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Manufacturing | NIST

At a time of opportunity and challenge for U.S. manufacturing, NIST is working with industry and universities to develop essential measurement capabilities and to forge precompetitive collaborations that help U.S. manufacturers overcome shared technical obstacles. A partner to the U.S. manufacturing sector for more than a century, NIST has a proven track record in delivering useful tools and technical assistance that existing manufacturers and aspiring start-ups need. Timely technical assists from NIST can help the nation’s manufacturers to invent, innovate and create new products and services more rapidly and more efficiently than their competitors around the world.

NIST Laboratory Programs collaborate with industry, academia, and other government agencies to develop the measurement and standards solutions to accelerate the development of the next generation of manufacturing technologies. A few key areas of NIST activity include Materials Genome Initiative, emerging technologies, and smart manufacturing (see links on left).

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) facilitates and accelerates the transfer of manufacturing technology in partnership with industry, universities and educational institutions, state governments, NIST and other federal research laboratories and agencies. Find out  more about MEP.

Manufacturing USA consists of linked Manufacturing Innovation Institutes with common goals, but unique concentrations. Here industry, academia, and government partners are leveraging existing resources, collaborating, and co-investing to nurture manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization. Find out more about Manufacturing USA.

https://www.nist.gov/topics/manufacturing

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Решение для автоматизации облачных процессов VMware vRealize Automation

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http://www.vmware.com/ru/products/vrealize-automation.html

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Investment Opportunities in Automated Economy

When will the jobs return? That’s been the question in this glacially slow recovery.

The answer? Many of jobs won’t be coming back, and that’s painful news for all of us.

Job creation ebbed for years before the 2007-2008 recession and is likely to fall far short of what it was in previous decades.

Low consumer demand is one reason. Companies have no reason to hire if people aren’t buying their products, and recession-wracked Europe, our biggest consumer, isn’t consuming as much.

Yet there’s another reason for weak job creation that isn’t talked about as much. Automation, aided by new technologies, is increasingly replacing labor, changing workplaces and altering the economy in fundamental ways.

For evidence of this trend, just look around your house, your office (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) and the nearest shopping center.

o IPhones, iPads, and other devices are changing the way we shop, communicate and get news and information, disrupting old labor-intensive industries, such as newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, while creating new ones that generally employ far fewer people.

o Online banking, brokerage and mortgages are increasingly making it easier for consumers to never set foot in a brick-and-mortar bank.

o Movie-downloading services such as Netflix and Redbox have hastened the demise of video stores.

o Self-checkout aisles at stores and gas stations have eliminated thousands of retail jobs.

Truck drivers’ jobs might soon be on the line too. Experiments with computer-driven vehicles have had vastly improved results in the past several years. In 2005, computer-driven cars could go only a few miles. Recently, Google-operated cars went thousands of miles without a mishap, and California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill to allow them on the state’s highways.

As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, new jobs are created but not fast enough to replace the jobs that are disappearing. This is creating hardship for millions of Americans.

“At some point in the future — it might be many years or decades from now — machines will be able to do the jobs of a large percentage of the ‘average’ people in our population, and these people will not be able to find new jobs,” writes Martin Ford in his eye-opening book Lights in the Tunnel, which can be downloaded for free. This book details the challenges that we face and offers some possible solutions, including shorter work weeks, job sharing, and eliminating payroll taxes so employers have less incentive to replace workers.

David Autor, an economist at MIT, points out that the job market has been “hollowed out,” with the jobs in the middle — clerks, administrative positions, factory workers — disappearing. At the same time, high-wage jobs have been created in computer programming and biotech. Low-wage, automation-resistant jobs in such industries as food service and health care are doing just fine.

While government officials can and should worry about how to create more good-paying jobs, investors who have long suffered from a sideways stock market can profit by seeking out companies on the leading edge of the automation phenomenon.

Examples include Rockwell Automation, which makes industrial systems; Irobot, a maker of automated tools such as vacuum cleaners and floor washers; Aerovironoment, which manufactures unmanned aircraft and other vehicles, and NCR, a great example of an old-line firm that morphed from mechanical cash registers to ATMs and automated check-in systems.

Another approach to finding investment opportunities stemming from the automation trend is to look for stocks with high sales to employees. A recent survey by Bloomberg calls attention to some companies with high sales-to-employee ratios. Among them: Apple, eBay, Microsoft, Amgen and Google.

