Startup help: Making isolation wards robot ready – ETtech.com

Illustration: Rahul Awasthi A startup based in Kerala has developed a robot that can be used to serve food and medication to patients in isolation wards.

The development comes at a time when the country is battling an increasing number of cases of people infected by the Covid-19 virus, many of whom require isolation at hospitals to prevent the disease from spreading.

Asimov Robotics says its KARMIbot can help reduce both the burden on healthcare professionals as well as the risk of them being exposed to the virus.

The company, incidentally, shot to fame after Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor shared a video of its androids distributing sanitisers and masks, and promoting awareness among people about the pandemic.

The robot is expected to be cost-effective. Once the mould is completed and spares made available, the company will be able to manufacture one robot a day. It is in talks with the Ernakulam district health authorities for approval to roll out the robot at the earliest.

The robot also comes enabled with a video conferencing facility, which is expected to aid healthcare workers in keeping tabs on patients remotely. The patient will also be able to interact with attendants without coming in contact with them physically.

We have many startups that are working in disaster management and relief, said Saji Gopinath, head of Kerala Start Up Mission (KSUM).

These startups, like Asimov Robotics, have many products that can be pivoted into being used as solutions in times like thiswe felt that using robotics to help with caregiving and other non-essential medical procedures such as delivery of food or medication can considerably reduce the burden on healthcare workers, Gopinath added.

Kerala, which has been one of the worst affected due to the outbreak, on Monday reported 28 fresh cases, taking its total tally to 95, of which four people have been discharged. It is also in a state-wide lockdown till month end. This is a great time for technology to effectively and efficiently improve the situation, said Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO of the Maker Village, an electronics hardware incubator located in Kochi. We are promoting a number of initiatives that could be of assistance in these trying times.

Another Kerala-based startup is developing an electronic temperature scanner that will not require manual checks with a thermal scanning device. The walkthrough scanner will record the temperature and send out an alert if it is higher than normal, Nair said.

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Startup help: Making isolation wards robot ready - ETtech.com

Look inside the hospital in China where coronavirus patients were treated by robots – CNBC

The idea of humanoid robots taking jobs previously done by humans may feel dystopian, but in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, robots can free up human hospital medical staff and limit the possibility virus spread.

That's precisely why Beijing-based robotics company CloudMinds sent14 robots to Wuhan, China to help with patient care amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The robots, some of which are more humanoid than others, can clean and disinfect, deliver medicine to patients and measure patients' temperature. CloudMinds donated robots to several medical facilities in China, including the Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital, which was converted from the Hong Shan Sports Center.

For a time in March,"a previously human-run field hospital located inside Hong Shan Sports Center located in Wuhan was converted ... into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart [Internet of Things] devices," CloudMinds CEO and founder Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It, in a statement.

The robots cost between $17,000 and $72,000 each, a spokesperson for CloudMinds U.S., tells CNBC Make It.

Take a look.

In the video below, CloudMinds' infrared thermometry system checks peoples' temperature as they enter the Wuhan WuchangSmart Field Hospital. If a person entering the hospital showed fever symptoms, theAI platform would alert humanmedical staff.

All video and photos courtesy of CloudMinds

CloudMinds' humanoid service robot, Ginger, helped with hospital admissions, education services and, as can be seen in the video below, in providing a bit of levity. In addition to its administrative responsibilities, Ginger, "helped lift the spirits of bored quarantine patients by entertaining them with dancing," Bill Huang said.

The delivery robot below has an autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance system. It can be used to deliver food, drinks and medicine to patients without direct person-to-person contact.

The robots worked with an artificial intelligence information management platform.

Called HARIX (Human Augmented Robot Intelligence with eXtreme Reality), "this AI platform, synced with smart bracelets and rings worn by patients, was able to monitor patient vital signs (including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels), allowing doctors and nurses outside the facility to monitor all patient vital information remotely on one interface," Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It.

"Doctors and nurses were also equipped with these smart devices to monitor their own vitals to catch any potential early symptoms of infection," he says.

Operations in field hospitals like Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital have now been put on hold.

"These temporary field hospitals were used primarily to treat new incoming cases with light symptoms, with severe cases being transferred to hospitals," a CloudMinds spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. "As the containment efforts have improved, and the number of new cases has decreased, hospitals are now able to accommodate all new incoming cases."

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Look inside the hospital in China where coronavirus patients were treated by robots - CNBC

Why so many robotic startups fail, and what can be done about it – TechCrunch

At last weeks TC Sessions: Robotics+AI, I felt it was important to focus at least one panel on companies that are working to foster robotics startups. NVIDIAs VP of Engineering Claire Delaunay and Freedom Robotics co-founder and CEO Joshua Wilson joined me to offer unique perspectives.

Both companies help provide building blocks for founders. NVIDIA is using some of its tremendous resources to create platforms like Isaac, designed to help prototype robots. And Freedom, a fairly fresh startup in its own right, is designing AI offerings to ease the deployment of those manner of systems.

But the first step of helping robotic startups help themselves is identifying why so many fail. Citing a handful of high-profile examples like Rethink, Anki, Jibo and CyPhy Works, I put the question to the panelists: even with a lot of funding and plenty of smart people on board, why do so many robotic startups fail?

I think its just very hard to solve robotics problems today, which makes it still very expensive and very hard to get to even an MVP (minimum viable product) in the development cycle of the of the company, said Delaunay. Too many people focus still on robotics problem, not on the final problem, not on the on the business proposition.

There are lots of reasons why robotics startups fail, but Delaunay honed in on one of the principle issues right out of the gate: unlike many other tech startups, robotics companies arent focused on solving a problem. But thats often out of necessity. Imagine starting a car company but you first have to mine cobalt for the battery and pave the roads. Or, to use Delaunays analogy, building and manufacturing your own smartphone in order to launch an app.

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Why so many robotic startups fail, and what can be done about it - TechCrunch

Insights into the Global Food Robotics Market – Analysis, Trends and Forecasts (2020 to 2025) – ResearchAndMarkets.com – Business Wire

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Food Robotics - Market Analysis, Trends, and Forecasts" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.

Food Robotics market worldwide is projected to grow by US$1.8 Billion, driven by a compounded growth of 13%. Low (< 10 Kg), one of the segments analyzed and sized in this study, displays the potential to grow at over 14.2%. The shifting dynamics supporting this growth makes it critical for businesses in this space to keep abreast of the changing pulse of the market. Poised to reach over US$1.3 Billion by the year 2025, Low (< 10 Kg) will bring in healthy gains adding significant momentum to global growth.

Representing the developed world, the United States will maintain a 14% growth momentum. Within Europe, which continues to remain an important element in the world economy, Germany will add over US$70.3 Million to the region's size and clout in the next 5 to 6 years. Over US$86.1 Million worth of projected demand in the region will come from Rest of Europe markets. In Japan, Low (< 10 Kg) will reach a market size of US$107 Million by the close of the analysis period.

As the world's second largest economy and the new game changer in global markets, China exhibits the potential to grow at 12.8% over the next couple of years and add approximately US$316.2 Million in terms of addressable opportunity for the picking by aspiring businesses and their astute leaders. Presented in visually rich graphics are these and many more need-to-know quantitative data important in ensuring quality of strategy decisions, be it entry into new markets or allocation of resources within a portfolio.

