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Category Archives: Robotics

Robots and Artificial Intelligence | HowStuffWorks

Posted: April 30, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Artificial intelligence (AI) is arguably the most exciting field in robotics. It's certainly the most controversial: Everybody agrees that a robot can work in an assembly line, but there's no consensus on whether a robot can ever be intelligent.

Like the term "robot" itself, artificial intelligence is hard to define. Ultimate AI would be a recreation of the human thought process -- a man-made machine with our intellectual abilities. This would include the ability to learn just about anything, the ability to reason, the ability to use language and the ability to formulate original ideas. Roboticists are nowhere near achieving this level of artificial intelligence, but they have made a lot of progress with more limited AI. Today's AI machines can replicate some specific elements of intellectual ability.

Computers can already solve problems in limited realms. The basic idea of AI problem-solving is very simple, though its execution is complicated. First, the AI robot or computer gathers facts about a situation through sensors or human input. The computer compares this information to stored data and decides what the information signifies. The computer runs through various possible actions and predicts which action will be most successful based on the collected information. Of course, the computer can only solve problems it's programmed to solve -- it doesn't have any generalized analytical ability. Chess computers are one example of this sort of machine.

Some modern robots also have the ability to learn in a limited capacity. Learning robots recognize if a certain action (moving its legs in a certain way, for instance) achieved a desired result (navigating an obstacle). The robot stores this information and attempts the successful action the next time it encounters the same situation. Again, modern computers can only do this in very limited situations. They can't absorb any sort of information like a human can. Some robots can learn by mimicking human actions. In Japan, roboticists have taught a robot to dance by demonstrating the moves themselves.

Some robots can interact socially. Kismet, a robot at M.I.T's Artificial Intelligence Lab, recognizes human body language and voice inflection and responds appropriately. Kismet's creators are interested in how humans and babies interact, based only on tone of speech and visual cue. This low-level interaction could be the foundation of a human-like learning system.

Kismet and other humanoid robots at the M.I.T. AI Lab operate using an unconventional control structure. Instead of directing every action using a central computer, the robots control lower-level actions with lower-level computers. The program's director, Rodney Brooks, believes this is a more accurate model of human intelligence. We do most things automatically; we don't decide to do them at the highest level of consciousness.

The real challenge of AI is to understand how natural intelligence works. Developing AI isn't like building an artificial heart -- scientists don't have a simple, concrete model to work from. We do know that the brain contains billions and billions of neurons, and that we think and learn by establishing electrical connections between different neurons. But we don't know exactly how all of these connections add up to higher reasoning, or even low-level operations. The complex circuitry seems incomprehensible.

Because of this, AI research is largely theoretical. Scientists hypothesize on how and why we learn and think, and they experiment with their ideas using robots. Brooks and his team focus on humanoid robots because they feel that being able to experience the world like a human is essential to developing human-like intelligence. It also makes it easier for people to interact with the robots, which potentially makes it easier for the robot to learn.

Just as physical robotic design is a handy tool for understanding animal and human anatomy, AI research is useful for understanding how natural intelligence works. For some roboticists, this insight is the ultimate goal of designing robots. Others envision a world where we live side by side with intelligent machines and use a variety of lesser robots for manual labor, health care and communication. A number of robotics experts predict that robotic evolution will ultimately turn us into cyborgs -- humans integrated with machines. Conceivably, people in the future could load their minds into a sturdy robot and live for thousands of years!

In any case, robots will certainly play a larger role in our daily lives in the future. In the coming decades, robots will gradually move out of the industrial and scientific worlds and into daily life, in the same way that computers spread to the home in the 1980s.

The best way to understand robots is to look at specific designs. The links below will show you a variety of robot projects around the world.

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The 8 Best Robotics for Kids in 2020 – Lifewire

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STEM features - Robots are fun, but lets face it: A lot of the reasoning involved in splurging on a toy like this is for STEM learning. Different robots and robotics have varying levels of STEM; some have it as a primary focus, while for others its just a result of using the robot. If you specifically want your child to learn about coding or robotics, it may be better to pick a model that emphasizes these features.

Age level - The age of your child plays an important role in what kind of robot would best suit them. You may want to consider purchasing a robot that will grow with them if your child is young, offering basic features at the beginning with room to expand later. On the other hand, if your child is old enough to learn to code, a more advanced model might work better.

Personality - Its hard not to get attached to a robot, especially considering how cute some of them are. Some robots even have a personality that will develop based on interaction and use. If you think your child might enjoy having a robot companion to play with, choosing one with a personality might be a fun idea.

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The 8 Best Robotics for Kids in 2020 - Lifewire

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Telerobotics – Wikipedia

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Telerobotics is the area of robotics concerned with the control of semi-autonomous robots from a distance, chiefly using Wireless network (like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, the Deep Space Network, and similar) or tethered connections. It is a combination of two major subfields, teleoperation and telepresence.

