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Blog Entries from July 12, 2013

Secretary Pritzker Joins Secretary Lew at the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Secretary Pritzker Joins the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

This week, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the fifth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). Secretary Lew led discussions with the Chinese delegation, headed by Vice Premier Wang Yang. They were joined by a high-level delegation of Cabinet members, ministers, agency heads, and senior officials from both countries. This year’s S&ED provided an opportunity to demonstrate the tangible benefits of strategic engagement by making concrete progress on our priority issues and creating a more level playing field for American companies and workers.

Secretary Pritzker spoke during the Trade and Investment Session about the importance of ensuring American companies have equal and fair treatment when competing with Chinese companies. She also attended the Joint Session on Climate Change, Promoting Economic Growth Session and the CEO roundtable, where she heard from American companies about the opportunities and challenges of doing in business in China.

The United States and China emphasized the importance of promoting a comprehensive U.S.‑China economic relationship based on mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. The two countries reaffirmed the important commitments made by both countries in previous Strategic and Economic Dialogues. The two sides announced further concrete measures to support strong domestic and global growth, promote open trade and investment, enhance international rules and global economic governance, and foster financial market stability and reform. The two countries reached consensus to work expeditiously to implement the commitments made and, as the Special Representatives of the Economic Track, directed their respective economic teams to take concrete steps before the next Strategic and Economic Dialogue to do so.

PHOTO: Secretary Pritzker speaks with Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard during one of the meetings of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

NIST Workshop Gets a 'Grip' on Robotics Challenge

Image of a seven degree-of-freedom highly dexterous robot and a seven degree-of-freedom, three fingered robotic hand.

Even though modern industrial robots are becoming nimbler and more capable, they still need to get a good grip on things—the equivalent of hands that are as agile and dexterous as the human variety.

How to tackle the thorny challenge, known in robotics speak as dexterous manipulation, was the aim of a recent workshop hosted by Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The workshop featured speakers from manufacturing companies (end users), along with developers of robot arms and of advanced robot "hands." Proceedings of the workshop, which NIST is using as it crafts a technology roadmap to guide measurement science research in the field, are summarized in a new report.

Factors driving the quest for human-like robot arms and grippers are quality control, cost, throughput and worker safety. According to one manufacturer at the workshop, two-thirds of his company's worker compensation cases are ergonomic disorders, mostly due to repetitive strain, over-extension and over-exertion.

Robotic arms are now starting to come in pairs, mounted to either a fixed or rotary torso with each arm having seven joints instead of the conventional six. This option boosts the dexterity of a robot and allows it to move its elbow around obstacles while maintaining precise placement at its working point.  Read more