Several macroeconomic factors and internal market forces will shape growth and development of demand patterns in emerging countries in Asia-Pacific. All research viewpoints presented are based on validated engagements from influencers in the market, whose opinions supersede all other research methodologies.

Competitors identified in this market include, among others,

Key Topics Covered:











For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/kapavu

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Insights into the Global Food Robotics Market - Analysis, Trends and Forecasts (2020 to 2025) - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire

Fiona Hodgson: Why plumbing industry is thriving in an age of robotics – HeraldScotland

Industries which innovate and adapt to changing circumstances have a fighting chance of survival in a fiercely competitive commercial environment. That is one of the fundamental reasons that the plumbing and heating sector is now more buoyant than it has been for many years.

From an employers perspective, business in Scotland is riding a wave, with new build housing, City Deals and private contracts all adding to a significantly increasing workload and a demand for new skills.

From an employees viewpoint, there has seldom been a better time to become involved in a vibrant and dynamic industry at the forefront of new technologies which are showcasing renewables and meeting the demand for clean energy in an age of climate change.

And, at a time when the advance of robotics is generating disturbing headlines for working people across the spectrum, the exponentially-increasing complexity of the skills required by plumbers and heating engineers, the need for dexterity, hand-eye coordination and flexibility, mean that their services will still be in demand long into the future.

The challenge for those with the interests of the industry at heart is maintaining a pipeline of these highly-technical skillsets, in order that their knowledge can be passed on in turn. And that means one thing: apprentices.

In this area, Scotland is still recovering from the 2008 recession, when the number of apprentices dropped from 1800 in training to 700, a collapse which had serious implications for the sustainability of the profession.

The numbers have since recovered with just under 900 apprentices currently in training but there is still a long way to go if we are to meet the demands of the sector. What is heartening is the quality of the young people coming through out of the eight plumbing apprentices competing in the WorldSkills UK competition in Birmingham recently (November 2019), five were from Scotland taking home gold and silver medals and two being eligible to compete in China in 2021.

It is vital that we maintain this level of quality and increase the number of apprentices coming through the system. However, to do this we must address one of the issues facing the sector which is how to improve the perception of employment within it, and to have it recognised for what it is challenging, rewarding, worthwhile and socially useful.

Of immediate help would be support from the Scottish Government for adult apprenticeships, which are denied the same levels of funding and are therefore less attractive to employers, who also pay adults higher pay rates.

Such career opportunities would be very attractive to the many people who are seeing their jobs disappear in sectors such as retail, and in other employment areas which are about to be ground under the wheels of the juggernaut of automation.

It is also important to emphasise that, apart from take home salaries which would be the envy of many graduates, the plumbing and heating industry can be a springboard for careers in management, sales, lecturing and entrepreneurship.

Of course, as well as maintaining the quality of intake, the sector has to ensure the capability of the existing offering.

Governmental announcements on climate change such as that of former Chancellor Phillip Hammond who said that gas boilers were to be phased out in new build homes by 2025 present opportunities but also challenges for the sector. Many firms have welcomed the opportunity and have enthusiastically moved on to ground and air source heat pumps.

Mixes of hydrogen and natural gas are being trialled for use in homes in conjunction with existing wet heating systems, again reducing our reliance on fast-diminishing carbon-based resources. However, we not only need to ensure that only qualified, skilled labour undertake this type of work but also that they are sufficient in numbers to do so.

Scotland has even more ambitious carbon reduction targets than the rest of the UK and, as well as phasing out combustion heat in new homes, there is a wealth of work to be done in retro-fitting existing stock with the latest energy-saving technology.

We are experiencing a sea change in attitude to energy use, with the wish to restrict carbon consumption moving quickly into the mainstream. Plumbers and heating engineers will be in the vanguard of this very necessary revolution.

Fiona Hodgson is chief executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation, the trade association for plumbing and heating businesses.

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Fiona Hodgson: Why plumbing industry is thriving in an age of robotics - HeraldScotland

A robotics researcher is sending drones where few have gone before – create digital

One case in which it has shone has been stope mapping, replacing old cavity monitoring systems a camera or lidar on a boom, inserted manually into a passage by a worker.

The onboard lidar and the SLAM simultaneous location and mapping algorithms allow a drone to operate inside a virtual safety sphere and avoid collisions while collecting 300,000 points per second through a constantly-spinning Velodyne puck lidar, creating a point cloud.

Data is logged onboard and processed afterwards at half the speed of the capture time.

Hovermap also has potential in search and rescue, asset inspection and other scenarios.

In the year since it started with $3.5 million in seed funding, Emesent has grown its team from seven ex-CSIRO members Hrabar and CTO Farid Kendoul are co-founders to 20 full-timers.

It has also established distribution channels, including in China, Japan, South Korea and the US, and is a key part of the only Australian team to qualify for the three-year DARPA Subterranean Challenge, which pushes teams to drive novel approaches and technologies to map, navigate, and search underground environments.

Its been a crash course in business, too, for Hrabar, who began his tertiary studies as a mechanical engineer at the University of Cape Town.

Towards the end of his bachelors degree, Hrabar developed an interest in connecting computers with machinery.

For my final project I ended up building an automated warehouse system out of Lego, but it was controlled from a computer. I was reading in barcodes from a scanner and controlling the warehouse, so it was scanning barcodes of products and then packing them on shelves and keeping track of inventory, he told create.

I think from early on I was interested in that connection. And then I actually was interested in doing animatronics.

Animatronics turned out to be puppetry, at the end of the day, and the lack of intelligence in the automatons meant he lost interest.

However, following a year as a consulting engineer in London, Hrabar did end up creating a quarter-scale, animatronic aardvark as part of his mechanical engineering masters.

Its movement was enabled by hobby servos and controlled by a Handy Board microcontroller. The animatron featured in a National Geographic wildlife film.

While completing his degree, Hrabar also took in two years of computer science studies to fulfil the prerequisites for beginning a PhD in robotics at the University of Southern California. His PhD work focused on stereo vision and optic flow for drone collision avoidance, working with petrol-powered, single-rotor drones.

Post-PhD, most of the drone work in the US at the time was in defence, said Hrabar. The required security clearance was not easy to achieve for a non-US citizen.

A 2004 research internship at CSIRO in Brisbane working with Peter Corke (now Director at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and then a lab director at CSIRO) led to a move to Australia to work as a research scientist.

He worked with a group making drones smarter, while another focused on SLAM.

The next logical step was to put the two together, so that we could do SLAM on the drone in real time to help it navigate and collect that data for offline processing after the flight, he recalled.

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A robotics researcher is sending drones where few have gone before - create digital

Taking a look at how the robotics field is growing at UTM – The Medium

One of the several areas the University of Toronto Mississauga is focusing on expanding is the innovative field of robotics. The Medium spoke to Julian Sequeira, a fourth-year computer science student at UTM and the events coordinator of the UTM Robotics Club, about robotics at UTM and the exciting projects the robotics club is currently working on.

The UTM Robotics Club was founded in September 2019 after Dr. Florian Shkurti, an assistant professor of mathematical and computational sciences at UTM, advised his CSC477: Introduction to Mobile Robotics students that it was the ideal time to start a robotics club since UTM was making a big investment into robotics. Sequeira and four other students thought it was a great idea so they worked together to initiate a robotics club at UTM.

