Poll for UK Robotics Week reports that over 1 in 3 British adults believe robotics could help manufacture PPE, while over a third think that robot deliveries could aid social distancing.
One in three British adults see a key role for the use of robotics in tackling the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics, research released today reveals. The public poll*, commissioned by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, is being released ahead of the annual UK Robotics Week, which returns for its fifth year from 22nd – 28th June 2020.
36% of a representative sample of British adults believe that robotics technology could help to ramp up the manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while 33% feel that robot deliveries and the use of Unattended Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) could aid social distancing during public health crises such as the current global pandemic1. 28% of those polled also think that robotics could play a vital role in automating the cleaning and disinfecting of public places.
The survey reports that the manufacturing sector tops the list of industries in which people think robotics are most useful, highlighted by 42% of respondents, ahead of logistics (30%) and military and defence (20%). While just under a fifth of those polled (17%) indicated that robotics should be most used in the medical sector, the medical field is also where most people (38%) expect to see the most rapid advancements in the next 12 months. A surge in robotics innovation is also anticipated by the public in 3D printing (34%), logistics (30%) and in the household (29%).
Other key findings from the research include:
– Almost one in five (19%) adults think that robotics should replace people doing physical work
– Whilst 56% of people have stayed as trusting since last year towards robotics, 16% of people have become more trusting
Professor Robert Richardson
Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, comments: “These findings from our latest survey into attitudes towards robotics show that the public is taking a real interest in how robotics technology is developing, and the benefits of using robots across a gamut of sectors. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen examples of specific tasks that robots are able to carry out while removing humans from risk – including disinfecting spaces and transporting medical supplies and food around hospitals – and UK Robotics Week offers a fantastic opportunity to explore how robotic systems can both contribute to our everyday life and work, and also help us prepare for and adapt to unexpected events.”
UK Robotics Week is organised annually by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, which was founded in 2015 to bring cohesion to the robotics and autonomous systems research base, enhance capital facilities across the country, and support education programmes and public engagement activities. This year’s programme is showcasing the state-of-the-art in robotics systems research and development and includes prestigious academic challenges and engaging school competitions. New for this year is the Medical Robotics for Contagious Diseases Challenge, which invites the leading robotics research teams from across the world to submit innovative ideas that could offer solutions as part of a multi-faceted response to the current COVID-19 health crisis and future global pandemics.
* Research carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 07/06/2020 to 11/06/2020 amongst a panel resulting in 2,014 UK adults responding. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).
XR is a term which has become more prominent in the last few years. It encapsulates virtual, augmented, and mixed reality topics. The definition of each of these has become saturated in the past decade, with companies using their own definitions for each to describe their products. The new IDTechEx Report, “Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality 2020-2030”, distils this range of terms and products, compares the technologies used in them, and produces a market forecast for the next decade.
The report discusses 83 different companies and 175 products in VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) markets. This article specifically discusses the findings on the virtual reality market.
Virtual reality (VR) involves creating a simulated environment which a user can perceive as real. This is achieved by stimulating the various senses with appropriate signals. This is most commonly visual (via displays and optics) and auditory (via headphones or speakers) signals, but also increasingly involves efforts around haptic (touch) sensations. The generation of realistic virtual environments requires the generation of appropriate stimuli and systems to direct how the stimuli should change, whether automatically or due to user interaction. As such, this relies on a variety of components and systems including displays, optics, sensors, communication and processing, delivered via both hardware and associated software to generate this environment.
There are three main groups of VR headset – PC VR, Standalone VR and Smartphone VR. PC VR has a user interface & display worn on the body, but the computing and power are offloaded to the external computer. This is where most of the commercial hardware revenue is made today. Standalone VR is a dedicated standalone device (no tethering) with all required computing and components on board. Finally, smartphone/mobile VR uses the smartphone processor, display and sensors used to power VR experience, with only a very cheap accessory necessary to convert to VR. The report discusses the revenue split for these three sectors in full, and an example image is shown in the figure on right.
