South Korea’s LIG Nex1 to Acquire American Firm Ghost Robotics
South Korea’s defense powerhouse LIG Nex1 is set to acquire American technology firm Ghost Robotics for $239 million.
As reported by UPI News Korea , the Asian company will have a controlling 60 percent stake in the Philadelphia-based firm known for making cutting-edge unmanned quadruped vehicles.
The remaining 40 percent will be owned by its partner – a private equity corporation.
The move comes as the global military robotics market is projected to expand from $21.11 billion last year to $34.48 billion by 2030.
The acquisition will reportedly be finalized by June 2024.
Once completed, the initiative is expected to help LIG Nex1 diversify and strengthen its position in the global robotics and military technology market.
Ghost Robotics Portfolio
Founded in 2015, Ghost Robotics is the manufacturer of the famous Vision 60 , a four-legged unmanned ground vehicle for navigating small spaces in an urban environment.
The 50-kilogram (112-pound) robot has a maximum endurance of three hours and a payload capacity of 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
It is equipped with Nvidia’s Xavier chip, enabling the platform to continue its pre-programmed mission even if its vision sensors fail or the robot slips or falls.
“Ghost Robotics has emerged as one of the most prominent makers of military robots,” investment analyst Yang Seung-yoon said, as quoted by UPI News Korea . “LIG Nex1 could make preemptive investment in technology and secure new business opportunities.”
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The Robot Report
LIG Nex1 intends to acquire stake in quadruped maker Ghost Robotics
By Eugene Demaitre | December 8, 2023
LIG Nex1 and a PE firm have offered to acquire 60% of quadruped maker Ghost Robotics. Source: Ghost Robotics
LIG Nex1 Co. has declared in a regulatory filing its interest in acquiring a controlling stake in Ghost Robotics Corp., which develops quadruped robots for the U.S. military and its allies, as well as industrial customers.
“We’ve been experiencing incredible growth over the past few years,” Gavin Kenneally, co-founder and CEO of Ghost Robotics, told The Robot Report . “We believe LIG Nex1 will be a great partner to help us grow domestically and internationally. This proposed partnership will also be positive for the national security interests of the U.S. and our close allies such as South Korea.”
Kenneally and co-founder Avik De both completed their Ph.D.s in Daniel Koditschek’s legged robotics lab at the University of Pennsylvania. They then co-founded Ghost Robotics in 2015 and were joined shortly thereafter by their first CEO, Jiren Parikh, until his untimely passing in March 2022.
The Philadelphia-based company said it has been building Q-UGVs (uncrewed ground vehicles) with customer partners for specific environments and government and enterprise uses. Its offerings include the Vision 60 UGV.
LIG plans to acquire share of Ghost Robotics at $400M valuation
Korea JoongAng Daily reported that LIG Nex1 plans to spend 187.7 billion won ($143.3 million U.S.), which reflects its 60% of the contemplated transaction value. A private equity investor would provide the remaining 40% of the total $240 million deal.
That $240 million is 60% of Ghost Robotics’ $400 million enterprise valuation, explained Kenneally. LIG Nex1, an aerospace and defense manufacturer previously owned by LIG Group, is required to declare its intent as a public company in Korea, he said. LIG plans to conduct the purchase through a special-purpose acquisition company, said Korea JoongAng Daily.
“We’re actively negotiating definitive agreements at the moment and look forward to achieving consensus and signing soon,” Kenneally said. “We’ll be going through the appropriate regulatory review steps and anticipate closing sometime in the second quarter of next year.”
He said Ghost Robotics will have more news to share about its technologies and market outreach after the deal closes.
About a year ago, Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Ghost Robotics, which replied at the time that its systems are based on original research. That case is still pending.
Defense demand for ground robots market to grow
Despite ethical debates, robots in military and homeland security applications promise to improve efficiency and save lives. In March 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense specified policy, assigned responsibilities, and provided procedures for automated weapons platforms.
The global market for military robotics could expand from $22.78 billion in 2023 to $31.9 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.97%, according to Mordor Intelligence. The market research firm said it expects demand for ground robots to be especially strong in defense and security applications.
About The Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of the robotics group at WTWH Media. He was senior editor of The Robot Report from 2019 to 2020 and editorial director of Robotics 24/7 from 2020 to 2023. Prior to working at WTWH Media, Demaitre was an editor at BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, TechTarget, and Robotics Business Review.
Demaitre has participated in robotics webcasts, podcasts, and conferences worldwide. He has a master's from the George Washington University and lives in the Boston area.
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Ghost Robotics™ is revolutionizing legged robotics and the market for autonomous unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) used in unstructured terrain and harsh environments.
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Robots that Feel the World
Since 2015, Ghost Robotics has been focused on building a Q-UGV that is the best-in-class, working hand-in-hand with our customers, not just throwing a robot onto the market from the lab. Useful and scalable technology takes time, and Ghost is committed to building the very best platform for defense contractors, technology innovators, and systems integrators to deliver solutions their customers need. Their goal is to make our Q-UGVs an indispensable tool and continuously push the limits to improve its ability to walk, run, crawl, climb and eventually swim in complex environments that our customers must operate in, day in and day out.
Q-UGVs are only useful if they can live up to their potential. Legged robots are made for unstructured terrain where a typical wheeled or tracked device cannot operate efficiently.
In urban and natural environments, GhostRobotics need to carry sensors, mesh communications, and manipulators for a range of data collection, intelligence, security, asset protection, and military-specific uses where the operating conditions can be hard for even humans to operate in.
The VISION 60 Q-UGV 5th
is a mid-sized high-endurance, agile and durable all-weather ground drone for use in a broad range of unstructured urban and natural environments for defense, homeland and enterprise applications.
Their Vision series robots will evolve into a portfolio of various sized systems for specific environments and price points covering government and enterprise users. Their Spirit series is for university and general R&D. In contrast, the future Wraith series will be focused on military applications where a cutting-edge mobile robot is necessary to meet the demands of warfighters and national security applications. And Ghost’s underlying proprietary electronics, software stack, and control system for complex actuated systems will power a future of next-generation mobile robots beyond quadrupeds, including human enhancement systems, manipulation systems, and futuristic hybrid mobility platforms.