As Sequeira details, UTM launched a couple of robotics classes last fall [and] hired three robotics professors. The professors bring with them expertise and innovation: Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs, a worldwide expert in continuum robotics; Dr. Florian Shkurti, who completed his Ph.D. in computer science and robotics from McGill University; and Dr. Animesh Garg, who previously completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University. There are [also] plans to offer more robotics courses next year, hire a couple more professors in robotics, and offer a robotics specialist for students. Sequiera furthermore recalls Shkurti mentioning that there will be a new building for robotics at UTM along with ten fully-featured robotic arms and facilities for robotics clubs and grad students.

The robotics club offers an opportunity for students to work with physical hardware since there are no relevant classes currently being offered. The club offer[s] workshops on Arduinos [and] 3D printers, and, essentially, offers an avenue for students to build things on a physical level. The club is also a great opportunity for first and second-year students who are interested in robotics but cannot enrol in the third and fourth-year classes just yet.

The club is working on a few different projects. The first one is a self-balancing pendulum[for which they are currently] printing parts and [plan to] later write code to make it self balancing. Another project is a a self-driving car project spearheaded by students who are taking an independent study class with Shkurti. The aim is to program the car so that it can drive around campus and pick up trash. Right now, the team is training a neural net on [the car], which, in laymans terms, [means] that [the team] drives it around the Deerfield building, taking pictures and controlling it with a joystick. If [the car] see a picture of a wall, the joystick input would be to turn left or right so it doesnt crash into a wall, [and] later, when it is driving autonomously, it will see the wall, and based on the training it has, it will go left or right to avoid that wall. The team will also be training a neural net on the car to teach it what items are garbage.

The third project UTMs robotics club is working on involves training a drone to recognize different gestures, and based on those gestures, do something. As of now, they have trained it to follow faces. For instance, if the drone sees and recognizes a team members face and the person turns twenty degrees to the right, the drone will also turn twenty degrees to the right.

The club holds weekly sessions where members can come in and work on projects. It helps if you have some computer science background, but if you do not, its completely fine. Everyone is welcome to join. The executives are always willing to mentor participants and to try finding something they can work on or get excited about. In the future, the team looks forward to grow[ing] alongside UTM investing in robotics.

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Taking a look at how the robotics field is growing at UTM - The Medium

Column | Outside the Surgical Suite: Robotic Solutions on the Battlefield and Beyond – MedTech Intelligence

When author Isaac Asimov introduced the world to the Three Laws of Robotics in his 1942 short story Runaround, little did he know that less than 45 years later the first non-laparoscopic robot, the Puma 560, would enter the surgical landscape. This would be followed several years later by the da Vinci robotic surgical system, now the standard robotic technique used by hospitals in the United States and many other countries when performing marginally invasive surgical procedures.

Or perhaps the visionary whose famous three laws were intended for human interactions with autonomous robots did indeed have prescient knowledge of the scientific breakthroughs that were to come. One can only wonder what Asimov would think of a surgical robotic solution that could be applied in war and disaster zonesand perhaps even one day in space.

While control, flexibility and precision are the hallmarks of the widely utilized da Vinci system, due to its bulk and need for fixed installation and a sterile, controlled temperature environment, it cannot be used in areas where it may be most neededbattlefields and natural disaster sites.

Presently, advancements are in process to bring surgical robotic application, guided by surgeons from remote locations, to battlefields and as close as the firing line. It is a methodology that has captured the attention, interest and positive reviews from the military and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Dr. Darrin Frye of the DOD imparts oversight support and assistance with the research and development of Defense Health competences that will facilitate military healthcare providers in their responsibility to protect and treat those on the battlefield and in the air space. According to Dr. Frye, the present challenges inherent with evacuating the injured to treatment sites makes the prospect of surgical robotics technology of great promise and appeal to expeditionary medical and theater hospital specialists.

The product now in development marries elements of technologies that bear CE certification with a native design for field operations.

Currently, in the absence of a more effective solution, patients in war zones and disasters are triaged and transported to treatment centers for surgery. As a result, they receive only the most minimal of care during the first most critical hours following injury.

Present day robotic surgical solutions, because of their size, weight and aforementioned fixed installation and sterile environment requirements, cannot be applied at a war or other disaster site. Moreover, surgical robotics now in use do not convert from laparoscopic to open surgery functions fluidly and surgeons are required to operate in extremely close proximity to the injured.

The remote methodology soon to head to market comprises onsite containers with surgical robots and actual emergency rooms guided remotely by off-site surgeonsa superior alternative to transporting a critically wounded patient miles to a treatment center. Changes in todays battlefields and air space have made it challenging to evacuate patients to different locations for treatment, making surgical robotics technology particularly promising to expeditionary medical and theater hospital environments.

This advanced methodology is comprised of a number of surgical units with each unit maintaining a base with one degree of freedom (DoF), an anthropomorphous robotic arm with seven DoFs; an end-effector, mounted at the arm wrist, carrying three actuators that drive the surgical tool and a three DoFs surgical tool. The first six DoFs of the arm have torque sensing. Each surgical tool is comprised of a distal component, a rod and an interface component.

The digital component serves as the actual surgical tool, with capabilities as grasper, scissors and dissector. With two rotational joints, the tool can angle its tip around two perpendicular axes and has the capability to open and close its jaws. That, in combination with movement scaling estimated to surpass the accuracy of standard surgical robots by 10 times. The learning curve to use the surgical robot is relatively easy as the tool provides heightened vision, superior navigation and quality dexterity. More than noteworthy is that fact that units are limited to less than 300 pounds for easy transport using normal military vehicles.

This proprietary work in progress is being developed with artificial intelligence, making the technology fully autonomous. Its anticipated multi-capabilities would be well suited to environments outside the surgical suite due to its sensitivity, flexibility, size and cost efficiencies.

Modular in design, this pioneering technology allows for easy and quick set-up and makes multi-quadrant procedures possible. Other salient features include its facility to perform both laparoscopic and open procedures with microsurgery precision and inclusion of sensors and software to simplify the coordination of surgical movements. Compact and light, this robotic solution can be moved from one operating site to another within minutes.

At a cost of 50% less per procedure than the standard da Vinci method, the remote technology is not only price effective, but can perform five to 10 times higher the number of procedures per tool and be used in any procedure.

The benefits of deploying life-saving artificial intelligence procedures to the battlefield, to regions hit by natural or man-made disaster and perhaps eventually to space is now beyond the imagine phase and entering the stringent certification process. What do you think would Isaac Asimov be impressed or merely say, I told you so.

Surgeons recently demonstrated that autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery outperforms standard clinical methods.

Identifying user needs and actually turning them into actionable inputs during the design process can be a challenge.

All of the issues that ECRI calls out on its list are preventable, so device manufacturers and healthcare providers should take serious note.

How can medtech manufacturers navigate the roadblocks?