Every industrial revolution has been accompanied by new technology that underpins the innovations, and that is also fertile ground for investors seeking growth. Microchips, computer storage, optical drives, LCDs, fiber optics and nanotechnology are just a few of the innovations that are driving the new economy.

Green energy is another trend that’s here to stay. The list of these companies is long but worth investigating for investing ideas.

The good news is that the United States has enormous capacity to supply needed goods and services (with less labor than ever before, which means higher productivity). Jobs are being replaced, to be sure. However, every scenario that Ford envisions won’t necessarily come to pass. Innovators in the global and U.S. economies will doubtless find new ways to make money.

This could mean that today’s manufacturing jobs will be increasingly supplanted by more service jobs. For example, all of the new automation equipment will need servicing. One thing that seers of the high-tech future typically fail to envision is technology needs a lot of work to keep it running.

Whatever the future holds along these lines, investing in old-line firms that are labor intensive seems to be an increasingly bad bet. Such companies tend to be mature, which typically means low-growth potential and low investment returns. By focusing on high-revenue companies that harness automation, however, you’ll be looking to the future. And after all, investing is all about the future.

Yet it’s important to keep in mind that the future never unfolds as neatly as even the best seers predict — even when they’re basically right. The key is to keep abreast of economic developments to see new niches of investing opportunity developing as a result of the automation trend.

On a brighter economic note, this investment will spur general economic growth that, for all we now know, could ultimately produce new jobs in areas that now we can’t even conceive.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Ted Schwartz, a certified financial planner, is president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group. He advises individual investors and endowments, and serves as the adviser to CIFG UMA accounts. Because Schwartz has a background in psychology and counseling, he brings insights into personal motivation when advising clients on how to achieve their wealth management goals. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Oregon State University. He can be reached at ted@capstoneinvest.com.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/investment-opportunities-automated-economy/story?id=17760124

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Robots on the rise in the workplace

Technology has always been one of the great drivers of the U.S. economy, constantly creating jobs and eliminating some in the process. But recently, MIT professors tell Steve Kroft, technology has been eliminating more jobs than it creates — a net loss that poses a danger to the delicate economic recovery. Kroft’s report on this technological revolution, often characterized by advanced robotics, will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

“Technology is always creating jobs. It’s always destroying jobs. But right now the pace [of destroying them] is accelerating,” says MIT professor Eric Brynjolfsson. “So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to.”

Fewer Americans on a percentage basis are holding jobs now than 20 years ago. Some examples include the elimination of sales clerks and bank tellers by cash machines and Internet shopping. Says Brynjolfsson, “There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks…that are being eliminated the fastest,” he tells Kroft.

The irony is that the economy is growing. “Our economy is bigger than it was before the start of the Great Recession,” says Andrew McAfee, also of MIT. “Corporate profits are back. Business investment in hardware and software is back higher than it’s ever been. What’s not back is the jobs.”

One reason for this was automated warehouses, which surprised McAfee. The economy is making plenty of goods, but requires a lot less people to store and ship them. “There are heavily automated warehouses where there are either few or no people around,” he says.

Kroft visits a huge warehouse in Devens, Mass., where about 100 employees work with 69 suitcase-size robots that navigate the massive facility, moving product from shelf to shipping point faster and better than humanly possible. Customer orders are transmitted from a computer to wifi antennas that direct the robots to the merchandise, guiding them across an electronic checkerboard with bar codes embedded in the floor panels. Once the robot arrives at its destination, it picks up an entire shelf of merchandise and delivers it to the packing station. It then speeds off to its next assignment. The small orange robots are in many facilities across the country.

Bruce Welty, who runs the warehouse, points to one of his workers and tells Kroft, “In a typical warehouse, she would have to walk from location to location [to make] a number of totes…the innovation here is that the product comes to her.” Welty estimates that to do the same amount of work with just people, he would need to hire one and a half persons for each robot, so the robots allow him to operate with less than half the amount of people such a facility would normally employ.

McAfee sees this trend of technology eliminating jobs continuing for some time “When I see what computers and robots can do right now, I project that forward for two, three more generations, I think we’re going to find ourselves in a world where the work as we currently think about it it, is largely done by machines,” he tells Kroft.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/robots-on-the-rise-in-the-workplace/

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Manufacturing in America: US Set for a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’

In the next five years, the U.S. will experience a “manufacturing renaissance,” according to a new analysis.

