ICYMI: Surgical Robots Shine; Robots Ready for Black Friday

Northwest Specialty Hospital is the first hospital in the Pacific Northwest to offer a combination of innovative robotic technology and automation for spine surgery that has earned it the distinction of becoming a nationally recognized surgical observation center for spine procedures. (PRNewsfoto/Northwest Specialty Hospital)

November 22, 2019      

It’s been another busy week here at the Robotics Business Review news desk. I suspect it’s because companies want to get their news out before next week’s Thanksgiving holiday (and Black Friday/Cyber Monday/etc.). Let’s jump right into this week’s ICYMI column (In Case You Missed It).

In addition to all of the content we’ve published this week, here are some additional “news briefs” that caught my eye:

Surgical stays hot

Surgical robot companies made a couple bits of news this week. In Post Falls, Idaho, Northwest Specialty Hospital announced it would be the first hospital in the Pacific Northwest to offer a combination of robotic technologies and automation for spinal surgery. For the hospital, it’s not just one robotic system – it’s the combination of systems, which include:

  • Two disinfection robots, including the Xenex LightStrike Robot, which uses xenon bulbs and ultraviolet light to kill pathogens in surgical suites; and the iSuite from Stryker Corporation, which uses voice automation, fluorescence imaging and other enhancements to improve surgical productivity and safety.
  • The ExcelsiusGPS Robotic Navigation platform from Globus Medical, which uses a robotic arm and navigation capabilities for precise trajectory alignment in spine surgery.
  • The Modus V by Synaptive Medical, a robotic digital microscope that combines engineering with the latest breakthroughs in optics, video processing, and robotic automation.

The second news item around surgical comes from Think Surgical, which along with MCRA LLC announced that it obtained clearance from the FDA to market its TSolution One Total Knee Application for use in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in the United States. Read more here.

Cool car stuff

There was a bunch of items from this week’s AutoMobility LA and 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, but my favorite image comes from Karma Automotive, which launched its SC2 concept car.

ICYMI November 22 Karma SC2 concept car

Featuring cutting-edge technology and design, SC2 is a bold statement to Karma’s emergence as a high-tech mobility incubator, embodying world class luxury design and Karma IP.

While the car has a bunch of cool automotive features for the gearheads, it’s the autonomous functions and driver assistance features that I’m interested in. The system includes long-range radars, cameras and FMCW lidar sensors aimed “for a safe and realistic autonomous future.” Other tech toys include fingerprint and facial recognition sensors for vehicle entry, biometric seats and steering wheel for comfort and control, 3D audio for individual sound zones, and electro-chromatic glass shifts from clear to opaque for privacy and light sensitivity.

Another interesting feature is its “Drive and Play” technology, which lets you relive a previous drives through simulated driving experiences.

A triple high definition camera under the windshield and frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar sensors provide 360 capture of the car in motion, within a 3D environment. Simultaneously, SC2’s intelligent technology captures the entire driving experience in real-time; turns, braking, acceleration, light simulations, sounds, air temperature and audio playlist. After the drive, SC2’s adaptive laser projector replays the journey while the vehicle is parked, while a mounted smartphone acts as the cabin’s rear-view mirror; transforming SC2 into a driving simulator where the user can re-experience their drive and fine-tune their skills. Drivers can then share their Drive and Play experience with others, and also stream drivers’ routes from around the world within their own vehicles, experiencing driving simulations at world-famous roads and race tracks.

Read more here.

Watching distracted drivers

I’m all in favor of reducing the incidents of distracting drivers, as this would reduce the number of accidents and accident-related fatalities, but I’m not sure yet whether I’d want to have technology watching me drive home during my evening commute. So I’m a bit wary of the news from Eyesight Technologies, which this week announced new features for its DriverSense and FleetSense solutions, that can now detect driver distraction as a result of cell phone usage and smoking.

On the smoking front, the company said that with hazardous materials shipments such as oil & gas, cigarette smoking is against the law. In a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, approximately 67% of long haul truckers in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. The company said it the technology will have applications in the shared car economy, where it can detect the presence of smoking in communal cars, such as rentals and autonomous taxis, where there are no drivers present to enforce policies.

I guess my big fear is that the systems would be used somehow to watch me when I’m singing “Funkytown” in the car on the ride home. Read more here (about the system, not my singing).

More Black Friday preparations

There was a small item we missed when discussing the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday preparations by supply chain and logistics companies. XPO Logistics announced this week it has increased its use of intelligent robotics in the U.K. in anticipation of holiday retail volumes. The company said it was increasing the use of robots by 6 River Systems to help employees fulfill orders in the U.K.

“Our successful collaboration with 6 River Systems in the U.S. has led to a seamless rollout of the robots at our U.K. sites,” said Mario Harik, CIO of XPO Logistics. “Based on our pilots with retail apparel, the system handles peaks in consumer demand with near-perfect accuracy by complementing the work performed by our employees. The synergies are ideal for retail and e-commerce fulfillment this holiday season.” You can read more here, and also check out my interview with Harik about XPO Logistics’ overall use of robotics and automation.

Geek+ 11-11 singles day ICYMI November 22

Image: Geek+

I think this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will be a huge benefit for mobile robot companies, and we’re already seeing some evidence of their importance. Geek+, which is making a huge impact globally with its mobile robot systems, announced this week it broke records on the “11/11 Single’s Day” with its robots in China. The company said China’s largest smart warehouse network processed 8 million orders in 72 hours, through the use of scheduling of more than 4,000 robots.

The company said that in under 72 hours, the Geek+ smart warehouses completed all 11/11 orders and shipped 8.11 million orders, up 62% from last year, with a 48-hour delivery rate of 86%, nearly double that of manual 3PL warehouses. The 4,000 robots logged more than 1.5 million kilometers driven during the period.

Additional awesome content

Before I sign off, here are a bunch of my favorite articles from the week. Check them out and make my page views shine!

Have a great weekend, everyone!