Friday Fun Video: Automate at a Glance

January 25, 2013

The 2013 Automate Show closed yesterday, with preliminary reports of a 40% increase in attendance from the 2011 show and good feelings from exhibitors all around. The Automate Show also allowed the robotic and automation industries to voice their success stories to the press, who’ve recently been focused on a negative portrayal of robotics.

Here’s a glimpse of several live demos at the Automate Show from the New York Times.

And who’s faster? Man or machine? An Automate attendee has a little fun at the Adept Technology booth.

Thanks to the staff of A3, the exhibitors, and everyone who worked hard to make this year’s Automate Show a success. We’ll see you all again in 2015!


Personal Robot Closer to Doing Your Laundry

December 3, 2012

Robots used in industrial settings often perform dull, dangerous, or repetitive functions — if only they could take over similar tasks in people’s homes! While the price of personal robots is still prohibitive and the technology is still developing, a robotic housekeeper isn’t the science fiction it was 50 years ago. Researchers are working hard to open up a whole new consumer market in personal robots.

Personal robots moving closer to reality
Reported by John Blackstone

While fantasies of robotic maids may still be a dream, the field of robotics is progressing rapidly and the PR2 is at the center of that progress. “We created this open source software platform that is what Windows is to the PC,” Cousins explained. “Everybody’s sharing software and we can make progress to this future where we see robots.”

Until Willow Garage created the PR2, each robotics researcher had to build their own robot from scratch before they could even begin experimenting. Pieter Abbeel, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “You spent so much time building and maintaining that contraption that your research would be really slowed down.”

Abbeel got one of 11 PR2s that Willow Garage gave to university researchers who agreed to share their work to speed the evolution of artificial intelligence.

Abbeel decided to teach his robot to fold laundry — not as mundane a task as you might think. Abbeel explained, “The big challenge in robotics right now is how to make robots deal with variability. Whenever things change around the robot, it needs to understand what it is that has changed and how to act on it. Any time you present a pile of laundry, it’s going to be different. You’re manipulating this towels, T-shirts, and so forth. The more variability, the harder the task is going to be.”

To be of practical use in the home, robots need to figure out a changing world around them. To do that, the PR2 is loaded with sensors that reveal its surroundings in 3D. It knows when someone is in a room with it and sees the person in detail. But while seeing is one step, understanding is another.

Read the full article at CBS News. Where do you see the biggest application for personal, in-home robots? What chores would you gladly pass off to a helping robotic hand?

Sensitive Robot Hears What Humans Cannot

November 19, 2012

In the effort to make robots more competent to complete tasks humans can do, researchers have focused on developing robotic senses. Tactile and vision systems have made robots even more sensitive than human senses alone could be, and now researchers in Japan have introduced a system to help robots hear better. Researchers aim to teach the robot how to determine not only what sounds it can hear but which ones are important.

HEARBO Robot Has Superhearing
by Angelica Lim

The beamforming approach is widely used, but HEARBO takes the beamforming approach a step further. What about when the TV is on, the kids are playing on one side of the room, and the doorbell rings? Can our robot butler detect that? HEARBO researchers say it can, using their own 3-step paradigm: localization, separation, and recognition. This system, called HARK, lets you recover the original sounds from a mixture based on where the sounds are coming from. Their reasoning is that “noise” shouldn’t just be suppressed, but be separated out and then analyzed afterwards, since the definition of noise is highly dependent on the situation. For example, a crying baby may be considered noise, or it may convey very important information.

At IROS 2012, Keisuke Nakamura of HRI-JP presented his new super-resolution sound source localization algorithm, which allows sounds to be detected to within 1-degree of accuracy. For example, it could precisely detect the location of a human calling for help in a disaster situation.

Using the methods developed by Kazuhiro Nakadai’s team at HRI-JP, up to four different simultaneous sounds or voices can be detected and recognized in practice. Theoretically, with eight microphones, up to seven different sound sources can be separated and recognized at once, something that humans with two ears cannot do.

Read the full article at IEEE Spectrum. What applications could you see for a super-hearing robot? Will researchers ever find a reason to develop a sense of taste?

Service Robot Scales Wind Towers Vertically

June 28, 2012

The robotics industry is full of futuristic-minded people who realize the benefits of using technology to do jobs that are tedious, dangerous, or otherwise difficult for people. Helical Robotics has coupled the technology of robotics with another forward-thinking industry, wind power, to come up with a new tool in the maintaining of alternative energy solutions.