Teleoperation indicates operation of a machine at a distance. It is similar in meaning to the phrase "remote control" but is usually encountered in research, academic and technical environments. It is most commonly associated with robotics and mobile robots but can be applied to a whole range of circumstances in which a device or machine is operated by a person from a distance.[1]

Teleoperation is the most standard term, used both in research and technical communities, for referring to operation at a distance. This is opposed to "telepresence", which refers to the subset of telerobotic systems configured with an immersive interface such that the operator feels present in the remote environment, projecting his or her presence through the remote robot. One of the first telepresence systems that enabled operators to feel present in a remote environment through all of the primary senses (sight, sound, and touch) was the Virtual Fixtures system developed at US Air Force Research Laboratories in the early 1990s. The system enabled operators to perform dexterous tasks (inserting pegs into holes) remotely such that the operator would feel as if he or she was inserting the pegs when in fact it was a robot remotely performing the task.[2][3][4]

A telemanipulator (or teleoperator) is a device that is controlled remotely by a human operator. In simple cases the controlling operator's command actions correspond directly to actions in the device controlled, as for example in a radio controlled model aircraft or a tethered deep submergence vehicle. Where communications delays make direct control impractical (such as a remote planetary rover), or it is desired to reduce operator workload (as in a remotely controlled spy or attack aircraft), the device will not be controlled directly, instead being commanded to follow a specified path. At increasing levels of sophistication the device may operate somewhat independently in matters such as obstacle avoidance, also commonly employed in planetary rovers.

Devices designed to allow the operator to control a robot at a distance are sometimes called telecheric robotics.

Two major components of telerobotics and telepresence are the visual and control applications. A remote camera provides a visual representation of the view from the robot. Placing the robotic camera in a perspective that allows intuitive control is a recent technique that although based in Science Fiction (Robert A. Heinlein's Waldo 1942) has not been fruitful as the speed, resolution and bandwidth have only recently been adequate to the task of being able to control the robot camera in a meaningful way. Using a head mounted display, the control of the camera can be facilitated by tracking the head as shown in the figure below.

This only works if the user feels comfortable with the latency of the system, the lag in the response to movements, the visual representation. Any issues such as, inadequate resolution, latency of the video image, lag in the mechanical and computer processing of the movement and response, and optical distortion due to camera lens and head mounted display lenses, can cause the user 'simulator sickness' that is exacerbated by the lack of vestibular stimulation with visual representation of motion.

Mismatch between the users motions such as registration errors, lag in movement response due to overfiltering, inadequate resolution for small movements, and slow speed can contribute to these problems.

The same technology can control the robot, but then the eyehand coordination issues become even more pervasive through the system, and user tension or frustration can make the system difficult to use.[citation needed]

The tendency to build robots has been to minimize the degrees of freedom because that reduces the control problems. Recent improvements in computers has shifted the emphasis to more degrees of freedom, allowing robotic devices that seem more intelligent and more human in their motions. This also allows more direct teleoperation as the user can control the robot with their own motions.[5]

A telerobotic interface can be as simple as a common MMK (monitor-mouse-keyboard) interface. While this is not immersive, it is inexpensive. Telerobotics driven by internet connections are often of this type. A valuable modification to MMK is a joystick, which provides a more intuitive navigation scheme for planar robot movement.

Dedicated telepresence setups utilize a head mounted display with either single or dual eye display, and an ergonomically matched interface with joystick and related button, slider, trigger controls.

Other interfaces merge fully immersive virtual reality interfaces and real-time video instead of computer-generated images.[6] Another example would be to use an omnidirectional treadmill with an immersive display system so that the robot is driven by the person walking or running. Additional modifications may include merged data displays such as Infrared thermal imaging, real-time threat assessment, or device schematics.[citation needed]

With the exception of the Apollo program, most space exploration has been conducted with telerobotic space probes. Most space-based astronomy, for example, has been conducted with telerobotic telescopes. The Russian Lunokhod-1 mission, for example, put a remotely driven rover on the moon, which was driven in real time (with a 2.5-second lightspeed time delay) by human operators on the ground. Robotic planetary exploration programs use spacecraft that are programmed by humans at ground stations, essentially achieving a long-time-delay form of telerobotic operation. Recent noteworthy examples include the Mars exploration rovers (MER) and the Curiosity rover. In the case of the MER mission, the spacecraft and the rover operated on stored programs, with the rover drivers on the ground programming each day's operation. The International Space Station (ISS) uses a two-armed telemanipulator called Dextre. More recently, a humanoid robot Robonaut[8] has been added to the space station for telerobotic experiments.

