Robotics Education Journal


Welle notes: “    Welle Turns any Surface into a Universal Remote Control Interface for use with: Lights, Windows, TVs, Doors, Thermostats, Coffee Makers, & More -- Controls PowerPoint Presentations & Connects with IFTTT -- For Android & Ios”


Check out Rupprecht’s home page here. The hotlinks you will find there are part of a recent email from Rupprecht to his subscriber list that illustrates his upbeat, helpful everything-drone service.



In this webinar, listeners will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Military Pilots will “consider counter UAS requirements and capabilities,” and thought leaders will address current systems. Inset: speaker Larry Friese, President, Aerial Information Systems, Corp.


As noted by LiveDrive: “LiveDrive delivers industry-changing performance, controllability, precision and power. Its smooth back-drivability provides robots with life-like motion and reaction. With LiveDrive’s low inertia and high force sensitivity, robots equipped with LiveDrive are easy to program and safe to operate in human environments.”

Images courtesy of LiveDrive.


Reuters reported that Japan's second robot-run hotel Henn na Hotel ('strange hotel' in Japanese) opened on Wednesday as a robot-staffed hotel near Tokyo, operating company H.I.S. Co. said. REUTERS/Issei Kato.


As noted in this report, “Today’s jobs — white collar, blue collar or no collar — require more education and interpersonal skills than those in the past. And many of the people whose jobs have already been automated can’t find new ones. Technology leads to economic growth, but the benefits aren’t being parceled out equally. Policy makers have the challenge of helping workers share the gains…  A broad area of agreement: People need to learn new skills to work in the new economy”...  “The best response is to increase the skills of the labor force,” said Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard.


Watch this drone fall apart on impact to safely dissipate energy -- and then instantly snap back together.   The “reassembly” occurs owing to rubber bands that hold the frame firmly together via tension forces exerted on key structural hard points.

Sources: S. Mintchev, S.D. De Rivas and D. Floreano. Insect-Inspired Mechanical Resilience for Multicopters, In IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2017.


Hennessy notes that Sunil Johal, policy director at the Mowat Centre think-tank at the University of Toronto, has noted that between 1.5 and 7.5 million human workers could face this challenge in the coming decade, and that nobody’s job is “safe”.

"We are starting to see in fields like medicine, law, investment banking, dramatic increases in the ability of computers to think as well or better than humans. And that's really the game-changer here. Because that's something that we have never seen before."

Illustrations and story courtesy of


David Hambling tells the tale as reported in New Scientist: “A shape-shifting drone takes off like a helicopter and transforms into a plane in mid-air to fly all day on solar power. The drone is designed to provide affordable aerial surveys for farmers, so they can see where to irrigate and use fertilizer… Most drones are not appropriate for this because they have short flight times. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos and his team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have therefore taken a new approach.

“The Solar Unmanned Air Vehicle: Quad (SUAV:Q) takes off vertically before unfolding with the help of lightweight powered hinges into a flat, winged aircraft. Its design makes it easier to launch than a fixed-wing drone, and means it can also hover during flight to get a stable view of the land below. It morphs back into the quadcopter formation to land vertically.”

“The idea is that anybody can buy this and carry it around in their pickup truck,” says Papanikolopoulos.”

02/24/2017 reports that China is deploying police robots that can detect fires, monitor pedestrian traffic levels and offer guidance to citizens in the course of a work day. These robots also use face recognition to screen the public for criminals on the lamb.  Hopefully, false positives are very low, as next steps toward our evolving, sorta Orwellian world continue.  Will similar robots be deployed in Western countries?


The BBC reported that the vehicle that did not crash achieved a top speed of 116mph and completed the course.

"One of the cars was trying to perform a manoeuvre, and it went really full-throttle and took the corner quite sharply and caught the edge of the barrier," Roborace's chief marketing officer Justin Cooke told the BBC.

The report continued, "The Devbots are controlled by artificial intelligence software - rather than being remote-controlled by humans - and use a laser-based Lidar (light detection and ranging) system and other sensors to guide themselves. They also communicate to avoid collisions with each other."


As noted by the Academy, thanks to the FAA’s issuance of Part 107 regulations for small unmanned aircraft (UAS/drone) operations last August, all it takes is about two hours at an accredited FAA test center to pass the Part 107 exam and qualify for a commercial “Remote Pilot Airman Certificate.”  Exam takers must be prepared to demonstrate that they are ready to operate safely and in full compliance with FAA regulations in the US airspace. Please note that the cost of the Academy’s course preparation and presentation has been designed to meet the client’s budget.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret),

and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC

for their assistance with this report

Please contact David Place at the above email address to be added to his highly informative, FREE, ongoing blog on unmanned systems and robotics news, which was the source of this story.


Be sure and take a look at the current update to The Robot Report, at Founder Frank Tobe does a heck of a fine job providing snapshots of the business of robotics, complete with global drill down maps, news updates, information on robotics programs at universities, and tons more.  Today's update at was particularly eye-opening and informative.


As many as 1,000 colorful drones lit up the sky at a recent festival in Guangzhou, southern China.  The BBC reported that each drone had a designated route to fly, and there was no mention of collisions. This wondrous aerial light show may have set a new Guinness world record.


Researchers have developed tiny 1.7-inch diameter quadcopters that can transfer pollen to flower stigmata, thereby insuring the pollination of crops that feed the world. 

As noted in an online post  by The Economist magazine, the team developing the drone is led by Eijiro Miyako, of the National Institute of Advanced Indusrial Science and Technology, in Tsukuba, Japan. The prototype is just 1.6 inches wide, just over double the length of a honey bee worker, and carries paintbrush hairs that are just sticky enough to gather pollen but not too sticky to make the transfer to the stigmata.




The Verge reported on the new Cargo robot from Piaggio. With a top speed of 22mph, Gita can follow its owner or navigate autonomously as an independent, mobile robot.  Notably, it will not only make deliveries but is expected to augment construction jobs, infrastructure repair and maintenance and other tasks requiring ongoing equipment transfers and updates.


Computers have now beat professional human poker players. Bluffing was part of the robotic strategy, and this points to another demonstration of uncanny robotic intelligence pushing into the realm of human-like capability.

Robots are not self-aware at this stage, but each little bit of progress in the cognitive capabilities of machines points to this longer term possibility, one predicted by some of our leading scientists and, notably, by Ray Kurzweil in his books and many presentations on the "singularity." For the details on the poker bot, check the Reuters news story here.  Image courtesy of


As noted at, the Forager-W (for wheeled) is an Omni-chassis in a family of autonomous robotic vehicles (ARV) from c-Link Systems, Inc. The Omni-chassis creates the ability to build upon a unified drive chassis enhancing the creation of different end-usage systems.  The Forager-W Omni-chassis contains a locomotion system, a power plant and all the control electronics. The chassis itself is constructed of aluminum with all-welded seams thus the finished chassis is IP64 rated.

Locomotion is achieved through a 6-wheeled system that is electrically driven.  Tires are aggressive or the turf saving type; tires are dependent on intended usage. Steering is accomplished through the  use of the industry standard “skid-steer.”

The main power plant is a 160Ah / 640Ah battery system.  The 80Ah system currently is shipping and is comprised of SLA batteries.  The 640Ah is an optional system due to the cost of LiPo batteries. Both systems are comprised in banks, allowing change-out, and contain monitoring/charging circuits. The monitoring/charging modules communicate with the core processor to relay information to the operator.

Electronics system comprises a multiprocessor core block, locomotion system controller, inertial navigation system, payload control system/interface and communications.  The system resides in a water-tight case (IP68) that can be removed in the field.  Power distribution/charging/monitoring are contained in a second case similar to that of the main electronics.  The systems are based on Freescale Semiconductor’s Tower System. 

And don’t miss c-Link’s diminutive Volebot, for search & rescue at disaster sites.


According to Cubetto founder, Filippo Yacob, Cubetto is a gender-neutral coding toy for children ages 3 to 6.  Children are able to program a robot using hands on blocks that require neither language, screens nor additional devices.  Cubetto is a learning toy for anyone anywhere in the world, and suitable for the youngest audience in the history of computer programming.  At the moment there is a Cubetto in more than 90 countries.

Yacob indicates the easiest way to get hold of a Cubetto is through, where the company sells almost worldwide. It is in a few select retail stores in the U.S. like B8TA in Palo Alto, CA. “We’re focused on getting into more retail stores across the US”, Cubetto notes.

According to Yacob, the world of Cubetto is vast, with the programs children can write with Cubetto literally numbering in the trillions.  The company offers new maps and story books called Adventure Paks released throughout the year.

The founder believes Cubetto’s real value is in the content provided. “We want to know that children, parents and educators get a lot of engagement and play out of Cubetto, which is why we’re focusing on extensions, only. Our R&D lab is hard at work on new toys, but nothing we can divulge just yet.” Photo of Filippo Yacob courtesy of Cubetto.

By JoAnn Laing, The NREF Robotics Toy Editor


 The new 2017 event calendar from is a must-have for your desktop.

Information is provided as follows:

• A3 Business Forum (RIA, AIA & MCMA), January 18-20, Orlando, FL
• RoboDEX Conf & Expo and Smart Factory Expo, January 18-20, Tokyo, Japan
• IoT Tech Expo Global, January 23-24, London, UK

See Travel Planning: 2017 Robotics Events Calendar, here.


Nikola Danaylov, aka “Socrates”, has just published a brand new book, his first, and we cannot wait to get our hands on it.  Nikola's video interviews and podcasts are compelling, produced with a hint of impish humor but they are always trenchant—he knows the questions to ask in the vast arena of AI and the Singularity. 

For an intro to Socrates' interview style as seen in his very popular video series, we recommend this compilation of past programming highlights. You can also enjoy his interviews as podcasts at Singularity.FM.

Now, he has taken some of the best of these insightful exchanges and rendered them into a book, "Conversations with the Future: 21 Visions for the 21st Century."

The ebook version is available here for just $9.99 

A paperback version can be found for $29.99 on Amazon CreateSpace

NREF has no connection to this book and we recommend it solely based upon Danaylov's past work, from which the book derives. 



The most pivotal four years in the efflorescence of robotics that the world has yet seen is beginning to unfold. This unprecedented period of technology proliferation is projected to span 2017 – 2020, notes Tom Green, industry expert and founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Asian Robotics Review (ARR). As one section, implores, “Don’t Forget India” and the important questions of how India’s brilliant technological expertise will converge with the work of the East Asian tech giants. You will find coverage of robotics in Australia and New Zealand, as well.

A year in planning, this new site is highly recommended and offers many articles written in a lively and highly informative tone.  Asian Robotics Review is a breath of fresh air in robotics reporting and essential reading for AI specialists, technology journalists, robotics professionals and all serious tech hounds. 

Don’t miss ARR’s projections for what to look for in robotics and IT in 2017.

Also, please note: Tom, formerly editor-in-chief of Robotics Business Review at EH Publishing, presented an industry overview at RoboBusiness 2016 in Silicon Valley, right before debuting ARR. Tom noted that China, Japan and Korea are at the forefront of the new robotics-based “4th industrial revolution.”  Tom recounted how Fanuc and Cisco created feedback loops that enabled “zero downtime” production, generating $80million in savings this year, alone.  He observed that other feedback loops in data collection revealed why parts fail and how to manufacture better products as the factory floor evolved into a research laboratory. View Tom Green’s fascinating talk, here.

Learn more about Tom’s remarkable background here.


Job Automation may be arriving later than expected, reports Vanessa Bates Ramirez, who is associate editor of Singularity Hub.  For example, a teacher’s job, involves creating lesson plans, answering questions, grading assignments and conveying information to students, and though a computer can do the latter easily, the subjective, inter-active tasks in teaching are still well beyond today’s robots. The approach to this study was summarized in a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute:

“The report is the result of two years of research on automation technologies and their possible effects on the economy. Instead of focusing on sectors of the economy or whole jobs, researchers broke down 800 different occupations into the tasks and activities they’re made up of, then analyzed the automation potential of each activity.” Image courtesy of Shutterstock.



GLXP is offering $20 million to the first privately funded team to (1) land a spacecraft on the moon, (2) drive a vehicle 500 meters and (3) send back a high-resolution image of the moon as seen by the robot. For additional views of the Moon Express vehicle, click here.


The second team to accomplish these three tasks will receive $5 million in prize money. An additional $5 million is slated for those who accomplish a number of additional tasks, bringing the total funding to over $45 million. Prizes expire if not claimed by December 31, 2017.  Other teams participating include SpaceIL from Israel, Team Indus from India, Japan’s Hakuto, and an international partnership named Synergy Moon.

When you consider that it takes a radio wave almost 1.3 seconds to travel from the earth to the moon, the great distance the X-Prize robots will need to fly before undertaking the three required tasks can be put into perspective.
--the editors




Swarm demos were shown at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. The November 2016 event was held at the Zhuhai international exhibition center.  Popular Mechanics revealed dozens of Chinese fixed wing drones in an aerial display, ostensibly flying autonomously.  

Said to be an experiment in both FPV (first person view) and swarm technology, the event was filmed by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, Poisson and Tsinghua University. A swarm of sixty-seven (67) X-6 Skywalker hobby flying wings were shown flying at relatively low altitudes near large, inactive wind turbines.  The drones can be seen flying impressive distances, in formation, without collisions. The video claims that eventually, one pilot will be able to control “hundreds or thousands of drones.”  

The Pentagon has been testing small handheld drones as well. 

Maritime swarm bots are also under active development. recently reported on maritime swarm bots being tested by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and partners


Frank Tobe, founder of, notes that funding of robotics start-ups was up 50% in 2016, compared to 2015. He lists 128+ robotics startups, here, with capsule descriptions.  

Frank plans another report within a week detailing 49 2016 acquisitions involving billions of dollars, so keep your eyes on TheRobotReport!   Photo courtesy of


3D Rapid Prototyping offers the largest 3D printer we have seen, with a bed that is a yard square, a suite of scanners, and more. The video shows the 3D printer in action.


