MexRobots

Since Mexicans and Mexico are of some importance to the United States, and since I live there–here–it has seemed to me worthwhile to try to give a picture of the country and people to the south. Few who know much about Mexico write of it, and most of the many who write about it know little. Further, much of what Americans think about the country is about forty years out of date.

Mexicoy is changing rapidly. It is that rarity among developing countries, a country that is developing. This applies to birth rate (way down), literacy (way up), size of middle class (way up) and internet access (way up). For example, when I arrived fifteen years ago, landline telephones were hard to get. Calling the US meant going into town and using a kiosk.  The internet was slow dial-up and provided by a gringo. Today landlines are easy to get. Telmex, the telephone monopoly, in my experience works flawlessly. Cellphones are everywhere. The internet is easily available and offers  33 mbs (I just checked mine), not up there with internet-advanced nations like Finland and South Korea, but ample for almost everything.

Completely off American radar is that is that Mexico advances rapidly in engineering. This is inconceivable to the most grimly determined of the anti-Mexican sites (my favorite is Vdare), which hold that Mexicans are stupid, filthy, thieving, and lazy. That Mexican engineers make good employees  is not inconceivable to the big international corporations which are hiring them in thousands. Training in engineering has more or less exploded since former President Felipe Calderon, a Yale grad in economics, began pushing it. While the country is not remotely a technological power, it is way beyond the cactus-and-burro notions of many–and advancing.

A Mexican software-engineering firm as conceived by Vdare. The donkey is the brains of the operation as Mexicans do not have brains. If I may lapse into something resembling proper journalistic solemnity, if I write that Mexican engineers can do anything at all, I will be assured that (a) I am lying, (b) the engineers are of horribly low quality, and (c) it was done only by white Mexican engineers. Some people need to get out more.

Some bits and pieces, Forgive me for including the original Spanish for confirmation. Most readers can skip it. Let’s start with the RoboCup robotics contest, held this year in Nagoya, Japan.

HuffPo Mex “México vuelve a coronarse como campeón mundial” (“Mexico Again Crowned World Champion”)

The winning Team. As you can see, they are almost purely white, and might easily be mistaken for Norwegians. I include the original caption. Monterrey, 31 Jul. 2017 (Notimex-Especial).- El equipo Kanto, integrado por alumnos del Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Educación Bilingüe de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León lograron el primer lugar en el Torneo Internacional de Robótica Robocup 2017, que en este año se realizó en la ciudad de Nagoya, Japón.
Said a member of the team: “Todos nuestros robots tienen una placa creada por nosotros, una para el sensor detector de metales, una para controlar la pokebola y activar la catapulta, y la placa controladora.” (“All our robots have a circuit board created by us, one for the metal detector, another to control the pokebola and activate the catapult, and the controller board.”

Also at Robocup 2017, a Mexican team took fifth place in the Rescue Robot category:xxxx

 Robocup 2016, category Rescue Robot. Fifth place. Another all-white team.

Excelsior: “Un grupo de estudiantes mexicanos consiguieron el primer lugar en la categoría de manipulación, así como el cuarto puesto en la clasificación general en la liga de robots de rescate del RoboCup 2016 que se realizó en Leipzig, Alemania…” (A group of Mexican students took first place in the category of manipulation as well as fourth place in the general category of Rescue Robots in RoboCup 2016 in Leipzig, Germany.”

“En particular, nosotros concursamos en la liga robot de rescate, esta liga tiene la intención de diseñar robots todoterreno compactos de bajo peso, pero resistentes y capaces de entrar en terrenos agrestes que simulen desastres”, detalló Velázquez Guerrero.”  (“In particular we competed in the rescue-robot category, the category with the intention of designing compact all-terrain robots of  light weight but rugged and able to enter in terrain agrestes simulating disasters….”

 The Mastretta, the first car designed and built entirely in Mexico. 0.60 mph, 4.9 sec, tops out at 150.

The British automotive show Top Gear, having made snotty remarks about the very idea of the Mexicans making a sports car, received a great deal of flack,  and so a staffer to test drive it in Mexico. He noted that first cars in a country were usually cheap family boxes and that it was unusual to go straight to a sports car. He concluded that it was  a decent enough car despite some fixable teething problems. Ferrari it is not, but neither is it contemptible.e. The company then went under for lack of capital.