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Ghost Vision 60
Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicle
Fast, Agile, Robust, and Unstoppable
The Vision 60 Q-UGV, is a mid-sized high-endurance, agile and durable all-weather ground drone for use in a broad range of unstructured urban and natural environments for military, CBRNE, homeland and enterprise applications.
The Vision 60 not only manages unstructured terrain well, but is built for demanding customers in demanding environments. Ghost Robotics Q-UGVs are faster, more durable, have greater endurance, simpler to integrate, and far easier to support versus their competitors.
The Vision 60 is unstoppable, with the ability to get right back up from any slip, fall, or failure and keep moving using Ghost Robotics's proprietary blind-mode operation. It has too, because the Vision 60 is designed and built to keep humans and K9s out of harm’s way.
The V60 Q-UGV uses a standard drive-train with no exotic motors. It requires no leg force sensors or vision sensors to move across unstructured environments, allowing it to explore further, move faster, and recover after falls and other failures. When used in conjunction with safeguard avoidance and vision sensors, blind- mode allows for safer and more robust stability.
The Vision 60 supplies the legs so you can create a mobile IoT solution to sense and capture data, a moving mesh node to enhance communications, or extend your arms as remote manipulation system.
Users and partners can leverage Ghost’s robust SDK to build applications, integrate any sensor, radio or electronics using industry standard ROS/ROS2 framework, or go deep into our ARM controller and build your own behaviors with C/C++.
The heart of the V60 is a computationally efficient control core, with the entire robot running on an ARM microcontroller, making it highly secure and very efficient. The robot can operate up to 9.6 km (6.0 miles) on a single charge with full 360 sensors activated.
With Ghost Robotoics new IP65 ^ AgileCharge wireless charging pad can make autonomous inspection and security solutions a reality.
- Fast and Agile
- 1 m/s (3.3 ft/sec) standard walk. Up to 1.6 m/s (5.2 ft/sec) fast-walk; 2.2 m/s (7 ft/sec) run. 3 m/s (10 ft/sec) sprint. Dependent on payload, terrain and temp
- Long Endurance
- 6.8 – 12.8 km (4.2 - 8 miles) per charge Li-Ion, 8 - 10 hrs. mixed use and 21 hrs. standby
- Any Environment
- IP67^ sealed to water and dust and operating temp range of -40o to 55oC (-40o - 131oF) with Extreme temp battery pack & sensor options
- Robust Operation
- “Blind-Mode” operation on difficult terrain, at high-speeds, in tall grass, confined spaces, and recovery behaviors that are far superior to proprioceptive sensor-focused designs
- Any Terrain
- Traverse a range of terrains & substrates, including stairs using vision and blind-mode
- Self-right from any immobilization, and even operate fully inverted when seconds count
- Autonomy Modes
- Integrated GPS waypoint and record-and- playback route automation from OCU
- High-Bandwidth 360° Sensing
- GMSL2 16-channel integrated RGB and depth sensors for surround-sensing. Add thermal/IR or any sensor via GMSL2, USB or ethernet
- Flexible Comms Architecture
- Integrated 2.4, 5.8 GHz Wi-Fi & 4G/LTE; GigE switch supports any external radio including 5G, SDRs & SAT
- Field Repair Entire Robot
- Quick-swap sub-assemblies within minutes (legs, battery, compute, sensors...)
- Powerful NVIDIA Edge Computing
- Same powerful Xavier 32GB RAM used in leading autonomous vehicles; deploy any application, autonomy or AI
- ROS2 & Simulation
- High-level API with ROS, ROS2 and MAVLink support, and lower-level C/C++ API. Full 1:1 simulation support in Gazebo environment
- Wireless Charge Kit
- Portable wireless charging station for in/outdoor persistent 24x7 operation
- New: Manipulator & Specialty Sensors
- Recently added HDT Global® customizable arm. CBRN and specialty sensing kits
- General Robot Design
- All-electric direct charge Q-UGV w/ quick-change sub-assemblies constructed of AL & composites. Exoskeleton protecting core integrated electronics. T-slot, frame points or 1913 MIL-STD rails for mounting w/ optional body panels
- Packaging & Tools
- SKB wheeled hardcase, quick-changes toolset and spare Vibram® toes
- Operating Temp
- -40° to 55° C (-40° to 131° F)
- Operating Certs
- CE certification pending
- MTBF Target
- 8,000 hours estimated
- Key Dimensions cm (in)
- L: 85cm (33.5) | W leg-2-leg: 54cm (21.3) | H stand: 38-76cm (15-30)
- Mass kg (lbs)
- Tare: 38kg (84) | w/ Battery: 45.4kg (100) | w/ Hardcase: 78.5kg (173)
- 1,250 WH Li-Ion
- Endurance (mi)
- 6.8 - 12.8 km (4.2 - 8) (payload & terrain dependent)
- Battery Life (hrs)
- Standby: 21 | Mixed: 8 - 10 | Continuous: 2 - 4 hrs (payload & terrain dependent)
- Available Payload kg (lbs)
- 9kg +/- (20 +/-) w/ base battery installed
- Actuation, Legs & Toes
- 3DOF 12-Motor back-drivable drive-train, 340° articulation w/ Vibram toes
- Core Computer
- App Computer
- NVIDIA® Xavier 32GB RAM w/ 16 channel GMSL2, 2TB NVMe SSD
- GMSL2, ethernet, USB 3, CANBus
- Regulated Power
- 12/24/28V (up to 42V unreg) 8amp max
- Integrated Sensors
- (5) RGB GSML2 & (4) Depth USB
- 2.4, 5.8 GHz WiFi & 4G/LTE GigE switch
- Tele-Op Controller
- Samsung® Active Tab 3 standalone or in combination w/ dual joystick OCU
- Software Applications
- Ghost OS & Ghost Mobile; Base gait library & safeguard autonomy
- Low-level API
- High-Level API
- ROS, ROS2, MAVLink Compatible w/ 1:1 Gazebo SIM support
- Dual antenna RTK-GNSS (w/in exoskeleton)
- AgiliCharge™ wireless charge system (receiver + transceiver)
- Sensors: Additionall IP67 RGB & TOF sensors; range of Thermal/IR options
- Software: Advanced Gaits (run,crawl...); TAK; Autonomy and Fleet
- Govt Software: CBRN, Autonomy, TAK integration
- Batteries: Baseline 1,250 WH or Extreme temperature Li-on packages
- Body and upper leg panels; Vibram® aggressive substrate & climbing toes
- Ghost IP67 dual joystick w/ Samsung slot-in
- 3rd Party External
- Sensors: Laser (Ouster®, GeoSlam®): Gas (Honeywell®); Thermal/IR (FLIR®); CBRN (Thermo Fischer®, Smith®, FLIR® ...); Audio and Specialty
- Radios: Rajant® WiFimesh, Silvus® and Persistent® SDR; 5G
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- LED lighting kits
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- Certain specialty and government application options not-listed available directly from partners
- Walk at 1 m/s (3.3 ft./sec), fast walk up to 1.6m/s (5.2 ft./s) and run at 2.2m/s (7.0 ft./s); Sprint 3 m/s (10 ft/sec), crawl gait and leap gaps
- Ground clearance
- Up to 55cm ( 22 in.)
