Robot News Roundup March 18th, 2013

18 Mar

Robots: Tomorrow’s technology is still tomorrow

Here’s an interesting and timely account from one robotics manufacturer, Willow Garage – hardly a name one would associate with robotics engineering. However, it’s been in business since 2006 and has so far produced about fifty robots, all of them large, slow moving and with limited capabilities. Most of them are now with academic or research institutions in USA, Japan and Europe.

Significantly, the programming for the PR1 and PR2 robots is contained in the company’s Robot Operating System, or ROS which is still “the most widely used open-source robotics software platform.” The core message to take away is that “a robot with human capabilities” is still very much in the future.

Japan’s Robot Renaissance (Fukushima’s Silver Lining)

It’s nice to know that robots have increasingly positive benefits for humanity. Read here how robots from iRobot in USA helped the recovery process at the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

The irony, though, is that Japan is a leader in industrial robots and humanoid exceptions like Asimo; nowhere in Japan was there a ready-made “practical and effective exploration and rescue” robotic machine. Looks like, though, that glaring lack will be changed – and probably quite swiftly.

Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?

Jobs are a pervasive issue these days and will stay that way for much of this century, in my opinion. In short, though, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ to that question, but a qualified yes. Read here what Andrew McAfee, MIT professor, has to say to support that claim.

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