Robots ready for outside, up-tower work
by Paul Dvorak

Access to a wind tower has traditionally required the use of cranes, bucket trucks, or rappelling teams. Engineers at Wisconsin-based Helical Robotics have designed another way and one, they say, streamlines the work. It uses remote-controlled, robotic devices that can scale a wind tower. These robotic platforms can be fitted with a wide range of devices from cameras and non-destructive testing equipment, to robotic arms and lifts.

By using a service robot, the wind power industry can not only save money on expensive maintenance equipment and procedures, but they can also eliminate some of the need to for people to complete tasks at dangerous heights. Click here to read the full article on Helical’s new robot on Windpower Engineering & Development. What other applications can you see for a vertically-gliding robot? Go to Helical Robotics’ website for more information, including the video below.

Basic EOAT and Tooling Trends for Consumers Goods and Beyond

February 8, 2012

by Bennett Brumson , Contributing Editor
Robotic Industries Association

Robotics have the speed, strength, and precision to accomplish an ever-widening range of tasks in the manufacturing and packaging of consumer goods, appliances and more. But, without a suitable end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), an industrial or service robot can’t manipulate a product. “End-of-arm tooling enables the robot to add value to the end-user’s process. Without an EOAT, the robot can do very little,” says, Tim DeRosett, Director of Marketing at the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America Inc. (Miamisburg, Ohio).

The Basics of Tooling

Power in Hand
End-effectors are actuated electrically, hydraulically, mechanically or pneumatically, and are available in a variety of styles, including angular and parallel. Selecting the proper EOAT for an application is usually based on end-user’s needs and the familiarity of the robot integrator. As EOAT, robots and their controllers become more powerful and capable, random bin picking is emerging as a mainstream application.

“Advantages and disadvantages of each type of end-effector vary relative to power consumption, size, complexity, weight and requirements. Pneumatic end-effectors accommodate most applications in the packaging industry due to their weight-to-power ratio,” says Samir Patel, Director of Sales and Engineering at Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc. (Wixom, Michigan). “When compared to electrical end-effectors, installation of pneumatic end-effectors is relatively simple and components are easy to find.”Variable pick head, courtesy PHD Inc.

Pneumatic EOATs are well understood and have been available for many years, making them the majority of tooling, says Walter Hessler, Vice President of Sales with PHD Inc. (Fort Wayne, Indiana). “In the past and the near future, the majority of EOATs are pneumatic. Pneumatic EOATs are readily available and can apply significant forces at high speeds in a small package. Pneumatic EOATs are an effective medium for generating force and motion.”

Hessler goes on to talk about the drawbacks of pneumatic EOATs. “Pneumatic end-effectors provide for less control over grip forces and are less flexible than electric EOATs. Until recently, manufacturers considered pressurized air to be free of cost. Everyone is now looking at the costs of air compressors.” Compressed air is no longer “free as air,” as once was the conventional wisdom in manufacturing.

Hydraulic EOATs are able to generate very high clamping forces and to actuate quickly. “Hydraulics are fast and precise,” says Chris Blanchette, National Distribution Sales Account Manager with FANUC Robotics America Corp. (Rochester Hills, Michigan). “Broken hydraulic lines can be extremely messy and can destroy tooling or parts. Hydraulic EOATs are expensive because of the need for large compressors to run the fluid.”

Agile Power
In conjunction with the source of an EOAT’s power, end-users and integrators also must decide which style of tooling best suits the needs of a particular application.Adaptive gripper, courtesy Robotiq Gripper Company

“Integrators select end-effectors to deal with a high mix of consumer products that might change frequently by adding fingers capable of adapting to different products. Two or three articulated fingers encompassing a product has enough contact points to form a stable grip,” says, Samuel Bouchard, President of Robotic Gripper Co. (St-Nicholas, Quebec, Canada). Adaptive grippers facilitate consumer goods production and packaging due to the fact that these EOATs automatically adjusts when manipulating a high mix of products, says Bouchard.

Parallel EOATs work well when wielding well-defined non-compliant products says William Townsend, President and Chief Executive Officer of Barrett Technology Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts). “Parallel jaw grippers with two or three fingers do a good job of handling well defined objects. These grippers work well if parts are organized upstream before entering the robot’s workspace.” If the product is susceptible to changing shape, the end-user should consider an EOAT with more flexibility, says Townsend. “With delicate objects, the gripper needs to sense the forces, so as to not damage the component.”