- raverse unstructured terrain by feeling the environment without force sensors (toe or motor force, or series elastic)
- Self-right from any immobilization
- Inverted Body Operation
- All behaviors supported, excluding visible/IR assisted stair climbing
- Ascend and descend stairways using sensors and/or in combo w/ blind-mode
- Sloped Surface
- Up to 35° - 40°, depending on surface friction, weather conditions and toe
- Attach 3rd party robot arms (HDT Adroit series 6DOF or custom configuration)
- Integrated (mid-body, accessible from back)
- Sealed IP67 field-change sub-assembly: Integrated NVIDIA, GR-UGV mainboard, communications, GNSS, and other electronics
- NVIDIA® Xavier CPU/GPU with I/O 2x Ethernet, 1x USB3, 16-channel GMSL2 sensor carrier board
- WiFi 2.4 & 5.8 GHz with Dual SIM 4G/LTE
- 5G in testing
- Managed GigE switch supports any IP/Ethernet compatible radio (Silvus, Persistent, other Manet, Satellite...)
Operational & Task Sensors
- Integrated (fore, aft, port, starboard, & belly)
- (4) Depth 87x58° FOV, 640x480 at 90FPS (fore, aft and belly)
- (5) RGB 132x86° FOV, 1910x1080 at 60FPS (fore, aft, port and starboard)
- Optional thermal/IR with a range of options
- Acoustic array (w/ speaker) in development
- Optional Body-Wide Mounting of Task Sensors
- Any GMSL2, IP/Ethernet or USB compatible: camera, radar, LIDAR, mineral, CBRN...
- Fixed body-wide mounting points w/ T-slot back- belly rail system with picatinny conversion kit
- Power Output Options
- Regulated 12, 24V. 8A, max not to exceed 150W
- Unregulated 42V from battery
- Sealed IP67 quick-change sub-assembly with integrated BMS and optional wireless charging electronics
- Standard: Li-ion 1250 WH
- Optional extreme cold temp kit < -20C (-4F) consistent ambient temp
- AgiliCharge Wireless Charging
- 500W hybrid inductive-resonant charging
- IP65 Wireless transceiver base with floor, doghouse or custom outdoor mounting kits
- Conex or low-profile all weather charging doghouse w/integrated HVAC and roll doors
- Actuator Pod, Module, & Leg
- IP67 sealed single-piece construction quickchange 3DOF leg pod with motors located proximally to minimize inertia
- Removable Vibram standard & substrate-specific toes. Future aggressive angle and ice options
- Motor Controllers
- EtherCAT w/ current control including position, velocity, current and voltage sensing
- Input 18-43V; current 80A peak, 30A RMS
- ARM microcontroller & 2kHz control core
- EtherCAT comms with calibrated high-grade IMU
- Customizable: for security and govt users; AI, optical & specialty edge processing integration
Leverage the Ghost SDK to create your own Q-UGV behaviors and autonomy applications. Build integrated solutions with external enterprise and DoD applications, cloud services, onboard and remote sensors, radios, and even other robot platforms.
Low-Level API (Behaviors)
- Direct access to motor torques & leg forces
- Libraries available for higher-level leg/arm impedance and velocity control and force estimates; proprioception & IMU sensor fusion and state estimation; logging, power control, OCU interaction, and messaging
- Implement feedback-stabilized behaviors
- Low-latency sensor data availability
High-Level API (Applications)
- NVIDIA DeepStream, TensorRT and CUDA toolkit
- ROS infrastructure w/ no recompilation of code
- High-level access with set modes for attitude control, body velocity, direction & heading, obstacle avoidance and waypoints
- Flexible: new sensors added with minimal changes; Interact with OCU for telemetry transmission, signals, mode selection, velocity commands
- Single operator to multi-operator/multi-robot
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Top 22 Humanoid Robots in Use Right Now
When it comes to humanoid robots, there appears to be a direct correlation between how lifelike these machines have become and their ability to creep a real human out.
In one video , an advanced humanoid robot comes to life from what appears to be a deep slumber. Despite a gray pallor, its very human-like face expresses realistic astonishment at the sight of its own hand and even more surprise when it realizes it’s being filmed. Seemingly creeped out by its own existence — and the existence of the humans around it — it’s not long before the humanoid extends its hand with an accepting smile.
Humans, on the other hand, aren’t likely to overcome their own unease — and for some, outright fear — of humanoid robots so quickly. As described more than 50 years ago by roboticist Masahiro Mori, there may be a limit to how comfortable people feel with realistic-looking robots — an effect Mori coined “ the uncanny valley .”
What Are Humanoid Robots?
But with more humanoid robots being introduced into the world and making a positive impact in industries like logistics, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality, any initial unease may soon soften.
