Greg Galitzine : Robotics
Greg Galitzine

February 2010

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IAI Heron Officially Joins Israel's Air Force

February 25, 2010

Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Heron TP, also known as the "Eitan", officially entered service into the Israel Air Force (IAF) in a ceremony attended by senior officials of the IAF, Israel Ministry of Defense, and IAI.   Major General Ido Nehushtan, IAF Commander, praised the aircraft's significance on the battlefield, its ability to complete a variety of IAF long-range missions, and its critical role in air force missions covering a broad array of scenarios. 

  The 'Eitan' joins other IAI UAV systems in use with the IAF, and provides a crucial contribution to IAF operational capabilities. The 'Eitan' will act as the linchpin for the most complex missions the IAF will undertake. IAI UAVs are in service with dozens of nations the world over, and have acquired unprecedented amounts of operational experience.

Tactile Skin Allows Robots to Feel

February 25, 2010

The most advanced robotic devices being developed these days feature more than just the latest in positioning or vision technology, they also increasingly offer a tactile "skin" that allows them to feel - essentially giving these devices a sense of touch.   TMCnet Sr. Web Editor Patrick Barnard detailed Peratech Limited's contribution to the development of this "robotic skin" designed to allow robots and robotic devices to "feel" touches.   According to Barnard, "The Peratech technology is designed to enable robots to detect not only that they have been touched, but where and how hard."   Central to the development of this breakthrough technology is Peratech's Quantum Tunneling Composites, or QTC materials, which has been used by NASA for its Robonaut device, and by Shadow Robot in the UK, which develops a robotic hand.

JCPenney Teams with FIRST to Enhance Educational Opportunities

February 18, 2010

J. C. Penney Company, Inc. announced it will expand its support of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) by sponsoring 60 high school teams nationwide as they compete in regional FRC events.   FIRST identifies its mission as inspiring young students, schools and communities to appreciate and celebrate the limitless potential of science and technology.   "FIRST is an extracurricular activity that aligns with JCPenney's philanthropic mission of supporting youth development through positive afterschool opportunities," said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney. "While students improve their academic capacity for science, technology, engineering and math, they also develop valuable inherent traits such as leadership and teamwork that will help them aspire to greater positions in life."   JCPenney eventually plans to expand FIRST to over 1,100 JCPenney communities within the next few years and encourage participation by "rookie" teams as well as minority and female students.

Fire Scout Tests Autonomous Resupply Mission

February 18, 2010

 Northrop Grumman  has successfully demonstrated the ability of its Fire Scout unmanned aerial system to resupply combat troops deployed to forward positions.   The company announced that the MQ-8B Vertical Unmanned Aerial System (VUAS) can resupply troops during the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) at Fort Benning, Ga. AEWE gives soldiers a first-hand look at emerging technologies and concepts.  
For the experimental mission, Fire Scout had two ruggedized containers attached to external pylons. The unit flew autonomously from take-off to the cargo drop to landing. The VUAS also used its electro-optical/infrared optical payload during the mission to practice reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) techniques.   According to an official release, Fire Scout is equipped with a payload interface unit, which allows it to release the cargo pod without the presence of a soldier. Fire Scout observed the landing area to confirm the area was free of obstacles and personnel prior to landing.

iRobot Ships 3,000+ PackBot Tactical Mobile Robots

February 18, 2010

 iRobot Corp., which today announced positive financial results has delivered over 3,000 PackBot tactical mobile robots since their introduction in 2002. PackBot is designed to allow soldiers and public safety workers to insert themselves into dangerous situations and investigate suspicious objects from a safe distance.   "While this is an important milestone for iRobot, it also speaks volumes about the growing need for this technology on today's battlefield," said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government and Industrial Robots. "The investigation and disposal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), route clearance and reconnaissance all pose significant risks to our troops."   The iRobot PackBot has several modular configurations for a broad range of infantry support and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) missions.

iRobot Announces Positive Results

February 18, 2010

iRobot reported strong Q4 and full-year 2009 numbers.   Company chairman and CEO Colin Angle declared, "We delivered record quarterly revenue of more than $100 million in the fourth quarter and full-year revenue of nearly $300 million. Earnings per share and adjusted EBITDA significantly exceeded expectations for the fourth quarter and full year."   According to an official statement, iRobot generated $41 million of operating cash flow in 2009, compared with $19 million in 2008, and improved their cash and investments position year-over-year by $36 million to nearly $77 million at year end.   Among the highlights for the year: ·         International home robot revenue in 2009 increased 35.2 percent from 2008 and comprised more than half of total home robot revenue for the year. ·         Government & Industrial Robots revenue increased 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter over last year and ended the year with a record $42 million in product backlog.