The report discusses the likelihood of a shift in the devices used by consumers, for example from a PC VR to a standalone VR headset. This is because it would provide greater freedom of movement and accessibility for different use cases. One example of a standalone VR product is the Oculus Quest device, released in 2019. This was one of the first devices to be standalone for a gaming purpose, and it has all the heat management and processing systems on the headset itself. Oculus is one of the big players in the VR market, and have a range of products, some of which are shown in the table and images below.
These headsets provide a range of experiences for the user, at different price points. After being founded in 2012, Oculus was bought by Facebook for $2.3bn in 2014, it has continued to grow and produce VR products for a range of markets. Details of the growth of the VR market are included in the report for a range of companies, and their different use cases. The overall market is expected to grow, as shown in this plot below.
The full image is available in the report
VR, AR & MR, as with nearly any technology area, must build on what has come before. The existing wave of interest, investment and progress in the space has been built on top of the technology which has been developed in other areas, for example from the smartphone. Many components in VR, AR & MR headsets, from the displays used, to the sensor integration (from IMUs, to 3D imaging and cameras, and more) to the batteries and power management, and so on, all directly built on the components which were invested so heavily in around the smartphone. This technology is heavily invested, targeting the future potential of XR headsets. This report provides a complete overview of the companies, technologies and products in augmented, virtual and mixed reality, allowing the reader to gain a deeper understanding of this exciting technology.
It is with a mixture of foreboding and uncertainty the people of Britain are looking forward to this years Halloween – 31st October 2019. The feeling in the rest of Europe may be described as sorrow mixed with total incomprehension. Business struggles on however and continues to function despite the planned and unplanned difficulties chosen by the people and/or their elected representatives.
“Will I go or will I stay?”
As an example the annual Advanced Engineering event at Britain’s National Exhibition Centre (the NEC) near the English midland city of Birmingham. It is described by the organisers as “The UK’s must-attend event for advanced manufacturing technology, innovation and supply chain solutions” where the many thousands of visitors will be guaranteed to “come away from their visit with ideas to grow their businesses for the future. See, touch and discover the newest technologies to achieve production efficiencies, reduce time and costs, and get you ahead of your competitors.”
With opportunities to network with some 15,000 professionals from OEMs and supply chain partners, Advanced Engineering provides a platform for knowledge transfer and business discussions across R & D, design, test, measurement & inspection, raw materials & processing, manufacturing, production and automation.
If, as is now widely expected, Britain drops out of the European Union at 11.00 pm on the 31st of October the complete business picture of trade within and outside of the United Kingdom will have altered in a mirad of small and great ways.
The European Union will have been diminished by one member state from 28 to 27 independent states. Suppliers and their goods, and buyers from states outside of the United Kingdom, freely admitted to the country to attend the show will experience, many for the first time, the sort of border controls and delays that are usual for those travelling to “third countries,” if they delay their departure to the day after the event finishes. This appears to be the implication of the current British Home Secretary if the Daily Telegraph newspaper’s report is to be believed. “Freedom of movement by European Union nationals into the UK will end overnight from October 31 in the event of a no deal Brexit, Priti Patel has signalled.”
As somebody, a Citizen of the European Union, who travels frequently to Britain for this and other events this is a new hurdle to be crossed and to be taken into consideration when travelling to this new “third country!” It will be so much easier to travel to such events in Germany, France and Italy. It will be so much easier to get goods and people from these countries than from what used to be the closest and easiest to deal with country.
But of course we have no idea how this whole thing. Still! How plaintive do the words of outgoing head of the European Commission in 2016 sound now, “But I thought they had a plan!” And how grimly prophetic sound those blunt words of the outgoing European Council President more recently when he mused on “What that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely”
At the moment this writer is undecided on travelling to this event. I have my car insured now to travel in a third country but I am uncertain if I am prepared to weather the delays that must occur as I endevour to board a ferry.