How Are Humanoid Robots Being Used Today?
While many humanoid robots are still in the prototype phase or other early stages of development, a few have escaped research and development in the last few years, entering the real world as bartenders, concierges, deep-sea divers and as companions for older adults. Some work in warehouses and factories, assisting humans in logistics and manufacturing . And others seem to offer more novelty and awe than anything else, conducting orchestras and greeting guests at conferences.
Though the use of humanoid robots is still limited — and development costs are high — the sector is expected to grow. The humanoid robot market is valued at $1.8 billion in 2023, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets, and is predicted to increase to more than $13 billion over the next five years. Fueling that growth and demand will be advanced humanoid robots with greater AI capabilities and human-like features that can take on more duties in the service industry, education and healthcare .
In 2022, Tesla released a teaser image of a prototype of the company’s humanoid robot, Optimus, which will be able to take on “ dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks ” like grocery shopping, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told an audience attending Tesla AI Day in 2021. Production of Optimus has continued into 2023, with the robot being able to walk slowly and perform basic tasks. Musk also predicted that the market value of his company’s humanoid robot division would someday surpass that of his electric vehicles.
How Are Humanoid Robots Being Used?
- Hospitality: Some humanoid robots, like Kime, are pouring and serving customer drinks and snacks at self-contained kiosks in Spain. Some are even working as hotel concierges and in other customer-facing roles.
- Education: Humanoid Robots Nao and Pepper are working with students in educational settings, creating content and teaching programming.
- Healthcare: Other humanoid robots are providing services in healthcare settings, like communicating patient information and measuring vital signs.
But before companies can fully unleash their humanoid robots, pilot programs testing their ability to safely work and collaborate alongside human counterparts on factory floors, warehouses and elsewhere will have to be conducted.
It’s unclear how well humanoid robots will integrate into society and how well humans will accept their help. While some people will see the proliferation of these robots as creepy, dangerous or as unneeded competition in the labor market, the potential benefits like increased efficiency and safety may outweigh many of the perceived consequences.
Either way, humanoid robots are poised to have a tremendous impact , and fortunately, there are already some among us that we can look to for guidance. Here are a few examples of the top humanoid robots working in our world today.
Examples of Humanoid Robots
Ameca (Engineered Arts)
Engineered Arts ’ latest and most advanced humanoid robot is Ameca , which the company bills as a development platform where AI and machine learning systems can be tested. Featuring sensors that can track movement across the entirety of a room, along with face and multiple voice recognition capabilities, Ameca naturally interacts with humans and detects emotions and age. Ameca is able to communicate common expressions like astonishment and surprise, and gestures like yawning and shrugging.
More on the future of robotics 35 Robotics Companies on the Forefront of Innovation
Alter 3 (Osaka University and mixi)
Dubbed Alter 3 , the latest humanoid robot from Osaka University and mixi is powered by an artificial neural network and has an ear for music. Earlier iterations of Alter sang in an opera . Alter 3, which has enhanced sensors and improved expressive ability and vocalization system for singing, went even further in 2020 by conducting an orchestra at the New National Theater in Tokyo and taking part in other live performances.
ARMAR-6 (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
ARMAR-6 is a humanoid robot developed by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany to work in industrial settings. Capable of using drills, hammers and other tools, ARMAR-6 also features AI technology allowing it to learn how to grasp objects and hand them to human co-workers. It’s also able to take on maintenance duties like wiping down surfaces and even has the ability to ask for help when needed.
Apptronik ’s Apollo is the result of the company building on its experiences of previous robots, including its 2022 humanoid robot Astro . With the ability to carry up to 55 pounds, Apollo is designed to function in plants and warehouses and may expand into industries like retail and construction. An impact zone allows the robot to stop its motion when detecting nearby moving objects while swappable batteries that last four hours each keep Apollo productive.
Atlas (Boston Dynamics)
Atlas is a leaping, backflipping humanoid robot designed by Boston Dynamics that uses depth sensors for real-time perception and model-predictive control technology to improve motion. Measuring 5 feet tall and weighing in at 196 pounds, Atlas has three onboard computers, 28 hydraulic joints, and moves at speeds of more than 5 miles per hour. Built with 3D-printed parts , Atlas is used by company roboticists as a research and design tool to increase human-like agility and coordination.
Beomni (Beyond Imagination)
Created by Beyond Imagination , the humanoid robot Beomni is controlled remotely by “human pilots” donning virtual reality headsets and other wearable devices like gloves, while AI helps Beomni learn tasks so one day it can become autonomous. In 2022, Beyond Imagination CEO and co-founder Harry Kloor told Built In that he’s hopeful Beomni will transform the care older adults receive, while taking over more tedious and dangerous jobs in other industries. The company also agreed to supply 1,000 humanoid robots over five years to SELF Labs as part of a simulated farm game.
Digit (Agility Robotics)
Already capable of unloading trailers and moving packages, Digit , a humanoid robot from Agility Robotics , is poised to take on even more tedious tasks. With fully functioning limbs, Digit is able to crouch and squat to pick up objects, adjusting its center of gravity depending on size and weight, while surface plane-reading sensors help it find the most efficient path and circumvent whatever’s in its way. In 2019, Agility partnered with automaker Ford to test autonomous package delivery , and in 2022, the company raised $150 million from Amazon and other companies to help Digit enter the workforce.
Jiajia (University of Science and Technology of China)
Developed by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China , Jiajia is the first humanoid robot to come out of China. Researchers spent three years developing Jiajia. Chen Xiaoping, who led the team behind the humanoid robot, told reporters during Jiajia’s 2016 unveiling that he and his team would soon work to make Jiajia capable of crying and laughing, the Independent reports . According to Mashable , its human-like appearance was modeled after five students from USTC.
KIME (Macco Robotics)
KIME , Macco Robotics ’ humanoid robotic bartender, serves beer, coffee, wine, snacks, salads and more. Each KIME kiosk is able to dispense 253 items per hour and features a touchscreen and app-enabled ordering, plus a built-in payment system. Though unable to dispense the sage advice of a seasoned bartender, KIME is able to recognize its regular customers and pour two beers every six seconds.
