TECHNOLOGY

ROBOTICS: ARCHIVE

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Record use of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology during 1-3Q2017 - in a wide variety of sectors (Robotics - 2017-12 - ZDNet)

The Association for Advancing Automation recorded record numbers for North American automation sales for 1-3Q2017, in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology. Growth sectors include fulfillment, light manufacturing, food service, and healthcare, in addition to heavy industries, such as automotive and metals. High growth in industries that have been priced out of automation until recently result from falling sensor prices, many new companies making easily-deployable, task-agnostic robots for warehouses and factories, and the race to automate fulfillment. 2018 may result in many robots in use in places like hospitals, hotels, and restaurants.

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Armed ground robots to fight in the Ukrainian conflict (Robotics/Fighting - 2017-10 - Big Think)

Ukrainian officials indicate they are planning to use armed ground robots in their conflict against Russian-backed forces next year. The experimental Phantom can have treads like a tank or six wheels, and be armed with anti-tank weapons, grenade launchers or machine guns. It can travel at <37 mph, going 81 miles on one engine charge. It can also be used to evacuate wounded soldiers from the field. Both Russia and the US are developing soldier robots.

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Adidas creating small batches of city-specific sneakers, using robots and athlete data to cut shoe production (Robotics/Shoes - 2017-10 - TechRepublic)

Using its Speedfactory in Germany, Adidas is making shoes designed for certain cities, starting with London. The factory uses athlete data to create the city-customized designs, with manufacture by robots, cutting time to market from >12 months to <2 months. Mass production profitability requires at least 50,000 shoes, with Adidas employing a million factory workers in China and Vietnam.

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Multi-function robots using exoskeletons (Robotics - 2017-10 - Technology.org)

Scientists from the University of York and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a real shape-shifting robot that will fulfill as many functions as possible, using exoskeletons. The tiny prototype can roll onto a special skin, which folds itself into a useful shape when heated. This allows this tiny robot to walk, roll, sail on water or even glide – and then shed its skin by simple crawling into the water.

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Small manufacturers operating all night using robots and automation (Robotics - 2017-10 - ZDNet)

A new class of collaborative industrial robots (‘cobots’), is distinguished by their relatively easy programming, and their ability to work safely alongside people thanks to robust safety features. Universal Robots is a major supplier with about 60% of the global market and $99 million (2016). Cobots can be used for ‘lights-out’ (i.e. all night) operation.

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A robot could replace traditional strawberry farming and harvesting - and that of other fruits and vegetables (Robotics/Fruit Picking - 2017-09 - Fast Company)

Octinion, the Belgium R&D company, is building a robot that could replace traditional strawberry farming and harvesting. The robot is designed to work with the trending “tabletop” growing systems, where strawberries are grown in trays. The small robot moves through rows of strawberries, using machine vision to locate ripe, flawless berries, then reaching up with a 3D-printed hand to gently pluck each berry and place it in a basket for sale. If it feels that a berry isn’t ready for harvest, the robot estimates the date it will be ready for it to return and pick it. Pilot testing will begin with strawberry farmers in 2018, with sales expected in 2019. Plans are to adapt the robot to pick other produce like peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

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Robot paints walls in hard-to-reach places (Robotics/Painting - 2017-09 - Technology.org)

Estonian company, SprayPainter, has developed a graffiti robot that can climb up and down walls to create large-scale murals. The prototype device attaches 5 spray cans, each with a nozzle, to a little robot that climbs a wall and paints whatever giant image it is programmed to. It is tracked by a computer that determines its position by calculating its place on the cable it travels on. The system creates a full-color printed image in one pass by modulating the duration of each color spray. It mixes colors on the fly, by printing small dots of different colors side-by-side, so that when viewed from a distance the colors blend together.

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Robot arm as a sign language interpreter (Robotics/Sign Language - 2017-09 - Technology.org)

University of Antwerp researchers has developed a robotic arm ‘Aslan’ which is a sign language interpreter. The arm is connected to the network, and users can send a text message, and it will start signing. Aslan is made up of 25 plastic 3D-printed parts, 16 servo motors, 3 motor controllers, and an Arduino Due microcomputer. The manufacturing is being handled through a global 3D printing network called 3D Hubs, which is designed to ensure the robot can be built anywhere.