Group Predicts Worldwide UAV Market Will Surpass $80 Billion

February 9, 2010

A recent market research report from the Teal Group estimates that UAV spending will more than double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV expenditures of $4.9 billion annually to $11.5 billion, totaling just over $80 billion in the next ten years.   Even though the report suggests a slowing growth rate, the authors believe that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will continue to represent a dynamic, growing sector of the world aerospace industry.

The study suggests that the U.S. will account for 76% of the worldwide RDT&E spending on UAV technology over the next decade, and about 58% of the procurement.   The World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems, Market Profile and Forecast 2010, examines the worldwide requirements for UAVs, including UAV payloads, and provides ten-year forecasts by country, region, and classes of UAVs.  

CoroWare Unveils Upgraded Features

February 9, 2010

Redmond, Washington-based CoroWare Technologies announced an upgraded suite of standard features and options for the CoroBot, a mobile robot designed to minimize the complexity of robotics development.   The new features were developed with researchers and developers of robotic applications such as navigation and mapping in mind. These professionals now have a greater array of options whene developing their applications.   The CoroBot robotic platform comes fully assembled with an application to tele-operate right out of the box. The solution features a 1.5 GHz PC-class processor, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB storage space and a robust, object-oriented software development system.   Previous upgrades included a dual-core AMD processor for increase processing power and a camera upgrade with pan/tilt capabilities. Researchers can now build applications that incorporate vision recognition, robotics software components such as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), and path planning.

Industry, Academia Team Up for National Robotics Week

February 9, 2010

April 10-18, 2010 will welcome the first annual National Robotics Week. According to a press release announcing the weeklong celebration, the effort is aimed at "recognizing robotics technology as a pillar of 21st century American innovation, highlighting its growing importance in a wide variety of application areas, and emphasizing its ability to inspire technology education."   During National Robotics Week, a number of scheduled events and activities will try to increase public awareness of the growing importance of "robo-technology" and the tremendous social and cultural impact that it will have on the future of the United States.   National Robotics Week represents the culmination of an effort by leading universities and companies to create a "national roadmap" for robotics technology, which was initially unveiled at a May 2009 briefing by academic and industry leaders to the Congressional Caucus on Robotics.   The National Robotics Week Advisory Council was organized by iRobot Corp. and The Technology Collaborative, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit economic development organization. A large and diverse group of companies, universities and nonprofit organizations, including: Adept Technology, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI); AUVSI Foundation; Carnegie Mellon University; FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology); Infamous Robotics; and MIT, among others, are actively involved in this endeavor as well.   To learn more about National Robotics Week events and activities, visit:  

Schilling Robotics Nets Orders for Two ROVs

February 9, 2010

Davis, California-based Schilling Robotics, announced it has received an order for two of its next-generation Heavy-Duty (HD) Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The two vehicles are expected to be delivered to the customer in August and October. The vehicle(s) will be used for inspecting infrastructure installed on the sea floor. Schilling's 125hp HD ROV is designed and optimized for the field support and drill support markets. Features including a compact vehicle, umbilical, and launch and recovery system (LARS) are designed to provide a smaller footprint, while performing operations that are increasingly in demand. 

It's Good to be Back

February 9, 2010

The Robotics blog was on a slight hiatus this month, but at least we got to see the world, or at least that part of the world known as Prague, Czech Republic. Here are a couple of snapshots showing us on the road.

That's the Charles Bridge in the background...

We also got to meet some interesting people on this trip. Who knew Russian girls were such avid followers of the Robotics blog?

It was also nice to check out the Kafka Museum. The word "Odd" comes to mind.

In any case, after some much needed R&R, it's good to be back blogging again.