Continued here:

Column | Outside the Surgical Suite: Robotic Solutions on the Battlefield and Beyond - MedTech Intelligence

Construction Workers Embrace the Robots That Do Their Jobs – WIRED

The International Union of Operating Engineers has plenty of big toys at its training center in Crosby, Texas, but one that began rolling across the 265-acre campus last week is an oddity. The modified Caterpillar 336 excavator can use onboard computers and sensors to perform by itself some of the work the center trains human operators to do, such as digging trenches for gas pipelines or wind turbine foundations.

The IUOEs new robotic excavator is the result of an unusual partnership with Built Robotics, a San Francisco startup that sells a box that can enable a backhoe or bulldozer to pilot itself for some tasks. It contains a high-powered computer, motion and angle sensors, and a laser scanner called a lidar commonly used in self-driving cars.

Although Builts product is designed to remove workers from the cab of construction equipment, IUOEs director of construction training, Chris Treml, says the union wants to train its members to work with the technology. Operating engineers are always on the cutting edge of technology, he says.

After construction workers describe an excavation using GPS coordinates, the vehicle can drive itself across a site to its starting point and go to work.

The IUOE was founded in 1896 and its logo features a steam gauge with the needle at 420 pounds per square inch, the operating pressure of some steam engines. Its training center teaches members to use remotely operated robotic equipment such as drones and mini-cranes, as well as fine-grade GPS equipment to guide construction vehicles to grade dirt at precise angles.

Treml says members now need to get familiar with autonomous construction equipment, because it too is set to become a standard part of the industry. The last thing I want to see is people losing their jobs, he says. But this is something thats out there and its going to be part of our industry, and so we want to be a part of it. Built plans to help IUOE expand its fleet of autonomous vehicles over the coming year.

While a vehicle is in autonomous mode, a single worker needs to stay on hand in case of problems.

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Construction Workers Embrace the Robots That Do Their Jobs - WIRED

Robots Are Helping to Eliminate Coronavirus Transmission – ETF Trends

By now, everyone is well aware of the preventative measures for avoiding the coronavirus pandemic, which could be as simple as normal hygienewashing hands for example. However, robots are taking coronavirus containment to another level, especially in areas where the likelihood of contracting the virus is highhospitals for example.

One Danish company, UVD Robots, is making machines that can help disinfect these high-risk areas.

Per an IEEE Spectrum report, these robots are able to disinfect patient rooms and operating theaters in hospitals. Theyre able to disinfect pretty much anything you point them ateach robot is amobile array ofpowerful short-wavelengthultraviolet-C(UVC) lightsthatemit enough energy to literally shred the DNA or RNA of any microorganismsthat have the misfortune of being exposed to them.

The initial volume is in the hundreds of robots; the first ones went to Wuhan where the situation is the most severe, UVD Robots CEOJuul Nielsen toldIEEE Spectrum.Were shipping every weektheyre going air freight into China because theyre so desperately needed. The goal is to supply the robots to over 2,000 hospitals and medical facilities in China.

^SPKR data by YCharts

The robots could be coming to a local hospital near you, and it would serve traders best to capitalize on this move to robotics with ETFs like theRobotics & AI Bull 3X ETF(NYSEArca: UBOT). Traders looking to capitalize on the move to robotics can use UBOT as a tool.

UBOT seeks daily investment results equal to 300 percent of the daily performance of the Indxx Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index, which is designed to provide exposure to exchange-listed companies in developed markets that are expected to benefit from the adoption and utilization of robotics and/or artificial intelligence.

The robotics space is certainly in a push-pull dichotomy of investors capitalizing on the latest in disruptive technology, while at the same time, getting push back from those threatened by the wider adoption of robots. The fears are warranted given that robotics technology has the capacity to supplant human jobs.

Key characteristics of UBOT:

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Robots Are Helping to Eliminate Coronavirus Transmission - ETF Trends

Numina Group, Waypoint Robotics to Launch Innovative Autonomous Batch Cart Order Fulfillment Solution – Supply and Demand Chain Executive

Numina Group and Waypoint Robotics have teamed up to create a powerful autonomous batch order automated order picking solution.

Numina Groups Real-time Distribution Software, RDS Batch Bot Voice Picking Application integrates with Waypoint Robotics Vector Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) to provide an innovative, highly efficient order picking solution. The RDS automation module uses pick by voice commands to direct operator zone movement and picking tasks while coordinating the Waypoint Vector AMR batch cart movement throughout the distribution center. Using the Kingpin technology, the AMRs efficiently pick up and move carts with heavy and/or large quantities of orders, allowing the operators to focus on the high value order picking duties. The Vector AMR Kingpin connects and drops carts quickly, resulting in higher hourly throughput per cart, and a more efficient pick, pack and ship operation.

The solution simultaneously coordinates both the Waypoint AMR and order picking to eliminate wasted operator walk time and fatigue caused by manually pushing carts with up to 600 pounds of products throughout the DC. RDS directs the Vector AMR with Kingpin pick and drop technology, so the pick carts automatically move to each shelf or rack location. At pick completion, RDS directs the AMR to transport the finished carts to packing workstations. Vector combined with the RDS Batch Bot solution provides higher order fulfillment efficiency, reducing labor costs by 40% or more compared to a manual cart picking process.

Numina Groups RDS Warehouse Execution and Control Software Suite now includes a new Batch Bot Module to optimize, manage and track (AMR) activities, says Numina Group chief executive officer Dan Hanrahan. The new software module extends the capabilities of our RDS Pick by Voice picking application so both the workers and the autonomous batch cart movements are coordinated throughout pick and pack. The Batch Bot module includes order release and prioritization, cartonization pick to carton, put to light order consolidation and labor and order tracking performance metrics reporting.

Waypoints Kingpin is the first of its kind dual-use module that enables Vector and MAV3K AMRs to automatically load and unload payloads as well as hitch and transport carts of all sizes, says Waypoint Robotics chief executive officer Jason Walker. Now you dont have to dedicate a robot for one task or another, with Kingpin you can do both. This combined with Numina Groups RDS order fulfillment automation suite creates a powerful but easy to use solution to improve worker productivity and safety by reducing the heavy lifting

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Numina Group, Waypoint Robotics to Launch Innovative Autonomous Batch Cart Order Fulfillment Solution - Supply and Demand Chain Executive

Diakont Receives Emerging Technology Award For Robotic Online Tank Floor Inspection Services – Robotics Tomorrow

Diakont was presented with the Emerging Technology Award for their online robotic tank floor inspection technology during this years Global Tank Storage Awards, hosted by Tank Storage Magazine at the StocExpo Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Diakont was presented with the Emerging Technology Award for their online robotic tank floor inspection technology during this year's Global Tank Storage Awards, hosted by Tank Storage Magazine at the StocExpo Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Tank Storage Magazine is the leading industry publication dedicated to the bulk liquid storage sector.

Legacy methods of petroleum tank floor inspections conducted via human entry expose personnel to toxic substance and confined space hazards. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 166 confined space fatalities in 2017, as well as 531 fatalities due to harmful substance or environmental exposure. Diakont's robotic inspection services eliminate this risk, since the robots enter the tank instead of the personnel. The Diakont inspection robots incorporate multiple sensor arrays, including high-resolution ultrasonic, for conducting the structural examination as well as navigating and mapping the tank space.