Angular tooling is compact, says Blanchette. “Angular grippers are very fast and small which is an advantage for end-users. The disadvantages of angular grippers is the relatively limited part mix they can pick because of the angle they run in.”

Hand in Hand
The robotics market is trending towards hybrid tooling, where an end-effector has several tools to perform a wider range of tasks. “Robotic layer grippers for de-palletizing in supermarkets and warehouse distribution centers deal with thousands of stock keeping units. One technology cannot handle that variety so end-users need an EOAT with a combination of technologies. Designers of EOATs are becoming more comfortable with hybrids, combining different technologies,” says Dr. Volker Schmitz, President of Schmalz Inc. (Raleigh, North Carolina). Engineers are no longer wedded to one tooling technology when designing a solution to meet end-users’ needs.

Motoman Robotics’ Software and Controls Technology Leader, Greg Garman, concurs. “The robot is able to pick multiple parts with the same gripper. End-effectors might have a parallel jaw gripper on one side, an angular gripper on another, and have suction cups on another side. Each tool can pick up different parts.”

Light Hand
Many consumer items and appliances, among others, require a light touch during the manufacturing or packaging process. “Vacuum is not an invasive grip and the strength of vacuum cups is well beyond their physical size. The air pressure of pneumatic grippers can be adjusted to dial-down the force of the grip,” says Robert Dalton, General Manager of SAS Automation LLC (Xenia, Ohio). Coating a gripper’s jaws with polyurethane or silicone is another way to deal with delicate parts without causing deformation.

Like Dalton, Tom Herdon, General Manager at FIPA Inc. (Cary, North Carolina), advocates operating vacuum tooling at a lower power level. “Turning down the vacuum or using different materials such as a soft rubber enables end-users to handle sensitive products. Rather than grabbing a product, surrounding and handling it from the outside works better,” Herdon says.

Obtaining information about delicate parts goes a long way in alleviating end-users’ reluctance to accept robotics in the production process says Brandon Schmutlzer, Design Engineer at the Vaccon Company Inc. (Medway, Massachusetts). “We get samples of the part from the end-user. If the end-user worries about lightweight glass cracking, we design our system around that concern by using adjustable pumps so not to pull too high of a vacuum on the part.”

Manufacturers are increasingly making use of radio frequency identification (RFID). Herdon says, “Integrators put RFID tags on the EOAT and the product being manufactured to ensure the correct tool is used for that product.”

Bin Picking
Random bin picking is the ability of vision-guided robots with appropriate tooling to pick haphazardly arrayed parts or components from a bin and place them for the next step in the manufacturing process. It is seen by many integrators and robot end-users as the ultimate application, not only in consumer goods and appliance manufacturing, but other industries as well.

Adil Shafi, President of ADVENOVATION Inc. (Houghton, Michigan) says, “Bin picking has come a long way. Random bin picking was difficult to implement in the past but has become easier to implement. I predict that by 2020, a number synonymous with perfect vision, bin picking will be mainstream in manufacturing.”

Shafi says some engineers define bin picking as simply removing parts arranged in one layer a form of bin picking, while others believe a robot is not bin picking unless parts are entangled together. “Bin picking is not a monolithic application but has many subclasses,” says Shafi. For more information about bin picking applications, view past Robotics Online feature articles on the topic (How to Implement Bin Picking… and The Pervasive Relevance of Bin Picking…).

Shafi will lead a webinar, The Basics of Robot End-Effectors, on Thursday, February 16, 12:00 PM through 1:00 PM EST. “I will cover the basics of each type of gripper and focus on compliant gripping,” previews Shafi.

To successfully execute random bin picking or combining more than one application in a single robotic work cell, integrators of the EOAT should consider how the entire production process is organized. “A good integrator should ask where the part came from before entering the work cell. If the part has a known orientation, a good integrator will try to prevent loosing that known orientation,” says Tom Sipple, Material Handling Technology Leader at Motoman Robotics.

The container from which parts are picked could also pose a challenge to integrators of bin picking applications, says Rick Bobzener, Engineering Manager at Tech-Con Automation Inc. (Burlington, Ontario, Canada). In one example, Bobzener says, “The design of the actual container was a challenge. Our robots could find [the parts], their angle, and interface the tool…to pick it up. The biggest problem was overhanging lips, deformed bins, and other features that created interference when bringing the part out of the bin.”

