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Robotics Education Journal


It was reported by that A $53 million federal grant will enable Scripps Institution of Oceanography and other organizations to build a fleet of robotic sensors to monitor conditions in oceans around the world. The data will be freely available to researchers, educators and government officials within a day of its collection, and will help inform fisheries management, climate science and studies on ocean warming and acidification. It will also be broadly available to the public, with workshops, web-based curricula, and hands-on activities for teachers, students and scientists. School and college classes will be able to adopt floats, and student activities will be offered with the national Marine Advanced Technology Education program. Courses based on the float technology will be offered through The Sandbox, a makerspace at Scripps Oceanography. This story originally appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, which is scheduled to appear in the next edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


As reported by iHLS, Stealth Technologies is developing an Autonomous Security Vehicle (ASV) for perimeter security in sectors such as transport, energy, defense, government and utilities providing critical services. The Planck Autonomous Control Engine (ACE) system is an embedded software solution that runs onboard a variety of unmanned aircraft systems to enable autonomous launch, recovery, relative navigation, and mission planning from a moving vehicle. With centimeter-level accuracy for precision take-off and landing, a drone can launch and recover reliably from small spaces. The sensor-guided flight accounts for motion of a vessel or ground vehicle, including roll, pitch, heave, and wind effects

iHLS (Israel’s Homeland Security) is a private company established in 2012. Through the company’s Security Accelerator, conferences and exhibitions, professional website and extensive media activities, as well as its ability to connect businesses, industries and investors, iHLS has positioned itself as a leading hub for the homeland security ecosystem globally and in Israel.


William Cromarty noted that the UAS Weather Forecasting service has 98 satellites, shoebox size, and conducts 10 launches a year. Data is sent down and processed by machine-based AI algorithms.  You will see resulting screens on TruWeather Solutions from their own network based on their own satellite constellation.  A goal is to provide multi-altitude weather reports for specific types of drones to fit their flying capabilities. For example, what is the wind at 60 meters, and at 160 meters, and where are any wind turbulence pockets?  See for use and test cases and to see weather data analysis. Doug McDonald, Grand forks site manager, commented on the importance of imaging of gravel roads after major weather events. Events such as rainstorms can cause road closures that, in turn, can stall movement of a thousand trucks and generate expenses of as much as $50million a day.

The FAA’s Steve Dickson noted remote ID was necessary for large scale drone integration safety and security. He continued that it is needed for routine BVLOS package delivery, and for congested conditions for the future UTM (unmanned traffic management) system.  It will, for security, tie the remote operator to the drone in real time. With remote ID in place, the agency will be able to determine if the drone is operating in a noncompliant or even criminal manner.  A spectrum of monitoring will be achieved, from observing inappropriate flight to the more concerning. 

General Pringle noted we now have “garrisons” for the space force.  We need to prevent attacks on our assets and are tackling much of this at the Air Force Research Lab (AFLR). Drones can be small and slow or large and fast. The Command and Control system must include the latest and greatest sensor-based information provide it to commanders worldwide.  A variety of ways to counter the UAS threat: through direct kinetics, like nets, or changing frequencies to impede them from accomplishing their mission.  The AFLR is also looking at a microwave system to defend bases and space garrisons when they can be fielded rapidly. This allows an “unlimited magazine” with many, many volleys that fries the target with a wide aperture.

Keith Knepper, cofounder of Aerial Spreader Drone Services (ASDS), commented on farmer crop management assistance.  ASDS has successfully introduced a 35-seed mix under power lines using under-55 pound drones.  Even small irregular fields can be seeded.

The 14th Annual UAS Summit & Expo North Dakota is viewable for 30 days from its broadcast; for details click here.



Keynote speakers will include:
-Senator John Hoeven, U.S. Senate
-Administrator Steve Dickson, Federal Aviation Administration
-Brigadier General Heather Pringle, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, U.S. Air Force
-Senator Kevin Cramer, U.S. Senate
-Dr. Derek Tournear, Director, Space Development Agency
-Brent Sanford, Lieutenant Governor, State of North Dakota
-Andrew Armacost, President, University of North Dakota
-Other presentations will be given by notable UAS companies such as: Northrop Grumman, L3Harris Technologies, Thales, Northern Plains UAS Test Site, and more.

For details and to attend the online event, click on this link:




OCEANSIDE, CA, October 18, 2020 – FoxFury Lighting Solutions (FoxFury) announces the launch of the Made in USA D10 lights for small format drones. The D10 is an ultra-lightweight, small format drone light that meets global night flight requirements.

The D10 improves image capture quality and features:
-Battery Life of 30 - 80 minutes
-Rechargeable LiPo Battery System
-2 Modes (high & strobe)
-200 Lumens

The D10 is compact and lightweight to increase flight time and prevent sensor obstruction. The light is visible from 3 statute miles away, and when the D10 is used indoors with low light, it produces enough light for the drone to navigate safely.

"FoxFury leads the industry with made in the USA lighting products. The emergence of sUAS legislation was the driving factor for us to manufacture a line of drone lights that are made in the USA and trade compliant," said Mario Cugini, CEO, FoxFury Lighting Solutions.

The FoxFury D10 is compatible for small format drones, including - 
● Parrot Anafi, Anafi Thermal and Anafi USA
● Autel Evo and Evo II
● DJI Mavic Mini
● DJI Mavic Air and Mavic Air 2
● DJI Mavic and Mavic 2

The FoxFury D10 is approved for use on the Autel and Parrot drones. Custom saddles are available for the Evo and Evo II, allowing for up to 7 - D10 lights to be added. Custom saddles are also available for use on the Parrot Anafi, Anafi Thermal, and Anafi USA drones, where up to 3 lights can be added. The use of multiple D10 lights enables the camera to have improved imaging capabilities and greater sight distances for capturing decision-making information. Multiple lights also assist drone optical sensors for landing and object avoidance.

The D10 enables the prosumer and enterprise drones to be used for many applications, including general night flight, internal tactical operations, and search and rescue.

About FoxFury
FoxFury Lighting Solutions has been providing industry-leading safety products worldwide for law enforcement agencies, fire departments, government entities, and industrial companies since 2003. The FoxFury line of products focuses on durability and speed, providing unique solutions and possibilities for situations where seconds count and the job needs to be done correctly the first time. Visit for more information.


FoxFury story and photos compliments of AUVSI San Diego.

See also a previous NREF news update on FoxFury lighting technology here.




According to Unmanned Systems Technology, this capability is particularly useful under the current climate of extended flight restrictions.  The demonstrations will enable remote Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations, as well as further applications in search and rescue, the energy industry, military sectors and border patrol.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 21 – 16 October 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


“Senior Fellow John Villasenor argued that countries that maintain an overreliance on legacy infrastructure will face increasing challenges in sustaining global competitiveness.” For the details, please see



Quick Specs:

S35 sensor
4K at 420fps
2K at 1,440fps
2TB storage
716g weight

35min clip length continuous capture time at maximum frame rate, 4K or 2K, with 2TB storage. Capture time is only limited by the storage size.

For details please visit Photos courtesy of FreeFly. 


"These new and improved lighting mounts and color lenses will help public safety professionals better perform nighttime operations and inspections," Mario Cugini, CEO.

Visit or call +1 760-945-4231 for more information.




The Switchblade 600 has a set of electro-optical/infrared cameras inside a nose-mounted gimbal for navigation, surveillance and targeting. The weapon can lock onto and dive bomb a fixed or moving target, and it can be automatically waved off .  An anti-radiation sensor and warhead package can be added to the loitering munition in order to seek, find and attack radar sites.

Power management is a key piece of the technology.  “That is what we think is our magic sauce, our ability to stay on top of the marketplace of different battery technologies, and our battery management and power management, and efficiency of driving electric motors is really at the core of our capabilities for small [UAV] and tactical missile systems,” says Brett Hush, senior general manager of product line management for tactical missile systems with AeroVironment.  “Long term, it could be [placed on] a variety of things,” says AeroVironment chief executive Wahid Nawabi. “But at the short term, we think that rotary-wing is the ideal fit for it.”  The unmanned variant of the Kaman K-Max, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout and optionally-manned helicopters would be likely contenders, he adds.

Story and photos courtesy of AeroVironment, and via the Unmanned Systems News (USN).

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 20 - 3 OCTOBER 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



“Flying into a possibly hostile airstrip aboard an Air Force C-130, the robot dogs were sent outside the aircraft to scout for threats before the humans inside would be exposed to them, according to an Air Force news release dated September 3.”  Photos courtesy of U.S. Air Force via
© Tech. Sgt. Cory D. Payne/USAF Tech.  For details, see’s report.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 19 - 19 SEPTEMBER 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.




To read the 2011 presentation of The Robots of China by Humanoido, please click here


















Story and images courtesy of Humanoido, who publishes an ongoing technology blog we recommend at:




Elistair tethered UAV’s and tether stations are designed for use across a range of sectors, including:

SAFE T 2: The latest and most powerful tether station in the Elistair range, offering extended flight time to commercially available UAVs. 

LIGHT T 4: A compact, rapidly deployable tether station for long endurance missions. It is compatible with a wide range of off-the-shelf drones, including the new DJI M300.

Orion UAS: A semi-autonomous tethered drone developed as a turn key solution for long endurance missions. Equipped with day and night payloads, Orion offers a powerful and flexible surveillance capability.

Photo captions:

1. Timothée PENET and Guilhem DE MARLIAVE, Elistair’s CTO and CEO.

2. The tether is unreeled from this Elistair ground unit.

3. Orion image courtesy of Air Force Technology.

4. Semi-cutaway view of tether reel, image courtesy of Elistair.

5.You Tube Video screengrab: SAFE-T 2 – The New Standard for Tethered Drone Stations.

6. Orion after a tethered flight, courtesy of Elistair.

7. Orion after a tethered night flight, courtesy of Elistair.

For more information about Elistair and its products, please visit and get the latest developments on Linkedin @elistair. Press contact: Marie-Charlotte Fayot - m.fayot[at]elistair[dot]com - +33 761 147 853


According to, “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps both say they need expanded surveillance capabilities for a potential fight with China, but the Marines have cut bait on a big, ship-based system that some analysts say would make a big difference for both services…  The Chief of Naval Operations' air warfare lead said earlier this month that every carrier strike group commander needs more surveillance, and he wants to find a way to get more pure intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones flying off the flight decks of Navy ships as soon as possible.” 

For more on this complex, still-unfolding story, please see the original article on  Lead photo: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been pursuing a ship-launched, long-range ISR drone capability in its Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or TERN surveillance drone (DARPA).  Bell V-247 “Vigilant” Tiltrotor Unmanned Aerial System is a potential competitor for the Corps' MUX requirement. ( Photo courtesy/Bell Helicopter)

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their # 20 - 19 - 19 SEPTEMBER 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


It is easy to see that lift is generated by the fans that propel the BELL NEXUS full-scale multirotor design, but how is fan operation coordinated in such a way as to enable smooth pitch, yaw and roll maneuvers in flight?  The simplest perspective may be to view how the rotors on a simple 4-fan multirotor work.  The full-scale BELL NEXUS operates on the same basic principles, although it has a far more sophisticated flight control system than an RC hobby vehicle.  Illustration 1. shows a quadrotor in hover.  The top (nose) and bottom (tail) fans are spinning clockwise, whereas the left and right fans are spinning counter-clockwise. Their speed is represented by the boldness of the arrows, which all the same. The opposing forces of the two sets of rotors cancel each other out and results in a stable hover with the vehicle remaining stationary in the pitch, roll and yaw axes.

In Illustration 2., the quadrotor is pitching nose-up because the nose rotor is spinning at a higher rpm than the other fans. Similarly, Illustration 3. shows the quadrotor beginning a left roll. The 4th graphic shows two fans spinning clockwise at a higher rpm than two spinning counter-clockwise.  This will cause the vehicle to yaw counter-clockwise in response to the higher speed fans spinning clockwise. These principles similarly apply to full-scale multirotor aircraft.  Quadrotor flight control diagrams courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Parrot drone uses shrouded props, which improves aerodynamics and protects the operator from accidental prop strikes. Photo by Halftermeyer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

For details on the BELL NEXUS, see this video:  “A deep dive into Bell’s Nexus eVTOL Air Taxi Aircraft of the Future – AINtv”




As reported by the USNI News, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation Lt. Gen. Mark Wise said, “Initially, as we look at how our unmanned side is going to evolve, we’re taking a lot of the Group 1 through 3 capabilities and moving them into the ground combat element. They will receive some support from us, but it will be resident within their maneuver units, when you start looking at the Littoral Regiments and so forth.”

Please see that USNI news report for details. Photos in descending order:

1. InstantEye quadcopter, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. Twentynine Palms, CA April 2018, US Marine Corps Photo;

2. RQ-21A Blackjack, Oct. 2016, Yuma, AZ US Marine Corps photo;

3. Bell V-247 tiltrotor UAS, Bell Image; and

4. General Atomics MQ-9B Reaper UAV, U.S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma AZ Nov. 2019, US Marine Corps photo.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 19 - 19 SEPTEMBER 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


At the 2011 International Robot Exhibition, Tokyo Japan, in a Master Class, Dr. Guero noted: “I am interested in artificial intelligence, and in that context, I think intelligence and skills have equal value.  So my purpose in creating this robot was to pursue intelligence from the skills perspective.”  Click here to see a YouTube video of Dr. Guero’s latest humanoid performing acrobatic moves.  Dr. Guero’s humanoid demo on Facebook.  

