What’s New in Robotics? 23.06.2023


The news roundup for this week looks at Ziggy, the mobile EV charging robot, for times when stationary charging is inconvenient; then a huge robot that climbs a giant wind turbine imitating the way Koalas climb trees, then on to Taiwan where UGV scours sewers for mosquito breeding grounds, then on to another jaw-dropping first for ChatGPT: building robots; and lastly, a lightweight 3-lbs. exosuit, for taking on all kinds of tasks, even if it’s just relieving tired legs in the office or hiking a trail.

Mobile EV charger robot

Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are multiplying by the tens of thousands to accommodate the anticipated millions zigzag moveEVs (40% of total passenger car sales) are expected by 2030. For the most part, EV charging stations are stationary. The driver must return to the station, exit and insert the charger manually.

For many people, such an EV charging experience can be difficult, dangerous, or even impossible. Especially those with permanent or temporary physical disabilities, pregnant women, and the elderly are prone to charging problems. Then too, there’s the annoying experience of underdeveloped EV infrastructure where there’s never a charger available.

Enter Ziggy, robotic mobile EV charging station “It’s designed to stay in a parking area, where drivers can summon it via an app to charge their vehicle,” said Car & Driver.

The startup, based in LA EV Safe Chargingbegan development on Ziggy in 2019, with mobile units slated to ship in late 2023.

“About the size of a fridge, Ziggy is a battery on wheels who will be able to navigate parking areas independently to reserve driver spots and charge their cars. And of course, there are advertisements in it.”


Koalas, robots and wind farms

How about technology that inspires nature? Based in Navarre in Northern Spain KoalaLifter has developed a huge robotic crane that mimics the way koalas climb trees. The koala’s unique technique of wrapping its limbs around a tree and then lifting itself up is image_2used to transport the aptly named KoalaLifter into a wind turbine to build, replace parts, or repair giant structures.

Every year, more than 18,000 new wind turbines are installed and around 20,000 maintenance operations are carried out. That EU funded The KoalaLifter, with its autonomous and self-climbing capabilities, is “virtually independent of tower height, weight to be lifted and wind speed limits.”

“The KoalaLifter System,” says the company, “is a disruptive lifting device that uses friction collars to embrace a Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) tower to enable autonomous self-climbing capability, eliminating the need for high-tonnage cranes.”

The system operates without workers near the load, is trucked, and requires only one operator to position the system for its ascent.


Taiwan mosquito hunter UGV

Led by Wei-Liang Liu, an investigator with Taiwan National Center for Mosquito-Borne Disease Controlresearchers designed an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to explore deep cracks and crevices in the sewers of Kaohsiung City, a large (1.7 million) city in 64823ac71b872southern Taiwan.

Dengue fever, yellow fever, and Zika viruses lurk underground, born from several species of mosquitoes there, and then emerge in Kaohsiung City to transmit the virus to the general public.

To eliminate underground breeding areas, authorities said, would put a giant strain on the city’s mosquito population and devastate the dengue virus that is engulfing the city.

UGV has been shown to be a very effective mosquito hunter.

“Researchers combined a robotic crawler, cable-controlled cable car and a real-time monitoring system into one unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) system which can take high-resolution real-time images of the area inside the sewers.”

The system is implemented annually from May to August in the five administrative districts of Kaohsiung City, special emphasis is placed on sealed roadside ditches.

And it works! UGV robot hunters are helping to dramatically decrease the city’s mosquito population by almost 70 percent.

The first double for ChatGPT and robots

ChatGPT not only designs plant-picking robots, it decides which plants to make!

Researcher at EPFL (Swiss technical university) And TU Delft (Netherlands) own collaborate with ChatGPT-3 to design a robot, which turns out to be a mobile harvester robot with arms for picking tomatoes.

gpt generator robotChatGPT, and generative AI in general, knows no bounds to influence other industries and technologies. And recently was given the opportunity to influence robot design.

A group of roboticists chooses a farm and ChatGPT suggests picking tomatoes because of its high economic value. “We wanted ChatGPT to design not just robots, but truly useful ones,” said Cosimo Della Santina, assistant professor, and Ph.D. student. Francesco Stella, both from TU Delft (Netherlands).

With global tomato market of $200 billion every year, it looks like ChatGPT is well chosen.

It can get interesting. Natural Machine Intelligence came out with an article in which the robotic expert stated: “We show that large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, can guide the robot design process, at both a conceptual and technical level, and we propose a new human-AI co-design strategy and its social implications. ”

It really was a bomb!

For example, could ChatGPT reimagine and redesign a cobot welding or palletizing robot? Looks like we’ll see soon.

For now, ChatGPT has surprised almost everyone by designing a farming robot…and to everyone’s surprise, he dictates which crops it will choose.

The researchers, intending to leverage ChatGPT for their design and manufacture, also wish to explore the different levels of cooperation between humans and the Big Language Model (LLM), of which ChatGPT is one.

And as an added bonus, ChatGPT suggests new age grippers made of silicone or rubber to keep tomatoes from crushing.

OK, now let’s see how well it sells. Maybe ChatGPT knows.

Off-the-rack robots, ready to go!

As the evolution of exoskeletons (also called wearable robots) progresseshardware continues to decline while the range of potential use cases continues to increase.

Complex heavy-duty frames to support paralyzed patients are not required for workplace assistant equipment such as those used to unload trucks or pallets full of heavy containers and also as training clothing allowing athletes to increase strength and endurance.

wim-use368Lighter exosuits are now hitting the market in droves for all kinds of jobs, even if it’s just to relieve tired legs in the office or hiking a mountain trail.

One such newbie is Korea WIRobotics (founded in 2021) that came out with a one-size-fits-all “ultralight robot, walking aid, and wearable” named WIM.

“While wearable robots have so far mainly been used in the workplace, WIM is expected to become a wearable robot for everyday life for the general public,” announced the maker of the new robot.

Said Co-CEO Lee Yeon-baek“WIM will be the first product of such wearable mobility, although weight, size, portability and time of use are challenges that must be overcome for existing wearable robots to enter ordinary people’s living and working spaces.”

WIM, says the company’s website, “weighs only 1.4 kg (3 lbs.) and has a compact size, which makes it easy to transport and can be installed and removed in 30 seconds. When wearing it, you can not only perform various tasks such as driving, but also sit or lie down to rest.”

Another company’s co-CEO Kim Yong-jae added: “WIM not only collects information on the wearer’s posture and movement, but also analyzes the information on the wearer’s strength and balance, and selects a mode based on the data to selectively change the walking posture, efficiency and strength.”






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