As wages in China increase, flexible work rules and government incentives in the U.S. will make America one of the cheapest places to manufacture goods in the developed world, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis suggests.

“If the trend plays out, I think you’ll see manufacturing growing and expanding in the U.S.,” said Michael Zinser, one of the authors of BCG’s analysis on manufacturing. “What we’re expecting is that companies will step back and rethink their networks, rethink their supply chains.”

Chinese wage rates likely will continue to grow by 15 to 20 percent year over year, Zinser said. When the increase in wages is combined with the increasing value of the yuan, the wage gap between the U.S. and China is narrowing rapidly.

“China is no longer expected to be the default low-cost manufacturing location for those companies who are looking to supply the U.S. market,” Zinser told ABC News. “What we would expect to see is a convergence in terms of the wage rates to what we’re seeing in the U.S. today.”

Harold Sirkin, lead author of the analysis on manufacturing, expects the convergence to occur “by around 2015.”

“As a result of the changing economics, you’re going to see a lot more products ‘Made in the USA’ in the next five years,” said Sirkin.

Romain Wacziarg, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, sees other factors involved.

“I agree that it’s possible that manufacturing will come back, but I don’t think it’s due to rising costs in China,” he said. “I think it’s due more to the depreciation of the dollar … not that wage costs are rising in China and not the U.S.”

Currently, according to BCG, U.S. workers are three times more productive than their Chinese counterparts. But Wacziarg said the increase in wages indicates an increase in producitivy.

“It’s more expensive to use a unit of labor there [China],” he said, “but that unit of labor is getting more productive.”

As wages in China rise, Zinser said, some companies may decide to manufacture in the U.S., though others will look for lower wages in other countries.

But one of the advantages U.S. manufacturers have, according to BCG, is that the work force is becoming more flexible.

Kevin Sauder, president and CEO of Sauder Furniture, recently started sourcing component parts regionally, a process his purchasing team called “insourcing.”

“Supporting local and American jobs is one factor that gets considered,” Sauder told ABC News. “It’s not the main factor, but it’s one thing that gets considered. All things being equal, we would always prefer to go with a regional manufacturer. … Using regional components improved our ability to be flexible in new product development.”

The change allowed the company to get more contracts, Sauder said, because it was able to build prototypes more quickly for stores such as Walmart and Ikea because the component pieces arrived weeks earlier.

“Opportunities like that are worth a little extra money for the flexibility and speed,” said Sauder. “I think that’s where local and regional manufacturers do have an advantage … flexibility and speed to market.”

Even though the U.S. manufacturing sector maybe be poised for a comeback, Zinser cautioned that it did not mean China is on the decline.

“China is going to continue to be a major global player,” said Zinser. “China is still a large market and many companies are going to want to continue supplying that market.”

U.S. consumers should expect industries such as construction equipment and appliances to be impacted first, he said, while industries such as textiles and consumer electronics may never be affected.

“Where you have lower labor content as an overall percentage of your total costs and more modest volumes, we’d likely see those types of industries certainly having an impact sooner,” Zinser said. “For industries where you have very high volumes, higher labor content … we would expect that those are likely to stay in lower-cost environments.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/manufacturing-america-us-set-manufacturing-renaissance/story?id=13597381

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Japan’s robotics startup ZMP Inc hopes to list in coming months: CEO | Reuters

TOKYO Japanese robotics startup ZMP Inc hopes to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the coming months, after a delay late last year due to client information being leaked on to the internet, the firm’s founder and CEO told Reuters on Friday.

Despite the delay in its initial public offering, worth up to $82 million, ZMP remained on track to develop a self-driving taxi in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, CEO Hisashi Taniguchi said.

The company was ironing out internal security issues after it discovered some client information had been leaked to the public days ahead of its listing, Taniguchi said.

“We’re developing our security systems in-house, which will take some time, but this is not the sort of thing that takes a year to develop,” he said.

“When we’re happy with our security system, then we’ll re-submit our listing application.”

Taniguchi said ZMP will push ahead with developing self-driving taxis, despite losing its partnership last month with gaming software developer DeNA Co. DeNA paired up instead with Nissan Motor Co to develop services for autonomous driving cars.