NASA has proposed use of highly capable telerobotic systems[9] for future planetary exploration using human exploration from orbit. In a concept for Mars Exploration proposed by Landis, a precursor mission to Mars could be done in which the human vehicle brings a crew to Mars, but remains in orbit rather than landing on the surface, while a highly capable remote robot is operated in real time on the surface.[10] Such a system would go beyond the simple long time delay robotics and move to a regime of virtual telepresence on the planet. One study of this concept, the Human Exploration using Real-time Robotic Operations (HERRO) concept, suggested that such a mission could be used to explore a wide variety of planetary destinations.[7]

The prevalence of high quality video conferencing using mobile devices, tablets and portable computers has enabled a drastic growth in telepresence robots to help give a better sense of remote physical presence for communication and collaboration in the office, home, school, etc. when one cannot be there in person. The robot avatar can move or look around at the command of the remote person.[11][12]

There have been two primary approaches that both utilize videoconferencing on a display 1) desktop telepresence robots - typically mount a phone or tablet on a motorized desktop stand to enable the remote person to look around a remote environment by panning and tilting the display or 2) drivable telepresence robots - typically contain a display (integrated or separate phone or tablet) mounted on a roaming base. Some examples of desktop telepresence robots include Kubi by Revolve Robotics, Galileo by Motrr, and Swivl. Some examples of roaming telepresence robots include Beam by Suitable Technologies, Double by Double Robotics, RP-Vita by iRobot and InTouch Health, Anybots, Vgo, TeleMe by Mantarobot, and Romo by Romotive. More modern roaming telepresence robots may include an ability to operate autonomously. The robots can map out the space and be able to avoid obstacles while driving themselves between rooms and their docking stations.[13]

Traditional videoconferencing systems and telepresence rooms generally offer Pan / Tilt / Zoom cameras with far end control. The ability for the remote user to turn the device's head and look around naturally during a meeting is often seen as the strongest feature of a telepresence robot. For this reason, the developers have emerged in the new category of desktop telepresence robots that concentrate on this strongest feature to create a much lower cost robot. The desktop telepresence robots, also called head and neck Robots[14] allow users to look around during a meeting and are small enough to be carried from location to location, eliminating the need for remote navigation.[15]

Some telepresence robots are highly helpful for some long-term illness children, who were unable to attend school regularly. Latest innovative technologies can bring people together, and it allows them to stay connected to each other, which significantly help them to overcome loneliness. [16]

Marine remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are widely used to work in water too deep or too dangerous for divers. They repair offshore oil platforms and attach cables to sunken ships to hoist them. They are usually attached by a tether to a control center on a surface ship. The wreck of the Titanic was explored by an ROV, as well as by a crew-operated vessel.

Additionally, a lot of telerobotic research is being done in the field of medical devices, and minimally invasive surgical systems. With a robotic surgery system, a surgeon can work inside the body through tiny holes just big enough for the manipulator, with no need to open up the chest cavity to allow hands inside.

NIST maintains a set of test standards used for Emergency Response[17] and law enforcement telerobotic systems.[18][19]

Remote manipulators are used to handle radioactive materials.

Telerobotics has been used in installation art pieces; Telegarden is an example of a project where a robot was operated by users through the Web.

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Robotics | After School Activities

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With a growing economy that has a higher demand for STEM fields, its important that the next generation learns how they can make a difference in their world. Thats why Engineering For Kids offers a variety of classes and workshops that kids of all ages can enjoy. Robotics camps and classes give students the opportunity to dive deep into the world of robotics and explore how computer programming and robot design can solve problems big and small!

Contact your local Engineering For Kids to learn more!

Not only do our robotics programs help to establish science, technology, engineering, and math concepts, they also work to build on students team-building skills as they work to complete fun challenges. These collaborative skills are essential for student success, no matter what subject they choose to pursue in the future.

Whether you have a son whos in preschool or a daughter thats going on six years old, Engineering For Kids offer robotics classes that children as young as pre-kindergartners can enjoy. Our junior robotics engineering classes use educational kits like LEGO WeDo Robots to create a perfect mixture of fun and imagination that can help expand your young childs creative mind. We introduce students to robot design and computer programming using basic machine principles to create robots capable of performing simple tasks.

Engineering For Kids is proud to offer a wide range of unique, educational, and stimulating robotics programs for young engineers ranging from 3rd grade to 8th grade. Putting the Engineering Design Process to work, students work in teams to plan, build, test, and modify their own robotic creations! We use LEGO EV3 or NXT, VEX IQ, and other educational kits that mirror programming language used by engineers and scientists to help creative minds put mathematical concepts to the test as they develop a better knowledge of robotics, computer programming, and teamwork.

To learn more about our robotics classes, dont hesitate to contact us!

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Robotics Engineer | Science & Engineering Career

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The robotics-engineering industry is a broad and changing field of study. To keep their knowledge and skills up to date, robotics engineers will need to read research and trade journals, attend professional seminars and conferences, and work with colleagues on cutting-edge research.