The video linked here is a short demonstration of a grasping hand that moves via wrist action.  See MatterHackers extensive online showroom tour, here.  But don't go! Here is some great news -- two Brits are making free prosthetic hands and arms for uncounted kids, using this very technology with a custom spin. Great news to kick off 2017!  See them here!




5D Robotics offers revolutionary solutions for positioning and localizing your vehicle or robot.  5D's technology is based on ultra-wide band radio that provides 2cm positioning, with 5cm localization for navigation in GPS-denied environments, in any mobile air or ground vehicle.  5D software can be used by ground or aerial vehicles of any size category, from large trucks to tiny drones.  Like many technologies that have expanded into a variety of commercial applications, versions of 5D’s systems are already deployed by the military, and proven. Watch NREF's exclusive interview with 5D Chief Marketing Officer Phil Mann for the exciting details. 


This video, produced by Incredibles,  offers good perspective on home robot technology. Although at times a little corny, the videos are illustrative, and include the following robots that were available in 2016: Tapia, Chip, Ninebot Segway, Aido and Zenbo. Buddy, released earlier, also gets honorable mention. Click here to see the robots!



Movie producer and director, Vlogger, inventor, media wizard and online tech advisor Casey Neistat published a video of himself in a Santa suit, suspended from a large drone, flying over wintry, snowy scenes, over the Christmas weekend that went viral.  

What not nearly as many people may have viewed, however, is the fascinating Vlog in which Casey explains the engineering behind the drone design and the standards and redundancy built into that amazing machine.  It has a robust power system that would rival that of a large motorcycle. Click here to see the rest of the story.


As reported by in a collection of top photos of the year, Kelly Grovier looked at the relationships between humans and machine, and felt that a painting, Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913, reflected this close relationship between humans and machines.

The contest, in the Swiss city of Zurich, included “competitors whose physical shapes are a fusion of athleticism and cutting-edge engineering”. Grovier found echoes in Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), “which seems to liquify flesh and machine into a newly discovered amalgam.”  Photo courtesy of EPA/Alexandra Wey.


SAMSUNG's new patent application for a next generation drone looks like a UFO, a commentator at notes. According to Slashgear's report, the patent reveals a circular design with supporting legs and an open area on the top for air intake.  Will this design result in more alleged UFO sightings and social media flooded with video of "flying saucers"? 


With millions of drones coming to market over the next few years, there is growing demand for professional repair services. Unmanned Systems and Solutions (USAS) announced the opening of a 120,000 square foot facility that will be able to quickly repair drones sold by all major manufacturers, reported. USAS's team of American-based technicians will quickly repair and trouble-shoot your drone to maximize your service availability. 

USAS will evaluate your drone for repair upon receipt of the vehicle and information on its make and model. $23 of the evaluation fee  will be applied to the repair cost, and completion of necessary repairs will be typically done in 2-3 business days.


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret),, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC,, for their assistance with this report.


Jose Antunes reported in Commercial UAV NEWS that by manipulating aerial observations recorded by Insitu ScanEagle drones with Inexa Control Software, 3D images of forest fires can be displayed in miniature electronic dioramas that, in turn, can be viewed using the Microsoft Hololens. This technology permits the remote direction of firefighting operations and the control of wildfires in new ways.

Insitu President and CEO, Ryan Hartman, was optimistic and enthused about the benefits of this technology. Antunes quoted Hartman: “Through our work in sectors such as energy, firefighting and railway monitoring, we have learned that these industries are looking to us as a trusted advisor,” said Insitu President and CEO Ryan M. Hartman. “Insitu brings both the technology to assist companies with their information collection and processing needs and the experience gained through more than 20 years as a professional aviation company. Unmanned systems offer tremendous promise for industry, and Insitu’s mission is to ensure that these technologies are employed in the most professional and safe manner possible to minimize risk and maximize our customers’ return on investment.”


AS reported by Sandra Helsel of the UK’s Mirror, at, the Russians are developing a life-size humanoid robot, named Fedor, for use on the International Space Station (ISS) and for exploring the moon.  Russia has also announced ambitions to send humans to the moon by 2031, and plans to have Fedor’s successor, there, helping establish a moon colony.  

The report continued:

Fedor stands 6ft tall, weighs between 106-160 kg depending on extra equipment, and can lift up to 20 kg of cargo.

Sergei Khurs, head of the project and director of the National Centre for Technology Development and Basic Robotics, said: “During space walking missions and on other planets, astronauts will rely on robots.

Alexander Grebenshchikov, director of the TSNIImash laboratory of space robotics, said: "Every hour of work of cosmonauts on space walks costs from $2 million to $4 million (USD).

"The use of robots for routine operations in the future will also spare additional time of the crew for leisure or for the fulfillment of other important tasks."

Fedor is the equivalent in Russian for Theodore, although in this case it is an acronym standing for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research.

Photos 1. And 2. Courtesy of YouTube/RokossovskiyKonstantin; Photo 3 courtesy of ESA/Foster&Partners


The Link Foundation is accepting research proposals from doctoral candidates in ocean engineering and instrumentation research (e.g., robotics and sensor systems, and related areas), and will award selected candidates grants of $28,500. There are no citizenship restrictions. This is an exciting opportunity for qualified candidates!  Applications are available online. Proposals must be received on or before February 15, 2017. 


Objectives:     To foster ocean engineering and ocean instrumentation research; to enhance both the theoretical and practical knowledge and applications of ocean engineering and ocean instrumentation research; and to disseminate the results of that research through lectures, seminars and publications.

The Awards:   On the basis of an application to the Foundation in the form of a research proposal, awards will be made to doctoral candidates enrolled in academic institutions located in the United States and Canada. Each award will consist of a grant of $28,500. There are no citizenship restrictions.

An independent panel of experts in the fields of ocean engineering and ocean instrumentation will review the applications. The main evaluation criteria include the degree of innovation, technical merit and relevance to ocean engineering/instrumentation of the proposed research. Additionally, each candidate should demonstrate intellectual ability and achievement, evidence of creativity and initiative and the potential for a career that will impact ocean engineering and ocean instrumentation.

Application Forms and Guidelines:  Available online at, or write to/email:  

Dr. Javad Hashemi, Administrator
Link Foundation Ocean Engineering and Instrumentation Ph.D. Fellowship Program
Florida Atlantic University, Department of Ocean & Mechanical Engineering
101 N. Beach Rd., Dania Beach, FL 33004-3023 USA


Deadline:        Proposals must be received on or before February 15, 2017 



                           RoboBusiness 2016 Highlights

       Presented by The National Robotics Education Foundation

The 12th Annual RoboBusiness conference and trade show – a highly anticipated exhibition of state-of-the-art robotics – was held in Silicon Valley at the San Jose Convention Center on September 28 – 29, 2016.  These conference highlights are provided courtesy of The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF),  One of the largest robotics conferences in the nation, this prestigious gathering featured the latest in bleeding edge automation.


Tom Green on The Robotics-based 4th Industrial Revolution

Tom Green, formerly editor-in-chief of Robotics Business Review, presented an industry overview. Tom noted that China, Japan and Korea are at the forefront of the new robotics-based “4th industrial revolution.”  Green recounted how Fanuc and Cisco created feedback loops that enabled “zero downtime” production, generating $80million in savings this year, alone.  He observed that other feedback loops in data collection revealed why parts fail and how to manufacture better products as the factory floor evolved into a research laboratory. View Green’s fascinating talk, here


[Editor’s note: Today, Tom Green is Editor-in-Chief of Asian Robotics Review, which we highly recommend for an Asian and global perspective on the next several years in the development of robotics applications, hardware and software.]

RoboBusiness 2016 Presentation: The Robots in Our Future
HP Fellow, VP, and innovative inventor Will Allen holds 70 U.S. patents. He is experienced in the founding of new technologies and in their commercialization. In this lively talk at RoboBusiness 2016, he brings a fresh perspective to predicting the robots in our future and the timing of their deployment. View Presentation


SRI MotoBot, Micro Robots, Control Feedback Systems & Abacus Robot Drive
SRI International is a pioneering robotics company that you want to watch! Robotics division mechanical engineer Mike Stevens addressed the amazing tech in development at SRI. A current SRI focus is a life-size humanoid robot that rides a motorcycle, called MotoBot. It is a collaborative effort between Yamaha and SRI, and is a fully integrated technology system that drives a YXF-R1M motorcycle. It includes robotic transmissions and high efficiency motor controllers as well as standard bike handlebar and foot controls.  That's just one of several robotics arenas, from micro-robots to new, near-frictionless drives, addressed by Stevens in this must-see exclusive interview.



The KOBI Company wins Pitchfire Competition
RoboBusiness 2016 was brimming with technological advances and entrepreneurial spirit, and the Pitchfire program was one more exciting element in the mix. In this competition, judges vote for the most promising entrepreneurial launch based on 2-minute presentations delivered in a fast-paced competition open to the public. At the end of the first day, The Kobi Company won the competition based on its autonomous robot that can maintain your lawn, clean up leaves and remove snow from your grounds. Read Full Story


RETHINK ROBOTICS Collaborative Robots Herald a New Era
Jim Lawton, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Rethink Robotics, explains that their new generation of collaborative robots are safe, inexpensive, and designed to work side-by-side with humans.  There is no need for a protective cage. Moreover, one of their latest collaborative robots, Sawyer (shown), can be “trained” through interaction with a human collaborator.  View interview and demo, here.


Humanoids for Disabled Children, Companionship and Mentoring
Next year, AvatarMIND will be moving from Nanjing, China to the U.S. where these remarkable humanoids will be used in healthcare to develop therapies for autistic children, and in other markets as companion robots. The Price point will be relatively low compared to earlier humanoid robots, CEO John S. Ostrem notes, which will allow far greater access to these helpful avatars. John offers details, here.


Motion Capture for Anything Robotic Real or Virtual
Based in San Leandro, CA, PhaseSpace offers motion control solutions for research, industrial arts and graphics arts communities.  Anything “motion” so consider this a must view for both real world and animated robots of any type that crawl, burrow, slither, walk, swim or fly!  McSheery explains, here.  


SIEMENS Champions a Technological Future with Global "NEXT47" Initiative
This is the first of four exciting interviews with SIEMENS from RoboBusiness 2016.

SIEMENS AG is a global organization that focuses on power management, automation, digitalization, medical technologies, robotics, and far more. Several of SIEMENS robotics divisions exhibited at RoboBusiness 2016. These included a new initiative, “Next 47,” that fosters the development of entrepreneurial start-ups, worldwide. Dr. Rudolf Freytag, CEO of Innovative Ventures at Siemens, described Next 47’s global reach and how it assists robotics business start-ups in meeting regulatory, financial and marketing challenges. Please click here for Dr. Freytag’s fascinating introduction to Next 47:

Launching Robotics Entrepreneurs from Siemens in Berkley
Carolin Funk, Venture Director of Technology, Siemens, works out of the Siemens’ Berkley, CA, office.  On the leading edge in the Next 47 project, Carolin helps companies like Modbot (please see our earlier Modbot news release) get established. Click herefor her informative comments on launching an impressive range of technology start-ups.

MODBOT Robotics Launch Boosted by Siemens Next47
Modbot was founded by Daniel Pizzata and is one of the start-ups offered business support by Siemens. Modbots are modular robots and robotic components that can be used to augment mechanical processes on a production line and in other automation contexts. Modbot was founded to make these modular systems widely available to industry. Daniel offers key details, here.  For more on Modbot, click here.

SIEMENS Software Takes the Microsoft Hololens into New Applications
At RoboBusiness 2016, Moshe Schwimmer, Innovation Catalyst at Siemens, described software Siemens has created for the Hololens (a Microsoft product that enables visualization of virtual robots and robot parts). Using a pair of Hololens goggles, one can see virtual parts superimposed on your office table, or suspended in the air, in what is described as “augmented reality.”  Click herefor Schwimmer’s thoughts on the benefits of designing machines using virtual reality tools—a technology of the future that is here, today. 


Interviews in this series were produced by NREF videographer Gene Beley, and hosted by NREF executive director, Tom Atwood,,  Presentations were recorded by Gene Beley.  NREF is a 501c3 nonprofit that indexes and points to robotics-based STEM curricula and provides selected product reviews and news reports on an ongoing basis.

If you are running an event or launching a product or initiative that you would like to see covered on our website, or if you would like to contribute to our coverage with an article or multimedia video, please email your proposal(s) to Tom Atwood at the above link—thank you!


© 2016 The National Robotics Education Foundation



For immediate release

November 23, 2016

UK Officials Embark on West Coast Tour to Highlight Advanced Drone Regulations

Last week a delegation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle experts from the United Kingdom met with industry leaders in California to highlight the United Kingdom’s regulatory leadership.

The United Kingdom has sophisticated regulations governing the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) for commercial use. Currently many leading companies use the UK for their drones testing, such as Amazon.

Mr. Tim Johnson (Policy Director, UK Civil Aviation Authority) and Dr. Michael Clark (Deputy Director, International Aviation, Safety and Environment, UK Department for Transport) spoke with companies, policy makers, and media to highlight the UK’s global leadership in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drones) testing and regulations.

Dr. Clark remarked: “This was a fantastic visit to see where the US and UK can further collaborate and learn from one another about UAV testing and delivery. I’m returning to London and already have ideas for a few policy changes to ensure we get the most of the drone economy.”

Mr. Johnson agreed. “It was also good to discuss with our American counterparts how we can jointly tackle issues such as safety, security and privacy, or using drones for public projects like inspecting power lines or helping with search-and-rescue missions.”

The UK partnered with Ms. Monica England, Marketing Director, 5D Robotics, Inc. to host a private reception in San Jose the first night of Drone World Expo. Other events that took place included a panel discussion at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, speaking at Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s SoCal Aerospace Council, and meetings with industry leaders such as Tesla Foundation and Qualcomm to discuss the future of the drone industry.

“It’s a good feeling to know that the UK is proactively looking to collaborate with San Diego companies in different areas of unmanned technology and autonomous innovation,” said Monica England.