Since this was published news has broken that valid Irish insurance discs will serve as proof of insurance for those driving Irish registered vehicles in Britain and Northern Ireland, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
One thing I am sure that Britain will muddle through this puzzle but how I am not sure. Nor am I sure do the powers that be!
Our last article on this topic ended with the statement “Nobody knows!”
Not much has changed and everything has changed and yet “Nobody knows!”
• An interesting aside that I have seen rarely mentioned, is that all those born in Northern Ireland whether or not they voted for or against this decision may remain as citizens of the European Union by virtue of their right to be Irish Citizenship whether or not Britain leaves, remains or drops out of the Union. This is guaranteed by the International Agreement signed by the United Kingdom and Ireland and guaranteed by the European Union and usually referred to as the Good Friday Agreement.
We were unable to follow the events in this year’s Emerson User Group Meeting in San Antonio, Texas USA. There were lots of tweets which may be viewed under the Hashtag #EMrex. However we did get a number of releases which we have published and present them here as a group.
Mike Train hands over to Lal Karsanbhai
Mike Train used the occasion to announce his replacement as Executive President of Emerson Process Automation, Lal Karsanbhai, while Mike Train is to assume the role of President at Emerson!
The country of the Netherlands is where the Rhine enters the sea. It is a country which has physically built itself out of the inhospitable North Sea. Often called Holland – which is the name of one (actually two) of its provinces – it even more confusingly for the English speaking world inhabited by the Dutch speaking Dutch. If you really want to know more about Holl.. er sorry, The Netherlands watch the video at the bottom of this piece.
Although not officially the capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is, The Hague is the seat of Government and official residence of the King. It was selected by the Emerson User Group as the venue for their European, Middle East & African assembly, refereed to as #EMrex on twitter. These assemblies – can we say celebrations? – occur every two years. The last was held in Brussels, the capital of the neighbouring Kingdom of the Belgians and of the European Union. An sccount of happenings there are in our postin “All change at Brussel Centraal.” (18/4/2016)
Lots of pictures from the event!
The size of this event was in marked contrast to the Brussels meet which was overshadowed by the terrible terrorist attacks in that city only three weeks earlier which presented transport difficulties. This time there were over one thousand six hundred delegates filling the huge hall of the Hague Convention Centre.
Another difference referred to in many of the discussions both formal and informal were the two great uncertainties effecting all businesses and industries – the possibility of a trade war with the USA under its current administration and nearer home the aftermath of the BREXIT decision – the exit of the British from the largest economic bloc on the planet. Many developments have been put on the long finger pending clarification on these issues.
Mary Peterson welcomes delegates
Why are we here?
This event continued in the vein of previous meetings. The emphasis continuing to move to perhaps a more philosophical and certainly a more holistic view of how the automation sector can help industry. This was made clear in the introductory welcome by Novartis’s Mary Peterson, Chair of the User Group, when she posed the question, “Why are we here?”
“This is a conference for users by users.” she said. It is a place to discuss users’ practical experiences; continuing our profissional development; learning best practice and proven solutions and technology roadmaps. But above all it presented an opportunity to connect with industry leaders, users and of course Emerson experts.
For other or more detailed information on happenings and/or offerings revealed at this event. News Releases and on Twitter #EmrEx
The emphasis is on the totality of services and packages not on individual boxes. Emerson’s European President Roel Van Doren was next to address the assembly. We should know our plant but be unafraid to use expertese and knowledge to keep it fit for purpose. Monitor the plant constantly, analyse what is required and then act. This means seeing how the latest advances might improve production. This means harnessing the “new technologies.” In passing he drew our attention that Emerson had been recognised earlier this year as ‘Industrial IoT Company of the Year’ by IoT Breakthrough.