“At the moment our (taxi) plans are on track. We started testing on public roads last year, so we don’t want to rush anything,” he said.

ZMP has developed an automated driving system based on laser and stereo cameras, which it plans to use in fleet vehicles and also sell to automakers and mobility service providers.

In a country famous as much for its auto industry as its fascination with robots, ZMP is one of a few domestic start-ups developing self-driving cars to compete against foreign firms including nuTonomy in the United States and China’s Future Mobility.

ZMP also makes drones and automated dolly carts.

($1 = 112.6300 yen)

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Randy Fabi)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-tokyo-zmp-taxi-idUSKBN15I0C9

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This creepy robot is powered by a neural network

robot1.jpg

The humanoid robot “Alter” is displayed at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

P Photo/Koji Sasahara

It has a mask-like, yet eerily expressive face and a body made up of gears and wires. This humanoid robot called “Alter” is powered entirely by a neural network that gives it the ability to move by itself.

Yes, it is as creepy — and as fascinating — as it sounds. The robot is on display to the public at Japan’s National Science Museum, where it’s unnerved visitors by moving its arms around, gesturing to the crowd jerkily, without any human operator or remote control directing its actions.

How does it work? The robot, designed by a team lead by Takashi Ikegami of the University of Tokyo and Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, runs on a “central pattern generator” that has networks that act similarly to neural systems in the body, according to Engadget. These networks give the robot the ability to generate its own movement.

Of course, if you watch the video of Alter in action, it’s clear that the robot doesn’t come close to moving as fluidly as a human. That being said, its agency over making its own movements creates the powerful illusion that it is a living being.

To add to the creepy factor, Alter has some musical chops. The robot was also programmed to “sing” — maybe it’s more like a hum — in deep, resonant notes. The robot’s voice is tied to sine waves, or mathematical curves that represents clear, repetitive oscillations, which correspond to its finger movements.

But despite the neural networks that give it the illusion of life, this robot can’t think on its own. Maybe that’s next?

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/this-creepy-robot-is-powered-by-a-neural-network/

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Automation can revitalize the U.S. workforce

In the face of growing workplace automation, a number of commentators have painted a grim future for American workers. But most human capital leaders see a much brighter future– one where automation helps revitalize U.S. manufacturing and increases the demand for skilled workers.

According to global talent management firm Randstad Sourceright’s survey of over 400 corporate HR leaders, automation and robotics are likely to have a positive impact on U.S. business growth in 2017, and will be one of the driving forces behind new hiring trends over the next several years. 

Regardless of how you feel about robots, the move toward automation and artificial intelligence cannot be stopped.  About 15 percent of global HR leaders say that robotics completely transformed their businesses in 2016, and more than double (31%) expect automation to have an even greater influence in 2017.     

Rather than feeling threatened by this new technology, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the HR leaders we spoke with said they see artificial intelligence and robotics having a positive impact on their businesses over the next three to five years.  Across all the major industry sectors surveyed, respondents were optimistic about technology’s ability to reduce costs, improve quality and increase output.

It is easy to assume that these productivity gains are made at the expense of workers.  In reality, this technology actually has increased demand for flexible, mobile workers with skills and agility that machines are not even close to matching.  While 26 percent of those surveyed said their businesses increased the use of automation and robotics in 2016, over 34 percent said they hired extensively over the same period just to keep up with company growth.

In fact, the HR leaders we surveyed indicated that a scarcity of skilled workers was driving employment demands in certain areas–like marketing, sales and IT/technical–where robotics will likely never displace the advantage of human intelligence.  Indeed, well over one-third of respondents anticipate hiring more workers in these areas over the next year.

But workers with the right combination of skills and experience are hard to come by.  Many workers are structuring their work hours in ways that allow them to work many different jobs, across several geographical locations.  As a result, more companies are rethinking their talent management to account for more short-term, offsite workers.  Of the HR leaders we surveyed, more than two-thirds (66%) said they are considering moving toward a talent management model that would more easily integrate contingent workers.  They see the shift toward flexible talent as a sound strategy that can help companies access a larger pool of talent, such as parents with young children and retirees who may not want a traditional 9-to-5 job. 