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Panasonic has unveiled a robot refrigerator that responds to voice commands, and will travel from the kitchen to the living room (Robotics/Utility - 2017-09 - Fast Company)

Panasonic has unveiled a robot refrigerator that will come from the kitchen to your living area when called. Besides supplying needs for the elderly and disabled (and couch potatoes), the robot can keep track of supplies and link to automated ordering.

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Robots will become more life-like with synthetic soft muscles (Robotics - 2017-09 - Kurzweil)

Columbia Engineering Creative Machines researchers have developed a 3D-printable, synthetic soft muscle that can mimic natural biological systems, lifting 1000 times its own weight. The artificial muscle is three times stronger than natural muscle and can push, pull, bend, twist, and lift weight — no external devices.

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A new t-shirt sewing robot can make as many shirts per hour as 17 factory workers (Robotics/Clothing - 2017-08 - Quartz)

Georgia’s Software Automation has extended the functionality of LOWRY, its sewing robot, or sewbot, from using machine vision to spot and adjust to distortions in fabric, to making whole t-shirts and much of a pair of jeans. One of its robotic sewing lines can replace a conventional line of 10 workers, and produce about 1,142 t-shirts in an eight-hour period, compared to just 669 for the human sewing line.

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Panasonic unveils first robotic hairdresser (Robotics/Haircutting - 2017-07 - Mail OnLine)

Japan’s electronics manufacturer Panasonic offers a hair-washing robot with 24 fingers to massage the user’s scalp and washing arms to spray water and shampoo.

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Musical robot can play alongside musicians and improvise melodies (Robotics/Music - 2017-07 - Quartz)

Creativity and originality are supposed to be really hard to mimic. Researchers at Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology are challenging that belief with Shimon, a robot that can compose new melodies. Loaded with a database of classical and jazz music, plus a couple of pop songs thrown in for good measure, Shimon is able to learn how songs are put together by understanding the relationship between notes. Given a little bit of inspiration in the form of a few bars of music, the four-armed bot can create an entirely new melody.

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Robots may be helping pre-school children to learn a 2nd language (Robotics/Pre-school education - 2017-07 - Technology.org)

Researchers at Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (Germany) have been investigating since 2016 what a robot needs to be able to do to teach a second language to preschool children – and whether and how social robots are suitable for teaching language.

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A soft robot that can navigate its environment by inflatable growth to 74m, and can lift 150lb (Robotics/Rescue - 2017-07 - Popular Science)

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Stanford University have made a soft robot that can navigate its environment by inflatable growth. It unfurls from a single immobile foot, driven by a battery-powered air mattress pump and directed by a camera at its top, as a flexible pipe that can grow to 74m and can lift 150lb. It can be used to pump air to a trapped earthquake survivor, or as a radio antenna, or to free a trapped body.

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Robots will replace 15 million jobs in UK, widening gap between rich and poor (Robotics - 2017-07 - TechRepublic)

A new report from The Sutton Trust said that, in addition to replacing 15 million jobs, robotics will widen the gap between the rich and poor in the UK. By hollowing out the middle class, it will be more difficult for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to move up the social ladder. Other reports argue the validity of automation fully replacing jobs, but fears remain among 74% of business professionals that their job is at risk.

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Tactile sensor lets robots gauge objects’ hardness and manipulate small tools (Robotics - 2017-06 - Kurzweil)

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have added sensors to grippers on robot arms to give robots greater sensitivity and dexterity. The sensor can judge the hardness of surfaces it touches, enabling a robot to manipulate smaller objects than was previously possible. The sensor consists of a block of transparent soft rubber with one face coated with metallic paint. It is mounted on one side of a robotic gripper. When the paint-coated face is pressed against an object, the face conforms to the object’s shape, and the metallic paint makes the object’s surface reflective. Mounted on the sensor opposite the paint-coated face of the rubber block are three colored lights at different angles and a single camera.