New robotics engineers often begin their careers as assistants or junior engineers at a robotics firm, under the supervision of an established colleague.

A bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field is required for most entry-level positions in robotics engineering. Because robotics technology draws on the expertise of many different engineering disciplines, engineers who specialize in robotics often have degrees in mechanical, manufacturing, electrical, electronic, or industrial engineering. Some colleges and universities now offer robotics engineering degrees. Robotics courses typically include training in hydraulics and pneumatics, CADD/CAM systems, numerically controlled systems, microprocessors, integrated systems, and logic. It usually takes four to five years to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering. Some colleges offer work-study programs in which students receive on-the-job training while still in school. Most universities that offer robotics courses have well-equipped labs with lasers and CADD/CAM equipment.

For some positions, and to advance in the field, you need a master's degree or PhD. A PhD is required to teach in this field as well as for most high-level research positions. A master's degree requires one to two years of additional schooling, while a PhD takes three to five additional years in school.

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Robotics is a rapidly growing field that has applications in diverse industries. A robotics engineer designs robots, maintains robots, develops new applications for robots, and conducts research to expand the potential for robots. Robots can be used in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, aerospace, mining, and medicine. Robots are used to perform tasks too dangerous or dirty for humans to perform. Robotics engineers use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems to perform their tasks. Robotics research engineers design robotic systems and research methods to manufacture them economically. Robotics engineers who work for robot manufacturers are sometimes called robotics test engineers or automation system engineers. These engineers apply the robotic system to a particular use on a manufacturing assembly line. They also create an integrated environment between people and machinery. Leaders in this field work on creating experimental mobile robots for space research (like the Mars rovers) and medical uses.

Robotics engineers must be familiar with logic, microprocessors, and computer programming so that they can design the right robot for each application. They must also prepare specifications for the robot's capabilities as they relate to the work environment. In addition, robotics engineers are responsible for developing cost proposals, efficiency studies, and quality-control reports.

Most robotics engineers are employed by private robot manufacturers or robot users. Some engineers work in military and space programs. Others work for colleges and universities or vocational and trade schools.

Most robotics engineers go to work in offices, manufacturing plants, or laboratories. Manufacturing plants maybe noisy, depending on the industry. They may also work on a factory floor where they monitor or solve on-site problems. Many robotics engineers work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job, requiring engineers to work longer hours.

Do you have a specific question about a career as a Robotics Engineer that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.

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Robots are taking over during COVID-19 (and there’s no going back) – ZDNet

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Timing is everything. Robots, it seems, are lucky that way.

The global pandemic has sidelined workers across an unthinkable swath of sectors during a particularly tight labor market. Automation solutions that were unthinkable a twenty years ago have blossomed thanks to the convergence of technologies like machine vision, machine learning & AI, open-source robotic operating systems, and mobile components and sensors. A global problem, meet futuristic solution.

Even in a turbulent market (and maybe especially in a turbulent employment environment), investors seem willing to back robots. The latest example: ForwardX Robotics, a Beijing-based robotics firm specializing in logistics, just announced a new round of Series B+ funding in the amount of $15 million, bringing the company's total funding to more than $40 million.

There are plenty of other examples. SoftBank-backed BrainCorp, which makes robotic scrubbers for, among other applications, healthcare just raised $36 million.

"We are seeing huge challenges for supply chain leaders across the logistics and manufacturing industries, from growing labor shortages and consumer expectations to a greater need for flexibility," explains Nicolas Chee, founder, and CEO of ForwardX Robotics. "Our AI-based automation solutions allow our customers to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape and boost their productivity and efficiency three-fold. With the fallout of COVID-19 already here, enterprises will be looking to futureproof their operations and we're going to be there with them as they make the transition."

Overall, the market for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) is forecasted to generate over $10bn by 2023 according to Interact Analysis, and that prediction relies on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic.

This certainly didn't happen overnight. The seeds of a robotic revolution have been sprouting for over a decade, going back to research lab Willow Garage and the groundbreaking robotics research that began coming out of DARPA contests in the early-2000s. Collaborative robots, still a small fraction of the overall automation industry, have become insanely good at performing repeatable tasks around humans. Mobile robots are whizzing down logistic warehouse aisles and taking inventory of products at Walmart.

All the while the party line in the industry has been that the robots aren't meant to replace workers but to make work easier for talented professionals. Marketing professionals get oodles of money to sell that premise, and it's a palatable sales pitch, certainly easy enough to swallow in a labor crunch during a strong economy when the creep of automation is tough to quantify in terms of human toll.

The pandemic may change that. Workers are furloughed in all sorts of industries, companies are closing shop or tightening belts, and that deferential tone toward the worker, whom automation was touted as helping, has been replaced by another pitch: Automation can stand in where human workers have to stay home. No one's saying it, but investors might as well be with their wallets.

