So it turns out that in Walworth Business Park, Andover there is a food packaging centre that is entirely built to suit robots and not humans. The factory is called the customer fulfilment centre (CFC) and was developed by Ocado’s, the online grocery store, in order to better serve their customers.
The CFC has a choice of over 45 thousand products, and will pack around 3.5 million items and up to 65 thousand orders a week at its full capacity. That is just insane!! The site is around 240 thousand square feet, or just a bit bigger than 7 football pitches. In essence, the majority of the site is set up in a three dimensional grid, where the robots travel around 4m/s and within 5mm of one another.
On occasions, where the containers are difficult to manipulate, the packaging plant has bespoke robot arms designed by Universal Robots. Interestingly these robots have a 3D imaging camera to aid in the packaging process, which most of us already know as an Xbox Kinect. Hey, why waste technology that is already advanced enough for the job you are doing.
One comment that got us thinking was that this is a full system that relies on all components to operate correctly. Similarly the human bodies antibodies and blood cells aren’t considered to be different parts, but parts of a whole person. So using the same logic, arguably of course, this is one massive robot and not 3000 small robots. 🤖👾⌨️🎚➡️⬅️
Have you heard of ‘The Grand Challenge’ by DARPA? The challenge was set up to aid in the development of technologies and to create the first fully autonomous ground vehicles capable of completing a substantial off-road course within a limited time frame. The challenge was started in in 2004 and run in the Mojave dessert, USA. The route followed along a 150-mile (240 km) path of the I15 Interstate, from Barstow, California to the California–Nevada border in Primm.
None of the vehicles that entered the first race finished the route. Carnegie Mellon University’s Car, Sandstorm (a converted Humvee) traveled the farthest distance, completing 11.78 km (7.32 mi) of the course before getting stuck on a rock after making a tight turn. In 2004 there were no winners declared, and the cash prize was not given. As DARPA had intended to give the cash price regardless, a second Grand Challenge event was scheduled for 2005, and the price money was doubled to $2 Million. Runners up in 2nd and 3rd place each received $1 million and $0.5 million respectively.
The challenge provided a great opportunity for for the development of autonomous technologies and gave a lot of people a reason to develop this field. We personally think some of the cars also look very cool and hope you do to!
If you know of any opportunities that have helped push forward AI and robotic technologies then post it below, we will be sure to check them out!
This unbelievable robot is called ‘Aquanaut’ and was built by Houston Mechatronics Inc.The only real way to describe this robot is an underwater transformer, it literally transformers from a submarine into a two armed robot for inspection of oil and gas infrastructure. It can operate vales, use tools and requires no tether or support shafts. Impressively In sub mode it can travel 124miles or 200km, up to 7 knots 13kph/8mph and has a maximum operating depth of 984ft/300m. Check it out!
‘Spot’ is a descendant of Big Dog by Boston Dynamics and is truly one of the coolest and most developed robots that we have seen. Currently spot retails for slightly more than £53,000 per unit! 😬 to clarify for 53k you get 90 minute of battery life, 3mph at full speed, 2 payload ports, swappable batteries, 14kg of payload and 360 degrees of cameras. Ultimately if you haven’t seen it in action get on to YouTube now and check it out!
What is an algorithm? And what are the used for? This is probably one of the questions we hear regularly and it does come with a simple answer. Algorithms are sets of rules used in problem solving tasks to solve a problem. They typically come in the form of While loops, For Loops or conditional statements such as switch or if/else statements. A simple algorithm can be: If the sun in up, open the curtains.
If you like this post be sure to keep your eyes peeled, we want to bring you more technical knowledge each week.
If you’d like to ask your own programming, math or robotics questions post a comment and we will try to answer it in a future post.
T-HR3.. Okay first a bit of a moan, when it comes to robots we think they should always have real names, designation numbers are so…. disengaging. Moan over.