The San Diego Lindbergh Chapter of AUVSI hosted the group of experts later in the week at their bi-monthly networking reception to discuss their perspective on the growing unmanned systems market in the United Kingdom.

There is still work to do regarding drones and their usage, but for now it seems the UK is remaining ahead of the curve and endeavouring to remain a leader in this new technology.

# # #

For more info, contact:

Mr. Matt Reents

Head of Politics, Press, & Public Affairs

British Consulate-General, Los Angeles




AUVSI San Diego

The San Diego Lindbergh Chapter is dedicated to the advancement of Unmanned Systems and Technology in the greater Southwest region. The Chapter enthusiastically engages in initiatives with the public and private sectors for the advancement and advocacy of Unmanned Systems, and is a value-added resource for the integration and interoperability of space, air, ground, sea and undersea systems. For more information, please visit

Science & Innovation Network:

The Science & Innovation Network, a UK Government initiative, works internationally to influence and leverage opportunities in the science and innovation policies of governments, businesses and academia, informing UK policy, and promoting ‘best with best’ collaboration between the UK and other nations. For more information on our work, please see our blog at

UK Department for International Trade:

The Department for International Trade (DIT) helps businesses export and grow into global markets. We also help overseas companies locate and grow in the UK. brings together information about investing in the UK. It promotes our country as the natural choice for overseas investment. It includes:

• reasons why an overseas business should invest in the UK

• sector-specific information about the UK economy, starting with automotive, creative

industries, energy, financial and professional services, life sciences and technology

• a way for overseas businesses to contact DIT staff in their country

Contact your local DIT office on 1-310-843-2965.

UK Civil Aviation Authority:

The CAA’s primary aim is to enable the full and safe integration of all UAS operations into the UK’s total aviation system. As the UK's specialist aviation regulator CAA ensures that:

• the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards

• consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly

• CAA drives improvements in airlines and airports’ environmental performance

• the aviation industry manages security risks effectively.

CAA are a public corporation, established by Parliament in 1972 as an independent specialist aviation regulator.

UK Department for Transport:

DFT works with agencies and partners to support the transport network that helps the UK’s businesses and gets people and goods travelling around the country. They plan and invest in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move. DFT is supported by 19 agencies and public bodies.


In the Government Defense department at, Charles Murray reports that it's still possible to earn an engineering degree for an annual tuition of less than $20,000! He reviews some of the best schools for those seeking an engineering degree.  Capsule summaries of various schools are provided, for example: "The University of Wisconsin-Platteville features a stellar engineering program at a tuition cost of just $15,339 for out-of-staters. Its curriculum includes accredited degrees in civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical and software engineering. And its award-winning Women in Engineering program has boosted the school’s female presence by an amazing 70% since 2010. (Source: By James Steakley - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, " Photo is of  San Jose State, in the middle of Silicon Valley.


Under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award granted to Near Earth Autonomy (NEA), NEA will develop systems enabling safe unmanned operation during unexpected contingencies such as GPS-denied conditions. 

The announcement noted that these UAS systems will survey crops, inspect large structures, deliver cargo, and take on fire-fighting and search and rescue. They will offer solutions for “wind disturbances, loss of power, and engine and sensor failures. The ACS will be a fully autonomous system that can discover and adapt to changes in unpredictable environments, while accomplishing the mission goals, with minimal or no human involvement.”


SRI International is a robotics company to watch.  A current SRI focus is a life-size humanoid robot called MotoBot that rides a motorcycle. The bike has been driven on a Daytona size track at 200mph.  In our exclusive interview, Mike Stevens also discusses other robotics technologies SRI is pioneering, including micro robots, end effectors used on off-the-shelf arms, tactile and haptic feedback, vision systems built into robot hands, the new Abacus transmission drive (toothless, low backlash for efficiency) and more. Learn about amazing SRI robotics developments here:

Our RoboBusiness 2016 interviews were hosted by NREF executive director Tom Atwood,, and produced by NREF videographer Gene Beley,


HP Fellow, VP, and innovative inventor Will Allen holds 70 U.S. patents. He is experienced in the founding of new technologies and in their commercialization.  Please click here to view his fascinating presentation at RoboBusiness 2016:

This video was recorded and produced by NREF videographer Gene Beley,


At the end of the first day, The Kobi Company won the Pitchfire competition based on its autonomous robot that can maintain your lawn, clean up leaves and remove snow from your grounds. Photo credit:The Kobi Company/Steven Waelbers.

Fifteen hopeful entrants had given their best elevator pitch before a packed hall filled with attendees and a panel of respected venture capital judges.  The Kobi Company, taking first place, won instant celebrity status, a business coaching program and $5,000 in cash!  They plan to sell 10 Kobi beta versions by the end of 2016 and integrate customer feedback into the product as production ramps up in 2017.


Jim Lawton, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Rethink Robotics, explains that their new generation of collaborative robots are safe, inexpensive, and designed to work side-by-side with humans.  There is no need for a protective cage. Moreover, Sawyer can be “trained” through interaction with a human collaborator.  See a demo here:


Next year, AvatarMIND will be moving from Nanjing, China to the U.S. where these remarkable humanoids will be used in healthcare, to develop therapies for autistic children, and other markets.  


The price point will be relatively low compared to earlier humanoid robots, CEO John S. Ostrem notes, which will allow far greater access to these helpful avatars. John offers details, here:


Based in San Leandro, CA, PhaseSpace offers motion control solutions for research, industrial arts and graphics arts communities.  Anything “motion” so consider this a must view for both real world and animated robots of any type that crawl, burrow, slither, walk, swim or fly!  McSheery explains recent advances here:


Carolin Funk, Venture Director of Technology, Siemens, works out of the Siemens’ Berkley, CA, office.  On the leading edge in the Next 47 project, Carolin helps companies like Modbot (please see our earlier Modbot news release) get established. Click here for her informative comments on launching an impressive range of technology start-ups:

Siemens interviews in this series were produced by NREF videographer Gene Beley, and hosted by NREF executive director, Tom Atwood,


Modbot was founded by Daniel Pizzata and is one of the start-ups offered business support by Siemens. Modbots are modular robots and robotic components that can be used to augment mechanical processes on a production line and in other automation contexts. Modbot was founded to make these modular systems widely available to industry. Daniel offers key details:

For more information, click here:



At RoboBusiness 2016, Moshe Schwimmer, Innovation Catalyst at Siemens, describes software Siemens has created for the Hololens (a Microsoft product that enables visualization of virtual robots and robot parts). Using a pair of Hololens goggles, one can see virtual parts superimposed on your office table, or suspended in the air, in what is described as “augmented reality.” 


Schwimmer speaks to the benefits of designing machines using virtual reality tools—a technology of the future that is here, today:


SIEMENS AG is a global organization that focuses on power management, automation, digitalization, medical technologies, robotics, and far more. Several of SIEMENS robotics divisions exhibited at RoboBusiness 2016. These included a new initiative, “Next 47,” that fosters the development of entrepreneurial start-ups, worldwide. Dr. Rudolf Freytag, CEO of Innovative Ventures at Siemens, described Next 47’s global reach and how it assists robotics business start-ups in meeting regulatory, financial and marketing challenges. 

This is the first of several exciting interviews with SIEMENS we will be sharing from RoboBusiness 2016. Please click here for Dr. Freytag’s fascinating introduction to Next 47: 

Videography by Gene Beley.



The 12th Annual RoboBusiness conference and trade show – a highly anticipated exhibition of state-of-the-art robotics – was held in Silicon Valley at the San Jose Convention Center on September 28 – 29, 2016.  One of the largest robotics conferences in the nation, this prestigious gathering featured the latest in bleeding edge automation.

Among the presentations we recorded was an industry state-of-the-nation overview by Tom Green, editor-in-chief of Robotics Business Review. Tom noted that China, Japan and Korea are at the forefront of the new robotics-based “4th industrial revolution.”

Green recounted how Fanuc and Cisco created feedback loops that enabled “zero downtime” production, generating $80million in savings this year, alone.  Other feedback loops in data collection revealed why parts fail and how to manufacture better products as the factory floor evolved into a research laboratory. View Green’s fascinating talk at:

10/30/2016 is a listing of challenge and prize competitions, all of which are run by more than 80 agencies across federal government. These include technical, scientific, ideation, and creative competitions where the U.S. government seeks innovative solutions from the public, bringing the best ideas and talent together to solve mission-centric problems.  More than $220 million in prize money has been offered since 2010, along with valuable and unique incentive prizes.

·  Find hundreds of competitions that cover a wide range of interests and require varying levels of skills and abilities in order to participate.

·  Discover something of interest to you, sorting by type of challenge and by the agency hosting the competition.

·  Competitions are listed in chronological order, from most recent launched to older, closed competitions going back to 2010.

Some competitions are hosted on third-party, non-government sites. Clicking the link to the challenge competition will take you directly to the host website.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret),, Robin E. Alexander, President ATC,, and Leonard Ligon, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration / Operations Management,  for their assistance with this report.



Intel has aggressively entered the commercial drone market in recent months with a few products that suggest growing momentum. The latest is the Falcon 8+, a company-branded product to be introduced in North America. Previously Intel had announced its consumer drone, the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense technology for intelligent obstacle navigation, as well as the Intel Aero Platform for developers. The Falcon 8+ adds to its offerings and represents its commitment to innovative technologies in the commercial space. Intel states that the Falcon 8 offers the best weight to payload ratio and best in class stability in harsh conditions, including “magnetic disturbances.”  The Falcon 8+ includes a high precision GPS and is supported by a large reseller and support network. 

Building on the AscTec Falcon 8 system Intel has announced the release of the Intel Falcon 8+ for North American markets. This advanced system includes the Intel Falcon 8+ UAV, Intel Cockpit for ground control, as well as the Intel Powerpack to power the UAV. The Intel Falcon 8+ is Intel’s first Intel-branded commercial drone. It is also powered with the triple-redundant AscTec Trinity autopilot. The system provides detailed images down to millimeter accuracy and gives valuable structural analysis that helps users detect and prevent further damage to infrastructure.


Aaron Mehta of reported that the Obama administration has coordinated an agreement by 40+ countries that will help manage the import and export of armed unmanned systems in a bid to facilitate creating global norms for trade in unmanned, robotic weapons systems. Absent from the list are China, Russia, India and Israel.  Photo: John Moore/Getty Images.

In addition to the US, signatories include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. 

10/10/2016 reported that Clearpath Robotics has raised $30million in funding to further build its business carrying payloads and lifting and placing palettes in warehouses and factories. With clients like John Deere and GE, and an exceptional safety record, Clearpath Robotics has seen growing equity funding now approaching about $41.5 million.  Warehouse and factory floor markets are ideal for robotic automation and represent a quickly expanding industry.  

Clearpath CEO and co-founder Matt Rendall offered, “Boxes and pallets moving around the world in the global supply chain are the circulatory system for global commerce. We believe if we can move them more efficiently we can do profound things for the economy.” Images courtesy of Otto Motors.



C41SRNET reported that Norway’s Maritime Robotics is partnering with Liquid Robotics, the American manufacturer of the Wave Glider underwater drone, to sell products and integration services to Nordic countries. Relevant markets include maritime security, meteorology and oceanography, flight tracking, wind farming and more. Photo courtesy of Liquid Robotics. Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), via David’s Unmanned PLACE,, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC,, for their assistance with this report.

The report noted:

"Maritime Robotics is now an authorized partner to sell Liquid Robotics' Wave Gliders and associated mission and integration services to customers throughout the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland," a Liquid Robotics announcement said. 

"The Maritime Robotics partnership brings valuable expertise in creating and delivering high value, sustainable maritime solutions for today's applications of maritime security, fish tracking & monitoring and meteorology and oceanography," Liquid Robotics said. "Additionally, this partnership will address the emerging commercial applications of wind farming, aquaculture and commercial flight tracking." 


Aviation Week reports that Japan’s defense planners foresee automated, robotic wingmen in the 2030s that will not only carry sensors as forward scouts, but which will eventually be robotic weapons systems that will fire on command when ordered to do so by human pilots. This was reported in a technology roadmap published by the Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA).  The AvWeek summary did not suggest any autonomous decision making by wingmen scout robots.

The AvWeek story continues:

"The plan divides unmanned aircraft into five types, including the two simplest—small, portable ones and those that operate with line-of-sight communications—which Japan already has in service. A third category, which the country is still working on, are those that need relay communications by satellite, such as types the U.S. has relied on for years, like the General Atomics MQ-1 and MQ-9 and the Northrop Grumman Q-4 in various versions. Then there are pilotless combat aircraft and, lastly, aerostats and solar-powered airplanes, both for extremely long endurance."


NREF was at the recent RoboBusiness conference in San Jose, CA, in full force, and will present a series of interviews with attending robot vendors, here, at, within several days, stay tuned!  Shown is a high resolution collaborative robot arm from Rethink Robotics.

"The manufacturing factory of the future is up and running today – in local job shops and global manufacturing giants, and everywhere in between.  Our smart,collaborative robots are leading to a more productive tomorrow. Now’s your chance to be a part of it."


The “world’s first printable open-source humanoid robot” is being presented, tonight, as we go to press, at Pivotal Labs, in NYC. Check out this company dedicated to Japanese – U.S. start-up initiatives.

Meet the Humanoid Robot!

This is our 15th event, and we're thrilled to introduce a robotics startup from Japan. PLEN2 is the world's first printable open-source humanoid robot. The team behind PLEN will share us stories from behind the scenes and demo the bot. We will have a chance to play and test PLEN2 after. See you all there!

If you want to learn about cross-cultural business between US-Japanese markets, discover new technology, and meet other enthusiastic technologists, please come and join us at Pivotal Labs! (and hang out afterwards at a bar nearby)  



DARPA's new Dragnet program is designed to monitor all drones in the skies over any city. Initially conceived for military purposes, it’s ultimate use was never doubted as government agencies plot a path forward in the management of low altitude aircraft flying above municipalities.  How to identify and then manage unwanted surveillance drones is being addressed by DARPA at a Proposers Day Aerial Dragnet conference on September 26 in Arlington, Virginia. Registration nominally closed September 19.