The path is digital
A very striking presentation was given by Dirk Reineld, Senior VP Indirect Procurement with BASF. He brought us to the top of Rome’s Via de Conciliazione on 19th April 2005. We saw the huge crowd looking towards the centre balcony as the election of a new pope was announced. He then moved forward to the 13th March in 2013, the same place but what a difference in such a short time. This time it seemed that everybody had a mobile phone held to take photographs of the announcement of the election of Francis. All we could see was a sea of little screens. He used this to emphasize a point “We are underestimating what is happening & its speed.” This is not helped by a natural conservatism among plant engineers. Change is happening and we either embrace it or get left behind. It is becoming more and more clear that in front of us “the path is digital!” He presented some useful examples of digitalisation and collaboration at BASF.
Emerson Exchange 365 is separate from the Emerson Exchange website that presenters & delegates used before Exchange in The Hague. So, to verify your attendance at this year’s conference, you must provide the email you used to register for Exchange in The Hague. If you are not already a member of EE365 you will be required to join.
To access the presentations, visit The Hague 2018 and follow the prompts. The first prompt will ask you to join or sign in.
Something in this particular EmrEx emphasised how things are moving and those unprepared for the change. Among some of the press people and others there was disappointment expressed that there was not a printed programme as in previous years. This correspondent is used to going away into a corner and combing through the printed agenda and selecting the most relevant sessions to attend. This was all available on line through the “Emerson Exchange Web App.” This was heralded as a “a great preshow planning tool.” All we had to do was enter a link into our our web-browser on our phones and away you went. Yes this is the way to go certainly and although I am inclined to be adventurous in using social media etc I and some (if not many) others found this a step too far to early. It was not clear that a printed version of the programme would not be available and the first hour of a conference is not the best time to make oneself au fait with a new app.
Having said that while many of the journos took notes using pencil and paper they were not adverse to taking photos of the presentation slades so they could not be said to qualify as complete luddites!
Terrific progress but…
Rewards of efficiency
This event was being held at the same time as CERAWeek 2018 in which Emerson was an important participant. Some Emerson executives thus made the trans Atlantic journey to make presentations. One of those was Mike Train, Emerson’s Executive President who delivered his talk with no apparent ill effects. In effect he was asking a question. “Just how effective is progress?” Yes, we HAVE made phenomenal progress in the last 30 years. “Modern automation has made plants more efficient, reliable and safer, but, the ‘Efficiency Era’ is reaching diminishing returns….Productivity seems to be stagnation while the workforce is stretched.”
Automated workflows: Eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline standard operations.
Decision support: Leverage analytics and embedded exportise.
Mobility: Secure on-demand access to information and expertese.
Change management: Accelerate the adoption of operational best practices.
Workforce upskilling: Enable workers to acquire knowledge and experience faster.
Making the future!
Making the future
The next speaker was Roberta Pacciani, C&P Manager Integrated Gas and Upstream Technology with Shell. She is also President of the Women’s Network at Shell Netherlands. She spoke on leveraging the best available talent to solve future challenges. I suppose that we would have classified this as a feminist talk but of course it isn’t. As the presenter said it is not so much a feminist issue as a people issue. “Closing the gender gap in engineering and technology makes the future.” This was a useful presentation (and in this correspondent’s experience unusual) and hopefully will be helpful in changing perceptions and preconceptions in STEM and our own particular sector.
As partof EmrEX there is an exhibition, demonstration area. Delegates may see innovative technologies applied to their plant environment. They meet with experts about topics such as getting their assets IIoT ready or how to use a Digital Twin to increase performance and explore options to prepare their plant for the future. As a guide – printed as well as on-line – the produced a Metro-like guide.
Using this we could embark on a journey through products, services and solutions where Emerson together with their partners could help solve operational and project challenges.
One of the most popular exhibits was the digital workforce experience. Here we visited a plant and were transported magically to former times to see just how different plant management is now and particularly with the help of wireless and digitisation.
One of the good things about this sort of event is the opportunity to meet friends for the first time though social media. Sometimes one does not know they are attending unless the tweet something. Thus I realised that an Emerson engineer was present and so I went looking for him in the expos area. This it was that Aaron Crews from Austin (TX US) and I met for the first time after knowing each other through twitter & facebook for a frightening ten years. Another of these virtual friends, Jim Cahill, says, “It hasn’t happened without a picture!” So here is that picture.
