment, pointing out that the number of employees in the German automotive industry rose by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while industrial robot stock in the industry rose 17 percent in the same period.

The motion faces an uphill battle to win backing from the various political blocks in European Parliament. Even if it did get enough support to pass, it would be a non-binding resolution as the Parliament lacks the authority to propose legislation.

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Editing by Alexander Smith)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-robotics-lawmaking-idUSKCN0Z72AY

 Posted by at 1:10 am
Feb 232017
 

In the face of growing workplace automation, a number of commentators have painted a grim future for American workers. But most human capital leaders see a much brighter future– one where automation helps revitalize U.S. manufacturing and increases the demand for skilled workers.

According to global talent management firm Randstad Sourceright’s survey of over 400 corporate HR leaders, automation and robotics are likely to have a positive impact on U.S. business growth in 2017, and will be one of the driving forces behind new hiring trends over the next several years. 

Regardless of how you feel about robots, the move toward automation and artificial intelligence cannot be stopped.  About 15 percent of global HR leaders say that robotics completely transformed their businesses in 2016, and more than double (31%) expect automation to have an even greater influence in 2017.     

Rather than feeling threatened by this new technology, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the HR leaders we spoke with said they see artificial intelligence and robotics having a positive impact on their businesses over the next three to five years.  Across all the major industry sectors surveyed, respondents were optimistic about technology’s ability to reduce costs, improve quality and increase output.

It is easy to assume that these productivity gains are made at the expense of workers.  In reality, this technology actually has increased demand for flexible, mobile workers with skills and agility that machines are not even close to matching.  While 26 percent of those surveyed said their businesses increased the use of automation and robotics in 2016, over 34 percent said they hired extensively over the same period just to keep up with company growth.

In fact, the HR leaders we surveyed indicated that a scarcity of skilled workers was driving employment demands in certain areas–like marketing, sales and IT/technical–where robotics will likely never displace the advantage of human intelligence.  Indeed, well over one-third of respondents anticipate hiring more workers in these areas over the next year.

But workers with the right combination of skills and experience are hard to come by.  Many workers are structuring their work hours in ways that allow them to work many different jobs, across several geographical locations.  As a result, more companies are rethinking their talent management to account for more short-term, offsite workers.  Of the HR leaders we surveyed, more than two-thirds (66%) said they are considering moving toward a talent management model that would more easily integrate contingent workers.  They see the shift toward flexible talent as a sound strategy that can help companies access a larger pool of talent, such as parents with young children and retirees who may not want a traditional 9-to-5 job. 

For some commentators, the investment in automation and contingent employees signals an upheaval in the economy that will not benefit American workers.  But that perspective may be short-sited. In fact, automation and robotics can make U.S. manufacturing more cost-competitive, while increasing the number of high-paying, skilled jobs available for humans.  Instead of 50 foreign workers being paid rock bottom wages to complete a job by hand, the same job will be accomplished by one skilled U.S. worker running a robot and earning a middle-class salary.  This combination of increased automation and a more mobile, contingent workforce can reduce manufacturing costs and make it easier for companies to build their factories in the U.S.  The end result is a better educated, higher paid American workforce.

Change can be difficult. We are witnessing a major shift in the way business does business.  But most HR leaders see technology as providing workers with new opportunities (and also with new priorities). These recent changes in workforce management need not be seen as the catastrophe some suggest.  If Randstad Sourceright’s 2017 Talent Trends Report is any indication, robots are far more likely to benefit American workers than replace them.  

Rebecca Henderson is the CEO of Randstad Sourceright, one of the world’s leading human resources providers.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/02/11/automation-can-revitalize-u-s-workforce.html

 Posted by at 5:44 pm
Feb 232017
 

Automate 2017

Visit North America’s Broadest Automation Solutions Show

Automate 2017Whether you’re new to automation or are an experienced user, Automate has the solutions for you! Taking place April 3-6, 2017 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Automate offers the opportunity to connect with industry experts and over 300 exhibitors.

While at the show, be sure to attend the Automate Conference, featuring the 48th Annual International Symposium on Robotics. The Automate Conference offers everything from a basic understanding of automation to more advanced topics in courses taught by industry professionals.

To learn more about Automate and to register for the show and conference, visit the Automate website.

http://www.robotics.org/

 Posted by at 10:09 am
Feb 232017
 

The core experience of the game is the Grand Campaign. In this game mode, spanning from 1946 to 2020, you start your enterprise from scratch and try to become one of the most renowned car companies in the world. Many roads can potentially lead to success: catering to the masses with small, affordable cars, being an exclusive supercar manufacturer, or focusing on big luxurious flagship cars for the few.

Conquer niches with targeted marketing, or diversify while keeping an eye on brand awareness, brand reputation and prestige to build a loyal following. Compete in ever-shifting regional and global dynamic markets that come with various regulations, featuring many different market segments and buyer demographics.

