Food Lovers Can Thank Robots

November 23, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

This Thanksgiving, people who love food may have a robot to thank. Maybe not one to prepare and cook the meal (and only a few prototypes have been designed to wash the dishes), but somewhere in your freezer or cupboard is probably an item that a robot handled.

Since the days of I Love Lucy (and before), companies that make food have been searching for faster, more efficient handling of their product. Interactive Design, Inc. (IDI) an RIA integrator member, tackled a job that would have foiled even Lucille Ball had she been tempted to make fun of handling frozen food on a conveyor instead of chocolate candy.

Expert integrators at IDI used eight Adept Quattro (delta) robots to solve a production challenge for the maker of frozen baked goods. You’ll have to ask Nate Maholland at IDI for the details (I’m not sure how much I can reveal), but whether you are in the food business or make power transformers to keep the ovens working, IDI can help.

RIA members like IDI show us just how versatile robotics are in today’s business world. Most are just as comfortable solving food processing challenges as assembling a new kind of core for transformers. In fact, one of IDI’s customers will use their system to market a patented new process for making cores that meet new specifications from the government for more efficient transformers.

Robotics technology is often just one aspect of a member company’s expertise. IDI is also a member of Automated Imaging Association which reflects their prowess as machine vision integrators. Other times they can provide solutions that take advantage of the latest mechatronics technology, and they have capabilities in more applications and industries than I can fit into this little blog.

A call today with IDI reminded me how thankful the Association is to have members as versatile and qualified as they are and it felt right to share that on our blog site. Who are you thankful for this holiday season?

See Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance in the episode where they package candy on a conveyor belt.

See Adept Quattro in a video where it packs chocolate candy at speeds that would make Lucille faint.


Robots Transforming Medicine

November 9, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Medical robotics is one of the more fascinating developments in technology and there are many examples of it in everyday life. A friend of Robots in America thought other readers would like to see what comprises “10 Unbelievable Robots Transforming Medicine” according to Online Nursing Programs.Net.

Number one on that list is the da Vinci Surgical System which is one of the best-publicized robotic systems for surgical procedures. Coming in at number five is the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, which is based on the robot arm from KUKA, one of Robotic Industries Association’s elite Platinum Members.

One called Twendy-One (the Nursebot) caught my attention. It is noted for its delicate touch yet which also has the ability to lift an adult out of a bed. If you’ve ever seen a patient lifted by a hoist so they can be shifted from a gurney or to change the sheets, you know this is one of the more challenging aspects of a health provider’s job.

What are the most amazing robotic applications you’ve seen in the medical sector?


Safety Triggers Military Robot Alert

November 5, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Military robot with X-Box controllers

MAARS Robot

Recently, a Google Alert for the term “safety” served up a link to coverage of the MAARS Robot (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). Before I could deduce why coverage of this military robot is tied to the word safety I was transfixed by the video associated to the search.

The footage was shot at a trade show which is one sign of how military robots are now perceived as mainstream technology. For that matter, there is a robot rodeo for such devices and many top industrial robotics companies participate. In fact, our friends at NDIA are planning the next one in March 2010 during the Miami Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exposition (see their video).

If you like “Future Weapons” on Discovery Channel or get down with Retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey (“Mail Call” on History Channel, etc.) – and even if you don’t – then what you hear and see about the MAARS Robot will probably grab you.

Without a doubt, this is a serious military robot capable of “full escalation of force” and comes equipped with “situational awareness” standard. It is modular with various configurations, and can be weaponized (lethal and non-lethal) or used as a gofer to carry supplies or tend to the wounded on a battlefield.

Video displays from the gaming industry are incorporated into the package, and if you use an X-Box controller you already have done training on how to run this robot. Take a look for yourself, but for your own safety (my sorry allusion to the Google Alert term that triggered this editorial) watcher beware, this is about a warfighting robot geared for a military mind set.

Editor’s note: Click here to see the video (had to run it through the Robotics Online website).