i know i’ll stay teasing how excited I am about July’s big robotics event, but it’s exactly because of panels like the one we announced earlier this week. Rodney Brooks and Clara Vu team up for a 2-on-1 fireside to discuss the changing face of human-robot interaction.
It is a big, broad and important topic, as robotics plays an increasingly important role in our lives. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better duo to discuss the topic with (that’s the fun of programming for an event).
Brooks is the co-founder and CTO of Robust.AI, a deep learning robotics software company. He also co-founded iRobot and cobot company Rethink Robotics, and served as director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) for ten years. Vu is co-founder and CTO of collaborative robotic safety company Veo and co-founder of Harvest Automation.
Both Brooks and Vu have been on stage at TC Sessions: Robotics in previous years, and I’m thrilled to have them in conversation this time around. Okay, that’s enough of me this week.
Kicking off this week with Qualcomm. Unsurprisingly, the company is taking another step into the robotics world this week, hoping to leverage its 5G technologies for autonomous robotic systems. The Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform is a development kit announced this week at the company’s 5G summit, and the Southern California chipmaker is throwing the net quite widely here, with a focus on drones, delivery robots, collaborative systems, and more.
Qualcomm’s Dev Singh says:
Building on the successful growth and traction of Qualcomm Technologies’ leading robotics solutions, our comprehensive roadmap of solutions will help bring enhanced AI and 5G technologies to support smarter, safer and more advanced innovations in robotics, drones and intelligent machines . We are fueling robotics innovations with 5G connectivity and premium edge AI that will change the way we think and deal with challenges and the ever-changing industry expectations in the digital economy.
Built on top of the Qualcomm Robotics Platform, RB6 joins the RB5 AMR Reference Design to kick-start the development of robotic hardware that leverages the company’s components. Given the recent explosive growth in automation, it’s clear why companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Intel are all pushing to get to the ground floor of development.
Some nice research from Hangzhou, China’s Zheijang University this week. The school shows the swarming of drones in a difficult-to-navigate forest environment. Controlled by a central computer, the 10 drones fly in formation and track human subjects, while avoiding crashing into trees.
Speaking of crashing into trees, we did our part at businesstraverse.com while testing DJI drones. The company has a new version of the Mini 3 Pro, which weighs 249 grams. That is exactly one gram of the FAA limit for which drone users must register their systems. It was fascinating to watch the company repeat the folding Mavic line in recent years.
These things are getting impressively powerful in their magnitude, and just as smartphone innovations have created components that have launched several other areas, it seems likely that the work being done in the consumer drone space will have a profound impact on the broader field of automation. , moving forward. Oh, and the new version of the Mini has even more safety features, in theory making it harder to accidentally hit trees.
This one flew completely under our radar a few weeks ago. Hyundai is once again committed to some of those wild Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) concepts by the launch of the New Horizons Studio (NHS). The Bozeman, Montana studio will focus on repeating some of those ideas thanks to a $20 million investment over the next five years.
Commenting on why the company chose Montana, John Suh, head of New Horizon, said: “Montana is quickly becoming a hub for high-tech companies and entrepreneurs with a growing talent pool of skilled workforces in engineering, research and natural sciences. Bozeman is a thriving and economical micropolitan city, nestled near dozens of off-road trails with over 150 miles of terrain and access to the mountains for UMV testing – it’s the perfect fit for our new R&D lab.”
As for the concepts the team is working on, Hyundai notes: “The first is an unmanned transforming intelligent ground excursion robot (similar to what was unveiled at CES in 2021) designed to carry different types of payloads while traveling over treacherous terrain. The second , inspired by Elevate, is a larger (two-person ATV size) vehicle with robotic legs that can withstand challenging driving situations and potentially save lives as a first responder in natural disasters.”
This week has been a little light on the actual funding news, but we have one addition, just below the thread: Eureka Robotics. The Singapore-based company caused a minor online sensation in 2018 with its Ikea furniture building robot. Turns out the technology was successful enough to earn it a $4.25 “Pre-Series A” for robots that can drill, inspect, assemble and perform other complex tasks.
The round, led by the University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners, will be used to leverage and accelerate development of the company’s flagship Eureka Controller. The company’s co-founder, Dr. Pham Quang Cuong tells Catherine: “Although the core technologies are mature and already in production, we want to make these technologies very easy to use by system integrators. It’s actually difficult to make advanced technologies easy to use for non-programmer engineers.”
For good measure, we close this week with an ABB demo with a car painting robot. Haje notes:
For this PR stunt, the company teamed up with eight-year-old Indian prodigy Advait Kolarkar and Dubai-based digital design collective Illusorr to create the world’s first robot-painted art car. The project shows off the company’s PixelPaint technology, which is basically an inkjet printer with 1,000 nozzles mounted on an industrial robot.
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