"Most of the automation equipment in the industry is used to replace manual labor in repetitive and simple processes. However, in the future, we believe collaborative robots will increasingly participate in complex production processes," says Felix Yang, Accelerated Digitalization Lead, Greater China at SF DHL China, a ForwardX customer and the largest third-party logistics provider in the world.

That's about the long and short of it. Workers are an uncertain bet in a world where every human might have to stay home for a few months to avoid transmitting an infectious disease. Like it or not, robots are primed to take up the slack.

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Robotics Stocks Will Thrive in the Wake of COVID-19 – Motley Fool

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Shares of robotics manufacturers ABB (NYSE:ABB) and Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) both jumped Tuesday following so-so earnings reports during a trading session that was anything but decidedly bullish. Rockwell topped its sales and earnings estimates for the three-month stretch ending in March, but the bar was set low. Unlike ABB, Rockwell Automation managed to grow its top and bottom lines, yet each company cautioned investors that coronavirus-related shutdowns were already taking a financial toll on the quarter currently underway. The stocks rallied anyway.

That bullish interest may be rooted in an idea that's much bigger than last quarter or the present quarter, however.

While the sheer disruption caused by the coronavirus is making it difficult to "do" any sort of business, and the prospect of a recession is forcing some organizations to rethink spending plans, the COVID-19 contagion has exposed a weak link in the world's commerce engine -- people. If people can't or won't work, things don't get done. Robots, however, don't get sick.

Image source: Getty Images.

For its second fiscal quarter ending in March, U.S.-based Rockwell turned $1.68 billion worth of revenue into operating earnings of $2.43 per share. That was better than the $2.04 per share earned in the same quarter a year earlier when the company generated $1.66 billion worth of business. But, organic sales were flat, and Rockwell warned its shareholders that organic revenue looked as if it was going to slump between 6.5% and 9.5% this year.

Swiss automation company ABB fared worse in its first quarter of the year, with revenue of $6.21 billion sliding 9% lower compared to the year-earlier comparison of $6.85 billion. Operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) slipped 17% to $636 million, coinciding with a comparable decrease in profit margins.

The company didn't offer detailed full-year guidance, but CEO Bjorn Rosengren did comment, "In the second quarter, we expect ABB's operations to be significantly challenged by a sharp drop in demand due to lockdowns in many parts of the world."

So why the big advances for each? Most plausibly because investors know where the present global situation is leading.

GlobalData analyst Wafaa Hassan was the latest to chime in on the matter, commenting on Tuesday, "Robots have been replacing humans in certain jobs for some time, but the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the process."

Hassan was responding to reports that robotics company Brain Corp. had secured new funding that will primarily go to expanding the use of its robots to scrub floors for companies that have been under shutdown orders for weeks now. Other floors have gotten use, like stores operated by in Walmart and Kroger, both of which already use Brain's cleaning robots. Walmart is buying another 1,500 robots in response to the COVID-19 contagion and the expanded need for cleanliness.

It was Hassan's broader assessment that points to the changing underpinnings of the industry's forward progress. He adds, "The COVID-19 crisis will ultimately increase the use of robotics across all industries."

He's not alone in his expectation. While almost all companies will have to fight to work past the temporary financial roadblock put in place by the coronavirus, manufacturing sites, processing plants, and other industrial companies don't want to be trapped in the same situation again. International Data Corporation's (IDC's) Jordan Speer wrote for IndustryWeek late last month that more than 70% of the companies participating in IDC's 2020 Supply Chain Survey said robotics will be important, or very important, to their organization within the next three years.Market research company Fact.MR now believes the robotic process automation market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 33% through 2029 due to the adverse impact of COVID-19.

Rockwell Automation and ABB certainly aren't the only automation names that stand to benefit from the displacement of millions of workers. Fellow Fool Lee Samaha named 10 robotics stocks last year that may catch a nice tailwind as we move into the new normal of a post-coronavirus world.

Rockwell and ABB may be the easiest to own, however, due to their bigger size and more straightforward product lines. ABB makes total control systems for materials companies, auto manufacturers, paper companies, and food processors --just to name a few -- all hit hard by shutdowns. Rockwell makes servos, computerized motion-control systems, and the sensors that make them all work together properly, plus more.

Of the two, Rockwell Automation appears to be the lower-stress pick right now. Not only is it seemingly faring better than ABB in what's turned into a very uncertain environment, but there's also better visibility. While Rockwell knows revenue is apt to dip this year, at least it's been willing to suggest how much that's going to happen. And, analysts still expect a resumption of solid growth after this year.