Edward Petit de Mange, Managing Director for Diakont, was excited to accept this award on Diakont's behalf. "We are humbled by this honor because it affirms industry trust in this paradigm shift in inspection methodology. This technology is a game-changer for petroleum facility operators; allowing for more frequent inspections of these critical assets, at lower cost, while reducing environmental impact and increasing personnel and public safety."

The Emerging Technology Award is presented to a cutting-edge technology that allows forward-thinking storage terminals to keep pace with a rapidly changing working environment. Winners of this year's Global Tank Storage Awards were selected by a panel of executives and professionals from the global tank storage industry. Diakont was one of 11 awardees recognized at the ceremony in Rotterdam. The award-winning teams include CLH, Sprague Operating Resources, Toptech Systems, and more.

About Diakont

Diakont is a global technology company with a technical center based in Carlsbad, California, USA. The company's mission is to provide high-tech solutions that enhance the safety and economy of the most demanding applications. Diakont currently has a global workforce of over 1,300 highly-skilled professionals whose work supports the pipeline, energy generation, and manufacturing industries.

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Diakont Receives Emerging Technology Award For Robotic Online Tank Floor Inspection Services - Robotics Tomorrow

Medical Robotics Market Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin, Industry Analysis & Forecast by 2026 – 3rd Watch News

In 2018, the market size of Medical Robotics Market is million US$ and it will reach million US$ in 2025, growing at a CAGR of from 2018; while in China, the market size is valued at xx million US$ and will increase to xx million US$ in 2025, with a CAGR of xx% during forecast period.

In this report, 2018 has been considered as the base year and 2018 to 2025 as the forecast period to estimate the market size for Medical Robotics .

This report studies the global market size of Medical Robotics , especially focuses on the key regions like United States, European Union, China, and other regions (Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia).

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This study presents the Medical Robotics Market production, revenue, market share and growth rate for each key company, and also covers the breakdown data (production, consumption, revenue and market share) by regions, type and applications. Medical Robotics history breakdown data from 2014 to 2018, and forecast to 2025.

For top companies in United States, European Union and China, this report investigates and analyzes the production, value, price, market share and growth rate for the top manufacturers, key data from 2014 to 2018.

In global Medical Robotics market, the following companies are covered:

The following manufacturers are covered:Intuitive surgicalAccuracy Inc.Stryker corporationHocoma AGMazor roboticsTitan MedicalHansen medical IncMedtech S.AKuka Roboter GmbHIrobot Corporation

Segment by RegionsNorth AmericaEuropeChinaJapan

Segment by TypeSurgical RoboticsRehabilitation RoboticsTelepresence RoboticsOther

Segment by ApplicationHospitalClinic

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The content of the study subjects, includes a total of 15 chapters:

Chapter 1, to describe Medical Robotics product scope, market overview, market opportunities, market driving force and market risks.

Chapter 2, to profile the top manufacturers of Medical Robotics , with price, sales, revenue and global market share of Medical Robotics in 2017 and 2018.

Chapter 3, the Medical Robotics competitive situation, sales, revenue and global market share of top manufacturers are analyzed emphatically by landscape contrast.

Chapter 4, the Medical Robotics breakdown data are shown at the regional level, to show the sales, revenue and growth by regions, from 2014 to 2018.

Chapter 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, to break the sales data at the country level, with sales, revenue and market share for key countries in the world, from 2014 to 2018.

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Chapter 10 and 11, to segment the sales by type and application, with sales market share and growth rate by type, application, from 2014 to 2018.

Chapter 12, Medical Robotics market forecast, by regions, type and application, with sales and revenue, from 2018 to 2024.

Chapter 13, 14 and 15, to describe Medical Robotics sales channel, distributors, customers, research findings and conclusion, appendix and data source.

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Medical Robotics Market Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin, Industry Analysis & Forecast by 2026 - 3rd Watch News

Robinson robotics team trying to develop Vulcan Vitals – Kingsport Times News

The cost? An estimated $2,500 to $4,000. The result? Improved health monitoring and ultimately better health for the homeless.

Called Vulcan Vitals after Team Vulcan and the vitals the machine would monitor, the team presented its idea at the Kids Business Expo Feb. 28 at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.

(Spoiler alert: This has nothing do do with Mr. Spocks vitals from the Star Trek television series.)

The team was part of a Feb. 8 FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League robotics competition in Cookeville, whereanother Robinson Middle group, Team Jiqiren, competed and earned the chance to move on to a national event. Even though Team Vulcan did not place or advance, members still want to pursue the idea of the Vulcan Vitals machine that for now is only a cardboard prototype.

Jiqiren is the Chinese world for robot, while Vulcan is the Roman god of technology.

Athrv Grewal, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Robinson, said Team Vulcan came up with an idea that could monitor the homeless health and help them get healthier. He said team members talked with the Salvation Army of Kingsport and Shades of Grace United Methodist Church, both which serve the homeless, and the United Way of Greater Kingsport.

We wanted to help homeless people get better access to healthcare, Grewal said.We decided we would make a vitals machine that would take blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse and temperature. It has a thumbprint scanner for privacy and to save to a database. It also prints a color-coded receipt in case the patient cant read. We would put that machine in a homeless shelter. We are trying to get donations. We are expecting a cost of $2,500 to $4,000 and we want to promote this idea.

Other team members include sixth-grader Elizabeth Crow, 11; sixth-grader Hannah Bastian, 12; seventh-grader Eric Shao, 13; and eighth-grader Isaac Call, 13. Although Grewal reached out to the Kingsport Times News about the project, he said the team collaborates and really doesnt have a president or captain.

We try our best to make decisions as a group, Grewal said.

Team coaches are seventh grade science teacher Shelby Morris; applied technology teacher and coach Jennifer Sturgill; and volunteer coach Elise Eagan, an engineer at Eastman Chemical Co. They also helped another Robinson team that is headed to a national competition for, among other things, its homeless phone app called Donor Dashthat matches donors with homeless people who need donations, among other things.

Team Vulcan finished first in a regional competition but did not place in the state competition, while TeamJiqiren finished second in the regional competition and third in the state round, meaning it will move on to a national competition in Arkansas May 14-17.

For more information about the Vulcan Vitals of Team Vulcan, email [emailprotected]orfollow@vulcanvitals on Twitter.

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Robinson robotics team trying to develop Vulcan Vitals - Kingsport Times News

All-girls Seaman Middle School Robotics Team headed to World Championship – WIBW

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Seaman Middle School's all-girls robotics team, Vextropolis, is the first team in the history of the district to qualify for the Vex World Championship. Vextropolis members include eighth graders Haley Mannell, Kate Eckert, Gloria Worthington and Meadow Cunningham. In April, the girls will be competing against 360 other middle school teams from all over the world in Louisville, Kentucky.

The team qualified through the design category, an award that is presented to a team demonstrating the most thorough and detailed design process during the creation of their robot. The biggest component of the design award is the engineering notebook, where students outline plans, log daily progress, and record information on attempts and prototypes. Judges are looking for thoughtful management of time, resources, and team roles. One of the unique things Vextropolis did that impressed the judges was to set weekly and monthly goals, and then to reflect and evaluate themselves on how they met those goals after each tournament, explained SMS Robotics Coach Rob Jackson.