Pure random bin picking is still a “holy grail” of robotics and is not 100 percent yet, concludes Bobzener.Cake gripper, courtesy Applied Robotics Inc.

Robotic tooling covers a wide range of consumer goods and other products and processes. “Applied Robotics (Glenville, New York) has looked at grippers for everything from cups of gold nuggets to bundt cake pans to robotic bartenders,” says Gerry Morris, Application Engineer at Applied Robotics. “Design and implementation comes down to an object’s material, shape and required motion, as driven by a combination of the robot and end-effector.”

More Tools, More Apps Throughout All Industries
As tooling becomes more sophisticated and capable, new applications will open for robotics. “Because a greater variety of end-effectors are available now, robots are used in a wider range of applications, such as packaging and food processing and other wash-down applications,” says Hessler. “In the past five years, robots have been used in a wider range of applications than ever before because end-effectors can now function better in those environments.” Look to see this trend of robotics equipped with tooling of greater sophistication continuing and expanding, not only in the manufacturing of consumer goods and appliances, but throughout all industries.

Consumer Robot for Autism Therapy Wins Top Prize In Nation’s First RoboBowl Competition

November 4, 2011

Robotic Industries Association

InterBots of Pittsburgh Wins $25,000 in Finals at Carnegie Mellon University

A Pittsburgh startup, Interbots, won a first prize of $25,000 for its plan to develop consumer robots that could help boost the social skills of autistic children in the inaugural RoboBowl venture competition.

Interbots was one of five companies to present proposals for next-generation robotics products or services in the health care and quality of life industries during the finals of the RoboBowl Pittsburgh competition at Carnegie Mellon University on Oct. 13.

The event was sponsored by The Robotics Technology Consortium, Carnegie Mellon University and the Innovation Accelerator. It was the first in a series of national “next-generation robotics” venture competitions intended to find and foster startup and early-stage companies seeking to develop products and services that address unmet and underserved market needs in targeted industrial sectors.

Interbots, founded in 2005, is a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. The company  specializes in the design and construction of custom interactive characters – both physical and virtual – as well as control software, and interactive multimedia content. Its RoboBowl proposal focused on an affordable consumer robot and accompanying iPad/PC software that would allow therapists and parents to guide autistic children through activities that practice social referencing skills.

Another Pittsburgh company, TactSense Technologies, took second place and a $10,000 prize. A spin-off of the University of Pittsburgh, TactSense presented a novel tactile feedback system for robotic surgical systems. The other finalists, Bright Cloud International Corp. of Highland Park, N.J., Origami Robotics of Pittsburgh, and RescueBotics of Mountain View, Calif., each received $5,000 prizes.

Summaries of the finalists’ proposals are available at

“We were pleased to be part of the National Robotics Initiative’s inaugural RoboBowl business plan competition that took place with the ‘Innovation Accelerator @ Carnegie Mellon’ event,” said John Pyrovolakis, founder and CEO of Innovation Accelerator. “These competitions will create new business ideas for commercial robotics applications, with other ones to follow in the areas of manufacturing robotics, infrastructure and environmental robotics, and education robotics.”

The judges for the final round competition were Pyrovolakis; Helen Greiner, president and CEO CyPhyWorks, president and CEO, Robotics Technology Consortium, iRobot co-founder; Nathan Harding, co-founder and CTO, Berkeley Bionics; Venetia Kontogouris, senior managing director, Trident Venture Capital; Rich Lunak, president and CEO, Innovation Works; Steven S. Martin, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska; and Frank DiMeo, vice president, Technical Staff, Physical & Biological Technologies Practice, In-Q-Tel.

RoboBowl Pittsburgh is the first of what is expected to be a series of new venture competitions intended to find and foster start-up and early-stage companies seeking to develop products and services in healthcare, manufacturing, national defense, education, and other domains based on next-generation robotics technology.  The inaugural RoboBowl competition in Pittsburgh is focused on U.S.-based start-up or early-stage business with an idea or concept for using next-generation robotics technology to develop and bring to market a compelling product or service that addresses unmet or underserved needs in the healthcare and quality of life industries.  Future RoboBowl competitions are expected to take place in various locations across the U.S. and focus on next-generation robotics technology solutions in other domains in addition to healthcare and quality of life, including manufacturing and logistics, national defense, homeland security, civil infrastructure, energy, transportation, and field industries such as agriculture and mining.