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At Toyota, The Automation Is Human-Powered (Robotics - 2017-05 - Fast Company)

Toyota’s automation ratio today is no higher than it was 15 years ago, based on the premise that only people can improve their own efficiency or the quality of their work. Toyota consistently generates industry best profit margins, often 8% or more, by focusing on their New Global Architecture in which material usage is improved making the cars lighter and more fuel-efficient, while the manufacturing process is improved.

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Domino's autonomous vehicle pizza delivery now operational in Germany (Robotics/Courier - 2017-05 - ZDNet)

Domino’s autonomous delivery vehicles are now delivering pizzas to customers in Hamburg, Germany – complementing existing delivery methods (cars, scooters, e-bikes). The 6-wheeled robots travel on streets (via the shortest route to a destination) at speeds up to 16 kph. Domino’s Robotics Unit family now includes AI-based systems for voice response to orders, to interact with smart devices, and to automate rosters, and manage store stock levels.

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Delivery robots will operate within 50 miles and in all weathers (Robotics/Courier - 2017-05 - The Crunch)

Swiss startup, Teleretail AG, has machines, still in prototype, designed to cover long distances, up to 50 miles, and to serve rural and suburban markets along with city residents.

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Robots wielding water knives are the future of farming (Robotics/Farming - 2017-05 - Wired)

Robots roll through a fields spitting clouds of vapor while cutting lettuce heads with water knives – super-high-pressure beams – and gobbling up the produce. The heads roll up its mouth and onto a conveyor belt, where workers in hoodies and aprons grab the lettuce and tear off the loose leaves. California farms are facing a serious labor shortage of perhaps 20%. Robots pick up the slack, and jobs are not lost. Choice of lettuce types is adapted to the robot’s design.

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Automated apple picking in 2018 (Robotics/Fruit Picking - 2017-05 - Scientific American)

Abundant Robotics in California has built an automated apple picker, that recognizes ripe apples and uses a vacuum system to suck them off of the trees.

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3D-printed ‘bionic skin’ could give robots the sense of touch (Robotics - 2017-05 - Technology.org)

Engineering researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a revolutionary process for 3D printing stretchable electronic sensory devices that could give robots the ability to feel their environment by printing touch sensors directly on a hand. Michael McAlpine, a University of Minnesota mechanical engineering associate professor and lead researcher on the study. and his team made the unique sensing fabric with a one-of-a-kind 3D printer they built in the lab. The multifunctional printer has four nozzles to print the various specialized “inks” that make up the layers of the device—a base layer of silicone, top and bottom electrodes made of a conducting ink, a coil-shaped pressure sensor, and a sacrificial layer that holds the top layer in place while it sets. The supporting sacrificial layer is later washed away in the final manufacturing process. All layers of “inks” can set at room temperature. So far, the team has only printed on a model hand.

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Robots learn from robots with 87% accuracy (Robotics - 2017-05 - Gizmodo)

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a system that teaches robots how to acquire new skills—and then teach those skills to different types of robots. the C-LEARN system combines two basic robot teaching principles: Learning from a demonstration and learning by brute programming, where each physical parameter has to be hand-coded by an expert.

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Robots can now pick up most things (Robotics - 2017-05 - Technology.org)

Berkeley researchers at the Laboratory for Automation Science and Engineering created a robot with highly-accurate dexterity through deep learning and a vast database of three-dimensional shapes. Its high grasping success rate means that this technology could soon be applied in industry, with the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and the supply chain.

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US manufactures more with 8 million fewer employees (Robotics - 2017-05 - TechRepublic)

Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University and a leading expert in AI, points out that manufacturing is actually at an all-time high, but uses 8 million fewer employees. (Robots cost $15/hour to operate.) It’s impossible to predict the result of automation on the local basis, and people need to move to something that they do better than machines, which would involve higher-value skills.

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Robotic system 3-D prints entire building's basic structure (Robotics/Buildings - 2017-04 - Technology.org)

Researchers at MIT have developed a robotic system (‘Digital Construction Platform’), capable of ‘printing’ the basic structure of an entire building. The system is comprised of a tracked vehicle that carries a large, industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end. As proof of concept, the research team built a 50′-diameter, 12′-high dome (2,000 sq ft), which took less than 14 hours of “printing” time.