The following morning there were a series of automation forum dedicated to various sectors. The Life-Sciences Forum was one which was very well attended. Ireland is of course a leader in this sector and we hope to have a specific item on this in the near future. Emerson have invested heavily in the national support services as we reported recently.
Each evening there were social events which provided further opportunities for networking. One of these was a visit to the iconic Louwman Transport Museum where reside possibly the largest collections of road vehicles from sedan chairs through the earliest motor cars up to the sleekest modern examples. These are all contained in a beautiful building. The display was very effectively presented and one didn’t have to be a petrol-head – and believe me there were some among the attendance – to appreciate it.
It is impossible to fully report an event like this in detail. One can follow it on twitter as it happens of course. And there will be copies of many of the presentations and videos of some of the sessions on the website.
The Emerson User Group Exchange – Americas will continue “spurring innovation” in San Antonio (TX USA) from 1st to 5th October 2018. It looks exciting too.
We promised at the top of this blog an exposé of the country often called Holland in English –
These are the most viewed stories on the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost website during 2017. The article on Radar Level Management (item 2 on this list) by Emerson’s Sarah Parker, has consistantly appeared somewhere on this annual list in the last seven years.
As permanent links to the site we list these month by month. Those which were added during the year (2017) may be found archived here.
Yokogawa Meters & Instruments Corporation announces is to change its name to Yokogawa Test & Measurement Corporation in October (2017)
Radar level measurement best practice
The emergence of radar has been an important advance in the level measurement field says Sarah Parker, Applications Manager, Emerson Process Management, Rosemount division.
Aerospace, medical and automotive engineers will be able to speak with Harmonic Drive AG to improve the accuracy and efficiency of their applications at this year’s SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg (D). Harmonic Drive AG will be launching its FHA-C Mini Servo Actuators with Absolute MZE encoder at stand 119 in hall four, from November 28-30, 2017.
The exhibition brings together suppliers of electric automation technologies from all over the world to discuss the future of automation and new innovative products. Visitors will have the chance to eat sushi while talking to Harmonic Drive AG engineers about its range of servo actuators and learn how its multi-turn absolute motor feedback system can increase productivity.
Designed to offer high transmission reliability, even in environments with high electromagnetic interference (EMI), the FHA-C Mini Servo Actuator has a specially developed output bearing, which uses preloaded precision and high tilting capacity.
With a multi-turn absolute encoder mounted directly on to the motor shaft, the actuator can provide accurate signals for positioning directly at the load. This is ideal for design engineers working in the medical and automation sector, where creating accurate and reliable devices is imperative.
“Automation provides a number of opportunities for businesses to improve the efficiency of their processes,” explained Graham Mackrell, managing director of Harmonic Drive UK. “Harmonic Drive FHA Mini Servo Actuators have been created so that they can be combined with the YukonDrive® Servo Controller. When connected, the actuator can be tailored for use in demanding dynamic applications.
“In addition to being customisable, the actuators feature a multi-turn absolute motor feedback system that acquires the absolute position directly at the load, with maximum accuracy over more than 600 revolutions. The productivity of the servo actuator is increased because unproductive referencing is no longer required, allowing it to deliver smooth and quiet running characteristics.”
• The SPS IPC Drives show brought together 63,291 people at last year’s event, with over 500 exhibitors coming from countries outside of Germany.
Mainstream adoption of LiFi will be available within LED light bars which will replace the most widely utilized light source in the world – fluorescent tubes.
The introduction of the first LED “light bar” is forecasted to replace the most conventional form of lighting within commercial and industrial facilities: fluorescent tubes; with an estimated 3-4 billion installed throughout the world.
pureLiFi and Linmore LED will demonstrate this new technology at LuxLive from the 15-16th of November 2017 (London GB) as part of their LiFi experience zone.
