The landscape of manufacturing is constantly changing. In developed countries, the reliance on heavy manufacturing is declining and factories use fewer dirty, dull and dangerous processes. These roles are instead becoming automated, with robots working alongside humans to maximise efficiency.
Computer vision is one technology that has gained popularity in factories around the world. Using machine vision standardises quality control and removes human error. As a camera scans over a production line, its picks up faults or flaws in the products and marks them for removal. A team of engineers from Imperial College is even working on a ‘bionic eye’ with an artificial retina. The ‘eye’ learns on the job, and recognises and removes faulty products on the assembly line.
Kicking off in the German city of Leipzig, tomorrow marks the start of the 2016 RoboCup challenge, the world’s most prominent and diverse competition for intelligent robots. The world cup of robotics brings together a host of inter-disciplinary problems, from robotics and artificial intelligence, right the way through to electrical and mechanical engineering, as teams battle it out to take home the most prestigious prize in robotic football.
The ultimate vision of the RoboCup Federation is to see autonomous, humanoid robots successfully competing against their human counterparts in football matches by 2050. In the last few years however, additional disciplines have been added alongside the football matches, driving research into the use of intelligent robots in rescue missions, around the house, and in industrial production.
We find ourselves in a reality where robot ethics, or Roboethics, is becoming an ever-pressing matter. Robot designers are using artificial intelligence techniques to create robots capable of learning and adapting to dynamic environments, which can reliably respond to human-robot interaction’s highest expectations. Robots are beginning to surround us and will soon become ubiquitous, yet very little has been done to adapt our society and laws accordingly.
Imagine dishes from top Michelin-starred restaurants, cooked by a master chef in your own kitchen, whenever you want. Moley Robotics has created the world’s first fully-automated, intelligent cooking robot. It learns recipes, prepares and cooks them and even clears up after itself.
Moley Robotics was founded in 2014 by London-based computer scientist, robotics and healthcare innovator Dr. Mark Oleynik. The company’s aim is to produce technologies that address basic human needs and improve day-to-day quality of life. The Robotic Kitchen is its first product.
The UK’s leading prize for innovation in engineering was last night awarded to a team of engineers from Blatchford for the development of the world’s most advanced prosthetic limb.
The Basingstoke based company are world leaders in the field of rehabilitation, developing the first ever prosthetic limb to feature integrated robotic control of the knee and foot. The smart Linx Limb system constantly monitors the wearer’s movements, adapting automatically to the terrain, allowing the wearer to move with freedom and confidence.
On March 2011, a tsunami and earthquake struck the Fukushima Dai-ichi energy plant in Japan, causing a major disaster. Newspapers and television networks showed images of collapsed buildings, tunnels flooded with water and areas subjected to the radiation. As these scenarios place emergency services personnel at great risk using robots could help contain damage and minimize injury or death.
In the last five years, emergency services have deployed several robots in Fukushima to inspect the area and collect data. Some robot surveys were successful while others failed, underlining the pressing need to advance state-of-the-art robotic systems for disaster response.
Royal Caribbean cruise ships made headlines earlier this year as the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, pulled into port in Southampton. After 32 months in construction the ship was finally complete, measuring almost four football fields in length, and built from over half a million individual components.
In addition to the list of superlatives that accompany the record-breaking ship, Royal Caribbean’s floating city also plays home to the tallest slide at sea, spacious state rooms complete with virtual balconies showing real-time views of the ship’s destination, and a bar served entirely by robots.
Fabrics containing flexible electronics are appearing in many novel products, such as clothes with in-built screens and solar panels. More impressively, these fabrics can act as electronic skins that can sense their surroundings and could have applications in robotics and prosthetic medicine. Researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have now developed smart threads that detect the strength and location of pressures exerted on them1.