Data source: Thomson Reuters/Refinitiv. Chart by author/

More than anything though, these are both names well suited to capitalize on a bigger theme -- robotics -- than a short-term cultural or societal tide. As an example, a biopharma company that comes up with a treatment for the coronavirus may do very well for a quarter or two, but there's no thrilling follow-up. The aforementioned IDC, conversely, believed earlier this year that the global robotics and drone market was poised to swell from $129 billion this year to $241 billion by 2023. The COVID-19 contagion likely dampened that expectation in the meantime, but Fact.MR's decade-long, double-digit growth expectation suggests the industry will push past what's only going to be a temporary headwind.

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Why robots aren’t delivering your groceries during the pandemic – CNN

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Watch it lift boxes in a warehouse."},{"title":"FedEx is testing a new delivery robot","duration":"00:56","sourceName":"CNN Business","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml","videoId":"business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190227115130-20190227-fedex-robot-2-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/","description":"FedEx is joining the autonomous delivery robot craze with its six-wheeled SameDay Bot.","descriptionText":"FedEx is joining the autonomous delivery robot craze with its six-wheeled SameDay Bot."},{"title":"This robot can (probably) beat you at Jenga","duration":"00:53","sourceName":"CNN Business","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business/index.xml","videoId":"business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190131085758-mit-jenga-robot-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/","description":"Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a robot that plays Jenga using technology they say could be used to assemble consumer products or separate recycling.","descriptionText":"Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a robot that plays Jenga using technology they say could be used to assemble consumer products or separate recycling."},{"title":"This robot named Stan can park your car at the airport","duration":"01:42","sourceName":"CNN Business","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/business","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business/index.xml","videoId":"business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190128163246-stan-valet-parking-robot-01-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/","description":"London's Gatwick Airport is testing out an electric, autonomous robot that parks customers' cars for them. 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Why robots aren't delivering your groceries during the pandemic - CNN

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TC Williams High School Robotics Team Connecting and Helping Others in Time of Covid – The Zebra

Posted: at 7:51 pm

ALEXANDRIA, VA Even in the midst of a pandemic, high school students across the country are finding ways to further their education and deal with the drastic changes. No where is this more evident than the students from Titan Robotics, the FRC Robotics team from T.C. Williams High School.

Marketing Lead Caroline Winakur says, Up until the moment competition was cancelled, our team was preparing and adapting, and while it was certainly sad that our season came to such an early and untimely end, the team handled it with grace and was still able to be proud of what we could accomplish in the time given.

Throughout the year, the student-run FIRST robotics team presents at many outreach events to share STEM with the community. Although they no longer attend these events in-person, they are continuing with their mission by creating a series of virtual outreach videos shared on their YouTube account and accessible through their website.

Winakur says, The team was formed by Mr. Solomon in 2014 and this season was our sixth season. When we were first starting out, the focus was almost entirely on building a robot and then competing. However, in the past few years, we have made the shift from being just a robotics team to also finding ways to give back to our community and be sustainable. While the team is, of course, still largely focused on the robot, our team has realized that it can be so much more than that.

Titan Robotics hosted or participated in 39 community outreach events in 2019 and 10 events in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down for the year. At these events, the team does things such as demonstrate robots and allow kids to control it, offer STEM activities for kids to do, and answer any questions people may have about their robot or our team.

We are an FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) team, but there are other types of teams within FIRST for different age groups. These include FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge, 6th-12th grade), FLL (FIRST LEGO League, ages 9-14), and FLL Jr. (FIRST LEGO League Jr., ages 6-10). Our team has helped start many of these teams throughout Alexandria, often based in schools or community centers in order to make these teams accessible to all children. Our grouping of Titan Robotics and the FTC, FLL, and FLL jr teams we start is called Titan Robotics Coalition, and currently includes 26 teams, although we plan to continue expanding, Winakur adds.

In 2019 the team made it to the World Championship, held in Detroit, by winning a special award, Engineering Inspiration, at District Champs. This award recognized the team for their significant impact through their outreach, highlighting their nontechnical achievements over the past two years.

While learning and demonstrating, the team also bonds over their experience, Winakur says. Our robotics team is truly a community, and the friendships that are formed extend even beyond the team. Since the team includes 9th-12th graders, older team members can act as mentors to younger members, helping them not only learn skills for the team (which can also be applied to many areas of life) but also guiding and advising them in other areas, such as which classes to sign up for in school or helping them with difficult homework. This team provides an opportunity for students to meet people they may not have otherwise and build long lasting friendships. During build season, when we are sometimes in the shop for 9+ hours per day, we often have team lunches and dinners where food is supplied to all members and we eat together in a circle talking, de-stressing, and building team culture.

What is most timely is their virtual outreach video series that they made to stay connected with the community despite being in quarantine. Students write, film, and produce their own videos at home, usually in teams of two. Although they are working remotely, we are still encouraging students to collaborate on their projects because we want to continue to promote teamwork and communication even while social distancing, says Winakur.