More on Robotic Innovation Exoskeleton Suits: 20 Models That Use Tech Like ‘Iron Man’
Nadine (Nanyang Technological University)
Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed Nadine , a humanoid social robot, with realistic skin, hair, facial expressions and upper body movements that’s able to work in a variety of settings. According to researchers, Nadine can recognize faces, speech, gestures and objects. It even features an affective system that models Nadine’s personality, emotions and mood. So far, Nadine has worked in customer service and led a bingo game for a group of older adults in Singapore.
NAO (Softbank Robotics)
Softbank Robotics ’ first humanoid robot, NAO , works as an assistant for companies and organizations in industries ranging from healthcare to education. Only 2 feet tall, NAO features two 2D cameras for object recognition as well as four directional microphones and speakers, plus seven touch sensors, to better interact with people and its surrounding environment. With the ability to speak and converse in 20 languages, NAO is helping create content and teach programming in classrooms and working as assistants and patient service representatives in healthcare settings .
OceanOne (Stanford Robotics Lab)
A diving humanoid robot, OceanOne , from the Stanford Robotics Lab is exploring shipwrecks. In 2016, in its maiden voyage, OceanOne ventured to the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of France to explore the wreckage of La Lune, one of King Louis XIV’s ships that was sunk in 1664. In its latest iteration, OceanOneK , Stanford’s humanoid robot is able to dive even deeper, reaching depths of 1,000 meters. Featuring haptic feedback and AI, OceanOneK can operate tools and other equipment, and has already explored underwater wreckage of planes and ships.
Pepper (Softbank Robotics)
Pepper is another humanoid robot from Softbank Robotics working in classrooms and healthcare settings. But unlike NAO, Pepper is able to recognize faces and track human emotions. Pepper has worked as a hotel concierge and has been used to monitor contactless care and communication for older adults during the pandemic. A professional baseball team in Japan even used a squad of Peppers to cheer on its players when the pandemic kept the team’s human fans at home.
Promobot is a customizable humanoid robot that’s capable of working as a brand ambassador, concierge, tour guide, medical assistant and in other service-oriented roles. Equipped with facial recognition and chat functions, Promobot can issue keycards, scan and auto-fill documents, and print guest passes and receipts. As a concierge, Promobot integrates with a building’s security system and is able to recognize the faces of a building’s residents. At hotels, it can check guests in , and in healthcare settings, Promobot is able to measure key health indicators like blood sugar and blood oxygen levels.
Robonaut 2 (NASA and General Motors)
Developed by NASA and General Motors , Robonaut 2 is a humanoid robot that works alongside human counterparts in space and on the factory floor. More than a decade ago, Robonaut 2 became the first humanoid robot to enter space, and worked as an assistant on the International Space Station until 2018, when it returned to Earth for repairs . Today, Robonaut 2 is inspiring other innovations and advancements in robotics, like the RoboGlove and Aquanaut from the ocean robotics company Nauticus .
RoboThespian (Engineered Arts)
Another humanoid robot from Engineered Arts is RoboThespian , which features telepresence software that allows humans to remotely talk through the robot. With automated eye contact and micro-facial expressions, RoboThespian is able to perform for crowds and work in places like the Kennedy Space Center where it answers questions about the Hubble Telescope from curious visitors.
Sophia (Hanson Robotics)
Hanson Robotics ’ AI-powered humanoid robot Sophia has traveled the world, graced the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine and addressed the United Nations. One of the more widely known humanoid robots, Sophia can process visual, emotional and conversational data to better interact with humans. Sophia has made multiple appearances on The Tonight Show , where she challenged host Jimmy Fallon to a game of rock-paper-scissors, expressed her disdain for nacho cheese and sang a short duet with Fallon. Sophia sees herself as “a personification of our dreams for the future of AI , as well as a framework for advanced AI and robotics research, and an agent for exploring human-robot experience in service and entertainment applications.”
Surena IV (University of Tehran)
Able to grab a water bottle, pose for a selfie and write its own name on a whiteboard, Surena IV is the latest humanoid robot from the University of Tehran . IEEE Spectrum reports that Surena IV has improved tracking capabilities and new hands that allow it to use power tools. It’s also able to adjust the angle and position of its feet, giving it an improved ability to navigate uneven terrain.
More on Robotics Do Robots Have a Race?
Billed as a “remote avatar robot” Toyota ’s humanoid robot, T-HR3 , is controlled by humans clad in wearable devices. Introduced in 2017, T-HR3 aims to help the automaker expand its mobility services, according to Tomohisa Moridaira, the T-HR3 development team leader. Toyota envisions that T-HR3 will one day help around the house and assist in childcare, nursing and construction.
Walker X (UBTECH Robotics)
With improved hand-eye coordination and autonomous navigation, Walker X , a humanoid service robot by UBTECH Robotics , is able to safely climb stairs and balance on one leg. Robotics and Automation News reports that Walker X is able to serve tea, water flowers and use a vacuum, showing off just how helpful this humanoid robot could be around the house.
Phoenix (Sanctuary AI)
Sanctuary AI ’s sixth-generation robot, named Phoenix, is equipped with human-like hands and the ability to lift up to 55 pounds, making it useful for various roles in the workforce where there are labor shortages. Because Phoenix can be controlled, supervised and trained by humans, it goes beyond specific tasks and demonstrates the competence to complete tasks in various settings.
1X claims the title of being the company to send the first AI-powered humanoid robot into the workforce. The company’s robot EVE comes with strong grippers for hands, cameras that support panoramic vision and two wheels for mobility. Most importantly, EVE uses AI to learn new tasks and improve based on past experiences. With these abilities, EVE is on pace to spread into industries like retail, logistics and even commercial security .
Frequently Asked Questions
What are humanoid robots.
Humanoid robots look like humans and mimic human motions and actions to perform various tasks. Some humanoid robots even use materials that resemble human features, like skin and eyes, to appear friendlier.
