Makerarm’s robotic fabrication system combines the functions of more than a dozen manufacturing machines—3D printing, milling, laser engraving, soldering, vinyl cutting, circuit board assembly—and fits on a desktop.
Makerarm is taking preorders for the main tower and three basic tool heads on its website for $1,499. The tower with all 19 heads and add-ons costs $4,847.
Currently, when a customer orders groceries via Ocado’s website, large plastic crates are swiftly filled. The containers are packed by hand, but little legwork is required: 30 kilometers of conveyor belts at the Dordon warehouse carry empty boxes straight to people who work as pickers. They grab items from shelves that are replenished by robots, or from boxes brought out of storage via cranes and conveyors. Ocado’s algorithms monitor demand for products and use the information to map out an optimal storage scheme, so that popular items are always within easy reach.
Once an order is packed, it’s hauled off in a large truck and taken to a distribution center to be loaded into a van. Each van then embarks on a delivery route that can be carefully optimized according to factors such as customer time preferences, traffic, and even weather.
But Ocado wants to be faster. “Fractions of a second in our business count,” says Paul Clarke, Ocado’s chief technology officer. “It's all about how we can shave the next little bit off our process.”
Wired on 3D printing, robotic kicker and more as adidas perfects the laceless soccer boot of the future in its Lab
“To this end, the Future Lab developed a material it calls Primeknit - a yarn that's digitally printed in a single unit. Traditionally, boots are made from pieces of leather that are stitched together; the new technique means that a boot fits an individual's foot while remaining rigid at specific points - like a hardened piece of leather - by means of fusing the yarn. "Boots used to consist of a base material over which further layers were packed; now we are working with only a single layer," Müller says.”
“Next to the climate chamber is a 22-metre-long stretch of artificial turf. At one end is what adidas describes as the best football player at the facility: a flywheel with an artificial foot at the end, known as Roboleg. Its shots travel at 160kph - 40kph more than the average speed of travel of a ball from a professional player. Not only is Roboleg more powerful than a human, it can reproduce each of its shots exactly. Sixteen cameras in the ceiling of the lab record the trajectory of every ball, taking 3,000 pictures per second, analysing its flight using Hawk-Eye - the tracking technology used at Wimbledon for line calls and in the Premier League for goal-line decisions - which offers real-time data.”
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.