She adds, Our goal is to provide entertaining and educational STEM content. While most of our content is targeted towards elementary schoolers, we try to make sure that our videos are engaging for students of all ages and their parents. We want to engage students and their families, whether that means doing one of our crafts or beginning to learn how to code in their free time.

Team members create lessons based on their strengths; for example, two of our programmers made a video about coding basics, the electrical team made a video about how our electrical board functions, and one of our members made a fun Tiktok video. We want this to be a fun project both for the kids who watch our videos and for the kids who make them.We post twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) with bonus content on some Wednesdays and Sundays.

Despite the change in routine and a unique end to the school year, the team has adjusted. Our team has been working to adapt to change in positive ways by channeling time and resources to help our community through our outreach videos, using resources to help with COVID-19 efforts (some of our members have sewn masks or 3D printed headbands for face shields to donate to hospitals and community members), and continuing to learn (for example, through our design challenge).

Even with all that goes on, the T.C. Williams students remain focused on the important things. In order to keep learning new skills and teaching new members despite not being able to meet in person, our team decided to hold a design challenge.

We chose to focus on a skill that can be learned and practiced at home: computer aided design, or CAD for short. Each competition season, we begin by creating a CAD version of our robot early on in the design process in order to plan out our design and expand on our ideas. As such, this is a critical skill for all team members to have. Over the past few weeks, we had a mini competition within our team where anyone who was interested was assigned to a team and then worked together to create a CAD model of a robot. All of these robots were then judged to determine a winner, but the purpose of the challenge was to have fun and learn new things.

Watch their videos here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFikibzKA7Q&list=PLwYOGjxGOFGPVwwazCmtl_3I_Xeq33v8_

Visit their website for more information about their team and what they do athttps://frc5587.org

MORE: National Geographic Brought Famous Crittercam to T.C. Williams Before the COvid Shutdown

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COVID-19 Brings Increased Visibility to the Role of Robotics – Automation World

Posted: at 7:51 pm

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing is a mixed bag of activity. Though some industries have been hard hit by stay-at-home and social distancing directives, essential businesses like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and even the electronics needed to work from home are going like gangbusters. Meanwhile, some manufacturers have stepped up to retool their lines, ramping up production of the medical suppliesmasks, gloves, ventilators, hand sanitizers, and moreneeded to handle the coronavirus.

Through all of this, as manufacturers figure out how to keep their workers socially distanced on the factory floor, robotics have come to the fore, making continued production not only possible but safer and more efficient.

Im actually quite proud of the industry itself because I think the amount of innovation were seeing by leveraging technology such as to repurpose or retool lines really quickly to deal with demands and the requirements out therewhether its PPE [personal protective equipment], or testing kits, or whatever it might be. I think its phenomenal, said Jrgen von Hollen, president of collaborative robot (cobot) manufacturer Universal Robots. From that perspective, people are understanding how important technology and automation is to their industriesperhaps more than ever before.

While robotics companies were trying to figure out if they should be among those businesses considered essential during the pandemic, customers were insisting that they were, said Milton Guerry, president of Schunk, which makes robotic grippers. They wanted to know what Schunk and others were doing to be ready. That shows to me that robots, at least in our own sphere, we know what we can do to help, added Guerry, who also serves as president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). I think we have a real opportunity to bring robots to the forefront. We all see the restrictions. Automation and robots have a way to bridge this gapnot only in crisis time, but in good times.

A few key robotics CEOs got together (virtually) recently to talk specifically about how COVID-19 is impacting the robotics industry. In a webinar put on by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) and moderated by Robert Huschka, director of education strategies at A3, executives discussed not only what theyre seeing in their own companies but along the supply chain as well.

I think this is bringing a big awareness to how much robots and automation are in our manufacturing companies certainly around the company and around the world, said Mike Cicco, president and CEO of robot manufacturer Fanuc. Every time you go to a grocery store and you are hoping that toilet paper is on the shelves or that Clorox wipes are there or that theres foodyou should really stop to think about how robots and automation play a factor in helping those things get into those stores.

A lot of my calls and time in the first couple weeks has been talking to end users, ensuring that were going to be there to make sure those robots are still up and running, Cicco added. Robotics and automation are playing a critical role. It allows people to be separated, it reduces crowds on the manufacturing floor. And as manufacturers struggle to continue producing everything they need to produce, robotics and automation play a key role in making sure machines stay running, he added.

They also play a key role in disinfecting the workspaces. Theres been a lot of interest around disinfection capabilities of robots, according to Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics, which is focused on autonomous mobile robots. Whether its chemical disinfection or UV disinfection, we are probably fielding 10 or 20 leads a day on just how do we get people back to work in these facilities safely, she said, noting that they are looking to Fetch to provide a mechanism to autonomously disinfect their facilities. Its very unique to mobile [robots] right now. Theres a lot of demand there.

