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EDUCATION - Curricula & Lesson Programs

STEM education is the key to the future success of our students, educational institutions, industry and economy.  See NREF'S comprehensive index of curricula and lesson programs, where you can drill down and find a wide variety of both free and commercially available teaching resources.  More


Latest Robotics News


For about two decades, now, U.S. scientists have been directly involved in Mars exploration through their robot proxies roaming or orbiting the red planet. This impressive work has been complicated by the extreme distances involved and the physical positioning of Mars and Earth with respect to each other and the Sun. About every two years, a phenomenon called “solar conjunction” places a several-day moratorium on communications with the robots roaming or orbiting Mars. This happens when Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the blazing star around which we orbit. The phenomenon lasts several days and this year will span July 22 to August 1, 2017. To make the best use of time when we are out of contact with our Martian robots, NASA and its partners send a long list of commands to the Martian robots, including, for example, the Opportunity Rover. These commands may entail continued travel, as well as collection of meteorological data for later transmission back to Earth.

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In recent years, Walt Perko created a robotics education program for kids, the RoboGuts STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) program.  Starting with a new, low-cost RoboGuts circuit board, it is an entry level system that targets youngsters in the 5 to 10-year-old range.  Kids not only learn about electronic components, structured programing, but also how to build a working robot from the parts they print on a 3D printer.
Walt has been teaching beginner robot classes since 2011, and 3D CAD for beginners since 2012, and brings that experience to this offering.  RoboGuts includes a custom designed beginner µController circuit board that is compatible with a wide range of microprocessors used in robotics education.

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New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a large Silicon Valley venture capital firm, sees the future and it’s in freight load hauling. Bernadette Tansey reported on Xconomy IT that NEA played a leading role in a $42m Series C financing round announced by Transfix, which was directed at a traditional industry not necessarily seen as a likely candidate for disruptive investment in artificial intelligence (AI). Robotics is coming to the interstate highway system on board semi-tractor trailer hauling rigs, and it’s much more than GPS.

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Think Tech Hawaii, hosted by Ted Ralston, offers particularly good online video programming covering all things drones and UAS. His show, Where the Drone Leads, is particularly relevant, today. In this recent show on the use of drones to facilitate public safety, Ted interviews George Purdy, of Drone Services Hawaii, UAS Lanai.

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The new educational table-top ‘Jet’ robot kits from NVIDIA, shipping from ServoCity, are among the most advanced such kits we have seen, and appear to mark a watershed moment in educational robotics. Two versions are available, based either on the Jetson TX1 or TK1 board, to better match your budget. Utilizing the ROS operating system, they come with new, sophisticated graphics processing units (GPUs) that are blindingly fast and that support powerful onboard CPUs to provide these robots with remarkable deep learning AI capabilities.

Moreover, the new kits are fully supported by curricula, forums and a variety of resources for educators ranging from webinars to resource libraries. The robotics teaching kit covers introductory and advanced topics including ROS, sensors, computer vision, machine learning, dead reckoning, path planning and more.

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