August 24, 2011      

A weekend post by New York Times Venture Beat blogger Dean Takahashi talks about Willow Garage’s Steve Cousins. The CEO of the company famous for its PR 2 service robot believes that “If the past 50 years saw the rise of industrial robots, the next 50 will be about the age of personal robots,” according to the blog.

Industrial robots will also likely get a boost if or when Chinese manufacturer Foxconn carries out its much publicized promise to purchase one million of the devices within the next three years. Takahashi himself brings up an argument we’ve been making at Robotics Trends for quite some time, namely that “the latest generation of robots… could make cheap overseas labor obsolete,” and return manufacturing jobs to American shores.

And yet another segment of the industry, military robotics, already on firm footing, will reportedly get a major boost in coming years. ENP Newswire via Avionics Intelligence says that “The US Navy has confirmed plans to retire the special mission versions of the Lockheed P-3 by 2020, and replace them with an all-unmanned fleet.” Those “special missions,” typically involve surveillance activities, and according to the news source, the Navy plans “an $ 8 billion investment over the next five years in a family of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.” 

A date to remember
Speaking of the robotics market and its growing opportunities, Robotics Trends live event, the RoboBusiness Leadership Summit 2011, taking place in Boston, Nov. 2-3, will feature Rod Brooks, cofounder of iRobot and more recently founder of Heartland Robotics. Brooks will lead a session entitled “Venture Capital & Robotics; Bridging the Gap, and Building Great Companies.” Space is limited.

Trial by fire
The UK has been an early adopter of video surveillance technology. Singularity Hub reports that London alone has more than one million cams located throughout the city. Moreover, in response to the country’s recent civil unrest, “Advanced facial recognition software that was originally planned for the 2012 Olympics is now being applied to filter through the colossal heaps of video evidence in hopes of pairing criminals with their identities,” Singularity notes, adding that it’s unclear how the initial deployment has been.