For background on the history of table-top robots, see also the Humanoid Buyer's Guide, originally authored by Tom Atwood.


Available on the Sensors Page at and GitHub this new driver enables robotic application developers to quickly and easily integrate highly accurate (<1.5°/hr) IMU’s into their navigation guidance systems. The new ROS Driver currently works with the ACEINNA’s versatile OpenIMU family, which includes the OpenIMU300ZI, OpenIMU300RI, and OpenIMU330BI. Each sensor has its own distinct hardware features, allowing the user several options for their unique application. The open-source nature of this architecture makes each device highly configurable as well. ACEINNA’s OpenIMU’s have several software applications available, with source code available via Github and the ACEINNA Extension on Microsoft Visual Studio Code. Software applications include IMU, VG-AHRS, and INS.

For more info on the ROS Driver, please visit this page:
For more on the OpenIMU family, please visit this site:


‘A picture’s worth a thousand words’, and so we have posted a few screengrabs.  Click here to review the original document, which was available online as of this update. The last two frames in the Chinese report show the U.S. Space Plane. For more detail on the U.S. Space Plane, please see:  Wikipedia on the Boeing X-37.



As shown at, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. James R. Fiers, Jr., a rifleman with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), releases a drone during a live-fire platoon attack on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 17, 2018. (Tojyea G. Matally/U.S. Marine Corps).

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their # 20 - 18 - 7 SEPTEMBER 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


As noted by, AI provides the best of computing without the frailties of human reasoning: “Military electronics designers are asking a lot from AI today. We want it for rudimentary jobs like helping manned and unmanned aircraft navigate to and from their mission areas, and making sure the right equipment is on the battlefield to supply the troops. We also want artificial intelligence for new endeavors like ferreting-out fact from potential enemy propaganda in news reports, deploying new control surfaces on aircraft to make the most of aerodynamic efficiency, and evading enemy attempts to jam tactical communications.”  The military is seeking cyber-hardened high-performance embedded computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning solutions. AI and machine learning signal processing systems are reportedly in initial development. Photos courtesy of U.S. Army Combat Command and Military Aerospace.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 17 - 23 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


“Seven years later, Amazon is only the third company to receive a Part 135 air carrier certificate, after Wing Aviation, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet; and UPS Flight Forward. Neither company has implemented drone delivery widely as yet. The F.A.A. has been investing in the technology.  On Aug. 21, Elaine L. Chao, the transportation secretary, said that the agency was giving $7.5 million in grants to universities for research on “the safe integration of drones into our national airspace.” Photos courtesy of Prime Air and Wing.” Story and photos courtesy of the New York Times. Merlin photo by Jordan Stead/Amazon, via Associated Press.


ElectroCraft MobilePower™ MPW52 wheel drive basic specs:

Size: 52mm brushless DC gear motor, 150mm wheel
Peak Torque: 12.4 Nm (109.75
Maximum Load: 68 Kg (150 lbs.) per wheel
Rated Speed: 2.4 meters/second

Visit ElectroCraft for details.


According to Defense One, Timothy Grayson, director of the Strategic Technology Office at DARPA, described the trial as “a victory for better human and machine teaming in combat, which was the real point. The contest was part of a broader DARPA effort called Air Combat Evolution, or ACE, which doesn’t necessarily seek to replace pilots with unmanned systems, but does seek to automate a lot of pilot tasks.

“I think what we’re seeing today is the beginning of something I’m going to call human-machine symbiosis… Let’s think about the human sitting in the cockpit, being flown by one of these AI algorithms as truly being one weapon system, where the human is focusing on what the human does best [like higher order strategic thinking] and the AI is doing what the AI does best,” Grayson said.  Simulation illustrations courtesy of and

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which initially appeared in their USN - # 20 - 16 - 11 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


Dogfight will stream live via YouTube Here:

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their USN - # 20 - 16 - 11 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


“The Air Force has done a lot of great work,” said Craig Robin a former AFRL scientist himself who’s now the lead expert on directed energy at the Army’s Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technology Office (RCCTO). “Right now the Army’s not investing any money in high powered microwave systems,” he told Breaking Defense. “We’re working to coordinate … not only with the Air Force but with the newly established joint Counter-UAS office to ensure that we’re building a common high-powered microwave system.”
The C-sUAS office, which launched in January, is charged by Defense Secretary Mark Esper to winnow down the 40-odd counter-drone systems under development across DoD — ranging from net guns to lasers to HPM systems — to find the best matches to various warfighter needs.

According to, Kelly Hammett, head of directed energy at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), said THOR’s key differentiator from comparable systems is that “it was designed specifically for the needs of military operators in the field. For example, he said, it’s robust enough to withstand wide temperature swings and operate rain or shine. And it’s easy to set up.“
“Housed in a 20-foot shipping container that’s transportable on a C-130, THOR can rapidly ‘refire’ extremely high-power pulses of microwave energy while slewing across sectors of the sky to rapidly take down swarms of Group 1 and 2 drones — those weighing less than 55 pounds, operating below 3,500 feet, and at speeds below 250 knots.”
Photos courtesy of and The Verge.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their USN - # 20 - 16 - 11 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


According to Oriana Pawlyk of, the vehicles are “are intended to be reusable but cheap enough that they can be destroyed without significant cost.” For more background, see  

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the announcement is who didn’t win, says Roman Schweizer of Cowen Washington Research Group: “We’re surprised that Lockheed Martin didn’t make the cut.”  2019 Flight photo of Q-58A Valkyrie demonstrator courtesy of Holly Jordan/AIR FORCE RESEARCH LABORATORY. Opener concept design image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their USN - # 20 - 16 - 11 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


According to SARCOS, the exoskeleton amplifies operator strength by a factor of up to 20x and enables the operator to lift payloads up to 200lb. The suit also enables smoother motion by compensating for inertia at levels of up to 100 lbs. per arm or 50 lbs. per arm when lifting at full extension.  Hot-swappable onboard batteries offer near-continuous operation.  The XO® Pod docking station facilitates battery charging as well as easy donning and doffing.  The XO also supports modular and user-selectable end effectors. For more detail, see the July 2020 IDC Technology Spotlight. Photos courtesy of SARCOS.


Omni Panzer is a compact tracked chassis based on c-Link Systems’ experience developing and manufacturing the original Forager omni chassis. Originally conceived for horse farm work, Omni Panzer was upgraded from the original Forager to an omni chassis to address different farm jobs, construction projects, and landscaping. See details on the Omni Panzer line here.  Images: the c-Link Systems Omni Chassis, c-Link robot arm schematic detail (the arm can also be mounted to a fixed base for factory work); and the CV award statement.

CV is published monthly on its digital platform and focuses on “advances in the HR, marketing, coaching and recruitment spheres.” CV spotlights companies that help build “a more productive, more efficient world of work



Collaborative sessions and plenaries were numerous, and included, e.g.:
-On-Road Automated Driving Standards Priorities and Emerging Work Topics
-Planning for Automated Vehicles: How to Plan for an Unknown Future
-Safely Engaged? Driver Monitoring and Management with L2/L3 Automation
-Remote Support to Accelerate ADS Deployment

A few of the presentations and group discussions painted a picture of the worldwide automated vehicle industry:
-Experts discussed strengths and weaknesses of different AV sensor systems, radar, laser, lidar, compound unified systems, and what has been learned in the first generations of their implementation.
-Distributed IT workforces are now accepted, some work from home, some in office, and we will likely see more and more pods of distributed working groups in different places.
-delivery robots are ubiquitous in Silicon Valley.
-Zoom offerings and supplementary software will greatly mushroom sooner than most may expect—stay tuned.
-One company reportedly ceased Zooming on Wednesdays, and found it gained overall productivity Thursdays and Fridays.

This brief overview includes a few randomly chosen graphics taken from videos that were part of live lectures and presentations. In a nutshell, the event was information-packed and illuminating. 
AVS Sponsors included:




MSC Software

Perkins Coie

Uber ATG

Munich Reinsurance

Copyright © 2020, The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF)




According to, “…People’s Online Daily reports that the thigh-high armed robot looks like a small assault vehicle. Target practice results showed the robot has acceptable accuracy. The report stresses that humans will control the robots, it is unclear if the robots merely are remote controlled or if they operate with some measure of autonomy. As a small tracked vehicle, the robot is built to traverse rugged or uneven terrain and operate as a forward-positioned weapons node for ground attacks.”  Lead photo courtesy of, via the Unmanned System News (USN). 

For a global overview of military and commercial UGVs, please see NREF’s exclusive January 5, 2020 report: “Unmanned Ground Vehicles Update—Latest UGVs” 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 15 - 24 JULY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


Joseph Trevithick reported on that, “Senator Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran and former Lieutenant Colonel who lost both her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a mission in Iraq in 2004. She was a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois between 2013 and 2017 before winning her current Senate seat.” Photos courtesy of Joseph Trevithick, email: joe[at]thedrive[dot]com, and Office of Senator Tammy Duckworth via

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 15 - 24 JULY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


The report includes comments by General John “Jay” Raymond, top general of the newly created U.S. Space Force.  The report focuses on the technology and it is a fascinating read.  The following excerpt illustrates the vital role space-based assets already play.

"The American troops had just minutes to get to safety, and they didn’t even know it yet. At around 1 a.m. local time on Jan. 8, more than a dozen Qiam-1 and Fateh-313 ballistic missiles tore from their launch sites at three bases in western Iran. Within seconds, infrared sensors on U.S. satellites orbiting 22,000 miles overhead registered the missiles’ heat signatures against Earth’s background and beamed the data back to the 460th Operations Group at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo. Three immense screens on the Buckley operations floor registered the missiles’ details in real time as row upon row of intelligence analysts, bathed in the bluish glow of computer monitors, triangulated their launch points and trajectories.
With the clock ticking, word went out over another set of U.S. military communications satellites to two Iraqi bases, Al Asad and Erbil, where hundreds of Americans were stationed. The first missiles hit at 1:34 a.m., their 1,400-lb. warheads turning buildings, aircraft and living quarters into smoldering rubble. Concussions from the blasts injured 109 American troops, but most had managed to shelter in underground bunkers and trenches. No one died."

Photos of the 460th Space Wing and radomes by Spencer Lowell for, via


Data was gathered on the performance of new battery configurations, advanced software and piloting techniques, and on minimizing biofouling. Teledyne Marine reported that “Other than a scratched hull repair, the only maintenance that Silbo received during the three stops was an external cleaning and a fresh set of batteries.” The mission was integrated into educational programs. 

“During Silbo's incredible journey, it collected hurricane data, corrected current models, and provided close to 5000 CTD casts that aided metalogical forecasting. With partners from Rutgers University and its student base, UVI, PLOCAN, UGCLP, the Marine Institute, and others, Silbo also participated in the Challenger glider mission.”

Story and photos courtesy of Teledyne, and via Unmanned  Lead photo courtesy of  Atlantic path map courtesy of Teledyne Webb Research. Team photo showing scale UUV size courtesy of Teledyne Facebook page.


The ANYmal C from ANYbotics (red body) climbs stairs, recovers from a fall, performs an autonomous mission and avoids obstacles, docks to charge by itself, digitizes analogue sensors and monitors the environment.”

Boston Dynamics began selling Spot (yellow body), which is “aimed at construction, entertainment, and other automation-friendly industries” in late 2019.

The Aliengo robot dog by Unitree Robotics, headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, is currently in development.

Story and photos courtesy of ANYbotics, Boston Dynamics, Unitree and via The Verge.

Honorable mention: Elektro and Sparko, "Robot’s Best Friend."  Westinghouse introduced Sparko the dog as a companion for Elektro at the World's Fair in 1940. Bettmann, Getty Images.




Led by senior lecturer and drone expert Dr. Gera Weiss from BGU’s Department of Computer Science, the research was presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Cyber Security, Cryptography and Machine Learning (CSCML 2020) on July 3rd. 

According to Danny Bradbury at, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have reported: “We can train our neural networks to identify command patterns of the signal transmitted from the operator when the drone is turning, rotating, accelerating and decelerating and use it to connect to signal to a specific drone in the air.”

He added: “The technique has applications beyond watching drones, the paper outlined. It could also be used to identify drivers by looking at behavior in different traffic situations, including how they use the pedals and the steering wheel, and how much distance they keep from the other cars.”

The system was tested in a simulator using simulated drone paths, and located hypothetical operators with 78% accuracy; the next step would be to use the system data from real drones. Dr. Yossi Oren, senior lecturer in BGU's Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and head of the Implementation Security and Side-Channel Attacks Lab, said possible insights might include “the technical experience level and even precise identity of the drone operator.”

Photos of Dr. Gera Weiss and drones courtesy of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,, and Bigstock Photo.  For a recent roundup on AI in robotics markets, please see NREF’s exclusive report, AI’s Exponential Growth Rockets Upward in 2020.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their # 20 - 14 - 11 JULY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



Jim established his own successful business in 1982, providing aerial services to corporate B2B entities. His inventive nature and extensive flying prowess lead him to become a certified & insured UAS service pilot and instructor. Jim has logged over 1750 precision mapping missions, inspected over 2000 utility structures, and flown more than 2500 commercial and residential property shoots, as well as dozens of missions for creative projects involving both television and music videos.
Jim is also an instructor at Grossmont College in El Cajon, California. He has provided 850 hours of commercial instruction, as well as 550 hours of instructional field training and vetting for utility inspection crews. As a result of his training experience, Jim has issued 150 sUAS Utility Training Certificates.
With Jim leading the charge, Hitec Commercial Drone Services looks forward to providing impeccable training, precision aerial missions and comprehensive data collection to a variety of industries.

