The Unbounded Robotics platform's main contribution is bringing down the price of co-robots to be affordable by small businesses--by implementing the co-robot paradigm using consumer-grade components which are now high-performance enough. Plus they are leveaging open-source software and smart realtime planning algorithms to make co-robots safe even around the elderly. I think we will see other robot maker emulate this approach in the future.
Co-robots is a concept popularized by Georgia Tech professor Henrik Christensen who pitched the idea to the Obama administration and Congress. His idea was that co-robots, working alongside American workers, could increase their productivity--making them more competitive with cheap foreign labor. As a result, the National Robotics Initiative was launched last year with $70 million in contracts for co-robot development, and is cooperating with the $500 million Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
However, many of the ideas associated with co-robots were already here, such as their ability to use human tools. For example Robonaut was developed by GM working with NASA to develop co-robots that work alongside astronauts using their tools. The military is also popularizing the co-robot idea with its Engineering Squad Robot to work alongside soldiers and the DARPA Robot Challenge has a $2 million purse to develop co-robots for disaster recovery.
Maybe it's just me...this is the first time when I heard such a concept as "co-robot."
At a time when a number of robots actively working in production lines at automobile plants, for example, are designed specifically for that purpose, the easy programming aspect of co-robots should open the door to a whole host of new applications that robots have gone before.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.