In honor of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, the Israeli Robotics Association wishes its members and friends a fruitful new year, during which robotics will continue to develop and thrive as an economic and social growth engine.

 

Chair’s Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear members of the Israeli robotics association,

 

We’re are now witnessing the dawn of a new era in robotics, in Israel and worldwide. The combination of acquisitions of leading robotics companies, such as Boston Dynamics, by mega companies such as Google and Amazon, together with the significant entry of most leading car manufacturers into the field of autonomous vehicles, brings us closer to the moment when robotics will seize its rightful place at the forefront of the technologies of the 21st century. Furthermore, Apple’s rumored entry into the race to develop a commercial autonomous vehicle will further accelerate the process and channel tremendous funding into robotics. Undoubtedly, we are on the verge of a breakthrough in robotics, the results of which are currently difficult to foresee.  If anyone was in doubt whether robotics was in fact the next thing - the very entry of current day tech giants into the field will make it a reality. 

 

Long before mega companies became enamored by the charms of robotics, back at the January 2011 meeting of the Knesset Science Committee, we proposed the establishment of a national robotics institute as a means to promote the robotics industry in Israel. We foresaw that the field would emerge within a few short years and we demanded that the country allocate adequate support to assist the industry in overcoming typical market failures: the hi tech industry has become a superpower of software development and communication without the ability (nor the will) to cope with smart robotic systems, and venture capitalists have kept away from this complex field in which the development phase is longer and costlier by orders of magnitude than what they have become used to in the traditional hi tech industry.

 

In November 2013, the Minister of Science, Yaacov Perry, enthusiastically adopted the idea of establishing a national robotics institute. The Israel National Council for Research and Development also supported the promotion of the field. This was reiterated at the Herzlia Conference, in June 2015, when the Israeli robotics initiative was presented. The essence of the initiative includes the initiation of several national projects and the establishment of an applied research institute to coordinate these projects. The topic was raised again at the Knesset Science Committee in July 2015 and received the support of the committee’s chair, MK Uri Maklev, who emphasized the importance of inter-ministerial cooperation in establishing the robotics institute. Meanwhile, a new minister of science has been appointed and we await developments.

 

We’re now in the midst of organizing the Israeli Conference on Robotics, scheduled for April 2016, and are promoting international collaborations.   

 

I truly hope that the government ministries will seize the moment and join forces to promote the Israeli robotics industry, and that we shall see the realization of our vision and efforts.

 

With best wishes for a successful new year,

 

Prof. Zvi Shiller,

Chairman, Israeli Robotics Association

 

Robotics at the Herzliya Conference

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The robotics session at the Herzlia Conference. From left to right: Prof. Moshe Shoham, Prof. Yitzchak Ben Israel, Dr. Amir Ziv Av, Uzia Galil, Haim Rousso, Prof. Zvi Shiller

 

Robotics Session

Herzlia Conference, June 9th, 2015

 

It was a first at the Herzlia Conference: an entire session was dedicated to robotics, within the innovation track which took place on the third day of the conference. Mr. Haim Rousso, chairman of the committee for industry-academia relations at the Israel National Council for Research and Development, presented the Israeli Robotics Initiative. A senior panel of speakers participated in this session: Minister of Science Danny Danon opened the session with words of support for the field of robotics in industry and education. Chiarman of the Israel National Council for Research and Development, Prof. Yitzchak Ben Israel, noted that robotics should be the very next state supported field to be developed, similarly to the support given to aerospace and cyber. VP of GE Software Mr. Harel Kodesh, described the center for artificial intelligence which GE plans to establish in Israel. Former chairman of Iscar, Mr. Eitan Werthheimer, highlighted the contribution of robotics and automation to the success of Iscar in the global market. The main consideration in favor of robotic integration was preservation of quality. Director General of the National Insurance Institute, Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, presented a vision of a digital world which will assist the elderly to live in their natural environments. With a large budget from the Ministry of Defense’s budget, there is a hope that the National Insurance Institute will join the Israeli robotics initiative. Prof. Moshe Shoham, head of the robotics lab at the Technion, introduced the field of medical robotics. Dr. Amir Ziv Av spoke of the importance of robotics and mechatronics education.