The T-HR3 is the third generation, humanoid robot by Toyota. The robot is designed to demonstrate the ability to control joints and balance a robot around its centre of gravity. Interestingly this has a human interface called the master manoeuvring system which allows a user to control the robots limbs remotely. Technically speaking the human is connected to 16 super-sensitive torque servo modules as well as force and motion sensors that control the 29 servos found in the robots body. This is all happening in real time. The VR style head unit also allows the operator to see through the eyes of the robot.
This is the type of robot technology that we think should be implemented in day to day life, the applications could save lives around the world. In rescues scenarios it would make sense to put robots controlled by humans in to risky situations, rather then risk further loss of life. We imagine that if these kinds of robots were available then Petty Officer Beirut Pakbara (Thai Navy Seal) may not have died during the Tham Luang Cave Rescue in 2018. If there are any cool robots that you think we may like then leave a comment below, we will be sure to investigate it.
An 18 meter (60ft) Gundam! That is the same Gundam we used to play with as kids and run around the house with. Even without nostalgia this is one of the coolest robots we have ever seen, It is absolutely massive. There is a bespoke hanger that lets you see the world from the cockpit of the Gundam robot. The robot weights 25 tons and has 24 moveable parts, including its legs, arms and head.
If you want to visit this cool robot then you can find it at the Gundam Factory, Yokohama, South of Tokyo in Japan. Be quick though as the event ends in 2022. If there are any robots that you’d like us review then leave a comment below.
After carrying its’ dodgy diesel emissions scandal for a few years, it’s fair to say the Volkswagen Group is once again on the march, as it has redirected its forces towards the much-needed electric future.
This change starts with the ID.3, which is the first of a new-generation Volkswagen of ID-badged all-electric models. This family style hatchback has already been joined by a new and larger design, the SUV model; ID.4 in September of 2020, and so far, the Volkswagen group is promising to deliver more between now and 2025. Indeed, an electric ID.1 supermini has already been confirmed as one of the projects for upcoming years.
So, how are the unveiled models performing? And are they living up to their expectations so far?
Let’s start with the ID.3, has it succeeded? The short answer is, yes. The practicality and passenger space have been a big treat for customers. Not only that, but also the superior levels of comfort and refinement won them over, alongside the latest on-board tech and generous standard equipment, which makes the ID.3 a compelling choice. Despite the car’s weight of around 1,700kg, its’ 201bhp electric motor, paired with the typical instant acceleration that comes with pure electric drive and a drive range up to 263 miles, this model provides more than enough power and ease to make swift progress and make the drive worth a while. The price starts from £28,370 (inc. £2,500 Plug in Car Grant (PiCG)).
How about the ID.4? This second ID-badged model offers more usable space and good levels of on-board tech. As it ensures a comfortable ride and a practical range it is a car that’s easy to live with, an everyday best-friend. However, inside the vehicle some of the trim appears a little cheaper looking than in the ID.3 model, and the touch-sensitive controls can be frustrating to use. Overall, the ID.4 comes with either a 52kWh or 77kWh battery, with a single motor driving the rear wheels. Versions with the smaller battery are available with either 146bhp or 168bhp, badged as Pure and Pure Performance. However, for those seeking extra power there are the bigger capacity battery and the 201bhp Pro Performance and 295bhp GTX variants. The price range for the ID.4 stands between £33,960 and £54,865.
Which of the two seems more appealing to you? And do you think the new approach Volkswagen takes on will clear their name from years of carrying the diesel scandal? Let us know what you think, and how do these models stand against other electric vehicles in your opinion!
‘Nissan is driving towards carbon neutrality with a world- first EV manufacturing ecosystem’ announced Nissan on twitter this summer, as they unveiled the; Nissan EV36Zero, a £1 billion flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub creating a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem!
Managed from Sunderland, UK, Nissan EV36Zero will supercharge the company’s desire to achieve carbon neutrality and establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring.
The launch began with a £1bn investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC and Sunderland City Council. The idea interconnects three initiatives, which bring together electric vehicles, renewable energy, and battery production.
Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer, Makoto Uchida stated: “This project comes as part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes”.
This initiative aims to greatly accelerate Europe’s drive to achieve carbon neutrality. Isn’t that just what we need right now?
And this is not all, as this idea has been designed for global markets, UK production will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by Nissan’s Sunderland plant, making it truly a drive towards Europe’s carbon neutrality. It has been stated that the new crossover will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform, with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units to be installed.
This means that the production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while further ensuring 75 R&D jobs. Indeed, the transformational project and various investments into producing a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK, takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past a whooping £5bn!!
In fact, by evaluating Nissan’s expertise in crossovers and the worldwide success of the Nissan LEAF, one can already get excited about the upcoming next-generation vehicle styling, efficiency, and battery technology, which will hopefully make the switch to electric driving even more accessible.
However, this project appears to go beyond the promises of the products as the means to create a blueprint, the Sunderland City Council aims in fact to deliver a 100% renewable electricity ‘Microgrid’ that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually!
By combining the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, initial plans suggest there could be as many as ten solar farms created, with an anticipated 132MW generation, and with a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for ‘firm’ supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the adjacent International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP). However, these plans will continue to be developed and evaluated with potential private sector green investors.
As a debut, this project is estimated to be an £80 million investment, which further includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan EV/Envision AESC batteries. If this idea would be to become successful, this would allow for excess energy generated during daylight hours to be captured and used at another time, helping to balance demand on the grid. How amazing does that sound?!
However, now that we know a little bit more about this investment, what are we thinking? Are all those ideas too good to be true? Or maybe, there is something that could be done differently? Let us know what you think!
Python vs C++ what’s the difference? Both python and C++ are programming languages that can be used for procedural or object-oriented programming however were designed for the latter. C++ programs are much faster to run, has a large community and if used correctly can make better use of memory than its python counterpart. Python is fast to develop, doesn’t need a specific design environment and requires no bespoke compilers to operate. Ultimately like most situations, there is a trade-off between performance and ease of use, each program you write will require you to divide which is best. if you have any comments or would like use to talk about a specific subject then leave a comment or send us a message.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence that is demonstrated by machines. This is in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans or animals.
AI is often defined in many different ways, however the consensus is generally agreed upon 4 types of AI systems.
Reactive AI: Used for simple pattern recognition and is able to function in a scenario with very few, or no unknown quantities. These types of situations mean computations can be done much faster than a human. This is the type of AI that you may find in Echo or Siri devices.
Limited Memory: Can be used to solve for more complex tasks. It uses the history of the data to make predictions of the future. This is the type of AI you’ll find in the current level of self driving vehicles. Arguably this is where all current AI research is located. Theory of Mind: This type of AI is able to understand human reasoning and perspectives. It is able to learn with fewer examples than the previous type of AI and is truly the next milestone in AI development.
Self-Awareness: This is the level of AI where the AI knows of itself, what it is, and how it operates. This is the kind of AI that you will have seen 1000 times in movies and games. We really do think that AI can change the world as we know it and aid us as humans in developing further. All we have to do is work collectively to push the technology forward. Heard of a cool AI, post it in the comments below and we will be sure to check it out!
We just wanted to take a minuture to talk about Cardiff and technology. Were you aware that the first ever radio signal was sent from Lavernock point, Cardiff. That’s the same radio waves that are now used everyday by millions of people. Every phone is based off of the RF technology that was pioneered here in South Wales.
In 1896 Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first ever radio signal 3 miles from Lavernock point across to the lighthouse on Flat Holm Island in the Bristol Channel. Both locations had a 100ft mast with an arial on top. The press had even turned up to witness this amazing feat of Engineering. Ultimately Marconi is known as the inventor of wireless radio and in 1909 won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
A plaque commemorating the achievements of Guglielmo Marconi and his partner, George Kemp can be found in the St Lawrence churchyard, Lavernock, near Cardiff.
If you have any interesting engineering related topics then let us know in the comment below!