Robotics & Learning



October 21, 2020 By Joseph P. Farrell

This story was spotted by M.G. who passed it along, with our thanks. It’s one of those stories that may not seem all that significant, until one connects a few dots, and connects a few technologies not referred to in the article. So without further ado, the article:

Note what’s going on here:

Wearable technology takes on a different meaning in the world of automobiles. As employees get older and younger and avoid the idea of ​​working on a factory production line, auto companies are looking for ways to lighten the load.

High tech exoskeletons are being studied by companies like Hyundai Motor Co., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. The technology originally developed to help people who can no longer walk or stand alone, relieves fatigue and prevents injuries. It’s especially useful for repetitive processes that can’t be automated, even when robotics is making great strides in the industry.

All types of businesses have an “emphasis on corporate social responsibility and occupational safety” and strive to prevent workplace injuries, said Xu Zhenhua, founder of ULS Robotics, a Shanghai-based company that provides exoskeletons to automakers, airport operators, and other industrial manufacturers.

ULS Robotics is developing three exoskeletons that workers can wear to hold and lift heavy equipment. One is for the upper body, another goes around the waist, and the third focuses on the lower limbs. The first two weigh about seven kilograms each and allow the wearer to lift another 20 kilograms. They are powered by a lithium battery with a lifespan of around six to eight hours. (Emphasis added)

Many people have blogged about the rise of robotics, including this author, and more importantly, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Catherine Austin Fitts, who has offered the hypothesis that moves are afoot to robotize everything, including to the extent to make robots “legal persons” for taxation purposes.

With that in mind, I want to focus on this line in the above quotation: “It’s especially useful for repetitive processes that can’t be automated, even when robotics is making great strides in the industry.” It’s that line that forms the core of today’s high octane speculation. Suppose for a moment that you had some manufacturing process that could not be automated, and you needed to learn how to automate it. Solution? Have the humans wear exoskeletons with computer memory that recorded every step of the manufacturing process, including such things as retrieving needed supplies for certain steps, or deciding when one process needed to be suspended in order to work on another. Over time, a database is accumulated allowing one to dispense with the exoskeleton – and the human worker wearing it – and replace it, and him or her, with a robot.

And with that possibility, we’re in Isaac Asimov Foundation trilogy territory, as more and more is robotized and run by technocrats behind computer screens, until the inevitable breakdowns occur, and no one remembers how to actually make things…

See you on the flip side…


Robotic Raven

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s … Robo Raven!

Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor
Date: 06 June 2013 Time: 04:24 PM
 A hawk attacks the Robo Raven, a remarkably lifelike robotic bird.
CREDIT: YouTube screen grab from Maryland Robotics Center

Hawks and other birds of prey are famous for their keen eyesight.

But researchers have created a robotic bird so lifelike that it’s even fooled hawks, which swoop down and attack it the way they would any other pigeonlike bird.

Developed at the Maryland Robotics Center, the robot — dubbed Robo Raven — is made of carbon fiber; 3D-printed, lightweight, thermal-resistant plastic; foam; and silvery Mylar foil (for its wings and tail), reports

obo Raven is almost 2 feet long (60 cm) and weighs less than a can of soda. Its original design was developed in 2007 by University of Maryland professors S. K. Gupta and Hugh Bruck, who carried the battery-powered bird through several evolutions before arriving at the current model.

The long lead time was necessary because, during the trial-and-error process needed to improve the robotic bird, any error would lead to a crash. This would sometimes destroy the robot, so each step in the design process was painstakingly slow.

What makes the current model so realistic is its ability to move each wing independently of the other, just as real birds do. This enables the Robo Raven to swoop, soar, dive and flap its wings in a much more aerobatic way than older models, whose wings could only move simultaneously.

“Our new robot, Robo Raven, is based on a fundamentally new design concept,” Gupta said in a news release. “It uses two programmable motors that can be synchronized electronically to coordinate motion between the wings.”

Some of the design improvements to the Robo Raven were inspired by designs found in nature. For example, the robot uses a hollow framework to provide a stiff, lightweight structure; real birds use a hollow skeletal system for the same task.

The robot is guided by a handheld radio that controls its flight. Some of the funding for the Robo Raven was provided by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which is investigating the Robo Raven’s possible uses for surveillance and other missions.

The Robo Raven “attracts attention from birds in the area,” John Gerdes, an engineer at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, told

Whereas seagulls and other birds try to fly in formation with the Robo Raven, raptors like hawks have tried to attack the bird as quarry.

“Generally, we don’t see them coming,” Gerdes said. “They will dive and attack by hitting the bird from above with their talons; then, they typically fly away.”


RU A Robot In Nevada, Need A Driver’s License? No Problem

Robots Can Apply For Driver’s Licenses In Nevada

HuffPost Weird News    Posted: 03/ 2/2012 2:55 pm

Nevada allows gambling, prostitution and, now, robot driver’s licenses.

As of March 1, the state allows robot researchers to apply for a special license allowing them to test robotic vehicles on open roads, according to, which sayid the cars driven by the robots will be marked with a red license plate during the testing phase.

Once the robot drivers prove their metal — er, mettle — the license plates will change to green.

Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed A.B. 511 into law last June after Google pushed a campaign to give androids the right to the same access to roads as humanoids. Robotic Prius cars are already driving semi-legally in California, according to

The robot drivers have already driven more than 200,000 miles in California semi-legally, but experts believe Nevada’s openess will help researchers perfect the robotic technology.

The state may have hit the jackpot with this law: anyone who wants a robot car license has to post a bond in excess of $1 million to ensure against damage and they have to provide the Nevada DMV with a detailed report on what they are testing with each car.

It could take years before robotic cars are a reality but correspondent Maureen Aladinanticipates they will be an improvement over humans.

“At least with robots, there won’t be any human error,” she said. “No robot profiling, texting while driving or road rage.”