Jim Bonnardel – Field Services Director 
jim.bonnardel[at]hiteccs[dot]com – 858.737.9220 ext.302
Unmanned  Engineering Reimagined!

Suzanne Lepine | Marketing Director | 203.482.2893 | 858.737.9220 ext. 317 | suzannel[at]hitecrcd[dot]com
9320 Hazard Way; Suite D | San Diego, CA 92123 |


Click at this link for an introduction to the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (SubT) with Program Manager Timothy Chung on Monday July 20 at 12pm PDT.  We will see advanced unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and based on previous SubTs, flying subterranean drones, as well.  To get a perspective on the state of the art in current UGVs, consider the hugely successful Robotnik drone family, now reportedly tirelessly working in 50+ countries for over 4,000 customers. boasts over 4,000 customers.   The off-road Robotnik SUMMIT XL and urban-navigating RB SHERPA models are shown.

Story and images courtesy of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge via, and



Our condolences to Grant’s family, friends and professional colleagues, may he RIP. 






As reported by, officers in the Syrian Air Force have complained about shortcomings in the Russian S-300 SAM system supplied in 2018.  However, some analysts believe the problem is the complexity of setting up and using an integrated defense system with the Russian Pantsir radars detecting low-flying intruders and the S-300 radar detecting higher flying aircraft.  Additionally, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) offered that “Russia is unlikely to attempt to engage Israeli or coalition aerial assets unless its own forces are attacked or the assets approach Russian military installations too closely.”  

Photos courtesy of Libya News via YouTube and Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation via BESA.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their # 20 - 14 - 11 JULY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



In Early 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence that urges federal agencies to take the lead in setting aside more money and resources for AI development.  The order asked a coalition of government bodies to develop a set of national "regulatory" standards around AI.  Administration officials said that the standards will address some of the ethical issues posed by AI, including privacy.

AI resides in our refrigerators and other household appliances, satellites, drones, radio-control airplanes, in the latest generation of self-driving cars, and in numerous medical applications.  In the skies above, AI is enhancing the GPS applications that guide every aircraft. It is also being used to plan our work environments.  Ultimately, AI will be intimately connected to our furthest horizons as a species.

AI is used by biologists in aerial surveys that measure the health of forests and crops.  Down next to airport tarmacs, robot lawn mowers map their work areas and learn to avoid obstacles on their programmed routes.  They continually optimize their navigation each time they manicure a plot of land.  Are these machines truly “smart”?  Although many can detect the physical layout of the immediate vicinity with infrared vision or other sensors, these machines operate according to a set of programmed algorithms, like any traditional autopilot.

An expanding category of AI uses layers of “neural networks,” which are comprised of large collections of computer microchips engaged in parallel processing.  The largest employ millions of components and, although tiny in size, can recognize faces and even pilot radio chatter.  Neural networks are in development that will recognize the patterns in human piloting during landings and takeoffs, with the goal of making autopilots even smarter. In a related development, it was recently announced by Airbus that flexible neural networks will be an integral part of the Airbus-Dassault Aviation Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

But how smart can robots be?   Professor Hod Lipson’s research has involved robot arms that, surprisingly, are said to be aware of their own actions.  That is, their operating systems are programmed to “think” about themselves—raising the question whether this research may be a step toward self-aware machines.  Rumors have circulated for some years that classified smart missile technologies have sometimes included bidirectional short English voice or text commands as part of the command and control conversation between operator and missile.  

But where does all this lead? In the military arena there is the philosophical quandary of empowering a machine to make lethal strike decisions on its own.  Human decision makers, ethicists have maintained, must be in the loop.  For example, German Air Force Brig. Gen. Gerald Funke, the FCAS project leader for the German Ministry of Defense, has stated that Germany "will not accept any technical concept that would give any system the possibility to authorize the death of another person solely on the basis of the logic of an algorithm.  …Human beings will remain the sole determinants, responsible for decisions and all their consequences!"

The largest ethical dilemma may arise when we contemplate the possibility of giving a machine, sometime in the distant future, humanlike self-awareness—in theory, the very apogee of robotic AI.  Would sending a “thinking” robot on a military mission make it a kamikaze?  European parliaments have already grappled with the logical consequences and enacted legislation offering a framework for considering the ethical principles that would govern relationships between humans and intelligent robots, see European Civil Law Rules in Robotics.  A “Bill of Rights” for robots would suggest a class of robotic AI personhood, as it were.  Some commentators have protested that this could violate the rights of humans.

In any case, AI is viewed as ascendant and unstoppable by many of the most notable technology pioneers of our time, from Ray Kurzweil to Elon Musk.  Certainly, aviation will be one of the most profoundly affected industries by ever-more-sophisticated AI, and the benefits for pilots and passengers alike will be immense. 

In the larger picture, the optimistic view is that we will manage and work so closely with AI that we will in some sense merge with it. Is the smartphone already the start? On the darker side, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have all warned that AI that supersedes human intelligence could pose a threat to humanity, with the implication that we need to keep our guard up as we develop ever-more-sophisticated AI. 

Researchers pushing the vanguard in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence have argued that first contact, if it happens, may well be with robotic AI agents in the cosmos.  The theory, as articulated by people such as Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, is that intelligent robots created by biological designers could well outlast their designers and remain in the cosmos for a sufficient period of time for us to detect their signals.  Incredibly, this vision now seems technically feasible.

On terra firma, the world’s militaries are stepping up research on AI assisted weapons systems. To a major extent, the next cyber arms race will likely be in AI.  Australia recently acquired an AI-augmented drone that will support manned military flights.

AI may soon be sweeping across media channels in ways that would have been considered science fiction only a few years ago.  China’s first AI female news anchor debuted in March 2019.  In 2018, a synthetic male news anchor had debuted on Chinese TV.

Some believe the first profoundly intelligent AI will be developed in less than a decade, which would be very soon, indeed.  One thing seems certain: the destiny of humankind itself will likely be inextricably bound with AI over the long term.

CB INSIGHTS AI 100 (2020). The CB Insights tech market intelligence platform analyzes millions of data points on venture capital, startups, patents, partnerships and news mentions in its market analysis.  Click here for CB INSIGHTS’ 2020 list of AI tech startups.


1. Tesla Autopilot Forward View
2. Chinese TV Avatar
3. Artificial intelligence can look for office "pinch points" in offices, courtesy GETTY IMAGES via BBC News.
4. 4FRONT Robotics, based in Alberta, produces gas and electric-powered twin multirotors. They are used in search and rescue and infrastructure surveys, among other applications.  Lucien Miller photo taken at the 2018 Xponential convention.  
5. The Houston Mechatronics Aquanaut is a submersible that is controlled with mouse clicks. This transformer robot transits to the bottom of the sea, morphs into a semi-humanoid and performs work with its remote-control grippers using acoustic, optical and laser-based sensors.  Sophisticated algorithms greatly simplify complex coordinated 3D control of this large robot equipped with human-like arms and grippers.
6. Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS) infographic as depicted by Airbus via

by Tom Atwood, Executive Director

©2020 The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF)



The BBC reprise of the Voyager missions launched in the 1970s is a must-see! 

“Over the past 40 years, the two Voyager spacecraft have explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They have sent back detailed views of these strange worlds, revealing moons encased in ice, covered in volcanoes and bathed in gasoline smog. The missions have changed our perspective on the Earth and, with golden gramophone records attached to their sides, are now taking human culture to the stars.”

Now pushing into interstellar space after sending back data on our solar system's largest planets as well as the outlying planets and their moons, both Voyagers are still capturing and transmitting invaluable observations of deep space, albeit with onboard systems partially scaled back. Captions:

1. Voyager art courtesy of the Science Photo Library via BBC.
2. Voyager instruments schematic courtesy of
3. & 4. Voyager Assembly, JPL NASA.
5. Voyager perspective in space, Wikipedia.
6. Voyager took the 1st single-frame image of the earth-moon system, JPL NASA
7. Voyager 1 image of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot, with Io (at left) and Europa transiting in front of the planet. JPL NASA via
8. Voyager gold record, JPL NASA






“The hauler runs on a battery-electric drivetrain based on shared technology from the Volvo Group.  …With a 15 tonne hauling capacity, TA15 forms part of the wider TARA autonomous transport solution concept, so that a series of them can be connected together to form a ‘train’ of machines, for maximum loading and hauling efficiency.  …The autonomous electric hauler was, and will continue to be, developed by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) based on the former HX02 concept and has now been handed over for commercialization to Volvo Autonomous Solutions, a new business area of the Volvo Group.  Operational since January 1, 2020, Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ objective is to ‘accelerate the development, commercialization and sales of autonomous transport solutions, as a complement to the Volvo Group’s current products and services.” Click here for details.

Our thanks to c-Link Systems for their assistance with this news report.  c-Link is a provider of innovative tracked and wheeled mobile robotics platforms.


Wikipedia notes that the Katydid entered service in 1942, and that testing took place at the Naval Air Missile Test Center in Point Mugu, CA.  According to records at the Udvar-hazy Center, Katydid was powered by a McDonnell XPJ40-MD-2 pulsejet, had a wingspan of 12 ft (3.7 m), length of 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m) and weighed 320 pounds (145 kg).  This earliest American target drone represented the swan song of pulsejet engines in military drones, and the end of a German technological tradition most famously exemplified by the Buzz Bombs of WW2. The pulsejet power system faded from use because of its low specific impulse (total thrust per unit of fuel consumed). Katydid was a far cry from the sensor-laden, cloud-networked drones of today.

1. Katydid KDH-1, Dane Penland – NASM, courtesy Air & Space magazine.
2. McDonnell KDD-1 Katydid target drone – Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon.
3. KDD Katydid, Wikipedia.
4. V1 Buzz Bomb, Exposition De Materiel Militaire, Devant La Mairie De Reims, LE 22 Septembre 1945.
5. Ramon Casanova with the pulsejet engine he built and patented, 1917 (Wikipedia).

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 13 - 27 JUNE 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


It can squeak in a way that sounds to humans like the real animal, but is not equipped with sensors or onboard intelligence. “‘In terms of a 10-year business operating period and a two million annual visitor capacity, the overall investment and maintenance costs for a decent animatronics entertainment portfolio only accounts for about one quarter or no more than one-third of what a traditional aquarium spends,’ Edge Innovation’s Li Wang told the South China Morning Post.”

Story and photos courtesy of Edge Innovations, and via Gizmodo and



- Multiple capabilities in land, civil security and maritime sectors
- Multiple Payload Capacity
- Easy deployment - no airfield needed
- Fully Automated Vertical Take-off and Landing
- Maritime ready
- Heavy fuel engine
- Point-and-Fly, Point-and-See
- Tethering mode supporting moving RPS
- Single or dual operator
- Redundant flight safety critical components
- Open interface to BMS and C4ISR systems
- STANAG 4586-compliant
- ITAR-free

The webinar will feature David Willems, VP Business Development and Strategy for UMS SKELDAR, who will be answering questions from the media. Interested media are invited to register their attendance with Alexis White, email: alexis[at]kredoconsulting[dot]com.

Story and photos courtesy of SUAS News, UMS Skeldar, and


"Imagine connecting a neuromorphic device to a camera on your car, and having it recognize lights and objects and make a decision immediately, without having to connect to the internet," Jeehwan Kim, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who led the work, said in a prepared statement. "We hope to use energy-efficient memristors to do those tasks on-site, in real-time.” In practical terms, this technology could lead to far superior smartphone cameras and smarter self-driving cars. Illustration by SANFORD – AGLIOLO, GETTY IMAGES; chip detail by PENG LIN.  The research was reported June 11 by Popular Mechanics magazine


“Black Hornet has proven to be a game-changing technology – a small package that can deliver a big edge on the battlefield,” said VP and General Manager of the Unmanned Systems & Integrated Solutions business line at FLIR, Roger Wells. “We’re proud to continue supporting the U.S. Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor program. Enabling warfighters with a full-range of integrated unmanned solutions, both in the air and on the ground, is a strategic objective FLIR shares with the military.”
Photos courtesy of and the U.S. Army. For details, visit

AUVSI ebrief



Agility Robotics, Agility announced Digit in February 2019, its latest humanoid, which is "designed for mobile manipulation and sensing in human environments." It can operate outdoors, includes integrated sensing, computing and has 2 4-DoF arms.

Agility also produces the Cassie Full-Scale Humanoid, a bipedal humanoid robot, and is working with Ford on doorstep deliveries; Cassie uses a spring-mass design for bipedal walking efficiency. Agility Robotic’s legged locomotion expertise is built on years of academic research, including the bipedal robot ATRIAS that was developed at the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory at Oregon State University. Agility Robotics has often talked about last-mile delivery as a potential application for Cassie.

AIST, AIST produces the HRP-2 Full-scale Humanoid; AIST has collaborated with several private-sector companies, including Kawada Industries Inc. and Honda Motor Co.