DARPA hosts Proposers Days to promote teaming arrangements between researchers and provide information on how they can best respond to the Government’s R&D solicitations. Attendance is restricted to registered proposers.

A variety of companies are developing efficient, safe solutions for those charged with taking down drones. In this image Openworks Engineering, a DJI Phantom is about to be netted and captured. The net was fired from a bazooka-like shoulder-mounted gun that uses computerized optics for highly accurate sighting and tracking of targets.  


A new Russian military vehicle can search, detect, track, and eliminate targets entirely on its own, and therefore is a practical example of an autonomous warfighting robot. In a conversation with Jane’s, a world authority on weapons systems, Russia’s Military Industrial Company (VPK), noted that “Tigr-M” has a remote control weapons system armed with a 30 mm Shipunov 2A72 cannon and a 7.62 mm Kalashnikov PKTM coaxial machinegun. “The new vehicle is fully unmanned, as it can search, detect, track, and eliminate targets in automatic mode.” 

Tigr-M weighs 8,200 kg, and carries 200 30X165mm rounds and 1,000 7.62X54R mm cartridges.  It can be driven remotely at a 3km distance. Tigr-M can destroy land targets at a 5,000meter distance by day and at 1,000 meters by night. It features an electro-optical fire control system with an automatic target tracking device. This weapons system edges toward what many ethicists consider to be a dangerous area, one in which lethal decisions can arguably be made by machines. However, international norms support a fire control system in which humans must be in the decision process when lethal force is used. 


Alan Levin reports in Bloomberg Technology that the Virginia Tech campus will soon see a harbinger of drone deliveries to come, as an experimental project ensues for a few weeks.  Google’s “Alphabet Inc. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.” will launch under the name Project Wing.  In summary, Virginia Tech and Google are undertaking the most extensive test, yet, of the drone-delivery business paradigm of the future.

The challenges are many, including that the test cargo is food.  It has to be transported without damage and kept at an appropriate serving temperature.  This is part of the newly emerging business paradigms emerging under the recently established FAA Part 107 regulatory framework.  Even has computerization of many practice areas begins reducing the jobs of various types of workers, the drone business represents huge opportunities for new jobs for uncounted thousands of budding drone pilots.  Photos courtesy of Alphabet Inc.


Matt Waite and Ben Kreimer of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Drone Journalism Lab have offered a brief but comprehensive guide to safe drone operations involving professional journalism. The guide is generously funded by the Knight Foundation, and is available to any under a Creative Commons license. Three roles are defined: Pilot in Command (PIC), Observer, and Journalist. It is noted that just one or two individuals can fulfill all three roles, but that the PIC, who holds the FAA-issued Part 107 certificate, is the final authority on whether it is safe and feasible to fly.  The Observer, the sole person who can speak to the PIC during operations, is responsible to alert the PIC if aircraft, vehicles or peope come into the area during operations. The journalist is responsible for defining the goals of the flight and verifying the outcome after the drone lands.

The guide discusses questions of ethics and points to the Society of Professioal Journalists  SPJ Code of ethics.  It states that the manual “is a mixture of hard-earned experience in the field, requirements under the FAA’s Part 107 regulations, best practices for drone use, and methods that manned aircraft pilots use to fly airplanes.  It stresses that news managers must understand that the PIC is the final authority, as this person is the license holder who will incur liability if something goes wrong.

The manual is an “open document” so that users can contribute their insights and experiences back to it. It is hosted on Github, a social code sharing website, and the authors openly invite comments and recommendations. PDF copies of the manual are available for free download  online.  We thank David Place, CDR, USN/Ret., and Robin Alexander, President, ATC, for sourcing this story, recently published in David’s Unmanned Systems News (USN) listserve distribution, which we highly recommend and that you can subscribe to by emailing David at


Commentators are suddenly buzzing about artificial intelligence, aka “AI”, which is emerging all around us at a meteoric pace.  Some push deeper into the related but spooky domain of “strong artificial intelligence,” a term that means when machine intelligence will rival that of human beings. Will there come a point in time when the risk of runaway machine sentience might actually emerge, perhaps embodied in a sci-fi personage like the “Terminator”?

This discussion evokes the concept of the Singularity, popularized by American inventor and respected intellectual, Ray Kurzweil. It also vigorously calls to mind his critics, who notably include another American intellect of stratospheric achievement, MIT’s Noam Chomsky.

The NYTimes reports that researchers from Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft have recently been meeting to discuss issues like how AI will impact and possibly replace many jobs, as well as change how we travel to our jobs or to the mall, and even how we equip our militaries.

A new report that will be updated on an ongoing basis, from the Stanford group, “One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), funded by Eric Horowitz, notes that its overarching purpose is “to provide a collected and connected set of reflections about AI and its influences as the field advances.”  Today’s tech giants are discussing the possibilities.  It appears that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that the storm of debate will grow. Photograph by Alamy,



The following introduces this report: by Abha Bhattarai at the website:

As you check into your hotel room this holiday weekend, you may be welcomed by a robot.

Hotel companies around the world have been racing to incorporate new innovations into their properties. Here, a look at some futuristic technology that may greet you during your next hotel stay.

1. Voice-activated rooms

You’ll never have to get out of bed again, promises Aloft Hotels. Thanks to its Project: Jetson, guests at two of the company’s properties can control their thermostats, lights, even music preferences, with the sound of their voice, Starwood Hotels & Resorts said in a statement:

Wake up hot at 2 am..? Simply ask Siri to adjust the temperature on the thermostat by saying “Hey Siri, cool the room” to your desired setting.

Singing in the shower but want a new track? Say “Hey Siri, put on my morning playlist.”

The voice-activated rooms in Boston and Santa Clara, Calif., will come equipped with iPads that guests can use to browse the Internet and check the weather forecast.



Part 107 of the Small UAS Rule goes into effect today.  This is a milestone in the development of the commercial UAS industry in the United States.  Part 107 is part of Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and allows commercial drone use without a Section 333 Exemption.  With Part 107 now in full force and effect, it is widely foreseen that new drone markets and UAS applications designed to exploit them will proliferate. The FAA sees its role as a facilitator as U.S.-based industry embraces the challenges of a rapidly growing worldwide  drone market.

A Section 333 Exemption was the earlier framework for FAA authorization of commercial drone flying prior to the change in the law brought about by Part 107.  Under Part 107, commercial flying of drones is allowed under certain limited conditions. The drone pilot must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center, and does not need to hold a pilot’s license. Flights must be conducted in daylight and within visual line of sight (VLOS), cannot exceed 100 mph, and a number of additional restrictions apply.  The hexcopter shown is one of several drone designs sold in stock and custom configurations by  Innov8tive Designs,, (760) 468-8838.

A primer on Part 107 and the new legal framework can found here. The new framework is designed to spur the growth of the industry in a permissive, open regulatory environment.  It can be said that today marks a new dawn in the era of the drone.


As global demand for red meat rises, “SwagBot”, an omnni-directional, 4-wheeled robot shows promise to assist with herding and managing cattle on the open range.  Salah Sukkarieh teaches robotics at the University of Sydney’s School of Aerospace Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering.  Sukkarieh is leading the development of SwagBot to aid Australia’s farmers in a time of labor shortage.  The 3rd largest cattle exporter in the world, Australia has long employed many cowhands in its livestock industry. 

SwagBot can navigate over obstacles and even water, notes Sukkarieh.  However, SwagBot is still a work in progress.  Expected upgrades will enable the robot to evaluate an animal’s health and whether it is in stress.  The prototype SwagBot may be in production in as soon as three years, Sukkarieh notes, and the robot will be priced to match industry needs, where margins are low.  

This will be of keen interest to farmers, who must deal with tight margins.  However, it looks like this is one more industry where robots will soon displace human workers in a trend that is beginning to show itself across many industries and not just in tiers of professional jobs and specialty practice areas.


For the first time, it was reported that NOAA’s National Weather Service National Hurricane Center used real-time weather from the NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to upgrade a tropical storm to a hurricane. This transpired in the early morning hours Thursday, Aug. 25. While the Hurricane Center recently downgraded Gaston back to a tropical storm, the most recent forecast also notes it could intensify again on Saturday.

“The NASA Global Hawk can fly over a tropical cyclone at 60,000 feet and provide a full three-dimensional picture of storm structure,” said Gary Wick, Ph.D., NOAA project scientist for the Global Hawk experiment. “We are glad that our research mission can provide direct support to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.”

The key data is collected by a dropsonde, a small instrument dropped from an aircraft that measures tropical storm conditions as it descends to the surface of the ocean. The dropsonde then transmits the data to a satellite which relays it in real time to the National Hurricane Center.

The Global Hawk took this important data from the 75th dropsonde out of 84 dropped from the plane during a 24-hour flight. The National Hurricane Center evaluated the data to upgrade Gaston to be the third hurricane of the season at12:15 AM ET on Thursday. The data indicated that Gaston had strengthened to a hurricane with wind speeds estimated to be 75 miles per hour. In its latest report Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Gaston to a tropical storm, but noted the storm in the Central Atlantic 1160 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands could intensify on Saturday


The FAA Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide is now available for those who will be taking the FAA knowledge test in order to earn an sUAS pilot rating. The following is excerpted from the Guide’s introduction:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published the Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Study Guide to communicate the knowledge areas you need to study to prepare to take the Remote Pilot Certificate with an sUAS rating airman knowledge test. This Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide is available for download from

The information in this study guide was arranged according to the knowledge areas that are covered on the airman knowledge test for a Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rating as required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107, section 107.73(a). The knowledge areas are as follows:
1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;
2. Airspace classification, operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation;
3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;
4. Small unmanned aircraft loading;
5. Emergency procedures;
6. Crew resource management;
7. Radio communication procedures;
8. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft;
9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;
10. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment;
11. Airport operations; and
12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

Our thanks to David Place, NPS Research Associate / C3F UAS Advisor, and Robin Alexander, President, ATC, for providing NREF this update. 
--the editors


Pierre Bouchard continues to methodically develop his full scale JARRVIS humanoid in Quebec, Canada. The latest development includes full remote control of the head, right arm and articulated hand. As Pierre moves within his home-built exoskeleton, the JARRVIS robot mirrors Pierre’s movements in a YouTube video.

The JARRVIS robot’s body parts are actuated by electric motors. Pierre is developing the mechanics of this humanoid first, and envisions the development of semi-autonomous capability for this humanoid in a future developmental stage. We will continue to bring you Pierre's incremental progress!

UAS Magazine reported that Samsung has announced a new generation of high-capacity chips specially designed for use in airborne drones.   This is one more indication that the drone industry is flowering.  The cards are designed for faster delivery of greater amounts of data, meaning you will be able to see and edit video from your drone at record speed. The report states:
"At five times the speed of a typical microSD card, Samsung’s memory card option will improve movie playback, reading a full-HD video in 10 seconds instead of the 50 seconds needed with a microSD card." 
"For DSLR users and for multi-shot applications, Samsung’s card will reduce multimedia downloading time, photo thumbnail loading time and buffer clearing time in burst shooting mode. Large JPEG photos will take less than seven seconds to upload compared to the microSD version that typically require 32 seconds.
“Our new 256GB UFS card will provide an ideal experience for digitally-minded consumers and lead the industry in establishing the most competitive memory card solution,” said Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president, memory product planning and application engineering for Samsung."


Tech Crunch reported on Intel’s new drone offering, which is designed to attract developers and runs on Intel’s Aero Compute board with a Linux O.S. At the Intel Developoer Forum, Intel introduced a ready-to-fly quadcopter that is intended to attract developers rather than hobbyist consumers or commercial operators, at this time. The drone is assembled and uses Intel's aero Compute Board with a Linux operating system, RealSense for vision and comes with a preloaded AirMap software development kit. AirMap helps drone pilots find appropriate locations where it is legal and safe to fly. The report continues:

“Intel is also an equity investor in drone tech startups, including: Yuneec, which makes drones that automatically avoid obstacles even in tight spaces; Airware, developers of an operating system for commercial drones; and PrecisionHawk, makers of a fixed-wing drone and software for agricultural and other commercial drones.Intel also acquired Ascending Technologies, a German autopilot tech company, in January of this year.

The inclusion of AirMap’s software development kit in Intel’s Aero Ready-to-Fly quadcopters is a boon for the startup, which only launched this week at a closed conference for developers in Santa Monica, California.”





The Daily Mail reported that a micro robotic dragonfly equipped with a mike and camera is just one of many projects to be funded in the UK, in a massive 800,000,000 pound intelligence initiative. The nearly $1 billion investment in advanced military tech will include laser weapons. The report described an innovation unit that will develop technology in a 10-year initiative. 

The program will be a transformation inthe way the UK's military and intelligence agencies will deal with future security threats. It is also seen as a bulwark supporting the UK economy, and is said to be run by Britain's best and brightest. "Backed by a defence budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, it will ensure that the UK maintains its military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world."




This calendar lists many of the most important upcoming robotics competitions but is not all inclusive as this arena is rapidly expanding.  Many schools offer events and competitions at various times of the year, and site visitors are advised to check local schedules to flesh out this list. This list offers a baker’s dozen you probably want to know about!  – Tom Atwood, Exec. Dir.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 – Wednesday, August 31, UAS WEST Symposium, 1355 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Testing and Operating Automated Vehicles at Babcock Ranch, Florida, (AUVSI) Webinar on Babcock Ranch's plan to introduce automated vehicles for use by its first phase residents and businesses in 2017.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 – Thursday, September 29, RoboBusiness, San Jose Convention Center, 410 Almaden Blvd, San Jose, California 95110.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 – Thursday, October 27,Unmanned Systems Defense 2016, The Ritz Carlton, (AUVSI) Pentagon city, Arlington, Virginia, 1250 South Hayes Street, Virginia 22202.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 – Thursday, November 17, Humanoids 2016 IEEE-RAS International Conference, Weston Resort & Spa, Boulevard Kukulcan KM 20, Cancun, QROO, 77500, Mexico.

