Archive | mobile robots

Coolest Robots of 2010

RobotShop announced the results of their online poll for the Coolest Robots of 2010, and posted the Top Ten in a new blog post. A lot of familiar “faces” in there, such as the Willow Garage PR2 Robot (at #4). One of the standouts making recent news is the HRP-4 from Kawada.

This robot (coming in at #6 on the list) is a fascinating, super-slim humanoid robot in one configuration:

And a super-creepy Japanese fembot in another:

Listen up Japan: When you’re making a female robot, don’t have its name bear a striking resemblance to a sexually transmitted disease.
The “HRP robot” sounds way too close to the “Herpes robot”

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New Applications For Industrial Robots (virtual conference)

Back in May, I wrote about the first Robotics Virtual Conference held by online robotics media firm RoboticsTrends. The idea is simple – instead of travelling to attend a physical trade show, you can attend online via a web-based interface. The result is not so simple. Vendors struggle to figure out how to present information on their physical robot product in a virtual world, which results in just a mess of file downloads. I think I downloaded 40 or so files (pdfs, whitepapers, and videos) from the exhibitors, but only found the time and energy to go through a dozen or so. The “booths” are attended by one or more employees, almost like a chat room, so you can get some actual conversation in. So you’re talking one-on-one with someone (who’s probably talking to other people at the same time). At a real show, a lot of people tend to mill around and listen in on other conversations, either they don’t know what to ask or don’t want to intrude on a potential sale. So the experience is pretty different. For a first-time event though, I have to cut them some slack. There were very few technical issues, hopefully they’ll have them cleaned up.

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Why I Don’t Like Telepresence Robots – YET

Telepresence robots seem to be a hot topic in the news these days – there have been a lot of articles written about them lately! The tech blogs are all buzzing with their stories of driving robots around exotic (or mundane) office buildings and interacting with people, and it seems like nearly every day there’s news of another product in development. With all this excitement, I feel almost obligated to try and find some solid ground, and not get too swept up in the movement.

Don’t get me wrong – I think there is a tremendous future here, and I’m looking forward to spending some time behind the “wheel” of one of these soon. But I can’t help but think that there’s something…missing…in the current offerings.

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Adept acquires MobileRobots, an insider’s perspective

Adept Technology, a leading provider of industrial robotics and automation (and my employer), announced on Monday that they would be acquiring MobileRobots Inc, a provider of industry leading autonomous robot and automated guided vehicle (AGV) technologies. I’ve been at Adept for about 10 years, and have been involved in some pretty cool technologies over the years. . However, nothing quite compares to the excitement of this venture into mobile robotics.

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Ready for the Robotics Virtual Conference?

The Robotics Summit Virtual Conference Series starts soon, and I’m curious to see how it goes. The first event is Autonomy, Navigation, & Mobility Solutions on June 16.

I’ve worked as an exhibitor at dozens of industrial trade shows and conferences in the past, for the general industrial robotics market (Robot & Vision) to specific processes (Packaging, Assembly, Semiconductor, Solar, Medical Manufacturing, etc), so I know what it takes to prepare and staff a booth in the real world. But I’m not entirely sure what goes on for a virtual event.

Instead of talking face to face with someone about their technology, I’ll be “chatting live” with people from the company. This just conjures up memories of the online customer service from companies like Comcast.

Some of the presentations should be worthwhile – after all, it’s the same presentation whether I’m watching it in a room crammed with people or at my desk.

It’s the physicality of robots that I’m going to miss though. I’m in this industry because I like robots – I like making stuff move with just a program, I like the intricacy of the mechanical parts moving all together. The robotics world (industrial and mobile) was created by tinkerers and hands-on geeks, people who like to take things apart and make them better (or at least different). I don’t know if you can generate the same level of excitement about a gadget with a virtual conference.

Despite my reservations, I’ll be attending, and am looking forward to learning a bit. If you’re interested, check out the agenda, and register (it’s free so what have you got to lose). I’m curious to know what other people get out of it as well. I must say though, as an engineer at an industrial robotics company I’m a little more interested in the next conference, New Applications for Industrial Robotics on September 15. I’ll try to give a full report here of what I learn at the event, and how I think it goes.

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