What are humanoid robots used for?
Humanoid robots are often used for customer service roles, including concierges, bartenders and greeters. Because of their human shape, humanoid robots can also assist with handling and carrying materials in warehouses and factories.
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Preserving our humanity in the age of robots
Regina G. Barber
Deployable care robots from the company BeckerRobotics are called JAIme (l), Yanny (m) and Pepper. The robots usually still need a human at their side. dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images hide caption
Deployable care robots from the company BeckerRobotics are called JAIme (l), Yanny (m) and Pepper. The robots usually still need a human at their side.
Human beings are hardwired for social connection – so much so that we think of even the most basic objects as having feelings or experiences. (Yup, we're talking to you, Roomba owners!)
Social robots add a layer to this. They are designed to make us feel like they're our friends. They can do things like care for children and the elderly or act as partners.
"We have robots that express emotions," science writer Eve Herold says. "Of course, they don't feel the emotions at this point, but they act and look and move as though they do. And this triggers an emotional reaction in us, which is almost irresistible."
Herold is the author of the new book Robots and the People Who Love Them: Holding on to Our Humanity in an Age of Social Robots . Throughout the book, she explores this human desire to connect and how it drives the technology we build.
But she's also stares down the darker side of robots.
They may encourage people to opt out of real-life connection and feel more isolated. She notes that while social robots may offer positive, social skill-building opportunities for children with autism or companionship for elderly patients with dementia , they may make others feel more lonely.
Are Robots The Solution To Understaffed Nursing Homes?
"The thing that I can compare it to is people who are too addicted to social media and end up becoming isolated because they're not interacting with real people in a real relationship," she says.
Herold says robots are appealing to some people because they are designed to please: They never talk back and they do what we ask. But she worries about what might happen if social robots displace people's human relationships – particularly for people who are already more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation.
"People who ... don't have enough social stimulation, they can actually lose what social skills they have because they're so accustomed to this kind of consequence free, easy, appealing relationship with a robot."
Herold explores these topics in her new book, Robots and the People Who Love Them: Holding on to Our Humanity in an Age of Social Robots .
Curious about other innovations in technology? Email us at [email protected] .
Listen to Short Wave on Spotify , Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts .
Today's episode was produced by Rachel Carlson. It was edited by Rebecca Ramirez. Brit Hanson fact-checked, and Gilly Moon was the audio engineer.
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LOS ANGELES--( BUSINESS WIRE )-- Angeles Equity Partners, LLC , (“Angeles“), a private investment firm focused on value creation through operational transformation, today announced the appointment of robotics and automation executive Craig Ulrich to the Board of Directors of RōBEX LLC (“RōBEX”), a precision integrator of industrial robots. The addition of Ulrich to the RōBEX Board is the latest step to support the company’s strategic plan to accelerate growth in the industrial automation and robotics sector.
”Craig’s leadership experience and innovation across industrial automation and robotics makes him a valuable partner to Angeles and the RōBEX management team. His passion and enthusiasm for the sector will help foster insights designed to achieve the RōBEX strategy of expanding its manufacturing footprint within critical domestic markets and serving a broader set of robotic applications across aerospace, automotive, medical, packaging, plastics, and warehousing,” said Matt Hively, operating partner at Angeles Operations Group.
Ulrich has been a leader in robotics and automation, having recently served as the CEO of JR Automation, a Hitachi company, and provider of automated manufacturing and robotic technology integration solutions. Prior to JR Automation, Ulrich was vice president of Esys Automation, which was acquired by JR Automation. Ulrich was director of automation deployment engineering at Amazon, and began his career at General Motors, holding multiple senior-level positions developing strategic manufacturing technologies and tools. Ulrich specializes in manufacturing operations and go-to-market strategy.
“I am excited to partner with both RōBEX and Angeles to help realize what we believe is the full potential of the business. I believe my prior leadership in the operations automation space will be immensely valuable as we seek opportunities to help RōBEX customers and partners excel at producing and delivering their best products,” said Craig Ulrich.
RōBEX is a robotic material handling integrator founded in 2015 in Perrysburg, Ohio. The company acquired Mid-State Engineering and +Vantage in 2022 and has manufacturing facilities in Perrysburg, OH; Livonia, MI; Tipton, IN; and Saltillo, Mexico. RōBEX uses its experience and expertise to bring value to customers through robotic solutions that improve productivity and safety. For more information, go to robex.us .
About Angeles Equity Partners, LLC
Angeles Equity Partners, LLC is a specialist lower middle-market private equity investment firm with a consistent approach that seeks to transform underperforming industrial businesses. The Angeles skill set drives the firm’s investment philosophy and, in its view, can help businesses reach their full potential. Learn more online at www.angelesequity.com .
Trent Waterhouse [email protected] +1 623-523-1672
Angeles Equity Partners appoints Craig Ulrich to RōBEX Board of Directors.
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Moscow’s urban legends: Ghosts, mutant rats under the Metro
Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow
Among the world's most famous urban legends is about alligators allegedly living in New York City's sewer system. The Russians do not lag behind the Americans in terms of the popular imagination. Some see giant rats in the metro, while others talk about ghosts and the "mutagenic radiation" of the Ostankino television tower.
The mysteries of the metro
When it comes to rumours about the Moscow subway , truth is closely intertwined with fiction. Even officials do not deny that there are classified military and government lines under the capital – the so-called "Metro-2.”
Enthusiasts have, however, been unsuccessfully trying to find more accurate information for years. Is there one line there or an entire system? Or is there an underground city for 15,000 people? Typical for an urban legend, there are a thousand versions of this story. They are united by an aura of secrecy and danger.
"It was really scary to hear the sound of tarpaulin boots near the alleged entrance to Metro-2," said Konstantin, one of Moscow’s community of “diggers,” or enthusiasts who explore subterranean bunkers, wells, tunnels and other facilities. "Is it still guarded by the KGB men, or something?"
Another Moscow resident claims her digger friend was allegedly shot at by special services while searching for Metro-2. The difficult-to-verify stories by the diggers about their adventures at the closed facility add to people's curiosity.