Tuesday, November 29 – Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 4th Annual Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) Summit, Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel, 700 S Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602. Background: The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is planning for the deployment of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies on public roadways with the establishment of the Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) initiative.

Sunday, December 11, 2016 – Sunday, December 18, 2016, Maritime ROBOTX Challenge, (AUVSI) Sand Island, Oahu, Hawaii 96701.  High School, Undergraduate, Graduate.

Wednesday, December 14 – Thursday, December 15, 2016, RoboUniverse, 111 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, California 92101

Frday, April 6, 2017 – Saturday, April 8, NATIONAL ROBOTICS CHALLENGE, Marion County Fairgrounds, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 220 E. Fairground St., Marion, Ohio 43302.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Saturday, April 22, 2017 VEX World Championships, High School Division, Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, Kentucky 40209.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Saturday, April 22, 2017 FIRST TX Championships, Houston, Texas.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Saturday, April 29, 2017 FIRST MO Championships, St. Louis, Missouri.

Monday, May 8, 2017 – Thursday, May 11, Xponential 2017, Kay Bailey Hutchinson Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, Texas 75201.

ROBOBOAT will be held in Daytona Beach, Florida, summer 2017.  This prestigious event and competition promises new challenges, more excitement and a larger lake, to boot.

Friday, June 2, 2017 – Monday, June 5, 2017, 25th Annual intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, (AUVSI) Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Undergraduate, Graduate.



The report notes the criteria selected by the surveyed countries and by the EU for implementing a number of operational requirements. Such criteria often include the weight and/or type of use of drones. It also addresses specific topics such as registration and labeling of drones, flight authorization information, and requirements for drone operator qualifications. 

The Library of Congress invites you to review this report along with the many other multinational and single country reports available on the Law Library’s website<>. We also invite you to read two previous In Custodia Legis posts that are relevant to the discussion of the use of drones. The first addresses legal aspects of unmanned systems for civilian uses<>; the second analyzes legal aspects that apply to lethal autonomous weapons<>.


The 16th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, “Humanoids 2016,” will be held at the Westin Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico: 15-17 November 2016. This year’s conference covers many topics, including: anthropomorphic design and control, software and hardware architecture, whole-body dynamics, humanoid locomtion, brain-robot interfaces and much more.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Robotics and Automation Society’s objectives are scientific, literary and educational in character. The Society strives for the advancement of the theory and practice of robotics and automation engineering and science and of the allied arts and sciences, and for the maintenance of high professional standards among its members, all in consonance with the Constitution and Bylaws of the IEEE and with special attention to such aims within the Field of Interest of the Society. This year’s conference covers many topics, including:

·         Principles and technologies for anthropomorphic/bionic design and control

·         Novel materials, devices, mechanisms, energy system for humanoids

·         Software and hardware architecture, system integration

·         Whole-body dynamics, control, sensing, informatics

·         Measuring, modeling and simulating humans

·         Teleoperation, tele-experience, tele-presence using humanoids

·         Humanoid locomotion, manipulation, perception, planning

·         Human and humanoid skills/cognition/interaction

·         Adaptation, learning and cognitive development of humanoids

·         Humanoids for human science and engineering

·         Cyborgs, prostheses, assistive devices and sensor/motor suits

·         Neuro-robotics and brain-robot interfaces for humanoids and humans

·         Social interaction and acceptability

·         Applications: home, field, space, social, industrial, medical, health/mental care, art/entertainment, education


The Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC), sponsored by DARPA, will take place on Thursday, August 4, and is free and open to the public. CGC seeks to automate the cyber defense process by which machines will discover, prove and fix software flaws in real-time, without any assistance by humans. This project’s outcomes will embody the first generation of machines that can discover, prove and fix software flaws in real-time, without assistance. If successful, the speed of automated protection could someday blunt the structural advantages of cyber offense, which, today, has the advantage.

The event is being held at the Paris Hotel & Conference Center in Las Vegas, NV. The final event will take place Thursday night. The Cyber Grand Challenge finalists are the top scoring teams from the first year of the Cyber Grand Challenge, which was held on June 3rd, 2015.  Each winning finalist fielded an autonomous system that found and fixed enough vulnerabilities to gain an invitation to the final event. The CGC finalists represent a diverse field that includes industry leaders, university off-shoots, startups, academic researchers and hacker community competition veterans.


For decades, inspections of newly assembled aircraft have been conducted by humans in an exacting, carefully choreographed process that ensures high quality manufacturing and attainment of the highest safety standards in products rolling off the assembly lines. The techniques used to examine newly-built airliners evolve and improve, and, as shown by Gizmag, on-site flying robots that inspect airframes during assembly are at the heart of Airbus's recent leap forward

Previously, Airbus quality inspectors had to ride perches on telescoping arms to ensure there were no non-conforming parts exhibiting defects, dents or scrapes.  That process historically took up to two hours per plane, but with the advent of drones, it can take as few as 10 minutes.  Airbus worked with AscTec to create a “modified Falcon 8 drone with Intel RealSense cameras for intelligent obstacle navigation and a 42-megapixel full-frame camera for data capture.”

"This a far safer and more comfortable approach for the data capture technicians.  Up to 150 photos are typically captured and these are then examined by inspectors as 3D models of the plane. It’s possible to zoom and pan around the images so as to look closer at certain areas, with the data said to ultimately help improve traceability, prevention and damage reduction. The system is being tested on Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft, after which it is expected to be rolled out for use on all aircraft from next year on."


As reported by, on July 22, 2016, Facebook chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, in the company of friends, family and colleagues, watched the first successful flight of his amazing giant flying wing – the Aquila (“eagle” in Latin).  This enormous machine, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 737 jetliner, will eventually broadcast the internet to tens of millions of people.

Aquila’s test flight lasted 96 minutes. The craft is constructed from carbon fiber. This project is both a technical masterwork and an enormous humanitarian initiative that will improve the lives of innumerable people in countries such as India and Nigeria.  Aquila will fly circular patterns at an altitude of approximately 60,000 feet, which is above the most violent weather. It will nonetheless need to deal with extremely cold temperatures and occasional gusts.


In early May, 2016, at the AUVSI Xponential Conference in New Orleans, Thomas Atwood, executive director of the National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF), presented a thoughtful review of robotics technologies in our society -- past, present and future.  In his presentation, reproduced here, a PowerPoint overview presents historical robots, contemporary examples and provocative speculation on the future of robotics and the challenges of living with advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

What are the implications of Kurzweil's "Singularity"? Will robots be the next phase in human evolution? Should robots be weaponized? Will robots take over all the professional jobs now occupied by humans, and if so, what will people do to make a living?  How will people travel in a futuristic, fully automated world? Atwood offers eye-opening possibilities in a memorable presentation. Image of the Antikythera Mechanism by Cosmo Wenman.  AUVSI members can also access the presentation here.


The TESLA Technology Think Tank is dedicated to making rapidly emerging technology productive and safe for mankind.  It was our pleasure to interview Keith Kaplan earlier this spring, co-founder and CEO of the TESLA Think Tank, and a fiercely enthusiastic advocate of our ever-more technological future.  “We are progressing from the industrial revolution to the autonomous age… The circumstances require great action, and as a think tank, we assist in helping public and private entities to navigate this.“ You won’t want to  miss Keith’s interesting comments on our technological future.

TESLA’s mission as stated at the TESLA website:

"The Tesla Foundation is a not for profit science and technology think tank for The Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the Architect of Americas Technology Farm System. The Tesla Foundation accomplishes its non-profit goals utilizing the combined efforts of its technology farm system, research, education, applications and high level educational events and summits. It is the responsibility of those that can shape our future to integrate all technology in a safe and ethical manner for all of humankind."

What is the purpose and mission of the TESLA Foundation?
It is a very exciting time but it is a difficult time. We, as a society, are getting through a transition. Owing to incredible advancements in connectivity and data collection and communications, it has been a disruptive time. We are progressing from the industrial revolution to the autonomous age.  We are progressing from factory-based physical systems to virtual systems.  We are experiencing a mass migration of the workforce, very similar to what we experienced in the second stage of the industrial revolution, which went from farms to the factory.

Recruiting the Best and the Brightest for the Information Age
The circumstances require great action, and as a think tank, we assist in helping public and private entities to navigate this.  But also, we are creating the first technology personnel recruitment system. There is a very effective system that exists for professional sports in this country.  We are using that same kind of blueprint, including word of mouth, and the same techniques that are used to farm our society for the best young athletes who rise into professional sports.  We are promoting the use of that same methodology in the context of technology. 

The TESLA foundation incubated in this now expanding unmanned aerial vehicles systems association (UAVSA), for the sole purpose of providing services and promoting the ability for roboticists, professional robot operators, and, right now, specialists in aero-robotics technology to be assimilated into our professional lives in as seamless and safe a way as possible.

We are very much at the end stage of traditional aviation.  A lot of folks might not feel like this but consider that we have commercial planes that we travel on, and that are used to deliver our packages.  These aircraft already have cyber-physical systems that actually take-off, fly and land the planes.  Pilots and the safety systems are redundant and that’s very important, but the pilot interaction with those systems that are becoming more autonomous, is evolving and shrinking, and this is an indicator of how good these systems truly are.

And so, with completely autonomous aero-robotics, it is very important that the technical integration of these services with commerce is done in a very safe and productive manner.  We need to collect and then publicize a whole new generation of wonderful jobs in data collection that this proliferating technology now offers!

Would you have any comments about TESLA’s future direction and ambitions with respect to UAVs?
UAVs… It was an interesting moment when custom computing became mobile.  This really was a crescendo of the information age – Let’s call it industry 3.0.   But for the masses, it is industry 4.0.  “Drones” are that moment.  This occurs when the masses fully accept the new technology and say, “Ok, this is a good solution!” 

With respect to the TESLA Foundation, it is very important to understand, study, and then react as quickly as possible.  The incredible speed with which this new iteration is seizing our physical world is amazing. This is because of the ability for any of us to have a tremendous amount of data at our fingertips, not just tomorrow but in the next minute, or the next few seconds. Consider that we are able to have instant simulations of our cyber systems, and then see those iterations happen in the physical world.  Anyone can build an object in free open source CAD software, then have that object produced on a 3D printer in seconds!... The combinations of these iterations are increasing in our physical world.  I personally think that this is going to continue to increase, exponentially.

So, we have to find ways to identify people, who have solutions that are productive that we can integrate. This will stimulate ecommerce as well as educational opportunities.

Thank you. Do you have any comments with respect to the evolving position of the FAA on robotics?
The FAA is in a very difficult position because the FAA, in a traditional sense, always included the operator as a human.  This is a very different scenario, today, where sensors and connectivity in aviation of all kinds can actually in many cases mitigate human involvement as the systems perform better than a human. 

There needs to be more funding, more scientists, engineers and operators, and creators, at the table. And not as many legislators. By that, I mean that the legislatures have too often been behind the curve in understanding the extraordinary and economically substantial benefits open competition and deregulated unmanned systems offer our communities, states and national economies. They need to have the data about real world scenarios to be able to accelerate the decisions that they are making.  Legislators need to have more partnerships with industry in the UAV markets to be able to understand just how fast paced the iteration cycle is – and to adopt appropriate legislation and be malleable in the face of these emerging ecommerce opportunities.

Thank you for your comments! It has been a real pleasure learning about TESLA and its mission!
Thank you so much, and I really appreciate the opportunity to promote a safe and ethical transition into the Industrial revolution 4.0.  So, Tom, thank you!


As shown by, UBER has shown a new security guard robot that will be greeting visitors to the company's inspection lot in Mission Bay, in San Francisco.  Interestingly, there are now several companies using and/or further developing this category of robot, which will patrol warehouses, greet people at hotels, mind parking lots and the like. Amazon and Gamma2 are also in this game. notes that "The robot is a K5, a 300-pound security robot made by Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope. It’s a stand-in for a human security guard. The robot has multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision, a thermal camera, a laser rangefinder, a weather sensor, a license-plate recognition camera, four microphones, and person recognition capabilities."



Tom Green notes at the beginning of a fascinating podcast on agribotics, in which he interviews Frank Tobe of, that “Forecasts for the worldwide agribotics market predict a whopping increase from $3 billion in 2015 to $16.3 billion by 2020. The world’s population is expected to hit more than 9 billion by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. To grow all that food, the world’s farms will need to increase production by around 25 percent, according to a recent report from the World Resources Institute.” We highly recommend this podcast, which explores the various ways—some surprising—robotics technology will be used to feed the world in coming years.

Tom Greene’s introduction continues: “To make matters worse, experts expect shortages of water, fertilizer, and arable land to make it even more difficult to feed future generations. At the same time, the number of people involved in the often dangerous world of agricultural labor is decreasing… The solution to automate agriculture as quickly as possible and as extensively as possible holds out the possibility that technology can help avert worldwide shortages of food in the coming decades.”

RoboThink is a premier STEM edu-tainment (education + entertainment) provider whose offerings are gaining popularity because of their innovative and effective project based K-9th grade robotics, coding, engineering and math curriculum. These programs nurture critical thinking, visual problem solving and fine motor skills, teamwork, communication skills, goal oriented persistence and process-oriented thinking and abstract thought. 
RoboThink offers educators the opportunity to participate in RoboThink education programs as franchisees, and is offering a Webex online seminar for interested potential franchisees on July 16 at 12 p.m Central Daylight Time.  You can join the seminar at this link: 


Robird passed validation trials, permitting its use at the Farnborough Airshow, being  held now and for the next several days in England.  The robot peregrine falcon, and a larger bald eagle version, mimic the ability of real birds of prey to clear the skies of birds in their hunting areas -- which the fleeing birds learn to avoid. 

