News Desk Wrapup: Quick Hits on Robot News for the Week

Kamuthi Solar Project

October 18, 2019      

It’s amazing how quickly the week goes by when you’re monitoring the world of robotics news. It’s almost like we need a robot or AI around here to start producing more news copy (no, don’t think about that just yet).

With most people thinking about their mid-October weekend plans, take one quick moment to see what else has been going on that I found interesting this week:

Benchmarking solar farms via drone

SenseHawk, which develops AI-powered software for the solar industry, said this week it benchmarked the condition of 2.5 million solar modules in record time at one of the world’s largest solar sites, the Kamuthi Solar Power Project in India. Using drones with thermography imaging technology, as well as its cloud-based SenseHawk Therm software, the company was able to assess the solar site in less than three weeks, which would have taken several months if tackled monthly. The site spans an area of 2,500 acres, the equivalent of 950 football fields, or about four square miles.

The software is able to detect hot spots, evaluate energy loss, schedule maintenance and track defects over time. The company said it could detect more than 99.9% of all hotspots on solar modules.

Talking Robotics at WPI

If you’re in the New England area and want to hear some smart people talk about robots next week, head to the Robotics Engineering Research Symposium at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Titled “Launching to a Robotic Future”, the event will include robotics researchers from around the world, along with a reception highlighting the history of WPI’s robotics program.

Speakers include Dr. Robert Howe (Harvard), Dr. Wolfram Burgard (Toyota Research Institute), Dr. Shiekegi Sugano (Waseda University) and Dr. Al Rizzi (Boston Dynamics). Head here for more details.

Amazon re:MARS, Year 2

Amazon announced this week it would return to Las Vegas in 2020 for the second edition of its re:MARS conference, which covers machine learning, automation, robotics and space topics. The event will be held June 16-19, 2020, with more details on the agenda and speakers announced in early 2020. Click here to read about my experiences at this year’s re:MARS event, and why the robotics industry needs Amazon.

news desk wrapup october 18

Yaskawa Motoman Americas employees at the Dayton, Ohio, headquarters.

Yaskawa Motoman celebrates 30 years

The Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.  Previously known as Motoman, the company began as a 50/50 joint venture between Hobart Brothers Company and Yaskawa Electric America, and then officially began operations on Aug. 1, 1989. In 1994, Motoman Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yaskawa Electric Corp.

The company started with just 59 employees, and now has nearly 700 employees in 11 facilities throughout the U.S. (Dayton, Ohio; Detroit; Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.), Canada (Mississauga, Ontario; and Pointe-Claire, Quebec), Mexio (Aguascalientes, Apodaca – N.L C.P. and Queretaro); and Brazil (Diadema, Sao Paulo).

Universal, Vectis team up on welding cobot

Vectis Automation has teamed up with Universal Robots to create the Vectis Cobot Welding Tool, aimed to help manufacturers boost productivity by reducing the learning curve, deployment time, risk, and cost of robotic welding. The tool is powered by a UR10e cobot, and is also available as a low-risk, rent-to-own option. The two companies will show off the tool at the upcoming FABTECH show in Chicago, Nov. 11-14.

Drone training for New York students

SkyOp, which develops drone training courseware for educational institutions, announced recently it was awarded a cooperative purchasing contract to make its SkyOp Drone Training Curriculum available to local school districts in New York through the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) program. Under the agreement, SkyOp will deliver its workforce-development STEM curriculum directly to local districts while the BOCES will provide support and training for teachers and district staff.

The curriculum, which includes more than 300 hours of instruction and coursework, covers topics such as the introduction to drones, Part 107 test preparation, hands-on trone flight training, drone photo and video production, and intro to Pix4D, among others.