Excellent article in MIT Technology Review about advanced manufacturing in Greenville, and how the workforce has to keep evolving
“It’s not just that people need certain technical skills to work in these new factories. They must also have softer skills, like the ability to solve problems and work in teams. Three years ago Solvay, a Belgian chemicals and materials manufacturer, decided to hire 100 new people for its plant in Greenville, which made carbon fibers in growing demand from customers in the aerospace industry. It made the ability to work collaboratively a key focus of the interviewing process. “We are looking for not just mechanical and industrial skills but also the ability to look beyond what’s right in front of you,” says Kelly Kosek, the human resources manager at Solvay. “You don’t just punch a clock on your job and check out.”
Video below of the man-machine mix at the BMW SUV plant in Greenville
“Travelmate is the first smart autonomous suitcase. It can move autonomously in both vertical and horizontal modes. Travelmate is smart enough to adjust to the speed that you’re going at and it can easily maneuver through obstacles like crowds and uneven terrain. It also has an inaudible engine that is nonetheless powerful enough to carry or nudge along an extra suitcase for you. And if you’re in a hurry, Travelmate can go up to 6.75 mph or 10.86 km/h.”
In the recycling industry, waste materials are typically crushed and torn into tiny pieces to make them easier to sort. The mixture is then dumped into a pool where wood and plastic float, and metal and rock sink.
Salvage robots like those made by Zen Robotics in Helsinki, Finland, are making this process obsolete. The robots can spot items of value – like pieces of hardwood or copper – and pick them out as they pass by. This is quicker and larger items may be worth more whole than in pieces.
In the last two years, Zen Robotics has installed its robots at 14 sites around the world. So far, they have collected 4200 tonnes of valuable material.
But the company wants its robots to do more. Giving them more dexterous hands and arms would let them dismantle items to get at parts inside them, for example. Apple has developed a phone recycling robot called Liam, which can pull apart a discarded phone in seconds, preparing the device for recycling. Zen Robotics wants a Liam for all kinds of waste.
The company’s lettuce robot — which scans a field using computer vision and douses just the weeds with deadly fertilizer — seems to be gaining traction in the market. Heraud says that 5 percent of the lettuce produced in the U.S. has been grown in California and Arizona using Blue River lettuce robots. “If you’ve eaten lettuce over the last few months, odds are the lettuce has been scanned by the lettucebot,” says Heraud.
The lettuce bot, which is in its fourth generation, can boost the yield of farms by 10% and can reduce operation costs by replacing human labor. Manually spraying and pulling weeds on a lettuce farms is a difficult job.
When it is time to begin waste collection, the driver of the refuse truck presses a button. This starts the robot, and the drone simultaneously lifts from the roof of the truck. Flying through alleyways, the drone quickly finds the location of the refuse bins and communicates their positions to the robot. This is followed by automatic waste collection and emptying by the robot. In the cab, the driver is able to monitor the exact location of the robot and the emptying process.
The ROAR project, Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, is a collaboration between the Volvo Group, Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University, Penn State University in the United States, and Renova.
Two Tucson-area men, along with a robotic device made in the Tucson area that specialize in water rescues, are working with Greek officials to try to reduce the number of drownings of fleeing refugees off the country’s coast.
The robotic devices — known as EMILY — are manufactured at Hydronalix, a company in Sahuarita. EMILY stands for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard.
One of my neighbors is on a team at the Super-Regionals in San Antonio, TX this week. While we marvel at the Atlas humanoid robot, it is even more impressive to see high school students with their limited budgets and time, push the boundaries of robotic imagination. The video below shows the sophistication of the competition – starting around 2:35.
The 2015-2016 game, FIRST® RES-QSM, is modeled after rescue situations faced by mountain explorers all over the globe. Played by two Alliances of two robots each, robots will score points by: “resetting” Rescue beacons; delivering Rescue Climbers to a shelter; parking on the mountain; and parking in the Rescue beacon repair zone or floor goal.
Robots may also score points by retrieving debris from the playing field and placing them in mountain or floor goals, and also by hanging from a pull-up bar during the last 30-seconds of a match.
While the Atlas robot may not boost the quarterly earnings of Google parent Alphabet for a while, it appears to be the next step for robotics, according to Max Wolff, chief economist at Manhattan Venture Partners.
"My guess is early on we're going to see defense use, law enforcement use, hazardous waste use and some surgical and medical equipment use," Wolff said on CNBC's Tech Bet.
The robo-advisers have quickly attracted a growing number of investors. They have also caught the attention of established financial players. Digitally driven investment providers were estimated to hold $53 billion at the end of 2015, according to the Aite Group.
With few exceptions, these services share the same widely established investing philosophies: Create a low-cost diversified portfolio for the long run; don’t ever — ever! — time the market; and focus on meeting goals, be it for retirement, a down payment or college.