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Deliveries may soon be made by robotic 'dogs' (Robotics/Courier - 2017-04 - Wired)

Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog, Spot, has been delivering parcels strapped to its back to employees’ front doors. Trials are about 70% complete. In November, a rolling bot made by London-based Starship Technologies was used by Just Eat to complete what it claimed to be the world’s first takeaway food delivery by the robot.

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Robot on guy-wire swings over crops (Robotics/Crop Monitoring - 2017-04 - MIT Technology Review)

The robot’s onboard cameras keep a watchful eye on crops so that large fields needn’t be constantly tended by farmers. It swings its arms to traverse a guy-wire strung up across a patch of land in a motion modeled after energy-efficient sloths.

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40% of American jobs could be replaced by robots (Robotics - 2017-04 - Big Think)

Nearly 4 out of 10 American jobs may be replaced through automation by the early 2030s, according to a new report by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC). In the report, the United States was viewed as the country most likely to lose jobs through automation – ahead of the UK (30%), Germany (35%), and Japan (21%). The 2 main reasons why the US may be most susceptible to automation: The Types of Industries (certain industries are much more susceptible to automation); and Dynamics Within each Industry (the routine nature of many American industries). The US Government does not seem to recognize the need to address this issue.

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10 million US jobs lost to robots by 2027 (Robotics - 2017-04 - TechRepublic)

Robots will take 24.7 million US jobs by 2027, but create 14.9 million new jobs in the same time period, leading to a net loss of 9.8 million jobs, according to a new Forrester Research report. Manual jobs in construction and mining will be the most impacted, but white color jobs in medicine and office work will also be impacted. Businesses should focus on the customer and develop a strategy for dealing with automation’s impact on their industry.

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The Zero Law (Corey deVos) (Robotics - 2017-04 - Integral Life)

Isaac Asimov’s 1942 “Three Laws of Robotics” formulated a set of logical parameters for rational ethical behavior that could be programmed into any artificial intelligence: 0) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

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Robothespian acts alongside human actors (Robotics/Acting - 2017-03 - Quartz)

Robots are moving onto the stage. The humanoid RoboThespian has taken to the boards in London, acting alongside humans. Co-star in a play called Spillikin, he can wave his hands around, make faces, talk, and blink. But RoboThespian is not quite autonomous. His performance is activated by nearly 400 separate, preprogrammed triggers.

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Cobalt robot is like a superhuman security guard (Robotics/Building Security - 2017-03 - Robotics/ZDNet)

Cobalt introduced a mobile security robot, whose main job is patrolling a building watching for any unusual activity, and reporting anything suspicious to the appropriate authorities. If it detects anything unexpected, then an offsite employee can use it as a telepresence robot to manage the situation without putting themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. The robot has >60 sensors, and the computational power to handle machine learning algorithms.

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Robots sorting and scanning paper for storage (Robotics/Document Storage - 2017-03 - The Verge)

Ripcord, a new company backed in part by Steve Wozniak, has patented and built robots to automate document storage. The robots can handle mixed content from business cards to legal-sized sheets, from rice paper to cardstock, without changing anything. It even removes staples. A box full of mixed records can be scanned at >600 dpi and sorted into an Amazon-hosted cloud database within hours.

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Four-legged small robot goes where tracked and wheeled robots can’t (Robotics/Reconaissance - 2017-03 - Popular Science)

With 4 nimble legs, Ghost Robotics’ Minitaur small robot can climb a snowy hill, use sensors to check under a car for explosives, climb fences, and jump to open doors. Minitaur will be used by the military and for search and rescue.

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Six jobs lost for every robot added to the workforce (Robotics - 2017-03 - Futurism)

A new paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research notes that each industrial robot introduced between 1990 and 2007 led to the loss of 6.2 jobs.

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Robot with legs and wheels, can jump, spin, lean and move outdoors (Robotics/Carrying - 2017-02 - Wired)

Boston Dynamics’ latest robot has 2 legs and 2 wheels. ‘Handle’ can stand on its legs. Moving around, it dynamically swerves, leans and spins, can travel across uneven surfaces and can jump over objects.