The Robotics Technology Consortium is a non-profit industry organization created to speed the transition and deployment of robotics technology for the Defense Department and other Government organizations. The consortium was established to meet a need identified by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise (OSD/JGRE). The RTC currently has a membership of over 150 large and small commercial companies, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. The RTC seeks to solicit and engage companies and organizations that may not have historically performed work for the Defense Department and other Government organizations in addition to traditional defense contractors.

The Innovation Accelerator is the private side of a public-private partnership with a Federal Agency of the United States of America.  The Innovation Accelerator’s mission is to promote our nation’s economic competitiveness in the global economy by promoting our nation’s innovation.  The Innovation Accelerator has attracted over $100 million into SBIR recipients over the past two years, and has previously conducted Innovation summits at MIT and Stanford.

Carnegie Mellon University is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 11,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon’s main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California’s Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, titled “Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University,” which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements.

Next-generation robotics encompasses and integrates a broad array of actuation, electronic, sensor, software, man-machine interface, and other enabling technologies to produce intelligent, networked devices, platforms, vehicles, and other products that operate with ever-increasing levels of autonomy.  Next-gen robotics products and applications function as intelligent co-workers, co-inhabitants, and co-protectors in dynamic, dangerous, and/or inaccessible environments, reducing the need for tedious human attention, interaction, and intervention.  Next-gen robotics solutions enable individuals to concentrate on the higher-level and more important aspects of their lives and jobs, to multi-task more effectively, and to work at a safe distance when needed.  No other technology has the potential to address such a diverse set of critical needs facing our nation, including reinvigorating the US manufacturing base, reducing healthcare costs, protecting our citizens, inspiring our youth to pursue STEM-related careers, caring for our aging population, and enabling people with disabilities to lead normal and productive lives.

Service Robots and their Rapid Rise in Multiple Markets

April 3, 2011

by Adil Shafi, President, ADVENOVATION, Inc.

Industrial robots are characterized by their use in factories.  Almost always they work in a fixed area or move about a linear axis or on a gantry structure; all of which are enclosed by a safety fence.  Industrial robots are defined by the International Federation of Robotics through an ISO 8373 document as: “An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications.”6-axis robot from ABB

  • Reprogrammable: whose programmed motions or auxiliary functions may be changed without physical alterations.
  • Multipurpose: capable of being adapted to a different application with physical alterations.
  • Physical alterations: alteration of the mechanical structure or control system except for changes of programming cassettes, ROMs, etc.
  • Axis: direction used to specify the robot motion in a linear or rotary mode.

Service robotService robots on the other hand are mobile, uncontained and extremely diverse. The International Federation of Robotics has a provisional definition for them: “A service robot is a robot which operates semi- or fully autonomously to perform services useful to the well-being of humans and equipment, excluding manufacturing operations.”

With this definition, manipulating industrial robots could also be regarded as service robots, provided they are installed in non-manufacturing operations. Service robots may or may not be equipped with an arm structure as is the industrial robot.

Often, but not always, service robots are mobile. In some cases, service robots consist of a mobile platform on which one or several arms are attached and controlled in the same mode as the arms of the industrial robot. Because of their multitude of forms and structures as well as application areas, service robots are not easy to define.

Service Robots: The Upcoming Profound Impact on Human Life

The advent of service robots for personal human use is a profound new development in the 21st century. Like the industrial revolution, which began to power machinery, and electricity, which began to power devices for personal human use, there have begun, in the last 30 years, two new revolutions, namely computers and robots, to extend the mental (from computers) and physical (from robots) capabilities of human beings, and they are destined to become widespread and pervasive to human life on planet earth.

Google's self-driving autonomous carRobots will, like computers before them, fulfill the quote from Henry Ford: “The true end of industry is to liberate mind and body from the drudgery of existence by filling the world with well-made, low-priced products.”  It is interesting to note that an analogy exists between the transition of mainframe computers to personal computers and between the transition of industrial robots to personal robots.

There are similarities in price and volume curves, third party development and a focus on commercially beneficial solutions; and like the personal computer revolution, the service robotics revolution is now well underway.

