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August 27, 2013 > Robot Report

Robot Report

By Frank Tobe, Editor/Publisher

Summer blockbuster movies Pacific Rim, Elysium, World's End and Iron Man 3 all include phenomenal images of robots and a glimpse into our robotics future. Recently, the financial markets also took note of robotics.

"One enterprising company just filed regulatory papers detailing an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) which will target the growing global robotics industry. The ETF will track the performance of robotics-related firms from around the globe -- firms that derive a significant portion of revenues and profits from robotics products or services.

Some highlights of The Robot Report (

Two small drones approved by FAA for civilian use in the U.S.
July 27
Two small drones, Insitu's Scan Eagle X200 and AeroVironment's PUMA, have become the first federally certified unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for civilian use in the US. One will operate off the Alaska coast to survey ice floats and wildlife; the other will conduct commercial environmental monitoring in the Arctic Circle, assist emergency response teams in oil spill monitoring and conduct wildlife observations. Both drones have fixed wings, weigh less than 55 pounds each, and have wingspans of less than 10 feet.

Talking robot sent into space
Aug 4
Kirobo, a 13" humanoid robot, was launched on its way to the International Space Station. A mashup of the Japanese word for hope, "Kibo", and "robot", Kirobo is designed to be a companion and communicator for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who is expected to arrive at the space station later this year. Designers from Dentsu, the University of Tokyo and Toyota have worked together on the Kibo-Robo Project to enable the little robot to be able to work in a gravity-free environment and use facial and voice recognition and natural language processing to be able to speak and provide information upon request from Wakata. "I wish for this robot to function as a mediator between person and machine, or person and Internet and sometimes even between people," said robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi.

National Geographic uses AGVs and drones for photo story about lions
August 12
Once again National Geographic photographers have used innovative techniques to capture amazing images. Remember the polar bear cam in 2011 that got crushed by the curious bear as he examined and stepped on it? This time photo journalist Michael Nichols used camouflaged SuperDroid Robots' AGVs [Automated Ground Vehicle] and quiet drones to capture the lives of lions on the Serengeti. Did you know they are the only cat that is truly social?

CSAIL demos two robots assembling IKEA furniture
August 11
At last week's White House Google+ Hangout, Daniela Rus, the director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), demonstrated two robots working together to assembly a piece of IKEA furniture. "All of this is done autonomously without any human intervention," Rus explained. The bots work from the furniture product's CAD file and then have a library of actions necessary to build what is displayed in that file.

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