For some commentators, the investment in automation and contingent employees signals an upheaval in the economy that will not benefit American workers.  But that perspective may be short-sited. In fact, automation and robotics can make U.S. manufacturing more cost-competitive, while increasing the number of high-paying, skilled jobs available for humans.  Instead of 50 foreign workers being paid rock bottom wages to complete a job by hand, the same job will be accomplished by one skilled U.S. worker running a robot and earning a middle-class salary.  This combination of increased automation and a more mobile, contingent workforce can reduce manufacturing costs and make it easier for companies to build their factories in the U.S.  The end result is a better educated, higher paid American workforce.

Change can be difficult. We are witnessing a major shift in the way business does business.  But most HR leaders see technology as providing workers with new opportunities (and also with new priorities). These recent changes in workforce management need not be seen as the catastrophe some suggest.  If Randstad Sourceright’s 2017 Talent Trends Report is any indication, robots are far more likely to benefit American workers than replace them.  

Rebecca Henderson is the CEO of Randstad Sourceright, one of the world’s leading human resources providers.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/02/11/automation-can-revitalize-u-s-workforce.html

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Mexico stealing factory jobs? Blame automation instead

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump blames Mexico and China for stealing millions of jobs from the United States.

He might want to bash the robots instead.

Despite the Republican presidential nominee’s charge that “we don’t make anything anymore,” manufacturing is still flourishing in America. Problem is, factories don’t need as many people as they used to because machines now do so much of the work.

America has lost more than seven million factory jobs since manufacturing employment peaked in 1979. Yet American factory production, minus raw materials and some other costs, more than doubled over the same span to $1.91 trillion last year, according to the Commerce Department, which uses 2009 dollars to adjust for inflation. That’s a notch below the record set on the eve of the Great Recession in 2007. And it makes U.S. manufacturers No. 2 in the world behind China.

Trump and other critics are right that trade has claimed some American factory jobs, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and gained easier access to the U.S. market. And industries that have relied heavily on labor — like textile and furniture manufacturing — have lost jobs and production to low-wage foreign competition. U.S. textile production, for instance, is down 46 percent since 2000. And over that time, the textile industry has shed 366,000, or 62 percent, of its jobs in the United States.

But research shows that the automation of U.S. factories is a much bigger factor than foreign trade in the loss of factory jobs. A study at Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research last year found that trade accounted for just 13 percent of America’s lost factory jobs. The vast majority of the lost jobs — 88 percent — were taken by robots and other homegrown factors that reduce factories’ need for human labor.

“We’re making more with fewer people,” says Howard Shatz, a senior economist at the Rand Corp. think tank.

General Motors, for instance, now employs barely a third of the 600,000 workers it had in the 1970s. Yet it churns out more cars and trucks than ever.

Or look at production of steel and other primary metals. Since 1997, the United States has lost 265,000 jobs in the production of primary metals — a 42 percent plunge — at a time when such production in the U.S. has surged 38 percent.

Allan Collard-Wexler of Duke University and Jan De Loecker of Princeton University found last year that America didn’t lose most steel jobs to foreign competition or faltering sales. Steel jobs vanished because of the rise of a new technology: Super-efficient mini-mills that make steel largely from scrap metal.

The robot revolution is just beginning.

The Boston Consulting Group predicts that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 percent a year in the 25-biggest export nations through 2025, up from 2 or 3 percent growth in recent years.

The economics of robotics are hard to argue with. When products are replaced or updated, robots can be reprogrammed far faster and more easily than people can be retrained.

And the costs are dropping: Owning and operating a robotic spot welder cost an average $182,000 in 2005 and $133,000 in 2014 and will likely run $103,000 by 2025, Boston Consulting says. Robots will shrink labor costs 22 percent in the United States, 25 percent in Japan and 33 percent in South Korea, the firm estimates.

CEO Ronald De Feo is overseeing a turnaround at Kennametal, a Pittsburgh-based industrial materials company. The effort includes investing $200 million to $300 million to modernize Kennametal’s factories while cutting 1,000 of 12,000 jobs. Automation is claiming some of those jobs and will claim more in the future, De Feo says.

“What we want to do is automate and let attrition” reduce the workforce, he says.

Visiting a Kennametal plant in Germany, De Feo found workers packing items by hand. He ordered $10 million in machinery to automate the process in Germany and North America.

That move, he says, will produce “better quality at lower cost” and “likely result in a combination of job cuts and reassignments.”