These four girls are some of the hardest working students I have ever taught at the middle school, said Jackson. Starting the very first week of school, our returning members were already staying after school to start their design process. They came in for two to three hours a day, five days a week, for the entire school year. They are already at the door waiting for me to arrive in the mornings so they can have an extra 30 minutes to work. During the last month leading up to state, they came in on four or five of their days off for more build time. Their dedication is truly inspiring, and they are very deserving of this accomplishment.

The students will spend the next month preparing for the world competition. We definitely discovered some problems with our robot during the state tournament, and the students took detailed notes and have already started planning how they are going to change their robot in the next six weeks, said Jackson.

Seaman High School qualified a team for the US Robotics Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Both SMS and SHS robotics teams are currently working to find additional funding and sponsorships to increase the number of teams participating in the tournaments.

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All-girls Seaman Middle School Robotics Team headed to World Championship - WIBW

Uniontown robotics team programmed to succeed | Education – Uniontown Herald Standard

Three years ago, this young man knocked on my office door and said, Hey, Mrs. Wallace, I want to build a robot that we can use to compete. How do you turn him away and say no, were not going to do that.

Therein lies the origin of the Uniontown Area High School robotics team, a small but determined group of students who, over the course of two school years, have thrived on a curiosity of technology.

The young man is Uniontown senior Noah Trimmer, who with classmate Andrew Schoener, got the robotics program up and running with the assistance of district education technology coordinator Mary Wallace at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Ive done a lot of personal projects. I wanted to take them out of my garage and share them with my friends and have fun, said Trimmer.

While the high school offers as an elective an introduction to robotics course called Agile Robotics, which both Trimmer and Schoener took as underclassmen, the two students were more ambitious.

The class teaches the basics. We wanted to go beyond the basics, said Schoener. We wanted the freedom to build our own thing.

Seeking resources and direction, the new team affiliated with Fayette County 4-H, which operates a robotics club and provided Uniontown with materials for its first activities.

They went fundraising, securing grants from the Uniontown Area Education Association, Pitsco Education and Williams Inc.

And then they set to work on the main endeavor.

Like several other area schools that sponsor robotics teams, Uniontown entered the realm of competitive building. Unlike other schools, theyve opted to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge series of competitions operated by FIRST, an international youth robotics community that promotes team-based programs through competitive events.

The FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for teams of students to design, build and program a robot using a modular robotics platform powered by Android technology and to compete head-to-head in an alliance format against other teams in a FIRST-designed game.

Teams have to build a robot that will perform specific tasks, explained Schoener.

They received a kit of basic parts from FIRST and built a robot for a regional competition held at Upper St. Clair High School a year ago. While the result wasnt exceptional, the rookie team received the Judges Award for its perseverance despite a last-minute setback when much of the robots programming was accidentally deleted the night before the competition.

This year, the Raiders fared much better.

In a 26-team competition at Garrett College in nearby McHenry, Maryland, in January, the team was chosen by another competitor after the qualifying rounds to form an alliance that took them on a run to the finals, where they ultimately lost by mere points.

I think teams saw we had a really good robot but just had been really unlucky with pairings (with other teams in the qualifying rounds), said Trimmer, noting the many hours of work that has gone into programming the robot.

The team, which has consisted of up to 15 active members over the last two years, comprises a core that is rounded out by seniors Abigail Bellina and Luke Smearcheck.

Wallace commended the dedication of the four students Bellina, Schoener, Smearcheck and Trimmer who often spent upwards of four hours meeting on Monday nights during competition season to prepare their bot.

Academically theyre taking extremely hard courses. Theyre active in band, in clubs, playing sports theyre generally well rounded individuals, said Wallace.

Wallace said Jennifer Deichert, 4-H educator with Penn State Extension, was instrumental in the development of the high school robotics program. The school received a grant through Remake Learning to hold a camp in conjunction with 4-H last summer, during which the high schoolers taught basic robotics to students in grades 4-8.

There are many, many hours of dedication, and that knock on the door started us off.

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Uniontown robotics team programmed to succeed | Education - Uniontown Herald Standard

Knapp presents the perfect blend of robotics and AI – Modern Materials Handling

By Bridget McCrea, Editor March 9, 2020

At a press conference at Modex 2020, Knapp (Booth 5406) discussed its strong business growth over the last year, gave an overview of its latest products, and showed how a partnership with Covariant is helping it create AI-enabled robots for the fulfillment environment.

Knapps executives gave the audience an update on the OSR Shuttle Evo, of which the company has sold more than 15,000 units since introducing it two years ago. Launched last year, the Pick-It-Easy Evo offers a modular option that can be adapted to any facility.

Knapps PIE Robot is cloud integrated and features self-learning capabilities that build and enhance its SKU database. These features have not been available in the market until today, said Kevin Reader, director of business development and marketing, and have lifted real world success rates for fully automated order picking from 20% to 95% or more.

Modex 2020 is scheduled to be held March 9-12 at Georgias World Congress Center in Atlanta. The tradeshow will showcase the latest manufacturing, distribution and supply chain solutions in the materials handling and logistics industry. Moderns complete coverage of the show.

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Knapp presents the perfect blend of robotics and AI - Modern Materials Handling

Showing robots how to do your chores – The MIT Tech

Training interactive robots may one day be an easy job for everyone, even those without programming expertise. Roboticists are developing automated robots that can learn new tasks solely by observing humans. At home, you might someday show a domestic robot how to do routine chores. In the workplace, you could train robots like new employees, showing them how to perform many duties.

Making progress on that vision, MIT researchers have designed a system that lets these types of robots learn complicated tasks that would otherwise stymie them with too many confusing rules. One such task is setting a dinner table under certain conditions.

At its core, the researchers Planning with Uncertain Specifications (PUnS) system gives robots the humanlike planning ability to simultaneously weigh many ambiguous and potentially contradictory requirements to reach an end goal. In doing so, the system always chooses the most likely action to take, based on a belief about some probable specifications for the task it is supposed to perform.

In their work, the researchers compiled a dataset with information about how eight objects a mug, glass, spoon, fork, knife, dinner plate, small plate, and bowl could be placed on a table in various configurations. A robotic arm first observed randomly selected human demonstrations of setting the table with the objects. Then, the researchers tasked the arm with automatically setting a table in a specific configuration, in real-world experiments and in simulation, based on what it had seen.

To succeed, the robot had to weigh many possible placement orderings, even when items were purposely removed, stacked, or hidden. Normally, all of that would confuse robots too much. But the researchers robot made no mistakes over several real-world experiments, and only a handful of mistakes over tens of thousands of simulated test runs.

The vision is to put programming in the hands of domain experts, who can program robots through intuitive ways, rather than describing orders to an engineer to add to their code, says first author Ankit Shah, a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) and the Interactive Robotics Group, who emphasizes that their work is just one step in fulfilling that vision. That way, robots wont have to perform preprogrammed tasks anymore. Factory workers can teach a robot to do multiple complex assembly tasks. Domestic robots can learn how to stack cabinets, load the dishwasher, or set the table from people at home.

Joining Shah on the paper are AeroAstro and Interactive Robotics Group graduate student Shen Li and Interactive Robotics Group leader Julie Shah, an associate professor in AeroAstro and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Bots hedging bets

Robots are fine planners in tasks with clear specifications, which help describe the task the robot needs to fulfill, considering its actions, environment, and end goal. Learning to set a table by observing demonstrations, is full of uncertain specifications. Items must be placed in certain spots, depending on the menu and where guests are seated, and in certain orders, depending on an items immediate availability or social conventions. Present approaches to planning are not capable of dealing with such uncertain specifications.

