Fetch Robotics Secures Investment from SoftBank

The Fetch Robotics’ system is comprised of a mobile base (calledFreight) and an advanced mobile manipulator (called Fetch). Fetchand Freight can also use a charging dock for autonomous continuous operations; allowing the robots to charge when needed and then continue on with their tasks. In addition, the system includes accompanying software to support the robots and integrate with the warehouse environment. Both robots are built upon the open source robot operating system, ROS.

The robots are designed to work autonomously alongside workers, performing repetitive tasks such as warehouse delivery, pick and pack, and more. Fetch and Freight used in tandem are capable of handling the vast majority of all items in a typical warehouse.

Fetch is an advanced mobile manipulator, including features such as:

  • Telescoping spine with variable height from 1.09 to 1.491 meters
  • Capacity to lift approximately 6 kgs.
  • 3D RGB Depth Sensor
  • Back-Drivable 7DOF Arm
  • Modular Gripper Interface
  • Head Expansion Mount Points
  • Pan-Tilt Head
  • Differential Drive
  • ROS-Enabled

Freight is a modular base, used separately or in conjunction with Fetch. Features include:

  • Base Expansion Mount Points
  • Payload support of approximately 68 kgs.
  • 2D Laser Scanner
  • Stereo Speaker
  • Computer Access Panel
  • Run-Stop
  • ROS-Enabled


BarBots are Serving Drinks

Bartending is never easy, even the many different kinds of cocktails and concoctions you have to remember.  On top of that, the amount of each liquid used makes or breaks a drink. The webtender is a site with all the recipes for the different cocktails you can find that every bartender might need. Sounds difficult for a human but say, we give this job to a robot..

Barbot 2013 is an annual showcase of robots that are designed to make and serve drinks. It’s great to see the different ideas that have been used to make these drink and the reward is a good cocktail always!! why not. It’s far more interesting than working on a dish washing robot.

Rio Omni-directional Mobile Base by A*STAR

ASORO, A*STAR Social Robotics, has developed a interactive mobile platform called Rio. The entire base was developed from scratch and it runs on the ROS platform. The user is able to use speech recognition to command the robot remotely. There are many other abilities that are not featured.

The aim of the project is to develop a low cost general mobile base. It is compatible with ROS and that enables developer to use this platform together with manipulators and other hardware that is compatible to perform much more.

One of the projects they are working on is using the Microsoft Kinect for human detection and tracking.

Robotics Cloud Services

Bossa Nova Robotics has it’s beginning in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. They have deployed Robotics Cloud Services (RCS), a platform where many robots run web services. This allows control and monitoring of the robots remotely, allowing users to analyze data and assess not only the overall situation but how each robot is doing.

Bossa Nova Robotics mainly tries to bring expensive robot technology into the real world but making it useful at affordable prices. Robotics is at this stage now. There are many matured technologies but still out of reach for the common person. I am glad to see that they have done a project with the RHex, one of my favourite robots.

Article at IEEE Spectrum about cloud robotics.

Site – www.bnrobotics.com

Noodle Shaving Robot

The Chinese are replacing their highly paid chefs with robots – noodle cutting robots. The robots are called ‘Chef Cui’ and they are replacing humans in the face of rising labor costs in China. Each robot cost around US $2000, which is cheaper than paying a chef at least US $5,000 a year. The robot is very simple with a single DOF shaving arm that is used to shaving lumps of dough attached to a moving arm. 3,000 units have already been sold.

Source – DesignTaxi

Deboning Chicken for Hainanese Chicken Rice?

Hainanese chicken rice is a national delight here on the little red dot. There could be thousands of stalls selling chicken rice here and each stall selling up to 100 or more chickens a day. Each chicken is cut up into pieces before it is place on a plate of rice to be serve. This challenge of deboning the chicken (after it has been cooked) has been posed to engineers on the item without much result. It’s possible technically but it’s not easy to beat the chef with his mega chopper.

Gary McMurray, chief of the Georgia Tech, is getting robots to debone uncooked chicken. It’s not an easy task. “Each bird is unique in its size and shape, so we have developed the sensing and actuation needed to allow an automated deboning system to adapt to the individual bird, as opposed to forcing the bird to conform to the machine.” The team revealed a prototype version of the robot last year, but has since improved the speed and, in a recent demonstration, was able to debone a bird in seconds. Impressive!!

Source – The Verge

Heartland Robotics – Human Collaborating with Robots

Heartland Robotics focuses on human-robot interaction in industry. Many believe that total autonomy is not going to be practical today or a few years down. We will need to work total with robots in a flexible way, in close proximity to use them effectively.


Here’s a quote from their website.

Robots will change the way we work.

They will have intelligence and awareness. They will be teachable, safe and affordable. They will make us productive in ways we never imagined.

Robots will reinvigorate industry and inject new life into the economy. Making businesses more competitive. Keeping jobs from moving overseas. Demonstrating the power of American ingenuity.

Robots will change how we think about manufacturing. And Heartland will change how we think about robots.

RedWood Robotics

Meka Robotics, Willow Garage and SRI announced a new startup — Redwood Robotics.

Meka has developed very sophisticated force controlled arms but it’s expensive and only affordable to researcher. With Redwood Robotics, Meka will be codeveloping a new generation of robot arms that are simple to program, inexpensive, and safe to operate alongside people.

Those three partners bring a lot of robotic talent to the table and a formidable competitor for Heartland.

Read this article.

Building Robot Given the Lack of Technology

Robot interaction is still something unclear to us. The basic mode of communicate in a society is through speech and this is hard for a robot given the ability of current speech recognition technology and natural language understanding. If only Siri really worked for people of all nation and in every context.

Service robotics is a growing trend globally given the aging situation in developed countries. Who doesn’t want a robot in his/her home called Rosie? But the reality is that we don’t have the technology to build a Rosie yet. Given that fact, how should we instruct or interact with robots?

This article in WSJ covers this in detail.