WiFi versus LiFi
Wireless connectivity is evolving. The spectrum now has to accommodate more mobile users and is forecasted to increase to 20 Billion devices (forming the IoT) by the year 2020 which will result in what is known as the Spectrum Crunch. However, LiFi can open up 1000 times more spectrum for wireless communications to combat this phenomenon. LiFi is a transformative technology changing the way we connect to the Internet by using the same light we use to illuminate our offices, home and streets.
Integration of LiFi within LED strip lights will drive mass adoption, enabling LiFi to easily move into full-scale implementation within offices, schools, warehouses and anywhere illumination is required.
Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi says: “This partnership marks a step change for LiFi adoption. We can now offer new solutions that will help industry, future proof their spaces, devices and technology to ensure they are ready to cope with the increased demand for highspeed, secure and mobile wireless communications.”
LiFi utilizes LED lights that illuminate both our workspace and homes to transmit high-speed, bi-directional, secure and fully networked wireless internet.
What is LiFi LiFi is high speed bi-directional networked and mobile communication of data using light. LiFi comprises of multiple light bulbs that form a wireless network, offering a substantially similar user experience to Wi-Fi except using the light spectrum.
Lighting manufacturers are important players in the adoption of LiFi technology. Linmore LED has built its reputation in the retrofit market, and they ensure their portfolio of LED products perform in the top 1% for energy efficiency in the industry.
Retrofit fixtures are in great demand as many facilities seek to drive down energy costs by as much as 70-80% which can be achieved by converting to LED technology. This trend is also driven by the increased operating life that LEDs provide and the concerns of toxic mercury utilized within fluorescent lamps that complicates disposal. This provides a scenario where building owners and facility managers can adopt LiFi technology while dramatically decreasing lighting-related energy costs at the same time.
Paul Chamberlain, CEO of Linmore LED says: “Utilizing an existing part of a building’s infrastructure – lighting – opens up endless possibilities for many other technologies to have a deployment backbone. Internet of Things (IoT), RFID, product and people movement systems, facility maintenance, and a host of other technologies are taken to the next level with LiFi available throughout a facility.”
John Gilmore, Linmore’s VP of Sales talks about early adopters of the technology: “We’re very excited to be aligning ourselves with pure LiFi. We firmly believe the US Government will be an early adopter of this technology. Our position on GSA schedule will help buyers be able to easily access the technology.”
LiFi offers lighting innovators the opportunity to enter new markets and drive completely new sources of revenue by providing wireless communications systems. LiFi is a game changer not only for the communications industry but also for the lighting industry, and with LiFi, Linmore certainly has a brighter future.
EPLAN joined forces with ABB, DesignPro, Douglas Automation, Igus, Industrial Society of Automation (Ireland Section ISA), Omron, Panasonic, Prion PLM, Portalis, Rittal Ireland, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, SL Controls and Weidmuller to bring Industry 4.0 to the Limerick Institute of Technology.
In the wake of the next industrial revolution, EPLAN hosted the event at The Limerick Institute of Technology with the aim of discussing the German concept, Industry 4.0. The event will allowed companies to understand what 4.0 means and how existing and near future technologies can help them move towards becoming a smart factory which ultimately produce machines and products that effectively talk to one another.
Industry 4.0 (Industrie 4.0) is a high-tech strategy adopted by the German government which promotes the computerisation of traditional industries such as manufacturing. The goal is to create intelligent factories (smart factory) that focus on cyber physical systems primarily consisting of communication technologies, software, senses and processes – all of which have the potential through cloud technology to communicate and interact with each other in an intelligent way.
The well attended event had over 150 registered to attend and many more came without registering.
These are some pictures to give a flavour of the event.
Busy associated exhibition area.
Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of LIT welcomes delegates!
Delegates await the next speaker.
Dr Frances Hardiman, Head of Department Electrical and Electronic Engineering discusses the place of LIT in the engineering community.
EPLAN’s Ken Christie welcomes delegates and addresses his company’s place in Industrie 4.0.