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Robots, wearable tech on display at 'do-it-yourself palace' in Calgary


Robots, wearable tech

Francecsha is a four-wheeled robot that works on construction projects in the oilsands, using an array of censors to collect up to 15 million measurements of mine sites in less than a minute.

Owned by the Calgary startup Veerum, the robot sends the data to a central computer system that creates a digital replica of the site, allowing crews in another city to observe the mine remotely.

The robot even helps oil and gas companies detect problems at construction sites that could lead to costly delays.

Francecsha is another sign of the oil and gas industry embracing automation to cut costs, from driverless trucks to walking oil rigs.

The robot is also part of a new project in Calgary where an emerging generation of inventors, wearable technology makers and other bright minds will collaborate to build stuff.

Veerum, along with its collection of robots, is an anchor tenant in a 5,400 square-foot warehouse that’s home to metal and woodworking shops, 3D printers, industrial sewing equipment, laser cutters and an electronics lab.

Makers with varying degrees of experience — from first-time hobbyists to experienced robotics engineers and high-tech fashion designers — can rent space or pop in for a day to ply their trade at the warehouse in the southeast community of Radisson Heights.


“It’s a place where we can collaborate and even work with other people in Calgary,” said Kristy Dixon, who handles communications for Veerum.

“We have a downtown office … but it’s in a highrise building, where you can’t really be banging things and making robots and getting the job done.”

The warehouse is the brainchild of another Calgary startup, FUSE33, which invested its own money into creating a “do-it-yourself palace” that will also hold classes for budding inventors and craft enthusiasts to learn hands-on with instructors.

Homeowners needing to cut planks of wood for home renovations don’t have to invest in costly saws, but can drop in to FUSE33, take safety training and work on their projects.

Make Fashion, a Calgary-based designer, is another tenant in the warehouse. The company’s founders travel the world working with designers in Rome, Paris and Las Vegas on wearable technology.

One dress on display has patches of conductive thread with motion censors that make the dress light up by a dancing model on the runway. Another dress has 3D-printed beads made to look like gems, but actually function as light diffusers.

Make Fashion is now preparing do-it-yourself kits that will allow designers to bring censors and lights into their clothing.

“There’s no other space in Calgary that we can just go in and share a laser cutter or 3D printers or a sewing machine in a workspace,” said Maria Hoover, the company’s co-founder.

The warehouse also allows Veerum to store and work on its robots.

Francecsha is part of a suite of artificial intelligence designed to predict and resolve problems on industrial job sites, like oilsands mines.

The data that Francecsha collects helps companies predict problems that cause expensive delays, such as fabrication issues affecting the assembly of modular buildings on work sites.

“There’s a lot of money going down the drain in terms of inefficiencies,” Dixon said. “Technologies like this can really help make those projects make time and budget.”

Source: Calgaryherald


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