>>Read more about how COVID-19 provides use cases for mobile robotics.

Flexibility in robotics

Wise called attention to the benefits of some technology decisions Fetch has made early onparticularly its more digital approach to robotics and their cloud capabilities. In the face of social distancing demands, Fetch has been able to roll out robotics to its customers with a minimal amount of interaction.

Because were in the cloud, weve been able to continue to deploy systems without having people on site, Wise said. This is showing not only the value of automation but also the value of cloud paired with automation. Its definitely been extremely important for a lot of customers. Weve been able to help them very easily remotely reconfigure this system.

Fetch is somewhat of an outlier, Wise pointed out, because it has been so cloud-centric from the beginning, which has made it easier for the company to weather some of the transition. We immediately started enabling remote deployment. Weve been deploying robots over Skype, she said. We will probably continue with that. Its been going pretty well.

Universal Robots has been seeing similar trends, von Hollen said, including remote proof of concept and remote deployment of robots. Those will continue, he added.

Flexible automation has also been instrumental in helping customers retool their operationsin some cases to better distance staff members and in some cases to make a switch to the products that are needed to combat the coronavirus. Most systems deployed right now have definitely been reconfigured for different shifts and different applications, Wise said.

Wise expects a continuing trend toward flexible automation after the crisis rather than rigid repetitive automation.

Lasting impact on supply chain

Some of the changes that robotics manufacturers are seeing in their own operations and their customers operations might very well be here to stay. But with the landscape still changing rapidly, that can be hard to predict.

What I felt today is not what I felt yesterday or the week before. I think peoples feelings are changing really on a daily basis, Cicco said. I think were going to have to continually worry about global pandemics. I think this is going to end and were eventually going to get past it. But this is going to be one of those things that has a lasting impact on us and the way we do business and the way supply chain works.

Comparing the current situation to the recession in 2008-09which he noted had an effect but didnt change much in how business operatesCicco contends things will be different this time. That was just something that happened to our economy, he said of the past recession. This is going to have a lasting effect in terms of how we fundamentally behave. And itll be interesting to see what comes out of it and what changes.

Von Hollen nodded his head as Cicco spoke, following up with, For the first time, in our company, weve moved away from supply chain robustness or vitality to business continuity. Its much more for us about, for us, how do we ensure that we can get product to the customer.

The coronavirus pandemic has required Universal Robots to institute a two-hour meeting every day with all departments to make sure resources are optimized and work remains effective and efficient, von Hollen said. What we see here in this pandemic is having everybody sitting at the table because everybodys impacted in some way, shape or form, he added. Its not just one department or one process; its everything at once.

Though Guerry predicts that many of us are likely to change the way we work even after the pandemic is over, he is not sure how far that will go. Were all doing what it takes to get things done right now, he said. But I still really believe in collaboration. People need to be with people.

Both von Hollen and Cicco expect that their habits of spending 80-90% of their time traveling will likely not come back after the pandemic. That will change, von Hollen said, noting that the company will likely continue to leverage videoconferencing tools instead. Were trying to be more effective. We will rethink about how to get efficiency up.

Cicco, who commented that Fanuc went from a couple VPN connections to more than 1,000 overnight, added, I think the new normal is going to be an enhanced level of teamwork. Im really proud at how the level of communication has increased.

Companies will need to take a long look at their supply chains and where investments most make sense, Guerry said.

Preparing for post-pandemic

Eventually, manufacturers will have to find their new normal as restrictions are lifted. We think that coming out of the transition and into the new normal, theres going to be a significant uptick in demand, Wise commented. Some customers have time now, during decreased production activity, to lay out new technology projects. Were telling them to start focusing on that now so that they can get ready to go when the lockdown is done.

Wise suggests reaching out now to your supplier of choice. Theres going to be a long line of people to start automation projects, she said. Now is the time to get started because the line is getting longer. You dont want to have to wait six months because you joined the line late.

Guerry is concerned about the difficulty that industry already faced finding the employees it needs and what that means for the future. We were already starved for enough talent to make sure wed fulfill the potential of the industry, he said. We will operate differently. But we have to look at ways to keep our teams engaged and focused. We need to make sure they know there is a bright future of robotics and automation.

The new normal, von Hollen contends, is being flexible enough to deal with crises in general. We have to be out there not just as one company but as a group, supporting each other, supporting customers, he said. The flexibility and the speed of that is absolutely critical for any company out there.

Flexibility is key because of the ever-changing landscape, Cicco said. Were prepping now, preparing for what the new normals going to be, he added. Were in the midst of our getting-back-to-work plan. Were looking at what does that mean for bringing people back into our facility and the safety of our employees when they enter other peoples facilities.

>>More on COVID-19 developments:

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