Automation: adapt or disrupt? (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 49)

Automation technologies are starting to take hold in many environments of our daily lives. It’s not just the factory floor, the whole world is getting permeated by tech that makes short work of menial tasks. But how is this changing the way we think about these spaces? The factories of the future are often envisioned as highly technical spaces, with every nook and cranny tailored to the task at hand, aimed at making it easiest for the robots in place to do their jobs. However, most advanced automation technologies at our disposal are capable of navigating complex environments, react according to outside stimuli and thus safely traverse almost any workspace they find themselves in. Cobots (collaborative robots), autonomous vehicles or even Amazon warehouse handling and dispatch robots are perfect examples of this. The interesting dichotomy here is in how we can optimally plan spaces, public, private or industrial, to drive performance and flexibility. Does flexibility go in the way of peak performance layout? Or are intelligent, adaptable systems going to be the best option to keep operations agile?

 

The checkout line’s death knell


We’re all only about ten years away from sauntering into stores, grabbing whatever it is we want, then quick-stepping out like we stole it. It’ll be possible because many shops will be ringed with machine vision-enabling cameras and sensors that keep tabs on what you take while inside and then charge it to the corresponding app as you leave.

Read the full article (and watch the great video!) here.

 

Walmart is ‘secretly’ testing self-driving floor scrubbers, signaling that more robots are coming

floors scr

Walmart has been quietly testing out autonomous floor scrubbers during the overnight shifts in five store locations near the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. A spokesperson for Walmart told FOX Business that the move, which was first reported by LinkedIn, is a “very small proof of concept pilot that we are running” and that the company still has a lot more to learn about how this technology “might work best in our different retail locations.”

Read the full article here.

 

Cities Should Not Design for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous cars are likely to be better off relying on each other than on fixed infrastructure. As autonomous vehicles capture a larger share of road traffic, they will be able to crowdsource extremely-detailed, real-time maps of urban roads. Each member of the network will benefit from the information provided by other vehicles and would likely provide its own data in exchange for access.

Read the full article here.

 

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The Hybrid Future in Human-Robot Relationships (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 29)

The manufacturing plant is now more than ever the product of synergies derived from multiple, different actors playing their part for the greater objective. There is no “killer app” in the manufacturing industry and AM will need traditional manufacturing just as much as robots will still need human input to get around their limitations. The non-zero-sum game nature of manufacturing is exemplified by the international efforts to find balances in which new production processes can get the best of both worlds. For example, 11 partner groups from Germany and the Netherlands are starting new research efforts to explore the potential of hybrid manufacturing, particularly helpful for complex products like electronics. On a broader perspective, human-robot relationships have never been stronger. Those people afraid of giving up their jobs to robotic counterparts can put their hearts at ease (for now): automation is bringing greater productivity by putting tireless androids able to execute the most boring tasks under the human supervision. Similarly, deep learning automation is helping businesses deploy their time and resources more intelligently, using machine vision and actuation where the humans could be better employed doing something higher level.

German company Neotech AMT announces two new fully additive 3D printed electronics projects

A circuit board created using 3D printing technology. Image via Neotech.

German electronic 3D printing company Neotech AMT GmbH has announced it will engage in two new projects to advance additive manufacturing. The first project, known as ‘Hyb-Man’, will bring together 11 partner groups from Germany and the Netherlands with the aim of developing hybrid manufacturing techniques. While the second project – AMPECS – will focus on the printing of ceramic substrates.

The resultant process lines will address the needs for low volume agile manufacture within a single platform. – Dr. Martin Hedges, Managing Director of Neotech

Read more about the projects here.

Online Retail Boom Means More Warehouse Workers, And Robots To Accompany Them

There’s a good chance something you’ve bought online has been in the hands of a “picker” first. These are the workers in warehouses who pick, pack and ship all those things we’re ordering. At Amazon and other companies, they’re working side by side with robots. Experts say while the robots are replacing some human workers, the machines aren’t quite ready to take over completely.

Read the full article at NPR.

Two Apple Engineers Want To Create The Brain For Fully-Automated Manufacturing

Assembling TV sets

Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, along with another former Apple engineer, Samuel Weiss, have founded manufacturing startup Instrumental. The Los Altos, California-based startup builds a camera system that takes high-definition pictures of the product during various stages of the assembly process and sends it back to the company. Instrumental software then lets companies remotely track how their products are being assembled. But the bigger picture vision for the company is introducing more automation into what is a still very manual process. Instrumental has begun deploying machine learning techniques to pick out any manufacturing anomalies and track where things go wrong.

Read more about Instrumental and their goals here.

 

We hope to see you again next week as we publish another edition of our News-In-Review! Also, check out our Twitter feed for more AM/Automation/IIoT related news and insights.