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Kiwi robotics company continues expansion
Top tech investors support global expansion of the world’s first non-magnetic, climbing inspection robot for hazardous environments
A New Zealand-developed climbing inspection robot that caught the attention of top US investors, with its ability to help keep workers safe in hazardous environments, is continuing its global march.
Invert Robotics announced in May that it has secured a US$8.8 million round of funding led by Finistere Ventures, an agtech/foodtech venture pioneer, with support from Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV), the corporate venture capital business of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.
Existing investors, such as Allan Moss, Inception Asset Management and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, also participated in the capital raise.
Using the strategic investment to scale its team, open a US office and expand its technology platform and industry-specific solutions, Invert Robotics aims to increase the global footprint of its climbing robot – the first specifically designed to inspect the integrity and safety of non-magnetic, hazardous environments.
“The immediate value of Invert Robotics across the global food supply chain – from ensuring food and beverages are stored and transported in safe, pathogen-free environments, to avoiding catastrophic failures in agrichemical-industry containers and plants – is undeniably impressive,” says Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures.
“However, we see the potential applications as almost limitless. With Invert Robotics, companies across a variety of industries will be able to deploy climbing robots to make asset inspection easier and more effective to avoid life-threatening situations for their workers, their communities and their consumers.”
Invert Robotics offers precise, remote inspection of non-magnetic surfaces such as stainless steel, carbon fiber, aluminum and glass. Its climbing robot is already being used by key players in the global aviation market, alongside major Australian and New Zealand dairy companies and co-operatives such as Fonterra, Synlait and Murray Goldburn.
The global chemical industry represents another market where Invert Robotics’ technology is helping to keep workers safe while undertaking critical equipment inspections.
“Our climbing robots go where other robots cannot and people should not,” says Invert Robotics managing director Neil Fletcher.
“We give our customers an easier, safer and faster way to inspect the safety and integrity of the most hazardous and toxic environments. Industrial accidents in the chemical industry can be costly and sometimes even deadly, but they are often preventable. Remote inspection solutions that take into account chemical corrosion and high-pressure processing scenarios can help chemical companies improve worker safety, optimise maintenance and avoid future tragedies.”
The Invert Robotics climbing robots can securely adhere to surfaces that other robots cannot and go into confined, treacherous spaces that would put workers’ lives at risk. Going beyond visual inspections, the company’s robots can perform in-depth scans using surface-wave detection and ultrasonic probes to measure wall thickness, assess structural integrity and find defects on any surface.
“As part of Yamaha’s long-term vision supporting the development of advanced robots to improve workplace efficiency and safety, Invert Robotics’ technology and its value proposition made a positive impression on our investment committee,” adds Craig Boshier, Partner and General Manager for Yamaha Motor Ventures in Australia and New Zealand.
Wheel reinvented: automated/electric vehicles to benefit
Israeli start-up company Ree has unveiled and made claims of what it describes as a revolutionary flat and modular platform which fundamentally changes the way electric vehicles are built to power widespread vehicle electrification. By integrating all of the components formerly found under the hood of the car into the wheel, Ree says it offers optimal freedom of design, multiple body configurations on a single platform, reduced vehicle size and weight, and increased energy and operational efficiency.
The skeptics are plentiful, but the company says that its unique approach strategically places the motor, steering, suspension, drivetrain, sensing, brakes, thermal systems and electronics into the wheel, creating a truly flat platform. This design provides a low centre of gravity to maximise efficiency and supports the vehicle’s agility and stability. Ree’s innovation drastically reduces a vehicle’s footprint, weight, and improves both energy efficiency and performance – aspects crucial to the electric and autonomous vehicle revolution.
Rees platform provides automakers, mobility providers and delivery companies a tailor-made solution. Based on a novel quad-motor system, and including active height-levelling suspension, steer-by-wire and a smart quad-gear box, Ree’s technology provides the basis of any type of vehicle from a high-performance car able to do 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds to an off-road SUV with advanced active suspension technology. The platform can also be used as the base of a robotaxi or even a 10-ton cross country truck.
