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Synthetic images ‘revolutionise’ vision system training

Siemens has launched a service that uses AI (artificial intelligence) to generate synthetic images of objects from CAD files. These images can then be used to simplify the training of machine vision systems to identify the objects.

Airbus and Roche join digital twin project for industrial plants

A group of European technology companies including Airbus, the pharmaceuticals giant Roche and Capgemini Engineering, have joined forces to develop and industrialise a digital ecosystem for industrial and manufacturing environments. The Vims (Virtual IoT Manufacturing System) will deliver detailed visualisations of manufacturing processes from single production lines to complete factories.

Boston Dynamics’ box-shifting robot Stretch goes on sale

Boston Dynamics has announced that its autonomous box-shifting robot called Stretch is now commercially available. The robot, designed to automate loading processes in warehouses and distribution centres, is sold out for 2022, and Boston Dynamics is accepting reservations for deliveries in 2023 and 2024.

3D digital twin tool will speed production plant designs

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a 3D simulation tool that helps to design and construct production plants. The Melsoft Gemini digital twin tool can simulate the operation of these facilities before they are actually installed and operated.

Cobot pallet-mover could boost throughput by 45%

Two US companies – the material-handling automation specialist Vecna Robotics and the pedestrian lift truck manufacturer Big Joe Forklifts – have joined forces to develop a cobot (collaborative robot) pallet mover that will bring human-assisted robotics to smaller warehouses and manufacturing sites with labour-intensive workflows that, they say, have previously been ignored by other forms of robotic automation. The partners claim that simulations and field tests have shown improvements in throughput of up to 45% over relying on human workers alone.

Software is ‘first’ to predict OT failures and spot cyber risks

An Israeli cybersecurity specialist claims to have created the world’s first software that combines predictions of possible OT (operational technology) failures with cybersecurity detection in a single user-friendly package. IXDen’s patented technology analyses data from sensors and industrial equipment to spot anomalies in data transactions that could signal possible cyberattacks or OT failures.

Spot the robot dog could ‘revolutionise’ farming

UK researchers have developed an autonomous robot with potential to revolutionise agriculture. Based on Spot, the four-legged robotic “dog” developed by Boston Dynamics, the mobile platform combines robotics, automation, artificial intelligence and vision systems to inspect crops for ripeness and quality, and to detect diseases and pests.

Standardised box PCs will end proprietary design limitations

A consortium of industrial PC specialists is developing a specification for a standardised modular box PC that will guarantee interoperability of PCs from different suppliers, while offering cost-sensitive integrated designs.

Voice-controlled robot programming is ‘90% faster’

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a technology that, it claims, will allow industrial robots to perform tasks such as sorting and arranging, as quickly as humans, without needing to be taught by specialists. It says that the technology – which uses speech recognition to issue voice instructions to robots – will allow them to be programmed and fine-tuned in 10% or less of the time needed for conventional approaches.

Tests show that 5G out-performs Wi-Fi for AMRs

Kollmorgen has joined forces with Ericsson to test the use of 5G transmissions on AMRs (autonomous mobile robots). They believe that 5G will enable new levels of AI and machine learning, simplify infrastructure requirements, and increase network stability for AMR applications.

Soft 3D sensor gives robots a sense of touch

A Belgian microelectronic sensor specialist has developed tactile 3D sensor for robots that will make their grippers sensitive enough for delicate operations such as picking fruit. The Tactaxis sensor, from Melexis, has a force resolution is 2.7mN – enough to distinguish changes in weight as small as 0.3g. The technology has already been implemented in a functioning prototype.

Supercar motor delivers ‘record’ performance

The Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg has developed an electric motor that combines radial (power-dense) and axial (torque-dense) flux topologies to produce a machine which, it claims, delivers the best torque-to-power-to-weight ratio available. The car-maker says that its Quark motor is smaller and lighter than any other in its class, with the first production version weighing just 30kg, yet capable of producing up to 250kW of power and 600Nm of torque.

Rapid roaming tech helps to keep mobile equipment connected

A Californian communications specialist has come up with a relatively low-cost technology that allows communications to be maintained with vehicles or autonomous robots as they move around a site. Antaira says that its “rapid roaming Wi-Fi” technology overcomes the 100m range limitation of Wi-Fi communications based on the 802.11ac standard. It argues that this range is usually not enough to ensure reliable operation and requires multiple access points (APs) to be installed to cover a large area, with vehicles or robots constantly having to switch from one AP to the next with a strong signal as they move around.

Technology clarifies rationale behind AI-based controls

Mitsubishi Electric has collaborated with the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) to develop a technology that, they say, clarifies the rationale underpinning AI-based control systems.

€1.6m EU grant will help to build plant to re-use industrial oils

The European Commission has awarded SKF a €1.62m grant to install and operate a plant to regenerate industrial oils in Tudela, Spain. The project – due to come onstream in the second quarter of 2022 – will remove contaminants from used oils and return them to the same condition as they were when new, thus cutting CO2 emissions.