Set up and manage your factories, expand your production capabilities and improve your cars by investing into research and development to get an edge over your competition. High quality cars and good quality assurance might cost a fortune, but may pay for themselves in the long term. Like in real life, in Automation car design and marketing is full of compromises.

To build and maintain a core team of leading engineers helping you shine in different areas of expertise is just as much part of running a successful business as to properly manage your finances. Keep track of commodity and stock markets and invest your hard-earned cash.

Multiplayer Campaign mode will be available, allowing you to cooperate or compete with other players.

https://www.automationgame.com/

 Posted by at 2:38 am
Feb 222017
 

In the face of growing workplace automation, a number of commentators have painted a grim future for American workers. But most human capital leaders see a much brighter future– one where automation helps revitalize U.S. manufacturing and increases the demand for skilled workers.

According to global talent management firm Randstad Sourceright’s survey of over 400 corporate HR leaders, automation and robotics are likely to have a positive impact on U.S. business growth in 2017, and will be one of the driving forces behind new hiring trends over the next several years. 

Regardless of how you feel about robots, the move toward automation and artificial intelligence cannot be stopped.  About 15 percent of global HR leaders say that robotics completely transformed their businesses in 2016, and more than double (31%) expect automation to have an even greater influence in 2017.     

Rather than feeling threatened by this new technology, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the HR leaders we spoke with said they see artificial intelligence and robotics having a positive impact on their businesses over the next three to five years.  Across all the major industry sectors surveyed, respondents were optimistic about technology’s ability to reduce costs, improve quality and increase output.

It is easy to assume that these productivity gains are made at the expense of workers.  In reality, this technology actually has increased demand for flexible, mobile workers with skills and agility that machines are not even close to matching.  While 26 percent of those surveyed said their businesses increased the use of automation and robotics in 2016, over 34 percent said they hired extensively over the same period just to keep up with company growth.

In fact, the HR leaders we surveyed indicated that a scarcity of skilled workers was driving employment demands in certain areas–like marketing, sales and IT/technical–where robotics will likely never displace the advantage of human intelligence.  Indeed, well over one-third of respondents anticipate hiring more workers in these areas over the next year.

But workers with the right combination of skills and experience are hard to come by.  Many workers are structuring their work hours in ways that allow them to work many different jobs, across several geographical locations.  As a result, more companies are rethinking their talent management to account for more short-term, offsite workers.  Of the HR leaders we surveyed, more than two-thirds (66%) said they are considering moving toward a talent management model that would more easily integrate contingent workers.  They see the shift toward flexible talent as a sound strategy that can help companies access a larger pool of talent, such as parents with young children and retirees who may not want a traditional 9-to-5 job. 

For some commentators, the investment in automation and contingent employees signals an upheaval in the economy that will not benefit American workers.  But that perspective may be short-sited. In fact, automation and robotics can make U.S. manufacturing more cost-competitive, while increasing the number of high-paying, skilled jobs available for humans.  Instead of 50 foreign workers being paid rock bottom wages to complete a job by hand, the same job will be accomplished by one skilled U.S. worker running a robot and earning a middle-class salary.  This combination of increased automation and a more mobile, contingent workforce can reduce manufacturing costs and make it easier for companies to build their factories in the U.S.  The end result is a better educated, higher paid American workforce.

Change can be difficult. We are witnessing a major shift in the way business does business.  But most HR leaders see technology as providing workers with new opportunities (and also with new priorities). These recent changes in workforce management need not be seen as the catastrophe some suggest.  If Randstad Sourceright’s 2017 Talent Trends Report is any indication, robots are far more likely to benefit American workers than replace them.  

Rebecca Henderson is the CEO of Randstad Sourceright, one of the world’s leading human resources providers.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/02/11/automation-can-revitalize-u-s-workforce.html

 Posted by at 7:07 pm
Feb 222017
 

MUMBAI Automation and the new U.S. administration were the big unknowns at the Indian tech sector’s annual shindig this week, with machines threatening to take away thousands of jobs and concerns over possible visa rule changes in the key American market.

But senior executives from the $150 billion industry, which rose to prominence at the turn of the century by helping Western firms solve the “Y2K” bug, said companies with skilled English-speaking staff and low costs could not be written off yet.

The sector, led by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, is lobbying hard as the new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump considers putting in place visa restrictions.

The administration may also raise salaries paid to H1-B visa holders, a move that could significantly increase costs for IT companies that are already facing pressure on margins.

The longer-term challenge and opportunity for the sector was automation, executives said, as global corporations from plane-makers to consumer firms bet on the use of machines to further cut costs and boost efficiency.

That threatens lower-end software services and outsourcing jobs in a sector which employs more than 3.5 million people.

Summing up the mood at the three-day NASSCOM leadership event in Mumbai ending on Friday, Malcolm Frank, Chief Strategy Officer at Cognizant which has most of its operations in India, spoke of “fear and optimism.”