Wired.  HOW 4 MEXICAN IMMIGRANT KIDS AND THEIR CHEAP ROBOT BEAT MIT

The robot. a tethered underwater manipulator. Built  on a very low budget and a lot of spare parts. Ugly as refried sin. Worked.

Interesting story, this, from 2014 xxx with here a gee-whizzy slightly lengthy video. Interpret it as you will, but the kids remind me of the Virginia car-mad country boys I grew up with who in several cases became engineers. In short, four kids in a lousy high school in Phoenix entered a university-level contest to build an underwater robot. They won. I won’t recap it lengthily here, but follow the links if interested.

The team, obviously Nordic. 

Mexican robot wins Dancing Competition in China. OK, maybe this isn’t up there with the discovery of the Higgs Boson, but I thought it was cute.

Bloomberg: “Mexico’s Surprising Engineering Strength”:

“As global automakers pour billions of dollars into their Mexican factories, Marcos Perez is trying to make sure the nation’s future goes beyond assembly lines. The head of product development at Ford Motor’s Mexico unit, Perez has helped the company almost triple its local engineering staff, to nearly 1,000, since 2010. His engineers have filed for 40 U.S. patents in the last three years, …. “It’s an inflection point,”

Perez says. “We used to be a simple-assembly kind of country, and we moved to a truly core manufacturing country, where most of our assembly plants are hitting record numbers on productivity, on quality, on cost. Now we are transitioning from Made in Mexico to Designed in Mexico.”

Pegasus PE-210A, in development by Oaxaca Aerospace, designed and built entirely in Mexico.

The Pegasus is in late development. Push-prop. Note canards.  Both pilots have flight controls and excellent visibility. The designers said that most light planes today are essentially from the 1950s with better engines and avionics. They wanted something different and, obviously, got it. A secret compartment houses the crew’s burros.    

Mexico takes first in RobotChallenge in Vienna

Students from the National Polytechnic Institute, or IPN, the Benemerita Autonomous University of Puebla and the Advanced Technology Institute in Poza Rica, Veracruz, won first place for Mexico at the 2015 RobotChallenge in Vienna, Austria, the IPN said.

RobotChallenge is one of the biggest international robotics competitions in Europe and has been held annually since 2004, the IPN said in a statement.

The IPN team won six of the nine gold, silver and bronze medals up fo grabs, taking on 150 teams from more than 40 countries, including Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Austria, Switzerland and China.

IPN’s team swept the micro robot category and took the  gold in the nano class, as well as go…Italy finished second in the medal count and Russia, Romania and Latvia tied for third place.

The Chiapas, Mexican Navy

Jane’s: “While designated as Oaxaca-class vessels, a type designed by the Mexican Navy, the new OPVs are actually improved derivatives of this class, featuring several modifications, including a bulbous bow and a BAE Systems Bofors Mk.3 57 mm main gun.”  Jane is not a girl. Jane’s is probably the world’s leading military magazine.

Further saith Jane’s: “Constructed at the Naval Shipyard (ASTIMAR) N°20 in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas is the first of four OPVs that were ordered as part of the SEMAR 2013-2018 plan. The second, ARM Hidalgo (PO 166), has already been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2017, while construction of the third ship has already started in Salina Cruz.”

Maybe I am somehow perverse, but the Chiapas does not seem to square with stupid, filthy, thieving, and lazy.

 

After gaining a few years’ experience, engineers at a Delphi Automotive technical center in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, have a similar skill level as those in developed countries, says Duane Collins, the center’s director. About 1,300 engineers in Ciudad Juárez design engine parts, transmission components, fuel pumps, and electronics for use in auto factories around the world.”

Delphi has 1,300, Ford about 1,000, and so on.xxx

Note the word “design.” It does not mean “put together.” It does not mean “turn knobs.” Countries begin by making pencils and little umbrellas for expensive drinks, then washing machines, then electronics, and then start designing things. 

 

Conclusion: Mexico is a substantially modern half-country, rapidly advancing, bolted atop another half-country that isn’t’ yet. In many ways it is phenomenally screwed up–narcos and corruption, chiefly–but it changes rapidly and has a lot of talent, which businessmen have noticed and most of the internet hasn’t.

Comments are closed.