vimalkumarp, thanks for the feedback. Also, thanks for the info a while ago on the da Vinci surgical robot. It has a surprising number of potential apps. For example, NASA is using a modified one in a program that's studying how robots can refuel and service space satellites, remotely controlled from Earth:
It's interesting that you post Integration as the number one issue. I just read an article in another trade magazine (I don't remember which one) that was talking about this very issue. The ongoing integration efforts include a change to programming so it more closely resembles PLC programming and is therefore easier for a wider variety of engineers to setup.
Easier than going to Amsterdam: go to youtube and search for "Grenzebach Baggage Handling" to see the baggage robot at work.
Also, if you happen to have a stopover in Amsterdam, you can catch a glimpse at the robots (as the new baggage hall has a window front towards the public side of the airport - the technology does not have to be hidden in the basement ;-)).
Finally, any seriously interested party can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange for a site visit.
You´re right. There´s quite a bunch of technologies involved (SW algorithms for online "palletizing", robot controls, vision technology, handling technology, HMI, ...) to have a robot "playing 3D-tetris" in such a complex environment
Chuck, I've been tracking industrial robots, not consumer or office models. But I'd bet there are more of them out there, if the commercials and ads are any indication. I do know that home robots started out pretty pricey, and have been an early adopter phenomenon (read: expensive).
Rob, those are good questions and I'd like to know the same things myself.