AIST also created the female humanoid HRP-4C, nicknamed Miim.  "She can move like a human, utilizing 30 body motors and another eight dedicated to facial expressions. Miim can also respond to speech using speech recognition software, and is capable of recognizing ambient sounds," Wikipedia.

AMY Robotics, AMY-M1B Chinese Financial Service Robot & healthcare assistant, also receptionist.

Android Technics, Space exploration humanoid “Fedor”, also famous for gun-play videos, eventually discontinued.

Boston Dynamics, Atlas, designed for DARPA Challenge. Also makes research robots and Spot the robot dog.

Eden Robotics, Humanoid Android robots (receptionists, personal robots, industrial, research); based in Las Vegas.

Flower Robotics, Japanese consumer home and humanoid robots ,

GITAI, Japanese startup GITAI G1 space station Full-Scale humanoid general-purpose assistant robot; for external and internal ISS work and lunar base development.

Halodi Robotics, EVEr3 full-scale Humanoid.

Hanson Robotics, Maker of Sophia robot that attempts verbal interaction, adding freeform language synthesis to humanoid technology development.

Honda, Creator of the world-renowned Asimo.;

INF Robotics, Full-scale simplified humanoid robot on rollers for elder and health care applications.

KOMPAÏ Robotics, Full-Scale simplified humanoid robot on rollers for elder & health care.

Kumotek Robotics, Cutting edge interactive robot platforms with advanced artificial intelligence.

Movia Robotics, Humanoid robots for teaching children and adults with learning problems.

NASA/JPL, Robonaut 2 Full-Scale Humanoid for space exploration and maintenance tasks.

Rethink Robotics, Sawyer BLACK Edition full scale humanoid cobot on a portable base has 2 arms with 7 DoF, operates quieter than earlier versions, and uses the Cognex Vision System with longer lasting hardware.

Robotis, THORMANG3 Full-Scale Humanoid, and the firm produces high-end full-scale research humanoids for research labs. THORMANG3 is actuated by Robotis high-end intelligent Dynamixel servos; ROBOTIS desktop OP3 humanoid is a leading educational product.

SANbot (Qihan Technology), Chinese humanoid robots for hospitality, retail, home, and public service environments.

Siasun Robotics, Chinese mobile warehouse and service robots.

SoftBank Robotics, Maker of Pepper full-scale humanoid robot, a service and customer service humanoid.

UBTECH Robotics, Produces the Chinese humanoid robot named Walker, as well as service robots for “enterprises”, and is a consumer toy robot company.

VTRAC Robotics, Canadian humanoid and other mobile service robots.

Westinghouse, Created the historical Elektro humanoid, with a 700-word vocabulary, shown at the 1939 World’s fair (with Sparko the dog) now, of course, museum pieces.;

Willow Garage, PR2 Research Mobile semi-humanoid with complex vision, arms and customizable end effectors/grippers.

Copyright 2020 ® The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF)




Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent, reported that “Esa and its US counterpart, Nasa, want to despatch the Fetch robot and rocket system to Mars in 2026. The limited time means Esa has had to compress its normal contracting arrangements with industry, and is effectively sole-sourcing from Airbus. Ordinarily, companies would still be in open competition at this stage of a project.” Rock samples will be cached in small tubes that Fetch Rover will bring to a ground station that will fire them into Mars orbit for collection by a Euro Satellite and return to Earth.  For more BBC details, click here.

See our recent coverage of Mars Rover missions at these links:

ESA/Russian 2022 ExoMars Mission Overview

Robot Bees to Assist Settlement of Mars

Rover Design Revealed for Mars Rock Retrieval

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover with Coax Helo Prepares for Launch

Perseverance Mars Coax Helicopter has been Attached to Mars Mission Mothership


“Produced by Robotics Business Review for the past decade, the annual RBR50 list celebrates forward-thinking organizations and their original, impactful creations. Recognized throughout the world, the RBR50 awards are also a critical measure of robotics sector growth.

-Business and management – Initiatives or practices that enhance a company’s commercial standing, foster robotics industry growth, or benefit society.

-Technology, products, and services – New commercial solutions that have the potential to positively impact markets or the whole robotics sector.

-Applications and markets – Industry-specific, newly developed applications that deliver value, provide entry to new markets, or improve performance over existing approaches (such as by improving productivity, increasing quality, or reducing cost).”

Visit the RBR50 Awards announcement here.



Pierce Aerospace’s founder, Aaron Pierce, is a former volunteer EMT and the company has recently been involved in advising healthcare organizations on the potential for UAS to be used as an efficient and impactful tool in public health, like responding to COVID-19.

Bullock notes, “We are helping healthcare providers understand how to use UAS and Remote ID, in conjunction with other relevant technologies to ensure proper delivery of medicine, test kits, blood and supplies.”

The company is Indiana based and Bullock highlights Indiana’s leadership position and talent potential in unmanned vehicle and digital infrastructure technologies.  “From my company’s perspective, Indiana has an enormous amount of talent and resources we can recruit from and utilize to significantly grow the company in the years ahead,” Bullock said. “A lot of that talent traditionally goes to Silicon Valley. We aim to retain that talent here in the state as we continue to grow.”

Photo credits:

1.  Aaron Pierce, CEO of Pierce Aerospace, flies a drone to demonstrate a controlled low-altitude hover on a gusty day in Carmel’s Midtown Plaza. (Photo by Ben Stout)

2.  From left, Pierce Aerospace employees Andrew Lillie, Bailey Bowles and Aaron Pierce. (Photo by Ben Stout)

3.  Technology to identify drones in airspace. (Photo by Ben Stout)

Story and photos courtesy of Gary Bullock, Pierce Aerospace via Mark Ambrogi, Carmel NEWS, and Carmel Cover Stories, AUGUST 6, 2019.  The editorial content of the Carmel, IN News is based on independent market research (SMARI, Inc.).  The News welcomes content submissions from its readers and community.  CURRENT PUBLISHING, LLC, Carmel, IN 46032


With a scheduled deployment in fiscal 2021, one of the following four defense contractors will provide the systems: General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), Textron subsidiary Howe & Howe, a team of Applied Research Associates and Polaris Defense, and HDT Expeditionary Systems.  Composite photo courtesy of U.S. Army; tweel image by Lucien Miller from our exclusive Xponential 2018 NREF photo gallery.  

For a comprehensive overview of global UGV systems, please visit our report here.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 12 - 10 JUNE 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


KUBeetle-S produces a peak lift-to-Weight ratio of 1:3.4, at 3.7V, and is sufficiently stable for directed RC outdoor flight in any direction. Story and images courtesy of, prototype diagram and Allomyrina dichotoma image courtesy of


Tilden, a talented technology pioneer whose career has included work at the University of Waterloo in Canada and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, became well known for developing the RoboSapien humanoid robot line at WowWee robotics in Hong Kong. His RoboSapien design sold in the tens of millions.

RoboSapien image courtesy of amazon[dot]com; FemiSapien courtesy of SingularityHub[dot]com; RS Media cover and image of house photographer Walter Sidas shooting RS Media while the robot images Walter, courtesy of Robot magazine, formerly published by Maplegate Media.

Wowwee Robotics,

Listen to Mark Tilden’s interview on Robohub here.


Video interviews with Mark Tilden:

Explaining Walkman

On Walkman2

Mark Tilden and Brosl Hasslacher discuss robotics




Brandi Vincent, staff correspondent for Nextgov at, reports: “The key objectives of the DARPA program are to demonstrate a robot that can move at a speed of 10 cm/sec and dig a tunnel that is 500 meters in length and at least 10 cm in diameter,” GE Research’s project leader Deepak Trivedi recently told Nextgov. “We have made great progress in the project thus far and are on track to meeting these objectives.”

Through Underminer, DARPA aims to explore and demonstrate the rapid construction and uses of tactical underground tunnel networks to support the U.S. military’s efforts amid harsh environments. See a prototype in action here: 
“…Video runs at 4X the actual speed) A demonstration of GE's bio-inspired giant earthworm-like tunneling robot. The robot is shown digging through dirt in a test apparatus set up in the Robotics Lab at GE Research in Niskayuna, NY.  …Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by DARPA TTO under award Acquisition Services Directorate (AQD) number D19AC00018.”

Story by Brandi Vincent, Staff Correspondent, Nextgov, posted on  Photos courtesy of GE Research, and Brandi Vincent, Staff Correspondent at NextGov, DefenseOne[dot]com

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


The Sacoora report notes that the Slocum glider has sensors that measure temperature, salinity, water color, backscatter, dissolved organic matter (CDOM), chlorophyll, and dissolved oxygen. Its wings enhance operational stability on missions that vary from storm forecasting to fisheries and algae bloom research to measuring the seasonal thermocline. It features a “900cc Hydraulic Flight Drive” and a “Pneumatic Surfacing Drive”.  The Teledyne Slocum glider is used by the military as well as researchers who study marine mammals; research partners include GCOOS, Mote Marine Laboratory, the College of Marine Science at the University of Southern Florida (USF), and others.

A bonus for oceanography ROV enthusiasts is that Slocum glider mission data can be viewed for FREE on GANDALF (Gulf AUV Network and Data Archiving Long-term Storage Facility). “While a glider is in the water, GANDALF provides real-time glider positioning information via a map-based interface with a dashboard display.” See the report for links to mission data. Photos and illustrations courtesy of,, and Oceanology International.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in the # 20 - 10 - 12 MAY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


05/17/2020 reported that the ship will carry a microwave-beam experiment to test whether power converted from sunlight can be sent to terra firma, or to drones. Photos courtesy of NASA, United Launch Alliance, Boeing and; in-capsule image 4 © U.S. Air Force.


“The five fixed wing drones clocked up 15 hours of flying time, over four days, in challenging weather conditions. The swarm comprised a combination of Blue Bear’s own Redkite and Cobra fixed wing systems, which flew multiple, simultaneous, sorties from a test range in the North West of England.

“The drones were equipped with the latest Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, and the airspace was managed by Blue Bear’s airspace deconfliction software. All of the assets were controlled by a single operator from Blue Bear’s Mission Command Control System (MCCS).” Photo courtesy of Blue Bear Systems Research, Ltd. via For further information, see the SUASNEWS.comreport.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in the # 20 - 10 - 12 MAY 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


05/10/2020 quoted Leahy: “What we’re able to do is link to that group [developing USVs for the Navy], get information about what missions they are trying to accomplish, the sizing and other constraints, feed that into NOMARS project so that we can take the same class of ship – looking at the same ideas in terms of a hull form – and when we are successful we can dump that right into their tranche and pull that forward a decade from where it might have been on a traditional path.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



According to CNN WORLD, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted the drones will protect combat aircraft like F-35 stealth fighters in the future, and drone production will also help in the fight against the coronavirus.

"We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential for smart unmanned teaming to serve as a force multiplier," said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space and Security. "We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept." Boeing and RAAF said the drone is expected to fly for the first time later in 2020. Photo courtesy of CNN WORLD and BOEING.


Mike Ball reported at “The focus of MAPLE’s fifth phase is to specify a core system that will enable the UK Ministry of Defence to procure a Command and Control (C2) capability for maritime autonomous vehicles by generating and validating a robust set of user and system requirements and a validated and developed architecture. 

During the execution of MAPLE phase 5, concepts will also be developed for the operation of the maritime unmanned systems in the service of specific military tasks…” QinetiQ, a multinational defense firm, serves defense, security and aerospace markets, and is based in Farnborough, Hampshire, U.K. Photos courtesy of QinetiQ and 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 9 - 26 APRIL 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


05/01/2020, quoted Maj. Gen. David Francis, commander of the Army’s Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama: “What we have to do is improve our stand-off and our survivability with the introduction of some technology that will be available prior to the actual FVL [Future Vertical Lift] platform.” 

This will include the Israeli Spike missile and the Air Launched Effects (ALE) family of smaller drones that can be launched from helicopter missile racks.  Photos in descending order:

1. Martin UAV's vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle takes flight (Martin AUV).
2. Martin engineers show of their V-Bat vertical take-off and landing drone.
3. L3 Harris FVR-90 drone2.
4. Textron’s Aerosonde HQ drone.
5. Maj. Gen. David Francis.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 9 - 26 APRIL 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.





Thrust area: Physical test bed
Michigan Technological University/Michigan Tech Research Institute
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
HDT Expeditionary Systems, Inc.
Sentien Robotics
Texas A&M University

Thrust area: Swarm tactics
Michigan Technological University/Michigan Tech Research Institute
Charles River Analytics, Inc.
Soar Technology, Inc.
Northwestern University

Story and photo courtesy of DARPA and

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 20 - 9 - 26 APRIL 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



For details, please visit Defenseone[dot]com.  Illustration courtesy of KAREN SINGH and The Atlantic.


Colossus is a French-made robot design designed and launched by Shark Robotics in 2016. Images and story courtesy of Connected Magazine by LEMO, and Shark Robotics.


“Towns and the state should be wary of self-interested, privacy-invading companies using COVID-19 as a chance to market their products and create future business opportunities,” David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, wrote in a statement, quoted below.