“The concepts of the past are limited and restrict the ability of the automotive industry to realize the electric and autonomous reality they are striving for. Until now, the industry has operated by making incremental improvements on the traditional design of the automotive vehicle. At Ree, we believe that in order to hasten the automotive revolution we need to reinvent the wheel – quite literally,” says Daniel Barel, co-founder and ceo of Ree.
The adaptation of Ree’s universal framework will replace multiple platforms for OEMs resulting in substantial savings. The design and validation of each platform traditionally costs manufacturers billions. By enabling them to utilise one platform for all of their vehicles, costs will be slashed, while performance, safety, comfort and energy efficiency will all be drastically improved.
Ree says it is already collaborating with leading OEMs as well as Tier-1 and Tier-2 automotive companies including Mitsubishi Corporation, Musashi Seimitsu Industry, Tenneco, American Axle, FCA and NSK among others.
In a release, Ree says Mitsubishi Corporation commented, “We can see Ree’s technology has huge potential in the autonomous driving world, as it makes the electrification process highly efficient with its new modular platform.”
Watch this space.
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Students from TU Delft and VU Amsterdam present recumbent bike they hope will go faster than 121.8 km/h
On Saturday 27 July the Human Power Team, a student team from TU Delft and VU Amsterdam, presented their latest aerodynamic bike at the Dutch National Military Museum in Soesterberg. The team hope that this recumbent bike, named the VeloX 9, will break the world speed record for cycling – which currently stands at 121.8 km/h – in the Nevada desert in the USA.
A real eye-catcher
The National Military Museum offered a part of its site for the students to try out the VeloX 9 between the military aircraft on display. This test run of the super-fast recumbent bike was a real eye-catcher among the museum’s visitors. “Never before have we cycled for such as big audience as today”, said Britt Krabbenborg, team manager of the Human Power Team.
Women’s world record
The aim of the Human Power Team is to unite man and machine in order to demonstrate what can be achieved using human power. They do this by producing a bicycle every year to take part in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Nevada, USA. Here the Human Power Team competes against other teams to achieve the highest possible speeds on a bicycle in the women’s category. Last year the team took the first and second place. This year the students want to win in their category and also claim the world record for the Netherlands. Taking up the challenge are students Rosa Bas from Utrecht and Jennifer Breet from Amsterdam. The current world record stands at 121.8 km/h and is held by Frenchwoman Barbara Buatois.
The presentation at the National Military Museum showed that the athletes can make a stable start, and in other test runs in the Netherlands the recumbent bike has already achieved speeds over 70 km/h. Krabbenborg: “With an eye to the world record, this is a promising start. During these tests we only had two kilometres of tarmac to race on, which is quite short. During the world record attempt in America there is a straight run of eight kilometres, which gives you more time to accelerate to top speed. Besides this, the record attempt in America is held at an altitude of 1400 metres, so the lower air pressure there means the VeloX experiences less air resistance than in the Netherlands.”
“At high speeds our greatest enemy is air resistance. Which is why the shape of the aerodynamic shell of our bike is such an important factor in reaching our top speed”, explains Bart van de Krol, the team’s Aerodynamics Engineer and a student of aerospace engineering. “We have designed the shape as closely as possible around the bodies of our athletes to keep the bike as small and streamlined as possible.” In addition, the VeloX is made of lightweight materials and uses a new gear system in which the sprockets move instead of the chain. This means the chain maintains a straight line and so experiences less friction than in a standard bike. Moreover, this year the VeloX has been fitted with tyres designed specially for the team, to endure the lowest possible rolling resistance.
100% human power
The Human Power Team consists of 16 students who have all put their studies on hold for a year to work on the project. Besides producing a high-tech bike, it is important that the athletes themselves undergo the best possible preparation for the world record challenge. An endurance, power and high-intensity training programme will ensure that they are in top form at the start of the race in September. Right now the athletes are focusing on training on the VeloX 9 to get them accustomed to the new recumbent. In this way the team is doing all it can to claim the world title for the Netherlands.