Birds naturally flock together and leave an area as a group. This is best done with an ornithopter, or flapping wing aircraft, as the beat cadence of the wings tips off birds that danger is in the air.  The two sizes of Robirds will repel birds of practically all species, making the skies at an airshow much safer for pilots. Clear Flight Solutions of the Netherlands, together with British partner 3iC and its French partner Pilgrim Technology will be demonstrating their Robirds at Farnborough in the outside exhibit area near the threshold of runway 24.


Pierre Bouchard has been working on a full-size mechanical humanoid for some years and we have reported various updates in periodic news stories. In the last six months, Pierre has concentrated on a new exoskeleton that he wears and from which he can control the head and camera view of the J.A.R.R.V.I.S. humanoid.  

When Pierre moves with this exoskeleton, the humanoid robot moves in a biomimetic way through wireless communication.  The exoskeleton helmet provides a view from the JARRVIS 2G's head camera.  The exoskeleton's helmet enables remote swiveling of the robot's head in pitch and yaw axes.  You can watch a short video of the  humanoid here.  We will continue to provide updates from this interesting project that originates in Quebec, Canada.


For over 50 years, scientists and engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space center have pioneered technology breakthroughs in computing, medicine, thermal materials, systems engineering and more.  These patented technologies are available through licensing agreements to enable entrepreneurs to create new products.  As reported on CNET's RoadShow, NASA and general motors developed Roboglove as a spin-off technology from Robonaut. It uses Robonaut derived actuation and an external battery power supply.  The glove is intended to assist humans performing repetitive tasks that require significant hand strength for gripping, pulling levers, lifting heavy metal objects and the like.

These tasks typically have to be performed every 30 to 40 seconds and require both high levels of dexterity and hand strength.   A single modular battery unit can be worn on a worker’s belt and power two Robogloves for an 8-hour shift.  Inside the glove are mechanical actuators that pull on synthetic tendons that run across the palm up into the fingers of the glove.  A microcontroller is on the side of the glove and there are a set of sensors at the fingertips and base at the microcontroller.  These communicate to the glove when to grip, by how much and when to open back up. NASA technology can be licensed by your business. More details are here


As explained in a Technology report on Fox News, a two-tiered propeller system has solved the problem of transitioning from water to air and vice versa, enabling this “Naviator” hybrid to explore the depths of a body of water, then fly back to a ship or land base.  The new design is only a tethered prototype, and its designers note that one of the challenges they face is scalability.  Enabling larger versions to carry a meaningful payload that can perform work is a challenge, but it’s just a matter of time until this has been met.

F. Javier Diaz, a Rutgers University professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, explained that the breakthrough was using two sets of propellers. He said “the magic occurs” when the machine gets out of the water. This kind of drone could be launched from shore to inspect underwater portions of an oil rig, a bridge, a large tanker hull or debris that has fallen into the water.  It would be faster and, it appears to us, less expensive than sending human divers undersea. See video here.

Five emerging trends in robotics point to the shape of things to come across all of automation. These emerging trends deserve the attention of roboticists everywhere. As identified by respected industry commentator, Frank Tobe of, these are (1) China's appetite to acquire and build an in-country robotics industry, (2) Collaborative robotics, which are beginning to impact the overall industry, (3) Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS), now emerging in multiple verticals, (4) The impact of new robotic tech in logistics and materials handling, and (5) continued interest in investing in robotics.
Frank notes that over the last half century, industrial robots have "picked the low-hanging fruit of manufacturing by handling the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. But today, as consumers want more personalied products, and want them faster, and as costs have dropped and executives have pushed for greater productivity through automation, mobile and vision-enabled robots are emerging and being deployed in many new application areas, particularly for SMEs [small and medium size enterprizes] and in logistics." Vision enabled enabled are also rapidly growing in use by government agencies and by agriculture, surveying, construction and healthcare markets. 
Analysis of 752 startup companies indexed in TheRototReport's global database of robotics shows that 25% of these were focused on industrial robotics.  Significantly, 75% addressed new areas including unmanned aerial, land, maritime and underwater applications involving filming, surveillance, reconaissance and delivery systems for the military, science and oil and gas industries (25%), agricultural robots (6%), mobile robot platforms (7%), personal service robots (3%), and professional service robots (7%). This analysis is not to be missed, as Tobe's report also parses out other important markets including consumer robots used in the home (9%) and education and hobby segments (5%).  He continues, "Support businessses such as AI and software, engineering and design, component manufacturing, 3D printing, vision systems and integrators make up the remainder. More than half of the startups are predominantly software based and indicative of the new metric that the hardware component represents less than 1/3 the overall cost of the product." Read the full report here.



Reporting from, Vicki Speed offered a snapshot of the first planned implementation later this summer of drones autonomously flying urgently needed medical supplies to remote sites in Western Rwanda, Africa.  20 hospitals and health care centers will start receiving blood shipments. A California-based robotics company, Zipline, is organizing the project. Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo noted, “We’ve built an instant delivery system for the world, allowing medicines and other products to be delivered on demand and at low cost, anywhere.”

Each custom-built drone, called Zip, weighs approximately 10 kilograms and can carry 1.5 kilograms of medicine. Zips are being fielded in fleets of 15. Remarkably, the drones can fly a 150 kilometer roundtrip (93 miles, or 46 miles each leg) on a single charge. Engineers from Zipline and Rwanda will manage operations. Extensive testing is planned with respect to speed of delivery and temperature control.

Zipline executives believe once the program gets started, its autonomous aircraft will be able to make 50-150 deliveries a day. The firm expects to deliver the first fleet of drones to Rwanda in July 2016 with initial flights beginning in August. Zipline plans to expand the project to the eastern half of the country in early 2017.

Can the delivered supplies be maintained in the cold supply chain? Can they be stored efficiently at the required 2-8°C range? Is it cost-effective as compared to more conventional ground based delivery methods?

“We are testing how fast we can deliver the product,” he added, “and if that timeframe falls within the safe range of refrigeration to ensure quality. We’ll be testing the efficacy and potency of the delivered product to make sure it complies with the international standard.”


Anthony Cuthbertson reported a surprising development on Newsweek that will be of immediate interest to flight sim fans and any who follow the exploding pace of new developments in artificial intelligence (AI). U.S. Air Force and University of Cincinnati experts teamed with industry to develop AI software for a $35 programmable computer, the Raspberry Pi (RP).  This low-cost Hobby grade board is widely available and is used to teach programming and computer science.  

A doctoral graduate at the University of Cincinnati built an RP-powered AI pilot called ALPHA. ALPHA went up against retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee in a series of simulated battles, beating Lee in every single engagement. Photo courtesy of Lisa Ventre, Univ. of Cincinnati.

Two Raspberry Pi computers shown were photographed in London in 2013. The computer has been used to support many applications ranging from hobby robots and model airplane stabilization to household phones and heating and cooling systems. Photo by Mona Boshnaq/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.

RP was first launched in 2012 to promote the teaching of computer science.  Like the Arduino microprocessor, RP is designed to promote computer literacy to students of all ages, whether in the classroom or a home office. Bottom line is that it provides a programmable computer system at a very affordable price.  

Lee described ALPHA as “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I’ve seen to date.”  Lee, who has battled AI opponents in simulated environments for more than 30 years, noted that after hours-long sessions with ALPHA, he felt “tired, drained and mentally exhausted,” whereas the AI was as sharp as the first battle.  He also noted that it was the first time he had seen an AI consistently beat a human pilot in tests.

Nick Ernest, the doctoral graduate behind ALPHA, now hopes to continue developing the AI as the CEO and president of the firm Psibernetix. Kelly Cohen, an aerospace professor at the University of Cincinnati, said: “ALPHA would be an extremely easy AI to cooperate with and have as a teammate. ALPHA could continuously determine the optimal ways to perform tasks commanded by its manned wingman, as well as provide tactical and situational advice to the rest of its flight.”  There has also been speculation on using the software in actual wartime scenarios to augment pilot capabilities.



SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot by Boston Dynamics, weighing 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm). SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing.  SpotMini is one of the quietest robots Boston Dynamics ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance. For more information about SpotMini visit


With the release of relatively unrestrictive commercial drone regulations by the FAA, drone development firms have flocked to North Dakota to test, fly and refine prototypes for use in a wide variety of still emerging applications.  At the Grand Forks Air Force Base, an instructor prepares to discuss the SandShark UAV. Photo courtesy of Tim Gruber, NY Times.

To fly commercial unmanned systems of any configuration in ND, you must pass a written test, be over 16 and not fly in restricted areas such as near airports or above 400 feet.  And yet the call of business beckons to uncounted companies to exploit the not so very demanding requirements in this new entrepreneurial birthing ground for UAS business.

The numerous unforeseen but now-hatching original, new applications for drone technology are fascinating.  This will be viewed in retrospect as a curiously fascinating time of drone efflorescence.


Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the first operational rules (PDF) for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

“We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world.”



The NASA index of robotics curricula represents all grade levels from K12 through graduate studies. The Educational Robotics Matrix not only lists out robotics curricula by name, with descriptive sentences and links, but also specifies curricula-related competitions and even sources of internships and job leads.

Quickly find links to such classic competitions as the Trinity Fire-Fighting Robot Contest and RoboCup, as well as student opportunities, NASA jobs and TeleRobotics Facilities.  The matrix divides curricula up into K to 5th grade, 6th to 8th, 9th to 12th, BA / BS degrees, MA / MS, and Ph. D levels. With a multitude of links to summer programs of all kinds, and NASA job related info, this site is a goldmine for students, educators and mentors. Bugbot photo courtesy of NASA.


ROBOTC is one of the very best time-tested, in-depth packages combining programming environments and curricula for VEX, VEX-IQ, VEX CORTEX AND LEGO MINDSTORMS learning systems.  CMU has provided a remarkable Virtual Worlds component that allows programming in online worlds, and even the capability of creating a custom online world for students’ use.  Moreover, this package includes a Virtual Brick option  that looks and acts like the real thing working with NXT-G, EV3 and LABVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS software. CMU’s Robotics Academy develops tools for teachers that make it easier to implement robotics curriculum into today’s classrooms. CMU curriculum is research-based, aligns with standards, and focuses on the development of 21st century skill sets in students. CMU provides first-rate guides to getting started using their curricula designed for VEX and LEGO robotics systems. CMU has outlined a 3-step approach to organizing the teaching of their robotics-based curricula. The Step 1 introduction notes that “Robotics provides many rich opportunities to teach Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM) as well as 21st century skill sets. As you plan your robotics course, one of the first things that you will need to consider is what “Big Ideas” do I want to teach through robotics. At the Robotics Academy we’ve worked with many teachers helping them to develop a scaffolded set of curricular activities to help them to develop a multi-year program.” Step 2 addresses “scaffolded learning” that incrementally builds STEM knowledge. Step 3 addresses evaluation of student progress. Image: LEGO MINDSTORMS TRACK3R, courtesy of LEGO MINDSTORMS.


In a mid-June post on, Regardt van der Berg reported on a new South Africa-made drone that is an eye-catcher and that seems to solve multiple problems in an integrated design. Alti, a division of SteadiDrone, has produced the Transition, a multi-rotor, fixed-wing aircraft that takes off vertically using electric power and flies horizontally using a fuel-powered 20cc four stroke engine.

Founder Duran de Villiers notes, “The Alti Transition is a higher-end commercial and industrial aircraft with much longer endurance and great range. We’re not limiting its use to a set industry. It allows up to six hours’ range like that of a fixed wing but has the ability to take off and land vertically, in and out of confined spaces. It offers huge advantages over traditional drone systems.”

The Transition has the versatility of a quadcopter with the altitude, travel distance and flight times associated with a fixed-wing drone, and comes with a fully featured autonomous avionics system. The software is based on the autonomous and open PX4 platform. The PX4 flight stack is an autopilot software technology for multi-copter and fixed-wing aircraft. The Transition also features a proprietary software and hardware avionics system with a ground control system suite. The stealth-looking Transition features a carbon Kevlar fuselage that has been tested in a wind tunnel and designed to keep the weight down. Its wingspan is 2,76m and it’s 2,3m long. Maximum takeoff weight is 12kg.


In a release by CMU spokesperson Byron Spice, it was announced that CMU’s Takeo Kanade, the U.A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor of Robotics and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, won the prestigious 2016 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology. Kanade was cited for his pioneering contributions to computer vision and robotics.  The international award is presented to individuals who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind. While he was a student at Kyoto University in the early 1970s, he developed the first complete system for face recognition by computers for his doctoral thesis. Since then, he has continued to explore the science of computer vision, including the physical, geometrical, optical and statistical processes involved in vision.

Remember the amazing action videos at the January 2001 Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL?  When TV viewers first felt like they were flying around the stadium with the ability to see key plays up close from any angle? That was the pioneering work of Kanade.  He has also made fundamental discoveries in face detection technology, automated driving, three-dimensional image reconstruction, self-flying helicopters and the use of video images to estimate the direction and speed of moving objects. While he was a student at Kyoto University in the early 1970s, he developed the first complete system for face recognition by computers for his doctoral thesis.

“I am most honored,” Kanade said following the announcement. “Since I came to CMU in 1980, soon after the Robotics Institute was founded, I have participated in and led many exciting projects. My students, colleagues and the environment at CMU made them happen.  In fact, it may sound funny, but, honestly speaking, all I had was fun.”  Our thanks to Byron Spice for this update. 