Rapid Rise: Opportunities and Challenges

The financial opportunities in these markets have already exceeded several billion dollars, and for components within them e.g., machine vision and mobile platforms, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and yet these markets are still in their infancy.  Entry points into these markets are accelerating from a variety of corners and initiatives in industry, government, academia, large corporations and small startups.Lockheed Martin underwater autonomous vehicle

There are ample opportunities to form partnerships and coordination amongst these various sectors; each of which brings with it its own strengths and needs to partner with another. Already, hundreds of organizations are involved within these efforts. The attraction for organizations in industry is to extend their expertise from factory applications to a more diverse set of markets that can deliver higher volumes in sales.

Government organizations want to strengthen their research and operations as well as provide dual use benefit, via participating organizations, in the commercial market.  Academia wants to strengthen the quality and appeal, and thereby enrollment, for their technical programs while using their innovations in service robots to extend their financial strength through partnerships with organizations that need their high end intellectual property or technical expertise.  Collectively these interests form a confluence of mutual interest to further the field of service robotics and its widespread adoption.

Stereo camera on mobile robot from University of TorontoAs an example, machine vision and image processing products and technologies play essential roles for these robots, enabling them to capture, store, and interpret data about the world around them, and perform actions based on this data.

Traditionally, the robotics and machine vision industry has excelled at manufacturing, integrating and supporting solutions in factories in static, controlled environments.  Now, with the aid of 3D machine vision and sensor fusion, these capabilities can be extended to mobile, less controlled environments.  These are the opportunities and challenges on the road ahead.

Multiple Markets: Classification and Diversity

Service robot markets can be classified in an extendable manner that guarantees future inclusion in an easy structure, even for applications that we may not have identified yet, in three categories: aerospace, land and water applications. This is so because these are the three major substances that surround our planet and will continue to embody the human experience for at least the next few centuries.  Within these three, the following twenty markets are emerging:


  • Spacecraft – to explore other planets and to collect samples for analysis
  • Satellites – for commissioning in orbit, work aboard stations and maintenance
  • Aircraft – for surveillance, strikes, operations support, cargo, and unmanned use


  • Defense – for bomb threat disposal, combat and transport support, and law enforcement
  • Farming – for tree based fruit retrieval, weather adroit unmanned tractors, and farm work
  • Wildlife – for wildlife identification, tracking migration patterns, and zoo operations
  • Food – for dairy milking, meat tracking and processing, and poultry handling
  • Transportation – for assisted or autonomous driving, lane safety, clearance and security
  • Outdoor Logistics – for construction, demolition, maintenance, and use at gates and docks
  • Office and Warehouse – for mobile telepresence, safer forklifts, AGVs, and mobile ASRS
  • Health: Care – for logistical deliveries and tracking, help on wheelchairs, medical scanning
  • Health: Rehabilitation – for limb locomotive strength, balance, and post trauma retraining
  • Health: Surgical – for minimally invasive, precise operations with reduced adverse effects
  • Entertainment – for education, toys, kiosks, social help, coasters, concerts and filmmaking
  • Home Convenience – for cleaning indoors and outdoors, home chores, and tele shopping


  • Defense and Security – for pirate patrol, ship to ship crane transfers, and threat control
  • Research and Exploration – for exploration in depth for long times, studies, fishing, salvage
  • Preventive Maintenance – for oil rigs, buoys, bridges, dams, pipes, tunnels and sewers
  • Rescue and Recovery – for spill containment and cleaning, search and rescue, DSRVs
  • Entertainment – for simulators, customized tours and submarine tourism

Service robots in the aerospace categories are the most sophisticated with applications that combine high speed vision with high definition and fusion of GPS and satellite data.  Land based applications are the most diverse and highest in volume for human use. Water based applications are probably the most underutilized, yet of great use and potential.

As populations age around the world, service robots will play critical roles in compensating for limited human assistive staff, improving outcomes, extending physical abilities, and enabling many people to live comfortably,  independently, with human and / or pet animal, and / or social robot companions, longer.

Learn and Profit

Obtain “Vision for Service Robots,” an in-depth report that describes emerging innovation, challenges, solutions, opportunities and active companies, universities and government organizations in the Service Robots industry. The report quantifies financial opportunities in various markets and provides a detailed description of initiatives underway in each of them.

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Adil Shafi, a professional innovator and President of ADVENOVATION, Inc., with more than twenty years of experience in the robotics and machine vision industry.  He and Conard Holton, Editor-in-Chief, Vision Systems Design are co-authors of the “Vision for Service Robots” market report described above.  For additional information, please contact ADVENOVATION, Inc. at 734-516-6761, or visit