Gallagher takes out big award
The Gallagher Water Flow Indicator took out the Fieldays International Innovation Award at the International Business Networker on day two of Fieldays 2019.
Inspired by pure frustration, Murray Tones was sick of forever going around his farm looking for water leaks and was told by his wife that he’d talked about it enough and it was time to get on and do it.
The process for creating the Water Flow Indicator took about six or seven years and went through three or four different protypes until Murray was ready to take it to the next step. Equipped with his prototype secured in a box, Murray went to Gallagher to pitch his idea and come up with a plan.
NZUS Council supports Minister Peters efforts for a trade agreement with the US
Recent high profile and sucessful partnerships such as Rocket Lab domonstrates the huge potential for the relationship
The NZUS Council will increase its engagement in the United States to support Foreign Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters’ efforts to promote a free trade agreement with the United States.
“The Council is excited by the work Mr Peters is doing to build political support in the US for a free trade agreement and we will increase our efforts to support him,” NZ US Council chair Leon Grice said.
Mr Peters has said he will be travelling to Washington DC in the next few weeks and will continue to advocate for a free trade agreement with the United States and push the case for moving into more formal discussions.
“US Ambassador Scott Brown is also playing an important trade advocacy role from Wellington and in Washington DC and the Council appreciates his ability to get things done on the Hill. Ambassador Brown was a key part of getting the E1/E2 business visa legislation passed in Congress,” Leon Grice said.
NZUS Council executive director, Jordan Small says, “The Council is standing up its trade advocacy efforts. We are organising two Council delegations visits this year and a programme of work focused on lobbying, letter-writing, building support for an FTA, and promoting our members’ broader trade interests.”
NZ US Council Advisory Board chair and co-founder, Fran O’Sullivan says securing a free trade agreement with the United States has been a Council objective from its establishment in 2001.
“We worked hard to get a bilateral FTA process underway and threw the council’s support behind US involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership when that regional agreement was launched in 2008. With the US out of TPP, it is now appropriate to refocus on a bilateral agreement.
“It will take a lot of hard work but we need to take every opportunity to push for greater US engagement,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
New Zealand and the US have a deep and longstanding friendship and share a long history of trade and investment, traditionally led by goods exports but increasingly focused on services and technology. Two-way trade in goods was valued at $11.65 billion in 2019 and services trade was valued at $6.71 billion.
Recent high profile and successful partnerships such as Rocket Lab demonstrate the huge potential for the relationship. An FTA between the US and New Zealand would underpin the strong trading relationship and support the growth in innovative partnerships and technology exchanges that drive economic returns and job creation for our respective countries and further advance much needed economic development in New Zealand’s provincial centres.
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Additive manufacturing allows bike manufacturers to extend customisation options
If there’s something you can be certain of – along with death and taxes – it’s that change is inevitable and constant.
In the world of manufactured products, the end user is getting a heck of a lot more discerning and wanting to stand out from the crowd – customisation of products is now where it’s at with companies such as Oakley, a sunglass maker, now offering entire processes so a customer can completely build their own sunglasses.
In a crowded marketplace, people are wanting differentiation. But it’s not stopping there.
Global engineering technologies company, Renishaw, has supplied Bastion Cycles with an AM250 system to improve its in-house additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities. The Australian bike manufacturer has used the machine to allow customers to completely customise their bike frames and follow the production process from beginning to end.
Bastion Cycles design, develop, trial and market a high-performance road bike which utilises a modular design of AM titanium lugs, paired with filament wound carbon fibre tubes. It prides itself on building premium bike frames locally in Australia using the latest technologies and materials. The company originally outsourced some of the production process to a local AM bureau, which produced the titanium lugs for its bike frames. However, as sales and demand increased, the company decided to bring the AM process in-house.
Ben Schultz, James Woolcock and Dean McGeary, the founders of Bastion Cycles met with Mike Brown, general manager at Renishaw Oceania, based near Melbourne, to find out about the Renishaw AM system. Bastion Cycles tested this and three other machines from various suppliers but found that the AM250 produced the best surface finish, material performance and mass customisation capabilities.