But the rise of the machines offers an upside to some American workers: The increased use of robots — combined with higher labor costs in China and other developing countries — has reduced the incentive for companies to chase low-wage labor around the world.

Multinational companies are also rethinking how they spread production across the globe in the 1990s and 2000s, when they tended to manufacture components in different countries and then assemble a product at a plant in China or other low-wage country. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which disrupted shipments of auto parts, and the bankruptcy of the South Korean shipping line Hanjin Shipping, which stranded cargo in ports, exposed the risk of relying on far-flung supply lines.

“If your supply chain gets interrupted and your raw materials are coming from offshore, all of a sudden shelves are empty and you can’t sell product,” says Thomas Caudle, president of the North Carolina-based textile company Unifi.

So companies have been returning to the United States, capitalizing on the savings provided by robots, cheap energy and the chance to be closer to customers.

“They don’t have all their eggs in that Asian basket anymore,” Caudle says.

Over the past six years, Unifi has added about 200 jobs, bringing the total to over 1,100, at its automated factory in Yadkinville, North Carolina, where recycled plastic bottles are converted into Repreve yarn. Unmanned carts crisscross the factory floor, retrieving packages of yarn with mechanical arms — work once done by people.

In a survey by the consulting firm Deloitte, global manufacturing executives predicted that that the United States — now No. 2 — will overtake China as the most competitive country in manufacturing by 2020. (Competitiveness is measured by such factors as costs, productivity and the protection of intellectual property.)

The Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit that lobbies manufacturers to return jobs to the United States, says America was losing an average of 220,000 net jobs a year to other countries a decade ago. Now, the number being moved abroad is roughly offset by the number that are coming back or being created by foreign investment.

Harold Sirkin, senior partner at Boston Consulting, says the global scramble by companies for cheap labor is ending.

“When I hear that (foreigners) are taking all our jobs — the answer is, they’re not,” he says.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mexico-stealing-factory-jobs-blame-automation-instead/

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NASA Robotics – Robotics Alliance Project

FIRST Robotics Competition Grant Awards

NASA and FIRST logos

The highly anticipated moment that all you FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams that submitted NASA FRC sponsorship application has finally arrived. NASA’s award selection is listed in the following link. If your FRC team submitted an application for NASA FRC sponsorship, please review the awards list to verify your award status.

+ NASA FRC Awards List

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Begins Next Mars Chapter

September 2016 self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the

After collecting drilled rock powder in arguably the most scenic landscape yet visited by a Mars rover, NASA’s Curiosity mobile laboratory is driving toward uphill destinations as part of its two-year mission extension that commenced Oct. 1.

+ Full Story

Opportunity Mars Rover Goes Six-Wheeling!

Scene from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks upward at

NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is working adeptly in some of the most challenging terrain of the vehicle’s 12 years on Mars, on a slope of about 30 degrees.

Researchers are using Opportunity this month to examine rocks that may have been chemically altered by water billions of years ago. The mission’s current targets of investigation are from ruddy-tinted swaths the researchers call “red zones,” in contrast to tan bedrock around these zones.

The targets lie on “Knudsen Ridge,” atop the southern flank of “Marathon Valley,” which slices through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

+ More Information

+ More Information on Opportunity

Help NASA Create Better Vision for Robonaut

NASA's Robonaut 2 or R2

Humans use glasses to help them see better, but for robots, the fix is in their code. NASA is asking coders to create algorithms for Robonaut 2, or R2, that will improve its 3-D vision. The Robonaut Vision Tool Manipulation contest kicks off on Feb. 23, and offers a total of $10,000 in prizes for the best algorithms.

R2 is the first humanoid robot in space, currently being tested on the International Space Station. Serving as an extra set of hands for station crew members, the robot is looking to help with the more mundane or repetitive tasks that are required for maintaining the million-pound laboratory, freeing up its human colleagues for critical science and repair work. For example, R2 manages inventory using an RFID reader and fastens bolts with a drill.

+ Robonaut Vision Tool Manipulation Contest

+ More info on Robonaut 2

Follow us on Twitter

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As you may have noticed there is now a Twitter feed on the right side of the Robotic Alliance Project’s webpage! We would like to invite everyone to follow us on twitter and help spread the word about the Robotics Alliance Project and NASA! We plan on using Twitter to post about announcements, new features, and much more!

 

https://robotics.nasa.gov/