The Westport Police Department has announced a new drone pilot program which, police say, will be used to "monitor" social distancing and "identify" people's health symptoms, such as fevers or coughs. The following is a reaction from David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut:

“The COVID-19 virus is a grave public health risk, so we shouldn’t write off tools that might help mitigate the problem. But we also must recognize that technology is no magic pill to stemming the pandemic. Towns and the state should be wary of self-interested, privacy-invading companies using COVID-19 as a chance to market their products and create future business opportunities. Any new surveillance measure that isn’t being advocated for by public health professionals and restricted solely for public health use should be promptly rejected, and we are naturally skeptical of towns announcing these kinds of partnerships without information about who is operating the drones, what data they will collect, or how or if that data will be stored, shared, or sold. Remote fever detection via drone may or may not be accurate when reading a person’s temperature. Even if this drone-based remote symptom detection technology is accurate, it may not be helpful in stopping the spread of COVID-19, as some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, not everyone with a fever or cough has COVID-19, and cameras will not be able to detect if a symptomatic COVID-19 positive person has a fever and is taking an antipyretic. We are not hearing a cry for new surveillance technologies. The urgent need at the moment, according to public health experts, is to ramp up testing capability, suppress transmission through social distancing measures, and support our hospitals as they face an influx of patients.”

Meghan Holden, ACLU of Connecticut, media[at]acluct[dot]org
APRIL 22, 2020



Westport News further noted that “David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said he recognizes that COVID-19 is a grave public health risk, and innovative tools should be considered to help mitigate the problem.  But, he said, ‘technology is no magic pill to stemming the pandemic …Towns and the state should be wary of self-interested, privacy-invading companies using COVID-19 as a chance to market their products and create future business opportunities,” he said.

According to a report posted by, The drones are able to recognize primary symptoms–based on heart and respiratory rates–of covid-19 in people up to 190 feet away.  Westport reportedly is working with Draganfly, a health care data service, and the University of South Australia in the trial effort.  Drone photos courtesy of the Westport Police Department.  Westport Town Hall courtesy of Christian Abraham, Hearst Connecticut Media




Wired’s take on the future of robotics is enthralling, and the images of historical robots in cinema and in the field are nicely chosen. The article concludes with an upbeat projection of a future that will see robots ever more entwined with humans. That future is sure to entail new responsibilities as we manage the relationships between humans and machines of ever-growing capability.  Don’t miss the additional links to related Wired articles in the “Learn more” section following the conclusion.


The inertial measurement unit includes 3 accelerometers and 3 gyroscopes, one for each spatial axis. “The complete device uses electrodes placed around the glass resonator to push and pull on the glass, making it ring and keeping it going.”

Sajal Singh, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering who helped develop the manufacturing process, reported that “Basically, the glass resonator vibrates in a certain pattern. If you suddenly rotate it, the vibrating pattern wants to stay in its original orientation. So, by monitoring the vibration pattern it is possible to directly measure rotation rate and angle.” DARPA is supporting this research.

Story and photos courtesy of: Najafi Group / U. Michigan and; compound image courtesy of Portrait: Dr. Najafi Khalil.


Increasing regulatory support for commercial drones in the APAC region, particularly in India, is driving unit growth, noted Michael Blades, Aerospace, Defense, and Security Vice President at Frost & Sullivan. "There is also a significant increase in demand for professional segment drones to conduct crop spraying in China and other countries in APAC…”  Blades further noted that drone companies are focusing on specific vertical markets as it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” business model.

Reported takeaways:

“India's move to lift a commercial drone ban: Vendors should penetrate this lucrative market by providing hardware, software, and other relevant services.

“Sensor/data fusion: UAS platform providers should work with sensor providers and software developers to integrate sensor/data fusion capabilities into their products, ensuring accuracy.

“New drone platforms: Drone control software providers will emerge to develop solutions that can easily support these innovative platforms.

“Repair and maintenance: As enterprise adoption continues and more businesses invest in high-value drone platforms and subsystems, there will be an increasing need to repair this equipment. Vendors involved in this segment can tap into this opportunity by partnering with hardware manufacturers.”

Story and photo courtesy of Frost & Sullivan and INTELLIGENTAEROSPACE.COM

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


The new release states in the introduction:  “Since the publication of “The Drone Databook” in September 2019 we have continued to track developments in global military drone proliferation. We now estimate that there are at least 102 countries with active military drone programs, up from 95 in the “Databook.” Another six countries are believed to have inactive or pending drone programs. This update contains more than 100 additions, modifications, and corrections to the inventory, personnel, operations, infrastructure, research and development, and export sections of nearly 50 countries.” Download it here.

Photo credit:

1. Royal Thai Navy officials inspect an Orbiter 3, published to social media in February 2020. Credit RTN R&D Office – Facebook

2. Japan Ground Self-Defense Force personnel launch a JUXS-S1 hybrid UAV in Japan 12-2019. Credit Lance Cpl. Dangelo Yanez - USMC

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this Drone Databook news update, sourced from their 31 March 2020 edition of the Unmanned Systems News (USN).

David offers the Unmanned Systems News (USN) as a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics. In PDF format, it is distributed every week or two, as are occasional serial news flashes. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.




The Mars Perseverance rover mission takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also by searching for signs of past microbial life. See NREF’s recent update with multiple images here.  Photos courtesy of NASA NASA/JPL-Caltech.


Photos are captioned, below, in descending order.  Detailed specifications are provided in the c-Link Systems product booklet, which is downloadable from the c-Link home page.

Omni Panzer is a compact tracked chassis based on c-Link Systems experience developing and manufacturing the original Forager omni chassis. Originally conceived for horse farm work, Omni Panzer was upgraded from the original Forager to an omni chassis to address different farm jobs, construction projects, and landscaping. 

Omni Panzer
The primary configuration is as an autonomous unit utilizing GPS, Inertial measurement, RADAR, LiDAR and cameras. Omni Panzer can be used as a remote-controlled chassis with a 1km (0.6mi) RF range; a more limited range option uses a fiberoptic tether.  The unit has been configured for different farm jobs, construction projects, and landscaping. 

AquaBot 451
AquaBot 451 is a compact tracked fire-fighting chassis based on c-Link Systems’ Omni Panzer chassis

Bergbau Panzer
The primary function is scaling the roof and sidewalls of tunnels and mine entrance tunnels (adits).  Bergbau cannot be used to dig trenches. The arm contains 5-axes of motion with 2 cameras for observation and works recognition for the master computer.

Bauernhof Panzer
With gripper attached, the primary function is farm cleaning work, including  horse stalls, can clearing field debris and rocks.  With a shovel end tool, the system can search fields for holes that need to be filled in and perform the necessary work. The package also contains a dump body and a push blade for grading. The chassis carries 4 cameras and an inertial guidance system.

Flachbett Panzer
A hauler vehicle, it travels anywhere that cargo needs to be moved, but is not recommended for inside work due to the track system. The unit can carry upwards of 500 pounds. The deck has cargo tie-down rings for secure hauling

The primary function is moving earth whether it be pushing or hauling.

Sprühen Panzer
The primary function is spraying water or chemicals in a band behind the robot as it moves. The tank has a capacity of 35 gallons.  There are 4 spray heads with a 90˚ arc each. They can be tipped down 50˚ and up 26˚ from the horizontal. The pump speed can be varied to adjust the pressure of the nozzles.

c-Link Systems Founder, CEO and Sr. Engineer Bill Lovell holds degrees in electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and industrial engineering.  He has an in-depth background in VME, MBI, MBII, DS3800 buss structures, embedded systems, and satellite guidance and flight systems.  Lovell has been working with fiber optics since the early 1980s and has participated in the development of advanced fiberoptic control systems. Bill’s brother, Dana K. Lovell, is Production and Q.C. Manager, has background in controls and holds an FAA airframe inspectors license.

c-Link Systems, Inc.
220 Eddie Kahkonen Road
Norway, Maine 04268
(207) 515-0323


The robot asks people to present their ID and any relevant papers to the robot’s camera.  People are allowed out to purchase necessities and for medical assistance. The UGVs are manufactured by Enova Robotics.  PGuard carries a thermal imaging camera and LIDAR. The BBC report states that after one pedestrian said he was intending to buy cigarettes, the robot replied, "OK buy your tobacco, but be quick and go home."  Photos courtesy of the BBC and Enova Robotics. See the BBC report here.


On May 02, 2019 Citadel Defense, received a U.S. Government award to expand development of their C-UAS technology, now to production levels of up to 50 titan systems monthly, reported

To address the surge in global demand for Titan systems, Citadel has expanded their manufacturing capabilities in San Diego, CA to support production of up to 50 Titan systems a month. The company uses U.S. suppliers with over 70% of components being sourced locally in Southern California in order to improve responsiveness when executing on urgent customer requests. "Designing agility into our product development process from the beginning has allowed us to iterate in real-time alongside our customers and rapidly deploy new capabilities to improve mission outcomes," says Christopher Williams, CEO of Citadel Defense

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report. Images courtesy of Citadel Defense.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



U-CAT is used in a maintenance roll to inspect expansive cages and equipment, and to observe the farmed fish population.  During tests in a sea cage containing 188,000 salmon “A significant difference in fish behaviour was found using U-CAT when compared to a thruster-driven underwater robot, Argus Mini and a human diver. Specifically, salmon were more likely to swim closer to U-CAT at a lower tailbeat frequency,” said Maarja Kruusmaa, professor in Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Engineering Cybernetics/ (, and at Tallinn University of Technology

“The overall purpose of the experiments wasn’t just to test the turtle robot, but also to investigate what characteristics robots being used in the aquaculture industry should have.  …We’ve found that the most crucial characteristics of the surveillance robot are its size and speed, whereas colour and motor noise hardly matter at all.”

Photo credits:
1. Underwater opener,

2. Robots with diver,

3. Norwegian Salmon Pen, Norwegian SciTechNews.

4.  Motion Schematic,

5. U-CAT & Argus Mini backstory.

6. B&W image,

7. Salmon Photo credit.

Our thanks to Professor Maarja Kruusmaa for the background story and color ocean photo compilation.



During launch and cruise phase, a carrier module (provided by ESA) will transport the surface platform and the rover within a single aeroshell. A descent module (provided by Roscosmos with some contributions by ESA) will separate from the carrier shortly before reaching the Martian atmosphere. During the descent phase, a heat shield will protect the payload from the severe heat flux. Parachutes, thrusters, and damping systems will reduce the speed, allowing a controlled landing on the surface of Mars.

The drill is designed to extract samples from various depths, down to a maximum of two metres. It includes an infrared spectrometer to characterise the mineralogy in the borehole. Once collected, a sample is delivered to the rover’s analytical laboratory, which will perform mineralogical and chemistry determination investigations. Of special interest is the identification of organic substances. The rover is expected to travel several kilometres during its mission.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, part of the 2016 ExoMars mission, will support communications. The Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) will be located in Turin, Italy. The ROCC will monitor and control the ExoMars rover operations. Commands to the Rover will be transmitted through the Orbiter and the ESA space communications network operated at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC). 

Images show an ExoMars Rover prototype, schematic, construction images, descent module test, Oxia Planum landing site and ESA participating countries.  Story and photos courtesy of ESA / Roscosmos / Space Research Institute (IKI), Moscow, Russia, and agencies and firms in partner countries (see map).


In each case, the use of robots could reduce human exposure to pathogens — which will become increasingly important as epidemics escalate.  “The experiences with the (2015) Ebola outbreak identified a broad spectrum of use cases, but funding for multidisciplinary research, in partnership with agencies and industry, to meet these use cases remains expensive, rare and directed to other applications,” the researchers noted in the editorial.

“Without a sustainable approach to research, history will repeat itself, and robots will not be ready for the next incident,” they added.
In addition to Choset, a professor in CMU's Robotics Institute and one of the founding editors of Science Robotics, the authors of the editorial include Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Science; Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University; Henrik Christensen of the University of California, San Diego; and former CMU faculty member Steven Collins, now at Stanford University.
Choset stressed that the idea behind the editorial wasn’t solely to prescribe how robots might be used in a pandemic.
“Rather, we hope to inspire others in the community to conceive of solutions to what is a very complicated problem,” he explained.

Choset also emphasized that, like robots, artificial intelligence could help in responding to epidemics and pandemics. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, for instance, are performing research to address humanitarian aid and disaster response. For that task, they envision a combination of AI and robotics technologies, such as drones. Human-robot interaction, automated monitoring of social media, edge computing and ad hoc computer networks are among the technologies they are developing.

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Contact: Byron G. Spice, 412-268-9068, bspice[at]cs[dot]cmu[dot]edu
Virginia Alvino Young, 412-268-8356, vay[at]cmu[dot]edu

Photo of Professor Howie Choset teaching courtesy of CMU. Our thanks to Byron Spice for his assistance with this post.


SpaceNews reported that Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a March-19 virtual town hall meeting, "We’re going to ensure that we meet that launch window in July …As of right now, and even if we go to a next stage of alert, Mars 2020 is moving forward on schedule and everything is, so far, very well on track.”  Kennedy Space Center is at NASA response framework’s “Stage 3”, which SpaceNews notes means that “telework is required for all employees, with the exception of ‘mission-essential personnel’ such as those working on Perseverance.” 

After traveling 33.9 million miles to Mars, the Perseverance rover will collect and store soil and rock samples for a future retrieval mission. The mission plan includes deployment on Mars of an extraordinary coaxial helicopter that will image a large area surrounding the landing site. According to Wikipedia, it is expected to fly up to five times in a 30-day test campaign. Flights will be limited to a few minutes at an altitude of 3 to 10 meters AGL, and may traverse distances of up to 300 meters. Images courtesy of NASA/JPL.