 

Herzliya mayor, Mr. Moshe Fadlon, offered his assistance in establishing a robotics institute in Herzliya and in sponsoring the Israeli Conference on Robotics. The robotics session at the Herzlia Conference was, without doubt, a defining event on the road to the promotion of the Israeli robotics initiative.

 

Robotics at the Knesset

The Science Committee. From the left: MK Uri Maklev, Committee Chairman, Prof. Yitzchak Ben Israel, former minister Dr. Uzi Landau, Dr. Avraham Lasri, MK Yoav Kisch

The robotics exhibition: Mazor’s back surgery robot. In the background: Cognitime robots. On the right: a glove for alleviating tremors of Parkinson patients, developed by Ariel University students.

Robotics at the Knesset

The Israeli robotics initiative

Knesset Science and Technology Committee, July 7th, 2015

 

The Knesset Science and Technology Committee held a special session marking one year since Operation Protective Edge, dedicated to the Israeli robotics initiative. The session was attended by representatives of academia and industry and was accompanied by an exhibit of Israeli robots. Chairman of the National Council for Civil Research and Development at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, Prof. Itzchak Ben Israel projected that the field of robotics will serve as a significant growth engine and will become “the next thing” in the industry. Since Israel does not have a mechanism to encourage applied research, a national research institute must be established, to bridge the gap between academic research and applications in the industry. Mr. Haim Rousso of the Israel National Council for Research and Development presented the Israeli robotics initiative, aimed at encouraging the establishment of a robotics industry focused on developing responses to the security, industrial and social needs of the State of Israel. 

 

Prof. Zvi Shiller, Chairman of the Israeli Robotics Association, claimed that 2015 will be remembered as the turning point in the development of robotics in Israel and the world. The funds which developed countries invest will be dwarfed by the vast sums that will be invested by mega corporations such as Google, Amazon and Apple. The global market is currently estimated at 30 Billion dollars. With a projected growth rate of 30% per year, the global market is due to reach 400 Billion dollars within 10 years. Prof. Shiller provided an overview of the robotics activities underway in industry and academia. “If we invest in this field, we’ll be at the forefront of global technology”, he said.  

 

Prof. Moshe Shoham of the Technion presented a medical robot for back surgery and neurosurgery. “The robot performs surgery at a higher level of precision than people. The system has already carried out over 10,000 operations worldwide without one malfunction, compared to 5% of the patients who suffer from problems in manual surgery”, he stated. 

 

Mr. Udi Peles, CEO and founder of Friendly Robotics, described the growth of his company which manufactures lawn mowing robots. Friendly Robotics won the Outstanding Exporter Award for 2014. The company has grown at a rate of 30% per year during the past decade.

President of KLA Tencor Israel, Dr. Ami Applebaum, presented the company’s robotics activities for the semiconductor industry. The company manufactures its machines in Israel and relies on the knowledge and skill of the Israeli workforce. Dr. Applebaum proposed to establish the robotics institute in the Galilee.

 

Dr. Ilana Niski (PhD), a researcher at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev department of biomedical engineering who specializes in neuroscience research, presented an interface for a medical robot which performs minimally invasive surgery.

 

The exhibit presented during the conference showcased Israeli robotics products by Friendly Robotics, Maytronics, Robotime and Cognitime, alongside research projects from the Ben Gurion University and Ariel University robotics labs.

 

 

 

The Israeli Robotics Association, 13 Hamelacha St., Rosh Ha’ain, 48091, Israel

Tel: +972-(0)73-2400-877 Fax: +972-(0)73-2400-888

info@irob.org.il

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