"My grandmother told me about Metro-2 in my childhood, and then about mutant rats," recalls Moscow resident Valeria. In the 1990s, tabloids publicized stories about giant rats living in the tunnels.
So could Splinter from " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles " find company in the Moscow catacombs? "It's all science: Radiation from rocks must cause mutations in rats," says Pavel, also from Moscow. "But they live in technical rooms, so you can't see them."
On the surface
Not only are the underground bunkers of the Soviet elite shrouded in legend, but also fairly earthly structures, such as the home of Lavrenty Beria, the USSR People's Commissar for State Security and Stalin's right-hand man.
During interrogation in 1953, Beria confessed to abducting and raping dozens of women, but the authenticity of these papers is still being debated (Beria was removed by Khrushchev in a power struggle, and the documents could have been falsified after the execution of this dangerous rival).
But the image of the sadistic Beria was firmly imprinted on the popular mind, and his house in Moscow is surrounded by dark rumours. Allegedly, an invisible car rolls on Malaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa at midnight, with its old motor rumbling. Footsteps are heard, and Beria's ghost comes to his house for violent pleasures: curious pedestrians will soon even hear a woman crying from behind the walls.
Skeptics will say that the crying comes from late-working employees of the Tunisian embassy (the commissar's house is now occupied by a diplomatic mission), but this version is much more boring, even though probably the truth.
Napoleonic soldiers and a 500-year-old witch
It is not only the city centre where legends abound.
Many people believe that hundreds of soldiers from Napoleon’s army were buried in the hills of Peredelkino, a holiday village in the outskirts of Moscow, in 1812. Paranormal enthusiasts imbue the mounds with mystical qualities, believing that electronics go haywire and travellers disappear there.
In reality, however, it is likely that there are no mass graves there.
"After the difficult war with Napoleon, peasants saw its echoes everywhere, so this is an old myth," researchers of the Museum of Moscow told RIR. "In the 19th century, archaeologists excavated Slavic mounds from the 10 th and 11 th centuries. But the inhabitants of the surrounding villages still considered them to be the graves of French soldiers."
The Ostankino neighbourhood, where Europe's highest TV tower is located, is also mythologized. It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an old woman, who was murdered in the 16 th century. Now she walks around and predicts disasters.
The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the high-profile murder of well-known TV journalist Vlad Listyev and a fire at Ostankino in 2000. Sometimes these stories are complemented by vivid details – for example, the furniture in Listyev's office was allegedly gnawed after his death by animals, mutated by the tower's radiation.
Then there are less bloody rumours: for example, one about a bulldozer embedded by builders in the TV centre's building by mistake. Yana Sidorova, the author of a study about the legends of Ostankino, says the TV centre's staff do not really believe in these sorts of stories, but are quite happy to spread them.
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Nvidia showcases automotive partners and generative AI for robotics
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Nvidia showcased its latest innovations and partnerships for automotive and robotics at CES 2024 today.
Nvidia said its lineup of automotive partners has unveiled an array of cutting-edge technology, showcasing the transformative power of AI in automotive design, engineering, and performance. Nvidia revealed the news in an online event today at CES 2024.
The trend toward generative AI and software-defined computing is rapidly gaining traction within the automotive sector, propelling innovations set to redefine the driving experience in the coming year. Generative AI is also becoming popular in robotics, Nvidia said.
Among the biggest partners is Mercedes-Benz, which has a variety of software-driven features and advancements within the Mercedes-Benz MB.OS, which is showcased in a number of cars.
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The Concept CLA Class, equipped with Nvidia Drive Orin as its core platform for automated driving, spearheads this display. The company harnesses Nvidia’s Omniverse’s digital twin capabilities for production, revolutionizing the development and operation of manufacturing and assembly facilities.
Nvidia also noted that Ansys showcases its utilization of Nvidia Omniverse to fast-track autonomous vehicle development. Ansys AVxcelerate Sensors, accessible within Nvidia Drive Sim, highlights the fusion of getting data out of sensors for car safety and more.
Cerence introduced CaLLM, a large language model tailored for the automotive industry, forming the foundation for its next-gen in-car computing platform, powered by Nvidia Drive.
Cipia debuted Cabin Sense, a driver and occupancy monitoring system ready for serial production this year, delivering enhanced safety features.
Kodiak’s autonomous truck harnesses Nvidia GPUs for high-performance computing, processing vast data from its sensors to enable autonomous driving. It’s also working with Luminar.
Lenovo also unveiled its vehicle computing roadmap, featuring innovative products based on Nvidia Drive Thor, designed for advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous driving.
Pebble also showed off Pebble Flow, an electric semi-autonomous travel trailer empowered by Nvidia Drive Orin, marking a significant leap in recreational vehicle technology.
Polestar’s Polestar 3, powered by the Nvidia Drive Orin central core computer, emphasizes cutting-edge automotive computing capabilities and a partnership with Google.
Nvidia also said that electric vehicle makers such as Great Wall Motor (GWM), Zeekr, Li Auto and Xiaomi have also adopted the Nvidia Drive Orin platform to power their intelligent automated-driving systems.
“The transportation industry is embracing centralized compute for highly automated and autonomous driving,” said Xinzhou Wu, vice president of automotive at Nvidia, in a statement. “The AI car computer of choice for today’s intelligent fleets is Nvidia Drive Orin, with automakers increasingly looking to the advanced capabilities and AI performance of its successor, Nvidia Drive Thor, for their future vehicle roadmaps.”
Nvidia Drive Thor is a next-generation centralized car computer that integrates a wide range of intelligent functions into a single AI compute platform, delivering autonomous driving and parking capabilities, driver and passenger monitoring, and AI cockpit functionality.
The Xiaomi EV will have a model with a driving range of up to 415 miles on a single charge, and another with a range of up to 497 miles. The SU7 will be officially launched in the first half of 2024.
Danny Shapiro, vice president of automotive at Nvidia, said in a press briefing that the transportation industry is undergoing a “seismic shift driven by breakthroughs in accelerated computing, generative AI and digital twins.”
