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apresher
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Service Robots
apresher   1/11/2013 9:02:04 AM
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Solid story, Ann.  There certainly are a lot of opportunities for service robots.  In manufacturing, I wonder if another factor is the number of robotic mechanisms and arms that are being designed into the machine themselves rather than a robot as a standalone system.  Thanks.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/11/2013 11:48:05 AM
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Thanks Al. Can you clarify your comments about robot arms vs standalone machines? What exactly are you suggesting?

Cadman-LT
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Re: Service Robots
Cadman-LT   1/12/2013 10:22:29 AM
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Great article Ann...as always. I was wondering exactly what the service bot segment consisted of...you mentioned roombas. I guess roombas, some mow your lawn, but I can't think of many others atm.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/14/2013 11:48:43 AM
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Thanks, Cadman-LT. There are tons of service robots, in both professional and personal apps. Professional service bots include medical helpers of various kinds used by physicians or other medical personnel, as we detailed in two different medical robot slideshows (see links at the end of the article). Milking robots are also included there. For personal service bots, aside from vacuum cleaners there are medical helper bots used by patients or other non-professional uses. This slideshow on service bots focuses on profession types, but you can see the apps are pretty broad:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=257119

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/14/2013 11:49:14 AM
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Thanks, Cadman-LT. There are tons of service robots, in both professional and personal apps. Professional service bots include medical helpers of various kinds used by physicians or other medical personnel, as we detailed in two different medical robot slideshows (see links at the end of the article). Milking robots are also included there. For personal service bots, aside from vacuum cleaners there are medical helper bots used by patients or other non-professional uses. This slideshow on service bots focuses on profession types, but you can see the apps are pretty broad:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=257119



TJ McDermott
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Re: Service Robots
TJ McDermott   1/15/2013 3:30:48 PM
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robotic vacuum cleaners / personal service

Ann, that's the right way to classify it, but where would you classify such a device if it were used in an office  environment?

I'm looking at my company's office space right now because of what you said.

Does anyone personally know of robot vacuums operating in commercial office space?

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/15/2013 3:41:02 PM
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TJ, the study said that the sales figures/demand numbers for service robots are segmented primarily by who uses them, and only partially by nature of the machine. Obviously, those categories of machines can overlap considerably, just like other items used in both homes and offices, such as janitorial supplies (brooms, mops, buckets, etc.). The upshot is, no reason you can't use a Roomba in your office. In the other direction, I bought an $800 commercial dehumidifier for my humid, damp forest house because only the commercial models can take enough moisture out of the air, plus I knew it would last a long time.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/17/2013 12:54:10 PM
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DN's Cabe Atwell just wrote a blog about telepresence robots for home workers:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=257159
These are a good example of personal service robots based on a design platform very similar to some professional service robots: the medical telepresence robots used increasingly in hospitals, which DN's Elizabeth Montalbano wrote about here:
http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=249227

Tim
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Robots
Tim   1/13/2013 8:09:09 PM
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Milking robot systems are amazing. As the price points for milk remain low, it is touger for dairy farmers to stay in business. Deluxe milking robot aytomation systems allow the cow to determine its own milking time which leads to a healthier herd with better milk production.

TJ McDermott
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Blame the boomers
TJ McDermott   1/13/2013 9:12:20 PM
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Well, not really blame them.  But the reason for the growth in service robots can be attributed to the baby boomer generation.  ANYTHING that has to do with caring for our aging population is going to be a growth industry in the next couple of decades.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Blame the boomers
Ann R. Thryft   1/15/2013 12:16:46 PM
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I agree with TJ--the growth of many personal service robots is due in part to the baby boomer population bulge. I think the growth in professional service robots is a different story, and it's definitely one that's occurring and going to occur. China is much, much bigger than we are and they are investing in both types like gangbusters. I'll be posting a followup on this report soon.

Elizabeth M
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Definitely surprising
Elizabeth M   1/14/2013 3:48:33 AM
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This bit of news is definitely surprising; but then again, there has been a lot of innovation and investment in service robots as the need for less expensive labor, as well as general interest in new designs, grows. Perhaps this just means the industrial robot space, which is more mature, is due for a bit of flattening while the nascent service-robot market grows. I myself have watched with a bit of wonder at some of the new designs coming out in the latter and look forward to seeing more as this trend develops.

Battar
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Short working week
Battar   1/14/2013 9:20:28 AM
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Most service robots are designed for a task where they would normally work only a few hours a week- maybe an hour a day every day except weekends. So you are comparing the cost of ownership/maintenance of a robot against a few hours minimum wage, not full time employment. This is one reason why service robots won't take over in a hurry. Another reason is that while the cost of complex elecronics is rapidly falling, this represents at most 20% the overall cost - the rest is mechanics and plastics, and here raw material costs are rising. SO you will still find it cheaper to pay your neighbours teenage son to mow the lawn once a fortnight than to buy a robotic lawn mower. (assuming - not unreasonably - that they are equally intelligent)

apresher
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Service Robots
apresher   1/15/2013 1:59:45 PM
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Ann, A trend with industrial robots in use of robot mechanisms as part of the design of the machine, versus a standard configuration that stands alone.  The robot mechanism themselves are designed as standard hardware to control multiple axes of motion.  Now the trend is designing these mechanisms into line-oriented machines and even controlling them with standard line controllers including support for advanced kinematics (rather than a separate robot controller).  This is not really related to the direction of this thread but is another example of how robots is finding new application areas -- especially in manufacturing.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Service Robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/25/2013 11:54:57 AM
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Al, thanks for the clarification. I see what you mean. Since the research firm didn't divulge specific details of the study, it's not clear how they defined physical units of industrial robots.



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