The titanium lugs, printed on the AM system are unique to Bastion Cycles in their exploitation of very thin-walls, outer-skins and a structural internal lattice, resulting in an extremely high stiffness-to-weight AM part.
“Additive manufacturing is the secret to the customisation and performance of our bikes,” explained Mr Schultz, managing director at Bastion Cycles. “With the help of Renishaw’s technology, we were the first company in the world to design, develop, test and market a commercially viable, high performance road bicycle using additive manufacturing, something that we are very proud of.”
For the first three years of operation, Bastion Cycles outsourced production to RAM3D, an AM bureau, located in Tauranga, New Zealand. RAM3D also utilised the Renishaw AM250 platform to manufacture the titanium components of the bike frame to Bastion’s supplied design. At the end of 2018, the decision was made by Bastion Cycles to bring the AM process in-house.
“We chose Renishaw to supply an AM system because of the support it could provide,” continued Schultz. “Australia has a fairly small AM market and Renishaw is the only company with a local headquarters with dedicated staff that could get an engineer to our site in a few hours. That is a valuable service for a small business like us,” adds Mr Schultz.
“AM technology means we can design and manufacture parts that could not be produced using traditional bike manufacturing methods,” explained Mike Brown, General Manager at Renishaw Oceania. “By using the AM system, Bastion Cycles is able to design, prototype and produce high-performance titanium lugs for its frames and meet the demand of its customers.”
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Expo 2020 Dubai -Business programme will open doors to Expo 2020 opportunities
Expo 2020 expects to attract 25 million visits to the world fair, to be held in Dubai from October next year, and New Zealand businesses will be able to capitalise on the opportunity through a business leveraging programme.
NZTE has today announced its business programme, which is designed to help exporters already active in the region, or those who want to explore the opportunities.
NZTE is the nation’s trade and investment promotion agency, assisting exporters to grow bigger, better, faster for the good of New Zealand.
During Expo 2020, which runs for six months, buyers, retailers, thought leaders, distributors and other potential partners will converge in an environment of unparalleled opportunity to accelerate business, not only in the United Arab Emirates but the Middle East and globally.
Dubai is already a global meeting place with one-third of the world’s population within a four-hour flight. The United Arab Emirates and the surrounding Gulf Cooperation Countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) rank among New Zealand’s fastest growing trading partners, with annual two-way trade worth $4 billion.
The Business Leverage Programme – which runs over two years, starting October 2019 – will introduce NZTE customers to growing areas of innovation and ways to diversify their business activity in the region. The two-year timeframe is designed to give businesses ample time to understand the opportunities that Expo 2020 provides.
The programme will feature a series of tailored activity for companies in the food and beverage, specialised manufacturing, building and construction, and technology sectors. Dubai hosts major trade fairs for these sectors, and the programme will include attendance at these. The first is Gulfood Manufacturing this October, a major event focused on the food and beverage processing industry.
In addition, a new Discover programme will introduce New Zealand businesses to the Middle East; it is specially designed for exporters who are not yet active in the region.
All activities are designed to provide targeted networking opportunities and relevant market information to support businesses’ global growth.
NZTE will tap into its global network in response to companies’ targets, to facilitate business matching opportunities with industry leaders, opinion formers, buyers, product specialists, distributors and decision makers from the Middle East and around the world.
The scale of Expo 2020 and the major trade events happening in Dubai will allow NZTE customers to build relationships and preference for their brand with key targets in the region.
NZTE’s regional director for the Middle East, India and Africa based in Dubai, Tony Martin, said: “Countries in the Gulf are focused on diversifying their economies away from a reliance on oil and gas by investing in sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, education, technology, tourism and alternative energy.
“The Expo Leveraging Programme will introduce customers to growing areas of innovation and ways to diversify their business activity in the region.
“New Zealand companies have many advantages in this region – our innovative, practical approach is highly prized – and NZTE has the networks and understanding of the culture, and the way they like to do business, that will help our exporters make the most of the opportunities.”
For more details about the programme, visit NZTE’s website here.