The academic institutions providing talent for the exploding robotics markets face volatile times as when, in the case of Carnegie Mellon, UBER recruited a raft of CMU specialists, about a year ago, to establish the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. However, in this dynamic environment, institutions quickly bounce back. In response to the growing demand for roboticists, CMU reported that its Robotics Institute has expanded and by last fall had more graduate and undergraduate students – 410 – than at any time in its history. Moreover, it had increased the size of its master’s degree programs by more than a third. Today, the Robotics Institute includes more than 500 faculty, technical staff members and post-doctoral and visiting researchers, giving it the enormous technical breadth and depth of expertise needed for expansive robotics research work. The institute announced it was recruiting five additional faculty members this spring

Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) has been selected as a prime contractor or subcontractor on four major new federal research projects totaling more than $11 million over the next three years. The projects range from research on a wheel that can transform into a track to automated stress testing for critical software.  Herman Herman, NREC director, said the center has hired 10 new technical staff members in the past six months and anticipates hiring another five-to-10 staff members in the coming months to augment its existing staff of about 100. The new research initiatives include:

• A $4 million project for the Defense Department’s Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) to develop automated testing that will ensure the reliability and performance of critical software;

• A $4.2 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that seeks to develop technology that would enable a wheel to transform into a track so vehicles could tackle a variety of terrains;

• A $1 million U.S. Department of Energy project with Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Center that will use robotic vehicles to monitor sorghum plants being bred to enhance their use as energy feedstocks; and

• A $2.4 million DARPA project with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to create automation that would enable existing aircraft to operate safely with smaller crews.


Engineering Newswire just reported on a new Israeli all-terrain autonomous and remotely operated military robot with interchangeable modules that can be adapted for various deployment scenarios. These machines are designed to carry supplies over rough terrain in support of troops on the move, but they can also be weaponized and operated in semi-autonomous military modes. Called the Pitbull, the Israeli newcomer is vaguely similar to an all-terrain vehicle, Crusher, designed and test at Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics group a few years ago.  Original iterations of the Crusher had externally mounted sensors, much like the prototype Pitbull. We expect these will be internalized in future versions.


Though not well publicized, there are many exemplary robotics programs in classrooms, nationwide, and we are going to offer a few news reports in a new series that identifies some outstanding examples.  Our first report centers on Maine Robotics, an organization founded in 2004 to support the training of mentors and teachers, as well as students, in a variety of robotics related competencies to further develop STEM skills and technical interests in Maine.

Since its inception, Maine Robotics, a 501C(3) nonprofit, has involved over 7,000 children, and approximately 1400 participate yearly. As noted at the Maine Robotics website, the organization widely networks with other educational groups in the state: 

“In Maine’s world of higher education Maine Robotics partners with the University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine’s School of Engineering, The Maine 4H program, the Maine Girl Scout Council, The Maine Maritime Academy, and the University of Maine at Farmington’s Department of Computer Science. Maine Robotics also works with community programs and schools across the State to bring these activities to as far reaching a population as possible.”

Tom Bickford is the President and Director of Maine Robotics, and his contact information is at Maine Robotics. He has overseen the FIRST LEGO League in Maine since 2000 and has operated and administered Summer Robotics Programs since 2002. Our thanks to Bill Lovell of for assistance with this article.


In early May, Baker & Hostetler,, announced that it would use “a ground-breaking artificial intelligence product for legal research.”  The firm stated it would license Ross Intelligence in its bankruptcy practice.  Ross Intelligence, in turn, announced that Baker Hostetler will license ROSS for use by its Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights team. The ROSS platform is built on IBM’s Watson computer system, which has natural language processing and can respond to research questions posed by users. ROSS searches the law, draws inferences and informs the attorneys working on a legal case. See a PR Newswire report on this development, which is only the beginning of countless computerized expert system applications that will be emerging for legal and myriad other practice specialties in the exploding field of artificial intelligence.

Photo courtesy of Baker & Hostetler.


Tony Pilling, proprietor of this new robotics website, just introduced his initiative to us and we wish him all success. ROBOSHACK is a place to express your passion about robotics and it is free and easy to become a member. This website is for everyone to share information with a growing community worldwide. It is for hobbyist, hackers, engineers and enthusiasts who have a common interest in robotics. Feel free to post your projects, tutorials, blogs and ideas related to robotics or electronics. This is a place where hobbyists and engineers can meet on the same ground to exchange ideas and learn about the next technology revolution.




This library of video interviews, podcasts, book reviews, in-depth articles and more, all on artificial intelligence and the singularity – and closely related topics ranging from the history of blogging to science fiction embodiments of AI – is a treasure of information that we highly recommend.  This a very special free university, one that you can sample at your own pace, at no cost -- owing to Socrates' quest to share knowledge on the most important questions in our civilization's future.

A recent book review discusses Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, by Douglas Rushkoff, and check out Socrates' report on the history and current status of cryonics, see Frozen in Time: Pushing the Limitations of Death.  Socrates (aka Nikola Danaylov) reflects on the history of blogging and looks at the accomplishments of the original Socrates and other successors, as well.  Please visit his magnificent archive here.


Authorizations to companies flying UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) by the FAA are climbing rapidly, with 5,309 authorizations granted as of June 12, 2016.  The demand for UAS applications has been unprecedented and rapidly mushrooming for a couple of years, now.  The traditional markets included real estate, farming and ranching, property surveying, search and rescue, law enforcement and many more, and it seems new applications are invented every week. Unfortunately, the practical effect of this avalanche of new apps has been somewhat frustrating delays felt by many in their quest to obtain authorization.

FAA Section 333 applicants indicate they would be willing to pay a small fee to speed up the exemption process, because it is costing them money on a monthly basis.  This forces a choice whether to proceed as criminals and work without legal authorization or to lose business. One applicant indicated that it seems un-American to offer a blanket authorization to recreational flyers (hobbyists) while prohibiting flying with respect to honest small business people.  For details on the registration process to obtain an authorization, please click here.  Image of a Walkera multirotor flying after dark by TJAtwood.

06/12/2016 reported that the Defense Department’s third offset initiative unleashes game-changing technology – and entrepreneurs with robotics products that fill the bill should take note. This technology development quest is to ensure military deterrence with respect to such potential adversaries as China and Russia, and has a budget of $18 billion. The story adds: Going from science fiction to reality is the dream of many an engineer or inventor who has envisioned a flying-car commute or teleportation to the beach. It’s not usually the domain of practical defense policy wonks. But that’s what makes the Defense Department’s third offset strategy different. The so-named quest for conventional military deterrence against China and Russia through the Pentagon’s use of game-changing technology now has a bureaucratic brand inside the Beltway. The third offset also has a budget, some $18 billion, to spend on fulfilling a vision of a future in which electromagnetic railguns shoot down hundreds of incoming cruise missiles, lasers slice through enemy warships, and robotic wingmen fly in first on the deadliest missions.


Rarely, at NREF have we looked forward to the release of a new book on robotics with the excitement and anticipation generated by the release of this book.  Coauthored by Cameron and Tracey Hughes of Ctest Laboratories, in collaboration with an impressive list of contributing editors, this work is a basic introduction to robotics programming. It also hints, with references for future reading, at the future task of coming to terms with how humanity and strong artificial intelligence can coexist in a principled moral world.  

This is an ideal starting point for students of any age who wish to  understand programming of autonomous robots.  The techniques presented are well suited to today's most popular robotics platforms, including ARM9 and ARM7 microcontrollers, Arduinos, LEGO Mindstorms EV3 and NXT, as well as the Wowee RS Media Robot. 

Those who would consider the implications of how robots can help mankind, and, also, the potential spectre of runaway machine sentience (aka, the Terminator), will want to probe the  links and works cited at the book's end. In these afterthoughts, the authors may be suggesting a partnership between humanity and machine intelligence that will be more than simple open-ended evolution of machine systems in our evolving civilization.

Cameron Hughes is a computer and robot programmer. He holds a post as a Software Epistemologist at Ctest Laboratories where he is currently working on A.I.M (Alternative Intelligence for Machines) & A.I.R (Alternative Intelligence for Robots) technologies. Cameron is the lead AI Engineer for the Knowledge Group at Advanced Software Construction Inc., a builder of intelligent robot controllers and software-based knowledge components. He holds a staff appointment as a Programmer/Analyst at Youngstown State University.

Tracey Hughes is a senior software and graphics programmer at Ctest Laboratories and Advanced Software Construction Inc. where she develops user interfaces and information and epistemic visualization software systems. Her work includes methods of graphically showing what robots and computers are thinking. She is on the design and implementation teams for the East-Sidaz robots at Ctest as well.

Both Cameron and Tracey Hughes are members of the advisory board for the NREF (National Robotics Education Foundation) and members of the Oak Hill Collaborative Robotics Maker Space. They are project leaders of the technical team for the NEOACM CSI/CLUE Robotics Challenge and regularly organize and direct robot programming workshops for the Arduino, Mindstorms EV3, LEGO NXT, and RS Media robot platforms. Cameron and Tracey are two of the authors of Build Your Own Teams of Robots with LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT and Bluetooth, published by McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, January 2013. Their current book, Programming Robots: A Guide to Controlling Autonomous Robots, published by Que Book Publishers, was released in May 2016. They have written many books and blogs on Software Development and Artificial Intelligence. They’ve also written books on multicore, multithreaded programming, Linux rapid application development, object-oriented programming, and parallel programming in C++.




Chuck Martin, in the IOT Daily Connected Thinking section at, just reported that SoftBank’s Pepper, has selected an ad agency, Midnight Oil, to expand marketing of the robot that already has a massive presence in Japan, where 7,000 units are in operation.  He reports Pizza Hut will be introducing Pepper in Asia, where the robot will take orders and assist cashiers. SoftBank is seeking to expand the pool of developers writing apps for Pepper.  As we learn more on the future direction of Pepper, we will keep you posted!


The IEEE’s Nicolette Emmino offered an interesting report on undersea robotics, May 24, in the Industries section of Electronics 360, titled Six Underwater Drones Making a Technology “Splash”. She discusses six robots in detail, outlined here.  The modest sized Trident, from OpenROV, can reach depths of over 300 feet, and conveys live video to the surface. Controlled via smartphone, it retails for $1,500. iBubble was designed to capture your personal dives on video via an optical dome. It can follow a diver with an onboard camera and capture stills and video in different modes. It follows the operator’s bracelet to depths up to 200 feet.  Ocean One is a humanoid from Stanford University with stereoscopic eyes, two human like arms and a tail with multiple thrusters (shown).  

The sophisticated machine employs haptic feedback so an operator on the surface can feel the heft of what is held, and its missions range from exploring wrecks and reef research to sensor placement. CRACUNS flies and dives. Developed by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab, it can linger under the waves and then go airborne. SeaDrone is a solution for boat, dock, nets and pipeline inspection. It will run you from $2,300 to $3,900. 


Saab’s Sea Wasp, developed to counter submerged IEDs, and more, is operated by a 2-person team on the surface, and uses a fiber optic and power tether. Image credit: Frederic Osada and Teddy Sequin/DRASSM


The Robot Report, (TRR), run by business and news commentator Frank Tobe, continues it’s progressive coverage of robotics markets and business developments with a report on the unfolding market consequences of Amazon’s March 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems for $775M.  Kiva had set the standard in warehouse robotics technology, and Amazon quickly assimilated Kiva into its fold.  One of the questions was where this left Kiva’s previous client base, very well served prior to the Amazon acquisition.  By all accounts, Amazon has reached out to these clients and market growth has been spurred as new entrants emerge to help fill growing demand. 

Tobe reports that the emergence of new providers was evident, for example, by the showing of new startups at MODEX 2016. Held in Atlanta, this was a massive “materials handling” technology show with nearly 900 exhibitors and over 25,000 attendees. If you have seen implementation of robotic picking in a modern warehouse (and we have), the new material handling technologies are startling to behold.  Robots pick trays from warehouse locations and bring them to human packers, who work within feet of the loading docks where transport trucks are parked.  Workers no longer trudge down long aisles to find product trays; rather, robots bring trays to the checkout area and workers pick products and parts. The ever-patient robots then return the tray to its warehouse location, where other bots replenish the inventory.

The engineering of the robots that have taken over warehouse duties is a remarkable story in itself, as you can see in this video Tobe points to at:

The article includes an impressive listing of links to the universe of fulfillment systems, including Locus Robotics, 6 River Systems, Magazino, InVia Robotics and many more.  Tobe’s capsule descriptions tell of robots that recognize, select, grip and place merchandise in a dynamic warehouse environment, all to assist human workers. Tobe delves into mobile platforms as well, and don’t miss his pointers to the latest vision-guided robot technology—one of the most exciting arenas emerging today.
--the editors


Pierre Bouchard, a longstanding NREF contributor and robotics hardware engineer in Quebec, Canada, is well underway building a life-size humanoid, named “J.A.A.R.V.I.S.”  Pierre reports an upgrade to his robot's grasping hand -- it is now powered by high torque linear actuators configured to  adapt its 5-fingered grip to the contours and qualities of the item grasped.  As you can see, the hand can easily hold an aerosol spray paint can. It is equally at ease grasping and carrying a flashlight, an egg, incandescent light bulb and other objects commonly handled by humans.




Agritechnique Engineering has designed a disaster  recovery vehicle that can be used in search and rescue operations following a variety of disaster scenarios such as nuclear power plant fires, storms and earthquakes. The Isreali-based company is leading the market with this tracked vehicle that carries specific tool sets for different site-specific applications. The automated arm can lift two tons in tools and payload! Agritechnique has been in the construction and earth moving business for decades,  and currently seeks investment funding and partnerships. For more information, contact Avner Operman, Agritechnique CEO and founder, at:avner.opperman@agritechnique-eng.comMore.


It was announced in the Japan News that the Japanese Defense Ministry has developed a remote control unmanned vehicle that can be used in search and rescue at disaster sites.  It can remove rubble and was designed based on lessons learned at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant meltdown. It can be controlled via satellite from a command station as far as 20 kilometers away, and will be deployed by the Ground Self-Defense Force as early as 2019. AP photo is of Unit 4 Reactor at Fukushima after a tsunami disabled the reactor in March, 2011.  –Story via David Place, NPS Research Associate. More.


Ford and renowned drone pioneer DJI are collaborating on a digital pickup truck with an integrated UAS for use by farmers and ranchers. The companies launched the “Drone-to-vehicle developer challenge”, a contest to enlist programmers to create integrated control of a UAV through a Ford F150’s onboard digital system. Winners will receive $100,000. For details, click here!