San Diego Based Company to Adapt and Develop Small Unmanned Aircraft Navigation and Control Technology for Defense Applications

SAN DIEGO, CA, March 12, 2020 – Planck Aerosystems, Inc. (Planck Aero) was awarded a contract from the United States Air Force Research Lab for the development of guidance, navigation, and control solutions for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) operating in challenging environments. 

The contract was the result of the most recent solicitation from the Air Force’s Open Innovation topics of the competitive awards-based Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), which is designed to enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

Under this contract, Planck Aero is developing a visual compass for sUAS in environments where existing commercial offerings may suffer degraded performance. Planck Aero is leveraging existing products and expertise in vision-based navigation to help the sUAS operate safely and reliably without relying solely on GPS or other expensive and heavy installed hardware. 

“Planck has always focused on developing and deploying technologies necessary for unmanned systems to operate in areas that have previously been inaccessible,” said Josh Wells, Planck Aero’s CEO. “Our technology enables drones to operate from moving vehicles and vessels on land or at sea for commercial and defense customers. This project is a natural extension of that technology.” 

About Planck Aerosystems 
Planck Aero is a leader in unmanned aircraft autonomy. Through computer vision, artificial intelligence, and advanced control systems, Planck Aero delivers next generation capabilities for UAS operations, enabling government agencies and commercial partners to do more with less. Planck’s intelligent navigation solutions unlock new capabilities for surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time situational awareness, and force protection. Planck Aero is based in San Diego. 

For more information, please visit

# # #


“For technical educators who could teach with robots, Parallax has developed a distance learning program for them to learn about electronics, coding and problem-solving during school closures. We're "all in" and pulled the stops out in a big way (provided UPS goes to their homes). Educators please share to your FB groups… You'll pick a Parallax robot and we'll send it to you, this week! …March 30-April 3rd: Participate in three, one-hour Zoom Meetings with other educators to learn about your robot, building it between the first and second Zoom meetings.”


Diverse workplaces show an increase in productivity and creativity by introducing and representing different ideas and backgrounds. Interestingly, when it comes to the exact scale and nature of this gap, some fields may have no gap at all, or may even favor women for graduation and job placement, as is the case in the social sciences. However, others remain strongly unfavorable toward women. To understand the gender gap in STEM, it’s important to recognize how it manifests in each field. Read more here.


Norma Jeanne, aka Marilyn Monroe, was discovered at the behest of one Reginald Denny, as she was wrenching on a WWII target drone on a "Rosie the Riveter"-style factory floor.  A photo taken at the Van Nuys Airport factory in Los Angeles shows Norma Jeanne, with a factory worker badge, near an RP-1 drone engine. Denny, believing there was real ‘morale’ potential on his factory floor, had urged the captain of the Army’s PR Hollywood division (Ronald Reagan) to send over a photographer. Marilyn Monroe had been discovered.  She had a brilliant career that unfortunately ended in tragedy, which is well-documented history beyond the scope of this report.  In any case, Monroe’s entry into the drone-mechanic world was both patriotic and evidence of her intelligence and capability. 

Photos show, in descending order, Rosalind Walter, the Radioplane, Norma Jeanne, Reginald Denny, Ronald Reagan in a 1945 portrait and Marilyn Monroe later in her career. For more detail on Rosalind Walter’s life and legacy, please see this excellent March 5 NY Times article by Joseph Berger. Image of Rosalind Walter courtesy of Joseph Sinnott, via the NY Times.  Radioplane image courtesy of Wikipedia. Other public domain images courtesy of Wikipedia. 


Lee Hudson, a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent who covers the Pentagon reported in Aviation Week magazine (AvWeek) on Elon Musk’s speculation on human pilots eventually becoming less effective in combat than robotic drones.  Musk reportedly said that the Lockheed Martin F-35 should have a competitor that “should be a drone fighter plane that’s remote controlled by a human, but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy. The F-35 would have no chance against it.”  

Drones can perform high-speed maneuvers that produce G-forces greater than human pilots can sustain, but could a remote-controlled drone outperform a fighter pilot in a dogfight? 

Douglas Birkey, executive director of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, writing for, recently opined otherwise in an article titled: “Sorry, Elon, fighter pilots will fly and fight for a long time.” Birkey notes that “the potential of near-term and midterm autonomy should not be conflated with science fiction-like objectives,” and offers that autonomous aircraft will eventually be used as mission partners, and that testing is well underway, but that “Trusting in an autonomous system to determine friend from foe and deploy lethal force without human approval is far from prudent.” This update summary is the tip of the iceberg and we highly recommend reading Birkey’s article. In order shown, the drones depicted are the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2, at an airport in Cyprus (File AP photo), the USAF QF-16 stealth drone (courtesy of, and the XQ-58A-Valkyrie (courtesy of Wikipedia). 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.




GuardBot was first conceived for a Mars mission with the Swedish National Space Agency and Uppsala University, a decade ago.  In the new venture Aquiline’s aerial drones will used cloud-based transmitters for comms with ground-based GuardBots.  GuardBots can be remote controlled or programmed to follow preset routes. Environmental applications include land and water surveying, greenhouse plant monitoring, forest fire prevention, and fish counting, among many others.
    GuardBot’s spherical design enables low-friction locomotion, which conserves battery power and enables it to traverse surfaces ranging from roads, dunes, sloped inclines and snow to the watery surfaces of ponds and lakes. GuardBots are said to operate for up to 25 hours on a charge and achieve speeds of 3mph in water and up to 12mph on land.  Side pods can carry various sensor options that include video, IR detection, audio, and GPS, among others.  The pods can be outfitted to carry small payloads, such as fire-retardant liquids, as well.

Photos and schematic courtesy of Jeff Kart, reporting for Forbes Media, LLC

Our thanks to Thomas S. Marsh, former ROBOT magazine Future Bytes columnist and contributing writer for his assistance with this story.  Marsh has written extensively on trends in robotics and AI and their impact on individuals, companies, military and industry. Marsh is senior director of business development at Broadridge, a FinTech company that employs Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence among its management and consulting tools.  Photos courtesy of GuardBot, Inc., via Forbes Media, LLC; Airport photo and schematic courtesy of Maxon Precision Motors, Inc


As we post this news update, the next set of runs has begun at the SubT Urban Circuit. Watch them here

Round 2, day 3, is live now:


Read DARPA’s competition overview at the DARPA SubT homepage. View videos of SubT robots in competition on the DARPA Facebook page.  Our thanks to c-Link Systems for its assistance with this report. c-Link is a leading vendor of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) used in diverse applications ranging from search & rescue to mining exploration, landscaping, fire-fighting, automated snow plowing and general grounds maintenance.


Watch the 2-minute, 24-second video clip, produced by Blooper Sphoof, here, and you’ll see some remarkable Captain Shrederator combat highlights!  

Brian Nave, Captain Shrederator designer and driver, is a degreed engineer and entrepreneur who founded and owns LOGICOM, and Adept Automatics, which are Florida-based international industrial robotics firms.  Brian’s LOGICOM website notes: “If you can dream it... we can design it, engineer it, build it, program it, document it, and train your operators to run it!”  LOGICOM conceives, manufactures and supports all types of Control Systems, including Motion Control and Process Controls.  The firm also offers 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional CAD, and provides design layouts and virtual machine models.  

Among other applications, LOGICOM is experienced designing, supporting and maintaining a full range of manufacturing and maintenance machinery for the railroad industry.  With diverse tooling and pressing options, LOGICOM offers its clients benefits such as highest, unparalleled accuracy, faster cycle times, and reduced maintenance and handling.  These increase reliability and consequent production line efficiencies.  Notably, LOGICOM provides on-site engineering, diagnostics and troubleshooting of mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic components.  Photos and story courtesy of LOGICOM; our thanks, also, to Blooper Sphoof, which produced the Captain Shrederator video clip.

Sponsorship Opportunities
Would you like to see your company’s logo on the side of Captain Shrederator, and/or on Brian’s LOGICOM and Facebook pages as a sponsor of Captain Shrederator and this pro-STEM competitive sport that teaches participating students math, electronics, teamwork, sportsmanship and applied physics?  Would Captain Shrederator make an attractive exhibit at your next corporate event or in your company’s booth at a trade show?  Brian invites potential sponsors to reach out to discuss very affordable win-win marketing partnerships; email anytime at briannave[at]yahoo[dot]com or call during EST business hours: (386) 227-6283. 


The NAVY reportedly wants 10 of the large unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) by 2025, and is also seeking six “extra-large” unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs).  The NAVY sees the CUSV surface drone as a means to protect harbors against terrorist attack. Unmanned vessels will be used to protect warships docked at NAVY piers.  Port security has been an ongoing concern since the attack on the destroyer USS Cole in 2000.

Lead photo of the Sea Hunter USV courtesy of Naval News.  U.S. NAVY photo of the CUSV by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah M. Rinckey.  Additional photos courtesy of Popular Mechanics and the U.S. NAVY.  Story courtesy of and the Unmanned Systems News (USN) published by David Place and Robin E. Alexander. 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com for his assistance with this report.  David Place and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, offer a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


Major General Poss’s highly informative article is a must-read, in our view, and is posted at

See also our September 2019 post on another informative article by Major General Poss, An Open Letter to the New FAA Administrator, on Drones, BY JAMES POSS, MAJ GEN (RET)

General Poss is a leading expert on UAS and is CEO of ISR Ideas, an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company.  

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.




-- Advanced Acoustic Concepts LLC in Hauppauge, N.Y.;

-- Raven Aerostar Technical Solutions Inc. in Arlington, Va.;

-- Arete Associates in Tucson, Ariz.;

-- Austal USA LLC in Mobile, Ala.;

-- Azimuth Inc. in Morgantown, W.Va.;

-- BAE Systems Electronic Systems in Nashua, N.H.;

-- BMT Designers & Planners Inc. in Alexandria, Va.;

-- Continental Tide Defense Systems Inc. in Reading, Pa.;

-- The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.;

-- General Dynamics Mission Systems Inc. in Fairfax, Va.;

-- Gibbs & Cox, Inc. in Arlington, Va.;

-- Gravois Aluminum Boats LLC, doing business as Metal Shark, in Jeanerette, La.;

-- Huntington Ingalls Industries Fleet Support Group LLC in Virginia Beach, Va.;

-- Hydroid Inc. in Pocasset, Mass.;

-- ICI Services Corp. in Virginia Beach, Va.;

-- L3Harris Unidyne Inc. in Norfolk, Va.;

-- Leidos Inc. in Reston, Va.;

-- Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems in Moorestown, N.J.;

-- Maritime Applied Physics Corp. in Baltimore;

-- Micro Systems Inc. subsidiary Kratos-MSI in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.;

-- Northrop Grumman Corp. Autonomous Systems in Bethpage, N.Y.;

-- Oasis Systems LLC in Rockville, Md.;

-- Oceaneering International Inc. in Hanover, Md.;

-- Peraton Inc. in Herndon, Va.;

-- Q.E.D. Systems Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va.;

-- Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, R.I.;

-- Reliable Systems Services Corp. in Melbourne, Fla.;

-- Rolls-Royce Marine North America Inc. in Walpole, Mass.;

-- Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in Reston, Va.;

-- System Engineering Associates (SEA) Corp. in Middletown, R.I.;

-- Sedna Digital Solutions LLC in Manassas, Va.;

-- Serco Inc. in New London, Conn.;

-- Spatial Integrated Systems Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va.;

-- Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. in Huntsville, Ala.;

-- Textron Systems in Hunt Valley, Md.;

-- The Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis;

-- The Columbia Group Inc. in Washington;

-- Tridentis LLC in Alexandria, Va.;

-- Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems (UEOS) in Braintree, Mass.; and

-- W R Systems Ltd. in Norfolk, Va.

On these contracts the Unmanned Surface Vehicle Family of Systems companies will do the work in various locations of the contiguous U.S., and should be finished by February 2025. With options, work could continue until February 2030.  For more information contact Naval Sea Systems Command online at

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com for his assistance with this report.  David Place and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, offer a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


Initial customers are using the XSight 1721 within Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) detection/tracking and remote sensing systems.  “XSight 1721 is an enabler for systems demanding more complex video processing and analytics. The market has been pushing for a low power and size solution and the XSight 1721 meets that need,” said Brian Goldberg, CEO of Adsys Controls. 

The XSight 1721 takes advantage of Adsys Controls advanced algorithms including multi-target tracking, moving target indicators, object classification, image fusion, image stabilization, and digital zoom.  XSight incorporates AI and machine learning to process raw sensor data into useful information.  Other features include on-screen metadata displays and multi-video viewing.  

A prime feature of the XSight 1721 is the ability to process multiple (up to 4) High-Definition video streams simultaneously.  With support of 3G-SDI interfaces, XSight 1721 supports up to 4K Ultra HD video.  A multitude of other video interfaces for advanced cameras are also supported.  Dual H.264/H.265 encoding streams support multiple compressed video channels enabling broadcast video dissemination.

Edge computing is critical to the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, unmanned vehicles, vision systems, connected autonomous cars, and other future tech.  The capabilities use a combination of perception sensors like cameras, radars, and ultrasonics to provide insight to decision makers.  “The struggle has been the heavy SWaP in data fusion to process these sensors, especially with multi-camera high definition (HD) systems.  XSight supports such multicamera applications requiring real-time advanced video processing, machine learning, and video dissemination.” continues Mr. Goldberg.