New Zealand is participating in the Expo itself with an innovative pavilion based on the theme ‘Care for People and Place’. For more information, visit the New Zealand Expo 2020 website here.
For more information, contact:
NZTE: Andrew Holden
Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 021 568 253
Expo2020 NZ Pavilion: Nicola Garvey
Nicola.Garvey@NZatExpo.govt.nz Mobile: 021 195 2729
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Rolls-Royce and Qatar Airways are using Virtual Reality (VR) to train engineers, in a first for the two companies.
As the number of air passengers is set to almost double by 20361, the industry faces a growing challenge: more engineers need to be trained to maintain and repair a growing number of aircraft and their engines. While practical training will always be the main focus, Rolls-Royce is working on ways to incorporate Virtual Reality into its engineering training programmes, as part of its IntelligentEngine vision.
Qatar Airways engineers are the first in the industry to receive the training, using Rolls-Royce’s pioneering Trent XWB engine, which powers the Airbus A350.
Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace said: “At Rolls-Royce we are designing, testing, and maintaining engines in the digital realm, so it makes sense that we bring cutting-edge technology to our training programmes. In the same way pilots complete elements of their training in a simulator, certain engineering tasks can be taught through Virtual Reality. Qatar Airways were the first customer to take delivery of the Trent XWB, and their forward-thinking vision across their business makes them the perfect launch partner for this technology.”
The Trent XWB is Rolls-Royce’s largest engine. Such is the scale, it must be separated before engineers can transport it for maintenance and repair. Using HTC Vive equipment, engineers are immersed in the process, using sight, sound and touch to separate the two parts of the engine in a virtual setting.
Previously, an engine would have been transported to Doha to be used for the training, or Qatar Airways would have provided an engine in service, with the risk of damage to equipment and valuable flying time lost.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, H.E. Mr. Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is an airline of the future and we constantly strive to deliver innovation in every area of our business. Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers with a quality on-board experience every time they travel, and by adopting the latest technology in our engineering department we aim to ensure that they arrive at their destination smoothly and without disruption.
“We are very excited about the new Virtual Reality training tool offered by Rolls-Royce and we are proud that they chose Qatar Airways as their global launch partner.”
While not intended to replace any practical training, Rolls-Royce sees valuable applications for Virtual Reality, particularly when it comes to refresher training.
Steve Buckland, a Customer and Product Training Manager at Rolls-Royce who developed the VR training programme said: “Virtual Reality has a valuable application here. It’s going to save time, money, and frees up engines that could otherwise be on aircraft, keeping passengers moving.
“The future is exciting. We’re looking at creating holograms of an engine that we can use to teach in a classroom, or Augmented Reality that can be overlaid over a real engine to show technical information. Nothing will beat learning with an engine and this will never be replaced, but new technology is allowing us to be innovative with the ways we teach engineers.”
Z Energy is to partner with Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton and Z Enegery CEO Mike Bennetts with the America’s Cup Trophy
Z Energy is to partner with Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup as an Exclusive Supplier of fuel and bio fuel for the 36th America’s Cup being hosted in Auckland over the summer of 2020/2021.
In coming together, both organisations have a strong desire to engage as many Kiwis as possible from around the country in supporting a successful defence.
Grant Dalton, CEO for Emirates Team New Zealand, highlighted why this was a great match. “We’re excited to partner with another prominent national New Zealand business that is passionate about the team and the America’s Cup.
We want to bring as many people throughout the whole of New Zealand together in our journey to defend the Americas’s Cup in 2021 and believe through working together with Z Energy and all of their stations and touchpoints we can extend our reach to all of our supporters in every small town and community around the country and bring them along for the ride.”
Mike Bennetts, CEO of Z Energy says “Emirates Team New Zealand have shown what it means to be truly innovative. There is a natural alignment for Z as we make a difference to our customers through the provision of sustainable transport solutions and innovation in our customer experience offers. We’re excited about the partnership and being able to help bring it to kiwis around the country.”
The partnership between Z Energy and Emirates Team New Zealand will see Z provide fuel, including options for Biofuel from New Zealand’s only largescale biofuel manufacturing facility located in Wiri, Auckland, along with other fuel transport solutions.