John Boyd of IEEE Spektrumreported that the Mitsubishi Electric-built robot designed to grab and replace hexagonal mirror segments on the 30-meter telescope to be built on Mauna Kea, a volcano on The Big Island, in Hawaii, is ready for deployment, but the project is on hold pending resolution of a legal challenge by Hawaiians who hold the mountain area sacred. The robot is suspended under a 15-meter bridge that rotates it around the circumference of the mirror, where it can access any of 492 segments. With 6 degrees of freedom, the robot has three arms with manipulators that can grasp a given mirror. The robot’s vision system checks patterns it projects onto the mirror glass to adjust its orientation. Force sensors prevent load imbalance that might distort the glass. More


Intel put on a remarkable display of aerial choreography that earned it a place in the Guinness Worlds Records for the largest group of simultaneously controlled UAVs -- 100 drones all at once -- operated by a crew using PCs with Intel software. The mass of drones lit up the night sky in sync to a live performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Commentators have likened this to an aerial robotic performance fireworks display.  “Drone 100” took place at Flugplatz Ahrenlohe, Tornesch, Germany, in November 2015, in collaboration with Ars Electronica Futurelab. More


Published by Silver Dolphin Books, BUILD THE ROBOT is an interactive introduction to the history of robotics from the first slow-moving 1930s robots to the futuristic nanobots that could one day be used to fight diseases in the human body. The 32-page book comes with three wind-up motors and 62 model pieces to build three robots that wiggle, walk, and wave, offering a hands-on learning experience for young robot fans. Engaging text and colorful illustrations will keep future scientists engaged and entertained for hours. More


The NAVY recently tested the Common Control System (CCS) with a remotely operated submersible vehicle. Capt. Ralph Lee, who oversees Navy's CCS Program at Patuxent River, MD,reported that "These tests proved that operators could use CCS from a single global operations center to plan, command, and monitor UUVs on missions located anywhere in the world... This event also showed us that CCS is adaptable from the UAV [unmanned air vehicle] to UUV missions.”  More


The Dronecode Project is an open source, collaborative project that brings together existing and future open source drone projects under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). More


A report by the Harvard Office of Technology development recently reported that Baruch College marine biologist David Gruber and Harvard engineer and roboticist Robert J. Wood successfully demonstrated soft robotic grippers able to collect underwater specimens. The two scientists have been recognized as Emerging Explorers by the National Geographic Society. To see amazing video of their testing the soft gripping fingers in the Gulf of Eilat in the northern Red Sea,click here


As reported by Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum, Quanergy, an automotive robotics startup, announced on Januay 7 its new S3 solid-state LIDAR system. This could be a revolution. S3 will bring affordable, safe and comprehensive environmental sensing to autonomous cars and a wide range of aerial, ground and maritime robots. With no moving parts, S3 has a projected retail price of just $250. It is all solid state, including the “electronic lens” – an optical phased array – that enables extremely accurate sensing of distances. S3 can emit laser pulses up to a million times every second. S3 computes the topography of the surrounding environment by measuring the timing of laser reflections.

Because pulses can be selectively transmitted in any direction at microsecond intervals, there is huge potential for highly selective sensing of specifically targeted objects. Frame rates are software controlled, and the S3 has 120-degree vertical and horizontal fields of view. Depth of view (analogous to depth of focus) ranges from 10 centimeters to 150 meters -- with 8% reflectivity at 100 meters. At 100 meters, S3 projects a 9cm spot and distance accuracy is +/- 5cm. With this new technology, the robots will be watching us as never before. More


The Axis Aerius takes the lead as the smallest drone you can buy that sends streaming video to your smartphone! It transmits a live 420P video via a direct Wi-Fi connection, and flies for over five minutes on a 20-minute charge. The 2.4GHz 4-channel transmitter enables flight up to 100 feet away, and the drone is gyro-stabilized. With a retail price of $95, the craft will not be available till end of January next year, but early purchasers save $20. Find out the details at gizmodo.


Devindra Hardawar, intrepid robot vac reporter at endgadget, notes that Neato's new Wi-Fi equipped vac, Botvac Connected, which lists for approximately $700, does a great job cleaning but has some difficulties getting tangled up with wires that it encounters on cleaning missions.  See his full report here.


endgadget, one of our favorite sites,  shared this gem today. We wish our visitors a great Holiday and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


New products and services are coming to market to help the mushrooming population of UAS (aka drone) pilots manage their assets, flights and flight planning.  The founders at Product Hunt note that they are “building Kittyhawk as a way for pilots to show their history and their status as a drone pilot. While you, as a pilot, are logging flights -- we also give you a way to track all of your assets and locations. And similar to Github, you can join and create multiple teams.” More


Billed as a "flying image processor," this latest airframe from Parrot is awesome, and the lucky roboteer who receives this gem will be forever singing your praises!  With a price of only $500 U.S., this beauty operates in FPV mode (first person view), watches the ground to self-stabilize, includes an altimeter, a 3-axis gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer, sensors operating at 1 kilohertz supporting stabilization, and a GPS chip set, as well as a graphics processor, and 8 gigabytes of flash memory. This flying robot will enable artistic videography on a whole new level! And, its only moving parts? Its propellers. More


Editors at the BBC have put together an engine that will calculate the oddsthat a robot will take your job within the next two decades.  About 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerization over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte. Occupations involving tasks that require a high degree of social intelligence and negotiating skills, like managerial positions, are considerably less at risk from machines according to the study. More


An influential group of Silicon Valley leadershas announced that they have committed a billion dollars to launch a program in San Francisco titled "OpenAI".  The goal is to advance "digital intelligence in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate a financial return." Elon Musk is an OpenAI co-chair and strong program advocate . Photo courtesy of Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg/Getty Images. More


Veteran droid builder Mike Senna opens up a BB8 droid to reveal the mechanisms that drive, stear and balance the robot sphere from the inside. This is elegant mechanical engineering with a degree of electronic stabilization. Click here for the details! 


A recent report by Ian O'Neill, Discovery News, posted at, looks at the scientific explanations that may explain what appears to be a massive object orbiting a star named named KIC 8462852. Scientists have noticed that "Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level." After seeming to exhaust natural explanations, the last hypothesis to be considered in such matters, and which has not been disproved, is that the massive object or objects periodically obstructing view of the star are examples of alien-made artificial technology, i.e., robotics. We will leave it to the reader to pass judgment on this theory, but we can say the investigation is both deep and provocative. Image credit for Kepler Observatory: NASA Ames.JPL-Caltech.T Pyle  More


Developed by AZ-based Ascent AeroSystems, SPRITE is a micro, coaxial-rotor drone that you can hold in one hand. Initial rototypes were developed on a consumer-grade 3D printer, and the current version uses injection-molded poly-carbonate parts from Proto Labs. Markets will include hikers, backpackers, law enforcement, science research, search & rescue, defense, and more. A Kickstarter program yielded$406,061, doubling the goal. More


On November 17, NASA announced that two R5 humanoid robot prototypes have been given, one each, to MIT's “Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments” test team in Cambridge, MA, and to Northeastern University's “Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge” team in Boston, MA. The two university research groups won the opportunity to test an R5 through a competitive process in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The robots are contemplated for use in solar system exploration in advance of human participation, and as human assistants in manned missions to planets and asteroids, and in deep space exploration.

NASA notes: “The university principal investigators will serve as critical partners in NASA’s upcoming Space Robotics Challenge where the two R5 units will act as instruments. The challenge is part of the agency’s Centennial Challenges Program, and is divided into two competitions: a virtual competition using robotic simulations, and a physical competition using the two upgraded R5 robots. The goal of the challenge is to create better software for dexterous humanoid robots used in space missions, giving them more autonomy.”…/nasa-awards-two-robots-to-university-groups-…


Boston-based CyPhy Works has launched a commercial version of the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) hexrotor – a multirotor drone that can stay aloft for weeks at a time. Designed for IRS (intel, recon and surveillance) as well as long distance communications, it is powered via a microfilament tether that is a data and control link. It cannot be jammed or spoofed. With a tethered flight ceiling of 500 feet (10,000 feet density altitude), PARC can fly in continuous wind or gusts up to 25-35 knots. It carries a high definition day/night camera and other optional sensors. Crowd control payloads can include spotlights, pepper spray or tasers; payload power is 35 watts. PARC includes an on-board battery for a safe landing if the tether is cut. Tether power can come from the grid or generator (2KW 85-265 VAC). More


IEEE Spectrum Reports here--

Announced at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, this robot cyclist will eventually be driving a bike at 200 km/h on unmodified race tracks.  More information from a report by Forbesindicates that this humanoid robot will drive Yamaha's flagship YZF-R motorcycle with the declared intention of beating 9-time MotoGP winner Valentino Rossi, who rode this bike to victory. The humanoid has been heard addressing Rossi in a video: "I am Motobot... I was created to surpass you."  More


The Daily Mail Reports here--

Providing new meaning to the old saying, “the Russians are coming”  these 4-inch long robot roaches are modeled after the Blaberus Cranifercockroach. Equipped with photo-sensitive and contact sensors, they can avoid objects on 20 minute walks. Designed by Danil Borchevkin and Aleksey Belousov of Kaliningrad's Kant University, these cyber insects can pack additional sensor payloads (e.g., streaming video cam) of up to 10g in weight. and have a ground speed of up to a foot a second. It is reported the Russian military may take an interest in these as potential spy bots. More


See endgadget's review here--

Robot lovers will geek out over the new Roomba 980. It includes a WiFi app and maps your house. It keeps a history of cleaning sessions, and can start from any room to vacuum your entire home. It is iRobot's first consumer product to include vSLAM technology (visual simultaneous localization and mapping). All this technology comes with the highest price yet for an iRobot vac: $900 retail. See the wrap-up by author Devindra Hardawar for a listing of the competition. More


GoodCall reports on our survey, here--

There will be huge opportunities for careers in robotics design, programming, maintenance and education in coming years, as the market continues to explode owing to Moore's Law and the proliferation of technologies. The challenge is how to engage our students in STEM careers that will enable them to enjoy the high paying, rewarding careers in robotics.  We run this site to promote these careers to students, and, also, to serve hobbyists and robotics newshounds of all ages. More


UAS Vision reports here--

DJI announced that it is building a new R&D lab in Palo Alto, CA, that may include 75 engineers and researchers.  It is reported that the lab is east of Stanford Univ. on Portage Ave., and already houses a few personnel, including Darren Liccardo, who led the autopilot team for Tesla Motors. This is a new move by the Shenzhen, China-based company to capitalize on American engineering talent, it is reported.  More


HitecRCD and ServoCity products were DEMOED at the 2015 San Diego Maker Faire BATTLE POND Event! 


For the first time, a full-scale load-bearing bridge capable of supporting people was built entirely by autonomous, programmed quadcopter drones. The Swiss research team is shown walking across the Dyneema rope fiber bridge. Watch the video here. The project was conducted at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, ETH Zurich Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich.  --Story and photo via David Place, NPS Research Associate 


In September, the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology division in Indian Head, MD, announced a $14.2 million Northrop Grumman contract to build open-systems man packable ground robots that will neutralize improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The unrelated Remotec Andros UGS shown, is an example of a larger anti-IED robot currently marketed by Northrop Grumman. This brings Northrop Grumman squarely into a market that already includes companies such as iRobot and The Machine Lab, and it is another sign of the exploding robotics industry.


J.A.R.R.V.I.S Humanoid

Pierre Bouchard of Quebec, Canada, has created electric-powered arm, wrist and grasping hand joint mechanics for his full scale Humanoid robot named J.A.R.R.V.I.S. See the video here!

For details on his arm and shoulder design, watch the brief test of a prototype at: Iron Man Super Heros JARRVIS

For a review of Pierre Bouchard's original design direction, Click here


The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Keyport, Wash. awarded three DARPA contracts to study next generation faster, longer excursion unmanned, underwater vehicles (UUVS). The Blue Wolf program's most recent contract, for $3.7 million, went to the Charles Stark Draper Lab in Cambridge, Mass. Research will focus on dynamic lift, drag reduction and innovative hybrid energy systems. Click here for details from


The DARPA ROBOTICS HUMANOID CHALLENGE (DRC) Finals were held in June.  Did you see these large robots performing basic search & rescue tasks in a disaster zone? Click here for full video coverage by Mike Lee.


This friendly, hospitable group dates from the late 1970's and meets at 10:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month at California State Univ. Long Beach, in the Engineering Technology (ET) Building, room 241. 

RSSC offers classes, workshops and presentations by special interest groups. Enthusiasts of all skill levels are invited.  "We have a short business meeting followed by a short break then a competition plus a show and tell of the various projects our members are working on and it ends around 3pm." Photos show an android demo and a crawler project. [For those in the Inland Empire, see its sister club, The Riverside Robotics Society, Images courtesy of RSSC.


Responsible for the birth of the robotics industry, Engelberger was an American physicist, engineer, and business man whose innovative contributions revolutionized manufacturing and society. The Unimate, one of Engelberger's greatest creations, was the very first industrial robot. It worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, NJ in 1961.  It has left a living legacy in an industry to which it gave birth. Please see the Obituary and details of his life at


A mighty bridge has fallen. Lem Fugitt, a pioneering blogger, accomplished photojournalist, and community friend, has passed.
Read David Calkins’ tribute here



Robotis is a provider of high quality humanoid robots serving professional research, academic (school) and hobby enthusiast markets. Robotis has provided workshops in the SoCal area in recent years, often on a custom basis for teachers, students and clubs, both for their industry-leading humanoids and their very affordable OLLO mini-rover table-top robots.

For more information, please contact Robotis at (949) 333-3635 and visit:


Watch out, as when you see this video, you will be startled! The USC researchers are pioneering quadruped robots that can walk over any terrain, check For more detail on the remarkable automaton research that just might be in your backyard,


Robotic surgery is safer and less invasive than traditional surgery, and it offers faster recovery. This technology was pioneered by da Vinci,

For SoCal sources, please see and, and Google for more options. Photo courtesy of da Vinci.