Even top IT executives were “fearing the machines”, he said.

Some Indian executives, including Infosys’ Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao, said that greater automation was expected to help engineers and developers shed repetitive jobs for more creative roles.

“Some part of the work we’ll be automating 100 percent, you don’t require people to do that kind of work,” Rao told Reuters. “But there are always newer things, where we will be able to re-purpose employees who are released from those areas.”

MOVING UP FOOD CHAIN

With rapidly changing technology, Indian IT firms are emphasising the need for retraining their workforce, in many cases setting up experience centres and learning zones on their sprawling campuses.

Some companies are partnering with universities to design and fund education programmes, while staff members spoke of employers laying on training and webinars to help develop skills in automation and cloud computing.

“The threat from automation killing jobs is more than Trump’s anticipated visa rule changes,” a general manager-level employee at a top Indian IT firm said.

NASSCOM chairman and Tech Mahindra CEO C.P. Gurnani said technology would create new roles where “man will manage machines,” even if a fourth of Indian IT jobs were to be replaced by machines over the next four years.

Hiring patterns may also change, with unconventional, high-value graduates likely to be more attractive, to the possible detriment of hiring from India’s engineering colleges.

Infosys, which traditionally recruited only engineering graduates, is considering hiring people educated in liberal arts to add creative skills to its workforce, COO Rao said.

In a first, NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies), the leading Indian IT lobby group, delayed its initial growth forecast for fiscal 2017/18, citing market uncertainty.

NASSCOM officials said it had deferred its predictions by three months to give it time to gauge policy announcements in the United States which could make immigration rules tougher.

The industry body aims to announce a firmer growth forecast after the quarter to March when IT companies report annual earnings and give guidance for the next fiscal year.

“A certain level of … uncertainty will continue over the medium-term,” said NASSCOM President R. Chandrashekhar. “And businesses therefore have to take essential decisions on new technology in the face of a certain degree of uncertainty.”

(Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Euan Rocha in Mumbai, Sayantani Ghosh and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

http://in.reuters.com/article/india-tech-idINKBN15X0HR

 Posted by at 11:38 am
Feb 222017
 

Between 2012 and 2050, the number of Americans age 65 or older is predicted to nearly double from 43.1 million to 83.7 million, according to a U.S. Census report published this month. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the country’s graying demographics, combined with greater accessibility to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, will lead to a rise in demand for care services for the elderly. Who will take care of all these Americans in their twilight years?

That’s the conclusion more and more engineers, entrepreneurs and governments are coming to on how to deal with aging populations. Universities and startups around the world have already built a few early examples our future mechanical caretakers. Here are six of the robots that may tend to us in old age.

Developed by researchers at Intel and Carnegie Mellon University, the “Home Exploring Robotic Butler” is exactly that — a prototype robot butler meant to help the elderly with cooking, cleaning and other household chores. (It achieves the full butler vibe with a bow tie.) Perhaps most impressively, the roboticists have taught HERB one crucial kitchen task: how to twist apart an Oreo.

Funded by the European Union, GiraffPlus is a program that puts remote-controlled bots in the homes of elderly patients so that friends and family can have virtual visits. The system, which also comes with sensors outfitted around the home that track where someone is and what they’re doing, is being tested with six elderly people in Europe, according to the tech blog Motherboard.

Developed by the German company Fraunhofer IPA, the Care-O-bot is designed to help those who can’t move around their homes live independently. The bot can fetch and carry items to its owner after being beckoned though a smartphone app. Like GiraffPlus, it also offers video conferencing and can also call the police in case of emergency.

Cody is a robotic nurse designed to give baths to the elderly — a task that may actually be better for non-humans anyway. The team at the Georgia Institute of Technology pitch their robot, which is programmed to apply gentle pressure while washing a patient, as a solution both to the embarrassment of receiving bathing help from another human as well as to the anticipated increase in demand for nursing services for the elderly.

Studies have shown that animal companionship is therapeutic for the sick, but what is to be done in care facilities where pets may compromise cleanliness? Enter Paro, the adorable robotic seal that’s one of Japan’s most popular robots.

In several trials, including ones with nursing home residents in Denmark and with dementia patients in Japan, Paro has provided companionship, lowered stress levels and raised the social-bonding hormone oxytocin, just like a dog would. Paro went on sale in the U.S. in 2009, five years after being introduced in Europe and Asia.

Don’t worry, it’s not that HAL.

This “Hybrid Assistive Limb” is a robotic exoskeleton that could greatly improve the mobility of elderly or disabled people who wear it. It’s made by a Japanese company called Cyberdyne (which, coincidentally or not, is the name of the fictional, evil robotics company in the “Terminator” films). With all the sci-fi references, it may make more sense to see HAL in the movies than in real life. But in 2013, the Japanese government gave the cyborg makers the green light to begin selling HAL.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/28/robots-care-for-elderly_n_5331956.html

 Posted by at 4:11 am