Customers of Z can expect to see opportunities to engage with Emirates Team New Zealand over the coming 18 months. Details of these will be shared as they are finalised.
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Air New Zealand announces multi-billion-dollar investment in new fuel-efficient Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners
At today’s list prices, the agreement represents a value of US $2.7 billion. As is usual with such orders, Air New Zealand has negotiated a significant discount on current list prices and the parties have agreed not to disclose the actual purchase price.
The first of these highly fuel-efficient aircraft will join the Air New Zealand fleet in 2022 and together they will have the potential to save 190,000 tonnes of carbon per year.
Air New Zealand currently operates a fleet of 13 787-9 Dreamliners which Chief Executive Christopher Luxon says have proved to be the perfect aircraft for the airline’s Pacific Rim focus.
“The 787-10 is longer and even more fuel efficient. However, the game changer for us has been that by working closely with Boeing, we’ve ensured the 787-10 will meet our network needs, including the ability to fly missions similar to our current 777-200 fleet.
“This is a hugely important decision for our airline. With the 787-10 offering almost 15 percent more space for customers and cargo than the 787-9, this investment creates the platform for our future strategic direction and opens up new opportunities to grow,” says Mr Luxon.
In addition to the eight firm orders announced today, the agreement includes options to increase the number of aircraft from eight to up to 20. The airline has also negotiated substitution rights that allow a switch from the larger 787-10 aircraft to smaller 787-9s, or a combination of the two models for future fleet and network flexibility. The delivery schedule can also be delayed or accelerated according to market demand.
These new long-haul aircraft will replace Air New Zealand’s fleet of eight 777-200 aircraft, which will be phased out by 2025. Combined with GE’s GEnx-1B engines, they are expected to be 25 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft they’re replacing.
Mr Luxon signed the letters of intent with Boeing Vice President Commercial Sales and Marketing Asia Pacific Christy Reese and GE Aviation’s newly named Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Jason Tonich at Air New Zealand’s headquarters in Auckland today.
Mr Luxon says, “Today’s news is incredibly exciting for our business and our customers as we continue to invest in the most innovative, sustainable and comfortable aircraft on the market and deliver on our commitment to grow our business sustainably.
“In connecting New Zealand with the world, we naturally offer a high proportion of long-haul flights, and these state-of-the-art aircraft will ensure we continue to operate one of the world’s youngest and most efficient jet fleets.”
Christy Reese, Vice President of Boeing Commercial Sales and Marketing for Asia Pacific says, “We are honoured to extend our deep partnership with Air New Zealand. This is a bold decision by the airline and will help carry forward the ambitions of Air New Zealand for many years to come.
“The 787-10 is the most efficient widebody in operation today with 25 percent better fuel costs per seat than the aircraft it replaces. In addition, the 787-10 has 95 percent commonality with Air New Zealand’s existing fleet of 787-9s and will provide the airline with added benefits in terms of capacity and overall operations.”
Jason Tonich, GE Aviation’s Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing says, “GE is honoured to be selected to power and support Air New Zealand’s new fleet of 787-10 aircraft with our GEnx-1B engines.
“The GEnx engine is the leading engine of choice on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with world-class utilisation, reliability and fuel efficiency that will benefit Air New Zealand and its customers,” says Mr Tonich.
Air New Zealand’s widebody fleet currently consists of 13 Boeing 787-9s, eight Boeing 777-200s and seven Boeing 777-300 aircraft. A 14th Boeing 787-9 will enter the fleet later this year.
The first new aircraft is expected to join the Air New Zealand fleet in late 2022 with the remainder delivered at intervals through to 2027.
This constitutes a major transaction as defined by NZX Listing Rule 5.1, and the letters of intent are contingent upon approval from a simple majority of 51 percent of shareholders. The transaction will be voted on at the airline’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in September. As a 52 percent shareholder, the Crown has indicated to Air New Zealand’s Board of Directors that the Government will vote in favour of the transaction at that time.
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