A popular approach to planning is reinforcement learning, a trial-and-error machine-learning technique that rewards and penalizes them for actions as they work to complete a task. But for tasks with uncertain specifications, its difficult to define clear rewards and penalties. In short, robots never fully learn right from wrong.

The researchers system, called PUnS (for Planning with Uncertain Specifications), enables a robot to hold a belief over a range of possible specifications. The belief itself can then be used to dish out rewards and penalties. The robot is essentially hedging its bets in terms of whats intended in a task, and takes actions that satisfy its belief, instead of us giving it a clear specification, Ankit Shah says.

The system is built on linear temporal logic (LTL), an expressive language that enables robotic reasoning about current and future outcomes. The researchers defined templates in LTL that model various time-based conditions, such as what must happen now, must eventually happen, and must happen until something else occurs. The robots observations of 30 human demonstrations for setting the table yielded a probability distribution over 25 different LTL formulas. Each formula encoded a slightly different preference or specification for setting the table. That probability distribution becomes its belief.

Each formula encodes something different, but when the robot considers various combinations of all the templates, and tries to satisfy everything together, it ends up doing the right thing eventually, Ankit Shah says.

Following criteria

The researchers also developed several criteria that guide the robot toward satisfying the entire belief over those candidate formulas. One, for instance, satisfies the most likely formula, which discards everything else apart from the template with the highest probability. Others satisfy the largest number of unique formulas, without considering their overall probability, or they satisfy several formulas that represent highest total probability. Another simply minimizes error, so the system ignores formulas with high probability of failure.

Designers can choose any one of the four criteria to preset before training and testing. Each has its own tradeoff between flexibility and risk aversion. The choice of criteria depends entirely on the task. In safety critical situations, for instance, a designer may choose to limit possibility of failure. But where consequences of failure are not as severe, designers can choose to give robots greater flexibility to try different approaches.

With the criteria in place, the researchers developed an algorithm to convert the robots belief the probability distribution pointing to the desired formula into an equivalent reinforcement learning problem. This model will ping the robot with a reward or penalty for an action it takes, based on the specification its decided to follow.

In simulations asking the robot to set the table in different configurations, it only made six mistakes out of 20,000 tries. In real-world demonstrations, it showed behavior similar to how a human would perform the task. If an item wasnt initially visible, for instance, the robot would finish setting the rest of the table without the item. Then, when the fork was revealed, it would set the fork in the proper place. Thats where flexibility is very important, Ankit Shah says. Otherwise it would get stuck when it expects to place a fork and not finish the rest of table setup.

Next, the researchers hope to modify the system to help robots change their behavior based on verbal instructions, corrections, or a users assessment of the robots performance. Say a person demonstrates to a robot how to set a table at only one spot. The person may say, do the same thing for all other spots, or, place the knife before the fork here instead, Ankit Shah says. We want to develop methods for the system to naturally adapt to handle those verbal commands, without needing additional demonstrations.

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Showing robots how to do your chores - The MIT Tech

Isaac Asimov, the candy store kid who dreamed up robots – Salon

The year 2020 marks a milestone in the march of robots into popular culture: the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov coined the word 'robotics', invented the much-quoted Three Laws governing robot behavior, and passed on many myths and misconceptions that affect the way we feel about robots today.

A compulsive writer and homebodypossibly, an agoraphobicAsimov hated to travel: ironically, for a writer who specialized in fantastic tales often set on distant worlds, he hadn't been in an airplane since being flown home from Hawaii by the US Army after being released from service just before a test blast of the atomic bomb on the Bikini Atoll. (Asimov once grimly observed that this stroke of luck probably saved his life by preventing him from getting leukemia, one of the side effects that afflicted many servicemen who were close to the blast.)

By 1956, Asimov had completed most of the stories that cemented his reputation as the grand master of science fiction, and set the ground rules for a new field of study called "robotics," a word he made up. Researchers like Marvin Minsky of MIT and William Shockley of Bell Labs had been doing pioneering work into Artificial Intelligence and Robotics since the early 1950s, but they were not well-known outside of the scientific and business communities. Asimov, on the other hand, was famous, his books so commercially successful that he quit his job as a tenured chemistry professor at Boston College to write full-time. Asimov's 1950 short story collection, I, Robot, put forward a vision of the robot as humanity's friend and protector, at a time when many humans were wondering if their own species could be trusted not to self-destruct.

Born in January 1920, or possibly October 1919the exact date was uncertain because birth records weren't kept in the little Russian village where he came fromAsimov emigrated to Brooklyn in 1922 with his parents. Making a go of life in America turned out to be tougher than they expected, until his father scraped together enough money to buy a candy store. That decision would have a seismic impact on Isaac's future, and on robotics research and the narratives we tell ourselves about human-robot relationships to this day.

As a kid, Isaac worked long hours in the store where he became interested in two attractions that pulled in customers: a slot machine that frequently needed to be dismantled for repairs; and pulp fiction magazines featuring death rays and alien worlds. Soon after the first rocket launches in the mid-1920s, scientists announced that space travel was feasible, opening the door to exciting tales of adventure in outer space. Atomic energythe source of the death rayswas also coming into public consciousness as a potential "super weapon." But both atomic bombs and space travel were still very much in the realm of fiction; few people actually believed they'd see either breakthrough within their lifetimes.


The genre of the stories in the pulps wasn't new. Fantastical tales inspired by science and technology went back to the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1818, which speculated about the use of a revolutionary new energy source, electricity, to reanimate life. Jules Verne, H. P. Lovecraft, H. G. Welles, and Edgar Rice Burroughs all wrote novels touching on everything from time travel, to atomic-powered vehicles, to what we now call genetic engineering. But the actual term, "science fiction," wasn't coined by any of them: that distinction goes to Hugo Gernsbeck, editor of the technical journal, Modern Electrics, whose name would eventually be given to the HUGO, the annual award for the best science fiction writing.13

Gernsbeck's interest in the genre started with a field that was still fairly new in his time: electrical engineering. Even in 1911, the nature of electricity was not fully understood, and random electrocutions were not uncommon; electricians weren't just tradesmen, but daredevils, taking their lives in their hands every time they wired a house or lit up a city street.14 Gernsbeck, perhaps gripped by the same restless derring-do as his readers, wasn't satisfied with writing articles about induction coils. In 1911, he penned a short story set in the twenty-third century and serialized it over several issues of Modern Electrics, a decision that must have baffled some of the electricians who made up his subscribers. At first, Gernsbeck called his mash-up of science and fiction "scientifiction," mercifully changing that mouthful to "science fiction." He went on to publish a string of popular magazines, including Science Wonder Stories, Wonder Stories, Science, and Astounding. (Gernsbeck's rich imagination didn't stretch far enough to come up with more original titles.)

Asimov's father stocked Gernsbeck's magazines in the candy store because they sold like hotcakes, but he considered them out-and-out junk. Young Isaac was forbidden to waste time reading about things that didn't exist and never would, like space travel and atomic weapons.