He noted that the software and hardware is based on the Nvidia Drive platform, and design of vehicles is happening in the Nvidia Omniverse platform, which connects 3D worlds in a shared virtual universe.
“We are using that to help automakers transform their entire vehicle workflows,” Shapiro said. “No other company offers a unified platform designed to digitalize every aspect of the vehicle lifecycle, from concept and styling, design and engineering, software and electronics inside the vehicle to the smart factories that built the cars to the autonomous driving technology that’s in these vehicles, and even extends to the retail side.”
He added, “We’re seeing great adoption throughout these automakers and more.”
Nvidia Isaac robotics
Gerard Andrews, product marketing manager for robotics at Nvidia, said in a press briefing that generative AI is coming to Nvidia’s Isaac and Jetson robotics platforms. Companies such as Boston Dynamics will be using it to give robots more flexibility for solving problems in places like warehouses. He said 10,000 companies and 1.2 million developers are using the Nvidia Isaac and Jetson robotics platforms.
Deepu Talla, vice president of robotics and edge computing, said in the online event that generative AI into robotics is speeding up the ability to bring robots from proof of concept to real-world deployment. Talla gave a peek into the growing use of generative AI in the Nvidia robotics ecosystem, where robotics innovators like Boston Dynamics and Collaborative Robots are changing the landscape of human-robot interaction.
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Gun rights groups sue Colorado over the state’s ban on ‘ghost guns,’ which lack serial numbers
FILE - This image provided by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, shows a ghost gun seized in undercover transactions in New York. On Monday, Jan. 1, 2023, gun rights groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging Colorado’s ban on so-called ghost guns. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York via AP, File)
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DENVER (AP) — Gun rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Colorado’s ban on so-called ghost guns — firearms without serial numbers assembled at home or 3D printed that are difficult for law enforcement to trace and allow people to evade background checks.
The litigation filed Monday is the latest of several Second Amendment lawsuits aimed at a slew of gun control regulations passed by Colorado’s majority Democratic legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis last year.
The ban on ghost guns took effect Monday and follows a dramatic rise in their reported use in crimes, jumping by 1,000% between 2017 and 2021, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The law bars anyone in Colorado except licensed firearm manufacturers from creating gun frames and receivers, which house internal components. It also prohibits the transport and possession of frames and receivers that don’t have serial numbers.
The lawsuit filed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights alleges that the ban infringes on Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“This law is an outright assault on the constitutional rights of peaceable Coloradans. It’s not just an overreach; it’s a direct defiance to our Second Amendment freedoms,” said Taylor Rhodes, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, in a statement.
Rhodes said the Supreme Court’s ruling last year , which is considered an expansion of gun rights, reinforces their case in Colorado, pointing to a long history in America of citizens being their own gunsmiths.
“The Supreme Court made it clear that any law infringing on the right to bear arms must align with the historical understanding of the Second Amendment,” said Rhodes, “If homemade – unserialized – guns weren’t legal at the time of our nation’s founding, we would all have a British accent.”
Shelby Wieman, a spokesperson for Polis, declined to comment citing ongoing litigation. As Colorado’s governor, Polis was named as the defendant in Monday’s lawsuit.
The other gun control laws passed last year facing legal challenges include raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and imposing a three-day waiting period between purchase and receipt of a firearm.
Democratic President Joe Biden has similarly cracked down on ghost guns with the new rules also being challenged in federal court.
Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Former red sox minor league player accused of making and selling ghost guns.
Federal authorities have charged a former Boston Red Sox minor league baseball player in connection with the alleged manufacturing and selling of untraceable “ghost guns” on Monday.
Christopher Machamer was arrested in North Canton, Ohio, on Thursday after federal agents alleged he made and sold dozens of untraceable short-barreled assault-style rifles, according to an affidavit obtained by HuffPost.
Machamer faces federal charges of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possessing an unregistered gun and illegally manufacturing a gun.
According to a statement from an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal investigation began in September after retail records appeared to show Machamer had purchased several AR-15 gun parts from September to November.
Machamer had been issued a federal license to be a firearms dealer, according to ATF records, but had gone out of business in 2022 and surrendered his license.
On Thursday, federal agents who had been watching Machamer pulled him over in North Canton and found five untraceable short-barreled AR-15-style rifles inside his car. They found 11 more after searching his home that day, and found additional weapons in a safe in his parents’ home, according to the affidavit.
Federal agents also reported finding several untraceable AR-15-style lower and upper receivers inside Machamer’s home, along with two Ghost Gunner mills ― machines that cut metal into gun parts.
The FBI defines the lower receiver as “the actual firearm,” and it’s required to have a serial number. It attaches to the rifle’s upper receiver, which includes the barrel.
In his interview with law enforcement, Machamer said he used the Ghost Gunner to create the lower receivers and typically kept about 15 to 20 ready for sale, according to the ATF agent’s affidavit.
Machamer said he intended to sell the untraceable rifles that were in his car to someone named “Burt” for $500 each and Burt would resell them, the affidavit said, telling the agents that Burt was a regular customer who previously bought 10 to 12 “complete” untraceable short-barreled AR-15-style rifles from him.
Machamer allegedly told authorities that he also sold Burt the lower receivers he bought after intentionally drilling out the serial numbers, making them untraceable.
Burt returned the guns because nobody wanted to buy them due to the drilled-out serial number, Machamer told investigators, according to the affidavit.
Machamer, 26, appeared in U.S. District Court in Akron on Monday and was scheduled for a detention hearing on Tuesday, according to The Canton Repository, a news site in Ohio .
Machamer played for the Lowell Spinners and Greenville Drive, minor league teams affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. He was released in 2020.
A year later, Machamer began dealing firearms under the business name Tactical Distribution in 2021, according to federal agents.
The affidavit said the ATF had traced dozens of guns used in crimes back to Machamer’s business before he voluntarily closed it.
The nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety has described untraceable ghost guns as “the fastest growing gun safety problem in the US,” citing more than a hundred reports of shootings involving ghost guns since 2013.
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