The XSight 1721 is a powerful value proposition for next generation systems that are being required to perform increasingly advanced missions but process real time at the edge and save on size, weight, and power. 

About Adsys Controls, Inc. Adsys Controls provides advanced sensing, controls, and autonomy systems within government and commercial markets.  Adsys Controls’ products include ISR payloads, sense-and-avoid systems, optical communications, laser weapons, advanced video processing, optical navigation systems, flight control systems, and dynamics simulation/test/certification systems.  

For more information, please visit our website:
Media Contact: Muk Pandian

This release is also available at:

Thanks to Monica England, AUVSI San Diego Lindbergh Chapter President, for her assistance with this news update. monica[at]auvsisandiego[dot]com




David Place noted in the 25 January USN that Seth J. Frantzman reported in a January TechWatch feature on DefenseNews[dot]com that Israel is developing lasers to kill drones and rockets.  Jacob Nagel, Bradley Bowman, and Maj. Liane Zivitski had reported January 17 that “…laser technology, at least for now, is ill-suited for countering adversary salvos consisting of large quantities of aerial threats.” Owing to cost, weight and maneuverability factors, short-term use of laser technology is likely to be “in conjunction with Iron Dome batteries.” Current systems are reportedly only capable of destroying drones and some tactical missiles. Illustrations courtesy of Israel’s Defense Ministry via TechWatch at Meanwhile, reported that the U.S. NAVY is planing to arm nuclear submarines with lasers, but that the details of intended uses are, as of this time, unclear.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



In an agricultural robotics news update on, Amit Malewar reported that the Kubota X tractor “is a prototype that shows one of the lines of research that Kubota maintains in order to adapt and respond to the needs of agriculture in the coming years.” 

Kubota, responding to labor shortages and an aging farmer population, introduced its AGRIROBO line in 2017, of which the X tractor represents a next step. The X tractor is an all-electric, autonomous robotic tractor that uses AI to incorporate weather and crop growth data into its operations.  As noted in a Kubota press release, it is powered by lithium-ion batteries and “solar batteries,” and “changes its shape” to optimize its center of gravity.  “The four-wheel motors allow the speed of the crawler tracks to be set as desired and reduce the turning radius. For jobs that require high traction, the center of gravity of the X tractor – cross tractor is lowered by reducing the height of the tractor.” 

c-Link Systems
Maine-based c-Link Systems is a leading American UGV vendor founded nearly two decades ago. c-Link’s Forager is shown with independently articulable tracked triangularly-configured treads in a 2010 illustration.  The Forager shown in the second image from the top has an articulable powered drive train turning each track that enables the operator to also incrementally angle the tracks in the vehicle’s roll axis, in order to directly grip inclined, sloped surfaces for more stabilized mobility.  The vehicle body can thereby maintain a lower center of gravity for better stability.

Today, c-Link continues to produce Forager variants for custom applications, with both tracked and wheeled mobility options.  These include custom-configured vehicles for farming, ranching, landscaping, mining, construction and search and rescue (SaR).  Shown in descending order in this post are the Kubota X-tractor, courtesy of Kubota via, and 2010 c-Link Systems Forager with independently articulable treads, tracked fire-fighting Aquabot 451, and the 6-wheeled Forager with robot arm for construction work, images courtesy of c-Link Systems. For more information on the Forager series, please contact CEO Bill Lovell at c-Link Systems


The operator can direct the drone to check out specific portions of a property.  The Bee can illuminate itself in five different colors and is expected to be available by mid-2020.  Pre-orders are being accepted.  For more details and video of the BEE in action, please visit

Pentagon forms New C-UAS Office
In related news, pointing to a National Defense news update, reported that the Pentagon will be standing up a new counter-drone office with approximately 60 personnel that will be based in Arlington, Va. “Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment at the Department of Defense, said DoD plans to establish an Army-led office focused on counter-unmanned aerial systems, National Defense reported Tuesday.”

See also NREF’s comprehensive C-UAS article at

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


01/24/2020 reports that “Petroleum Engineer is #1 with a 15% projected growth rate, followed by Aerospace Engineer at #2 with a 6% projected growth rate. Mechanical Engineer made it to #6 of the Top 10 with a projected growth rate of 6% and a median salary of $87,370.” At the ASME Career Center website you will also find “advice on job hunting, resume writing, networking, interviewing, career guidance and much more. Post your resume today and let hiring companies find you.”



 “The NOAA-Ocean Infinity partnership will play a key role in helping NOAA reach its goal of fully mapping the U.S. EEZ and characterizing ocean environments to support their conservation, management, and balanced use,” said Alan Leonardi, Ph.D., director of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. 

Based in Houston, Texas, Ocean Infinity was founded in July 2017, and has a remarkable history. South Korea contracted with Ocean Infinity to search for the wreck of the Stellar Daisy freight transport, and in early 2019 the firm retrieved the voyage data recorder.  In July 2019, Ocean Infinity located the Minerve, a French submarine that disappeared half a century earlier. View the Ocean Infinity website to learn more about the company’s deepwater exploration successes, and don’t miss their video!


As summarized 30 December, 2019, by David Szondy at NewAtlas[dot]com, “To clear this bottleneck, the Navy wants to develop a system that will (in near real-time) receive secure radio bridge-to-bridge communications, convert speech to text, convert that text into something that the autonomous vessel can understand, form a solution to the navigation problem, and then reply in natural speech.”  Civilian uses are envisioned, as well, “…including unmanned commercial vessels that need to operate when satellite links are unavailable, ships with small crews, and even pleasure craft.”  Artist’s concept image courtesy of DARPA. For the fascinating details, please visit

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.



FIFISH ROV applications include aquatic farming, exploration & research, maintenance, search & rescue, ship inspections and S.T.E.A.M. educational programs.  The W6 model is designed for particularly heavy duty work such as large-scale surveys, hull cleaning, deep water inspections and exploration, and can descend to 300 meters on an 8-hour mission. See the yahoo report, here, and visit QYSEA at  Images courtesy of and


“The prototypes, according to the statement, will be used to ‘determine the feasibility of integrating unmanned vehicles into ground combat operations. The Light and Medium RCVs will be used to conduct a company-level experiment at the end of 2021.’ …Robots have the potential to revolutionize the way we conduct ground combat operations,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the NGCV CFT, said.

“Whether that’s giving increased fire power to a dismounted patrol, breaching an enemy fighting position, or providing [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive] reconnaissance, we envision these vehicles providing commanders more time and space for decisions and reducing risk to soldiers.” Story and photo courtesy of Jen Judson,  For details, please visit


In the rapidly advancing era of automated cars, it’s no surprise that there has been a worldwide explosion in semi-autonomous and autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).   These “robot mules” span military, commercial and research markets.  Notably, in late 2019, the U.S. Army selected General Dynamics to produce UGVs under its Small Multipurpose Equipment Transports (SMET) program.  Defense Blog reported that an Army contract worth $162.4 million “for up to 624 robotic mules was awarded in October to GDLS, a business unit of General Dynamics.  Delivery to Soldiers begins in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.”  See SMET details, below, and a photo gallery of a modest but representative sample of commercial, research and military UGVs illustrating the latest generation of robotic mules. This update starts with the pioneering German UGVs of WW2, and the circa-2006 CMU Crusher.  Numbered captions and links are in descending image order.


1. Defense Blog noted that “SMET’s basic operational capabilities will include unmanned and optionally manned system, [and]… will Carry 1,000 lbs., reducing Soldier weight burden by 100-plus pounds each when in support of a rifle squad.”  Credit: Gen Dyn SMET Smart Mulitpurpose Equp Transport, USArmy, photo by Sgt Thomas Scaggs.


2. German WW2 Goliath tracked mine.

The diminutive Goliath was the precursor to all modern UGVs and pioneered remote control UGV technologies. It came in both electric and petrol-powered models. It was remotely controlled via a 650-meter multi-strand cable that unwound from a spool in a rear compartment. It carried 60 to 100 kilograms of explosives and self-destructed attacking buildings, tanks and other targets. Over 7,500 were produced.  Image credit: Rodw - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

3. Another Goliath model.

Credit: Sonderkraftfahrzeug_303_Goliath_in_the_Tank_Museum_2.

4. CMU Crusher. 

Crusher was a 13,200-pound autonomous off-road Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) developed for DARPA in 2006 by Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center. It was a research platform for fire support, supply, recon and medevac. Wikipedia notes that the robot “can travel over rough terrain, such as vertical walls more than 4 feet (1.2 m) high, wooded slopes, and rocky creek beds. It can turn 180 degrees in place, raise and lower its suspension by 30 inches …and lean to the side. The Crusher can carry 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of combined armor and cargo.” Crusher could travel several miles on a battery charge and had a backup diesel engine for longer transits and for recharging.

5. U.S. Army Titan. 

Titan is a modular UGV developed by Milrem and QinetiQ North America (QNA). Based on Milrem’s Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System, it is intended to perform critical tasks in the combat zone, and can be operated in manned or unmanned modes. Titan includes two track modules connected by a payload frame. The open architecture of the Titan can be interfaced with “remote weapon station (RWS), interrogation arms, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) systems to support combat, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence, RSTA and route clearance missions.”  79in-long, 83in-wide and 40in-high, it offers a payload bay area of 72in x 48in and has a curb weight of 2,000lb.  It can carry day/night cameras, infrared (IR) and thermal imaging systems. It is propelled by a pair of diesel-electric hybrid tracked drive modules powered by a 10kW JP8 generator plus absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead acid or lithium-ion batteries. It can run for over 20km in two hours on battery power, while the diesel-electric hybrid operation offers a range of 100km and endurance of 72 hours. See for details.

6. Titan, armed, with open payload bay ready for cargo.

7. General Dynamics Multi-Utility Tactical Transport Tactical Transport (MUTT).  

The MUTT is a small-unit force multiplier that offers increased persistence, protection and force projection. As an autonomous robotic follower, it lightens the load in combat operations. As a teleoperated unit, it provides increased projection of combat power and stand-off from threats. It can accommodate new payloads, new controllers and increased levels of autonomy, and provides MUM-T 1.0 capability (Manned-Unmanned Teaming).

8. Forager, c-Link Systems. 

c-Link Systems, Inc., a UGV firm based in Maine and founded by CEO Bill Lovell in 1997, has many years of experience in the design and deployment of both wheeled and tracked ground robots.  c-Link’s work has focused on two systems. The larger Forager UGV, a utility vehicle with a robot arm, is designed for search-and-rescue (S&R), farm and ranch landscaping, as well as exploratory work in hazardous environments such as underground mines and disaster zones. In past years, a Forager was entombed in a mining collapse in New Zealand doing work too hazardous for humans.

9. Forager Aquabot 451. 

c-Link’s Forager models include a firefighting version, designated Aquabot 451, that can connect with standard firefighting hoses to target and douse flames.  Currently, c-Link is outfitting the Aquabot 451 for possible deployment to Australia to assist in fighting brushfires. The Panzer tracked version is currently being converted from a 3D printed track system to a machined metal tread to withstand forest fire heat that can reach up to 1,500˚F.  Still another Forager in development, the Forager-W-3DP-C Ausf. V, is a 6-wheeled mobile 3D printer that lays concrete to create retaining walls with fiberglass or carbon fiber mix in as a binder.  c-Link Systems is an ardent supporter of STEM curricula and a provider of curricula.  Examples can be viewed at, but contact c-Link directly for current offerings.

10. c-Link Volebot. 

The smaller c-Link Volebot is intended for S&R operations where small size is an advantage in penetrating collapsed buildings or mining environments.


Located in Westminster, Colorado, AION offers a wide variety of UGVs as well as underwater ROVs and UAVs.  At left is the large scale AION Ranch Hand.  It has 90HP, with 2000lbs of hauling capacity and offers support for thousands of standard ATV, UTV or Pickup attachments.  Ranch Hand includes five operational modes, from direct teleoperation to multiple semi-autonomous and autonomous modes.  At right is one of several customizable smaller AION UGV workhorses.  Applications addressed by AION UGVs include solutions for the construction, security, agriculture, energy, and mining industries.

12. ST Kinetics Jaeger 6. 

Shown at the 2018 Singapore Air Show, the ST Kinetics Jaeger 6 UGV can operate for 48 hours. Equipped with a skid-steer chassis, it can be outfitted with a wide range of payloads to address specific mission requirements. The standard 6×6 configuration has a maximum payload of 250 kg.  Designed for perimeter security, logistics support and other labor-intensive missions, it is controlled by Wi-Fi or encrypted 4G mobile network.  Gross weight of the 6×6 configuration is 750 kg with a maximum payload of 250 kg.  2.5 meters in length, it is electrically powered with an onboard diesel generator/alternator for operation up to 48 hours.

13. kONGSBERG PROTECTOR Remote Weapon Station.

The Kongsberg remote weapon station (RWS) is a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Company.  Kongsberg notes that “the PROTECTOR RWS is the world’s most fielded Remote Weapon System with more than 20,000 units delivered and in use by customers around the globe.  The PROTECTOR family of Remote Weapon Systems are suitable for any missions - whether on land or at sea, on mobile or static platforms - for remote operation of payloads ranging from small calibre weapons to medium calibre automatic cannons.”