Despite (or possibly because of) his father's objections, Isaac began secretly reading every pulp science fiction magazine that appeared in the store, handling each one so carefully that Asimov Senior never knew they had been opened. Isaac finally managed to convince his father that one of Gernsbeck's magazines, Science Wonder Stories, had educational valueafter all, the word "science" was in the title, wasn't it?15

Isaac sold his first short story when he was still an eighteen-year-old high school student, naively showing up at the offices of Amazing Stories to personally deliver it to the editor, John W. Campbell. Campbell rejected the story (eventually published by a rival Gernsbeck publication, Astounding) but encouraged Isaac to send him more. Over time, Campbell published a slew of stories that established Isaac, while still a university student, as a handsomely paid writer of science fiction.

When you read those early stories today, Asimov's weaknesses as a writer are painfully glaring. With almost no experience of the world outside of his school, the candy store, and his Brooklyn neighborhood and no exposure to contemporary writers of his time like Hemingway or FitzgeraldIsaac fell back on the flat, stereotypical characters and clichd plots of pulp fiction. Isaac did have one big thing going for him, though: a science education.

By the early 1940s, Asimov was a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University, as well as a member of the many science fiction fan clubs springing up all over Brooklyn whose members' obsession with the minutiae of fantastical worlds would be familiar to any ComicCon fan in a Klingon costume today. Asimov wrote stories that appealed to this newly emerging geeky readership, staying close enough to the boundaries of science to be plausible, while still instinctively understanding how to create wondrous fictional worlds.

The working relationship between Asimov and his editor, Campbell, turned into a highly profitable one for both publisher and author. But as Asimov improved his writing and tackled more complex themes, he ran into a roadblock: Campbell insisted that he would only publish human- centered stories. Aliens could appear as stock villains but humans always had to come out on top. Campbell didn't just believe that people were superior to aliens, but that some peoplewhite Anglo-Saxons were superior to everyone else. Still a relatively young writer and unwilling to walk away from his lucrative gig with Campbell, Asimov looked for ways to work around his editor's prejudices. The answer: write about robots. Asimov's mechanical beings were created by humans, in their own image; as sidekicks, helpers, proxies, and, eventually, replacements. Endowed with what Asimov dubbed "positronic brains," his imaginary robots were even more cleverly constructed than the slot machine in the candy store.

Never a hands-on guy himself, Asimov was nonetheless interested in how mechanisms worked. Whenever the store's one-armed bandit had to be serviced, Isaac would watch the repairman open the machine and expose its secrets. The slot machine helped him imagine the mechanical beings in his stories.

Although Asimov can be credited with kick-starting a generation's love affair with robots, he was far from their inventor. (Even I, Robot borrowed its title from a 1939 comic book of the same name written by a pair of brothers who called themselves Eando Binder, the name eventually bestowed on the beer-swilling, cigar-smoking robot star of the TV show, Futurama.) But in writing his very first robot story, Asimov was both jumping on a new obsession of the 1920s, and mining old, deep myths going back to ancient Jewish tales of the golem, which was a man made of mud and magically brought to life, as well as stories as diverse as Pygmalion, Pinocchio, and engineering wonders like the eighteenth century, chess-playing Mechanical Turk, and other automatons.

Robots have an ancient history and a surprisingly whimsical one. Automatons have been frog marching, spinet playing, and minuet dancing their way out of the human imagination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but it wasn't until the machine age of the early twentieth century that robots appeared as thinking, reasoning substitute humans. The word robotCzech for "mechanical worker"wasn't coined in a patent office or on a technical blueprint, but as the title of a fantastical play by Karel Capek, Rossum's Universal Robots, which was first performed in 1920, the reputed year of Isaac Asimov's birth. In adopting robots as his main characters, and the challenges and ethics of human life in a robotic world as one of his central themes, Asimov found his voice as a writer. His robots are more sympathetic and three-dimensional than his human characters. In exploring the dynamics of human-robot partnershipsas Asimov would do particularly well in detective/robot "buddy" stories, such as his 1954 novel Caves of Steel he invented a subgenre within the broader world of science fiction.

Asimov's humanoid robots were governed by the Three Laws of Robotics. More whimsical than scientific, they established ground rules for an imaginary world where humans and mechanical beings coexisted. Eventually, the Three Laws were quoted by researchers in two academic fields that were still unnamed in the 1940s: artificial intelligence and robotics.

First published by Astounding magazine in 1942 as part of Asimov's fourth robot story "Runaround", the Three Laws stated that:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

According to Asimov's biographer Michael Wilson in Isaac Asimov: A Life of the Grand Master of Science Fiction (New York, Carrol & Graff, 2005), "Asimov was flattered that he had established a set of pseudoscientific laws. Despite the fact that in the early 1940s the science of robotics was a purely fictional thing, he somehow knew that one day they would provide the foundation for a real set of laws."

The Three Laws would continue to appear not only in the world of robot-driven books and filmslike Aliens (1986), where the laws are synopsized by the synthetic human Bishop when trying to reassure the robot-phobic heroine Ellen Ripleybut by some real-world roboticists and AI researchers, who are now considering how to develop a moral code for machines that may one day have to make independent, life-or-death decisions.

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Isaac Asimov, the candy store kid who dreamed up robots - Salon

Battle of the bots: High schoolers put their robots to the test in Bethesda – WTOP

There was quite a crowd at Walt Whitman High School this weekend for a high-energy robotics competition putting the top high school robotics teams head-to-head with a new challenge this year.

There was quite a crowd at Walt Whitman High School this weekend for a high-energy robotics competition putting the top high school robotics teams head-to-head with a new challenge this year.

Hanging is a new thing that we didnt see last year, last year you had to climb up onto something so each year its kind of a different skill setthat you have to master, said Zoe White, 17, a junior at Walt Whitman High School.

This is the fourth year the school has hosted the FIRST Robotics Chesapeake District Regional competition. It runs Saturday and Sunday at the school.

The outline of the challenge is released in January, and teams have to build and program a robot to complete a series of tasks.

This year consisted of shooting playground balls into an elevated goal, then hanging and balancing from a seesaw.

There were 36 local Maryland, DC and Virginia teams that took to the arena for a chance to put their robots to the test.

Weve gotten really quick at being able to fix, locate and get rid of the issues that come up during matches, said Ezra Bird, 16, a junior at Walt Whitman High School.

He said robotics has taught him a lot more than science.

Robotics is really important to me and its really important in general because it gives you a lot of teamwork skills which is really important in STEM, and in life, that you can work well together with other people, Ezra said.

Caroline Gee, an 11th grader at Battlefield High School in Virginia, said she hopes to take the skills she learned to new heights.

My goal is to become an astronaut, Caroline said.

She wants to make history. Her goal?

Definitely a walk on Mars, she said.

Battlefields robotics coach and teacher Gail Drake said the real lesson comes when the students have to modify the robots programming after each round of the competition.

Theyll watch how the robots performing in the game and then theyll go back and do the analysis on what tweaks they want to make to their design, Drake said. So that becomes an extra challenge on the engineering side.

Farish Perlman, team president for Whitman Robotics, said its fun to see all the teams working together for a common goal.

My hope for today is that teams just really compete at their best level, their highest level and have the best time today that they can have, Perlman said.

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