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6-wheeled robots delivering food (Robotics/Courier - 2017-01 - Popular Science)

Starship Technologies have built a fleet of 6-wheeled delivery robots, scheduled to start deliveries in D.C. and California in February (accompanied initially by an employee). They have been tested in the U.K., Germany, and Switzerland, delivering food orders, groceries, and parcels, traveling over 12,000 miles. They have 9 cameras, a 360-degree ultrasonic sensor array, and a Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, to map the environment, but can only travel at 4 mph.

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Adding Social Intelligence to Artificial Intelligence (Robotics - 2017-01 - Quartz)

A Stanford University team of computer scientists is working to overcome artificial intelligence’s lack of social intelligence. They’ve created the Jackrabbot, a one-meter-high robot that can travel up to 5 mph. Equipped with motion sensors and software that utilizes an algorithm based on aerial video footage of busy sidewalks, Jackrabbot goes on expeditions through Stanford’s busy campus making on-the-fly judgments about right-of-way and personal space. Since its March 2015 debut, the robot has made several dozen outings to test its software.

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REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES FROM 2016 – AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU

Robots make up for China's labor shortage (Robotics - 2016-11 - China.org)

Increasingly Chinese factories across the Country are using robots to make up for the shortage of labor in the country. Shanghai-based Baosteel, the country’s largest steelmaker, said that robots would replace more than 2,000 workers and that there would be 1,000 robots installed by the end of 2021. China plans to increase the annual production of home-made industrial robots to 100,000 by 2020, according to a five-year plan for the robot industry released earlier this year. A total of 36,000 major companies will replace their human force with robots by 2017.

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US program will replace co-pilots with robots (Robotics/Airlines - 2016-10 - CTVNews)

A US government/industry collaboration is attempting to replace the second human pilot in two-person flight crews with robot co-pilots. A day is envisioned when all planes and helicopters will fly people and cargo without any human pilot on board. The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) is funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and run by Aurora Flight Sciences, a private contractor.

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Meet 'ROSS,' the bankruptcy robo-lawyer employed by some of the world's largest law firms (Robotics/Law - 2016-08 - Financial Post)

ROSS is an artificially intelligent computer system that was developed a few years ago at the University of Toronto as a plain-language legal research tool. Its AI technology replaces the need for Boolean search terms and codes with ordinary, plain language. The system’s output goes beyond locating the names of helpful cases to draw attention to the key passages that might best answer the lawyer’s question.

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The first autonomous soft robot powered only by a chemical reaction (Robotics - 2016-08 - Kurzweil)

The first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft 3-D-printed robot (powered only by a chemical reaction using hydrogen peroxide) has been demonstrated by a research team from Harvard. “Octobot” combines soft lithography, molding, and 3-D printing. This research validated the manufacture of the key components of a simple, entirely soft robot, laying the foundation for more complex designs.

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Academic Paper: Robots will substitute for most teachers (Robotics/Teaching - 2016-06 - International Conference Proceedings (Bulgaria)

This paper contributes to the increasing body of knowledge in the field of social robotics by investigating the limits and drivers of robot substitution of teachers in educational institutions at all levels. In practice, the AI that is going to substitute teachers takes the form of software that performs the activities of a teacher. The software can be online or installed into a mechanical body that interacts with the environment, i.e. a robot.

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Bringing unconditional love to artificial general intelligence (Robotics - 2016-04 - Institute Of Noetic Sciences)

Double-blind experiment in 2018 with the robot having an emotional module. The test would be the emotional feeling about the robot of the test subjects. Prototype has been built for Hanson Robotics which has commercial objectives.

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Domino's Australia unveiled DRU — the world's first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle (Robotics/Courier - 2016-03 - Lifehacker)

Domino’s Australia unveiled DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) — the world’s first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle that can do everything from navigating fences to talk to customers, and was built in collaboration with Marathon Robotics; an Australian technology startup that specializes in robotic targets for live-fire army training. The DRU is fully autonomous at 20 kph, and will initially be limited to neighborhood deliveries.

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