15. Israeli RoBattle. 

RoBattle is one of multiple Israeli UGVs.  It conducts recon and attack missions, as well as convoy protection. Its Pitbull Remote Weapons Station includes day/night optical sensors coupled with a remotely operated machine gun.  It can use its sensors to automatically return fire, and can be fitted with a robotic arm. It appears to be electrically powered.

16. Belarus Bersek Export UGV. 

Manufactured by KBP Instrument Design Bureau, Tula, the Bersek is driven by an electric motor. It has a standard rate of fire of 6,000 rds/min and has a stated effective range of up to 1,000 meters.  An operator can control the Bersek at a distance of up to 5 km. Read more about the vehicle at  Photo credit: Melanie Rovery (@MelanieRovery) Twitter.

17. Russian Marker UGV. 

In late 2019, reported on Russia’s updated Marker UGV.  The update included an improved track systems and larger body with 5 roadwheels, idler, drive sprocket and two roller returns.  Notably, the system is equipped to launch small drones. A multispectral system uses neural network processes to support autonomy.  Sensor systems range from laser, thermal, IR and early warning to ID and tracking.  Automatic routing was reported for both off-road and urban environments.  Photo courtesy Jane’s.

18. Russian Uran-9 Combat Vehicle.

The Uran-9 has been field-tested in Syria and reportedly has been offered for export by the state-owned Rostec Corporation. Although it has significant gun and missile armament, it was reported by the blog that Senior Research Officer Andrei Anisimov told a conference at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, May 2018, that further development of the system was needed, suggesting it could be a decade or more to perfect this UGV for classic combat operations.

This sampling is the tip of the iceberg in a burgeoning arena that extends well beyond military designs into diverse research and commercial markets.  Photos courtesy of the above sources.


Walt Perko, creator of RoboGuts™ will host booth #52835 at the upcoming CES Computer Electronics Show, near the MIK (Made in Korea) Innovation Hot Spot. If you are walking portions of CES, which will be held January 7 – 10 in Las Vegas,, why not visit the RoboGuts™ booth and see a demo? Investors may find this company of interest. For a preview of the RoboGuts™ system, which is among the many educational systems we have documented, please see the demos at BillyBot @ Innevation Center,, and BillyBot @ PunchCode,


MIT’s 2020 deep learning lectures will also be posted on YouTube (with a delay of a few days from initial release) for ongoing review. Note that there are many excellent video interviews addressing latest AI research already posted in the MIT video library.  These include interviews with such luminaries as (in descending thumbnail order, following host Lex Fridman), Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil, Noam Chomsky, Michio Kaku and Garry Kasparov, among dozens of others.  This collection will grow still richer over the coming month. MIT offers introductory lectures and related blog posts for newcomers, updates via a mailing list, and more. For details, please click here.


The study, “Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD”, entailed a year-long assessment.  Written by a study group from the DoD Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council, the study identified four capabilities as technically feasible by 2050:

• ocular enhancements to imaging, sight and situational awareness;
• restoration and programmed muscular control through an optogenetic bodysuit sensor web;
• auditory enhancement for communication and protection; and
• direct neural enhancement of the human brain for two-way data transfer.

Direct neural enhancements were pinpointed as a key technology in the projected suite of capabilities.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.

This update was sourced from USN Edition # 19 – 37, 19 December 2019.



McKenzie of the BBC continued, "Using machine assistance, we generated a story for every single constituency that declared last night with the exception of the one that hasn't finished counting yet. That would never have been possible [using humans]." 

Chinese media are apparent leaders in automated news. As we reported November 9, 2018, Chinese engineers had created a synthetic newscaster who automatically recited computer-generated news.  More recently, more virtual avatar applications have been announced in China by Sogou. Sogou’s “Yanni” was launched at the China Online Literature+ Conference held on August 9-11, 2019 in Beijing.  Sogou has partnered with multimedia and “cultural companies” such as the Xinhua News Agency, Migu, an online multimedia entertainment subsidiary of China Mobile, and Zhangyue Technology, developer of the “iReader” e-book reader. 

Yanni introduction and team photos courtesy of Sogou via BBC and Group shot:  Mr. Wang Yanfeng, General Manager of Sogou’s Voice Interaction Technology Center, and representatives of Xinhua News Agency, Migu and Zhangyue at the signing ceremony during COL+ 2019. Credits: news, and Sogou.


Techniques for fending off attacks range from kinetic weapons (projectiles) and jamming measures to lasers and directed energy weapons. Photos, from the top, show LITEYE, DRONEBUSTER and Ascent Vision offerings. Credit: Tom Atwood and Lucien Miller.  See the full report here.


As noted in the press release, Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media, originally launched both RoboBusiness and RBR (Tom Green was the editor on the ground floor--Tom hosts Asian Robotics Review, today) and “… as such, he is perfectly positioned to reinvigorate them, as well as integrate these high-value assets into WTWH Media’s existing robotics and intelligent systems business lines.” The release text:

WTWH Media Acquires Robotics Business Review, RoboBusiness
Business-to-business publisher WTWH Media has acquired Robotics Business Review and RoboBusiness. WTWH Media produces The Robot Report and the Robotics Summit & Expo.

DECEMBER 05, 2019     

CLEVELAND and BOSTON — Business-to-business publisher WTWH Media today announced the acquisition of the robotics division of EH Media. The acquired assets include Robotics Business Review, a world-class website focused on the global robotics and intelligent systems sector, and RoboBusiness, a leading annual robotics business-to-business conference and exposition that first ran in 2004. They will be incorporated into WTWH Media’s network of robotics websites, magazines, newsletters, events, and research.

“We are delighted to announce the acquisition of EH Media’s robotics division,” stated Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media. “Both RoboBusiness and Robotics Business Review are globally recognized, highly respected robotics media brands of long standing, and the acquisition itself could not have come at a better time.”

“The robotics sector has been expanding at a rapid rate for more than a decade, but as the recent upsurge in robotics investments and company launches clearly indicates, we are truly at a major inflection point at this time,” he said. “With the addition of RoboBusiness and Robotics Business Review, WTWH Media becomes a global robotics media powerhouse.”

Scott McCafferty, co-founder and managing director of WTWH Media noted, “The addition of RoboBusiness and Robotics Business Review will strengthen WTWH Media’s robotics portfolio tremendously, allowing us to better serve the entire robotics value chain of end users, engineers, and OEMs, researchers, investors, and more. Dan Kara launched RoboBusiness and Robotics Business Review, and as such, he is perfectly positioned to reinvigorate them, as well as integrate these high-value assets into WTWH Media’s existing robotics and intelligent systems business lines.”

“EH Media has been serving the robotics industry for over 10 years,” added Kenneth Moyes, president of EH Media. “Through our RoboBusiness conference and expo and our Robotics Business Review media offerings, we have provided essential information and services to the global robotics sector. I am pleased that under the new ownership of WTWH Media, these brands will continue to support the burgeoning robotics market.”

About WTWH Media

WTWH Media LLC, a nine-time Inc. 5000 honoree, is an integrated media company serving the electronics, design engineering, hospitality, life sciences, renewable energy, R&D, retail and robotics markets with 50-plus Web sites, 12 events, seven print publications, and custom digital marketing services.

WTWH Media’s Robotics Network includes The Robot Report, Collaborative Robotics Trends, and Robotics Business Review. WTWH Media also produces a number of robotics events, including the Robotics Summit & Expo, the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, the Field Robotics Engineering Forum and the RoboBusiness. For more information, contact Dan Kara at dkara[at]wtwhmedia[dot]com.


Spot has a speed of 1.6 m/s and a runtime of 90 minutes.  Equipped with 360° vision, it uses stereo cameras to avoid obstacles and people. There are more than a few competitors in the robot quadruped market worldwide, and in the face of this competition, Boston Dynamics says it is focusing mainly on identifying use applications where the business market presents the greatest demand for Spot.

Its software development kit (SDK) includes GRPC-based API and the Python client library.  Boston Dynamics notes that the SDK enables a developer to “command poses and velocities, configure payloads, and access robot perception and payload data. Our Autonomy Software Development Kit, currently in Beta, will provide access to mapping, navigation, and mission editing. The API employs state-of-the-art security tools to keep your data secure.”  Story and images courtesy of Boston Dynamics, photographer Bob O’Connor, and IEEE Spectrum.

For more information from Boston Dynamics, please click here.



“[T]he jet is expected to be 38 feet long and have a 2,000 nautical mile range.” Click here for the IBT report.  Image courtesy of Boeing press release / marketing materials.


As reported by Jared Keller in Military Tech, Army Sgt. Michael Zamora used a prototype Third Arm exoskeleton to easily aim an 18-pound M249 light machine gun during testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, March 14. Photos: 2018.U.S, Army/Conrad Johnson. As they did with an initial test group back in 2017, the soldiers described the harness as a major boon, reducing fatigue, improving accuracy and boosting overall lethality. But the third arm is still being refined.

"We get comments from soldiers who tell us different things about the way it feels on their body… about the way it redistributes the load," ARL engineer Dan Baechle said in an Army release. "Some like it, some give us tips about the ways it could be improved, and we're using that input to improve the device and improve the design so that it not only works well, but it also feels good." For details, please click here.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


The MilitaryFactory[dot]com reports that flags of origin do not necessarily indicate today’s primary drone operators.  This listing of primary sources, i.e., points of origin, surveys military applications.  If one turns to a different topic and considers commercial apps in the civilian market, many additional drone platforms are available that may pique the researcher’s interests, for example, the Aergility Atlis.  Credits: shown are the Lockheed Martin X-56A (MUTT) [orange winglets] and the Northrop Grumman Bat UAV. Photos courtesy of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman via MilitaryFactory[dot]com.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.


Implant Aircraft has reportedly not yet received orders and is seeking funding. Note that the wings flap in opposition and that flight is further stabilized by the addition of a canard and V-tail. Outboard panels on the wings rotate to control pitch and roll. The electric-powered prototype has a flight endurance of 5 minutes, but future iterations are intended to have flight times of up to 2 hours.

Story and photo courtesy of  For reporting from the Dubai Airshow, please click here


                                                                          10 NOVEMBER 2019
All opinions expressed within this newsletter are those of the respective author or authors. This information has been released to the public and distribution is unlimited.
Thanks to Robin Alexander for identifying many of the below sources.
My contact info is:  Home phone: 858-586-1612 Cell phone 858-442-4396.  Editors comments are highlighted in ital.
DJI Mavic Mini photos leak ahead of announcement
DJI is perhaps best known in the consumer drone market but it has been relatively silent of late, at least as far as UAVs were concerned.  The consumer drone market is a rather crowded one in the low and lightweight end of the spectrum. Most, however, come from smaller and lesser-known brands, not all of which come with the quality and performance you’d expect from the likes of DJI. Perhaps seeing a market opportunity, the famed drone-maker is aiming for a smaller form factor with the DJI Mavic Mini.
Here is one drone killer US troops have taken overseas
U.S. troops are already deploying abroad with counter-drone capabilities, including CACI International’s SkyTracker suite.  The core of SkyTracker is radio frequency detection and mitigation. It identifies the link between a drone and its controller.  Those positions can then populate on a user interface screen, like the portable tablets already used in the field by many troops. The tracker identifies what type of drone is being used and offers options to do anything from jamming its communication to forcing it to the ground.
New Game-Changing UAS Unveiled at Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas
The new year will see drone technology soaring to new levels of performance for commercial and industrial applications, as FlightWave Aerospace Systems launches its new Jupiter tricopter UAS.  By contrast, Jupiter circumvents this problem by leveraging the power of FlightWave’s ingenious thrustvector control, autopilot, and power management systems. In addition to extending your flight time, level flight keeps all your sensors pointed where they need to be - you get more useful data out every flight. expo_in_las_vegas/prweb16676667.htm
ELTA Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, participated at NATO’s REP (MUS) 19 Exercise in Portugal where ELTA demonstrated its Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) Drone Guard (ELI-4030)
The Drone Guard passed a rigorous evaluation of its specifications by the Portuguese Navy and was qualified to participate in the NATO exercise for protecting harbors against hostile drones, UASs, USVs and other airborne and surface threats.
"C-UAS units must be able to detect and classify both hostile as well as civilian drones that mistakenly enter sensitive areas as they too can cause unintended damage to a facility's infrastructure,"
Largest Gathering of Robots and AI in History! Xponential 2019 (Well worth your time to visit the below link)
Thanks to Lucien Miller and Tom Atwood for providing a top shelf review of Xponential 2019 that was held in Chicago earlier this year.  Check out the below link and enjoy the review. It is in the rotating carol at the top of the home page.  As you peruse the gallery of photos, when you scroll over each individual picture you should be able to see a vetted URL associated with that specific company.
Unmanned aircraft could provide low-cost boost for Air Force’s future aircraft inventory
As the U.S. Air Force looks to increase the size and capability of its aircraft inventory, the service should assess the possibility of using drones as a low-cost and highly available alternative to manned airplanes, posits a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  The CSIS report makes the case that the low cost and high mission capable rate of RPAs like the MQ-9 Reaper or RQ-4 Global Hawk merits more attention when making future force planning.

Look, up in the sky! Drone light show to dazzle academy cadets (Albeit this event occurred in October 2019 there is still an excellent video embedded at the below link)
500 choreographed drones.  Intel made history in 2018 when it flew 1,218 of its Shooting Star drones as part of the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. That performance set a Guinness World Record for the most drones flown simultaneously.  A few months later, Intel set another world record when it flew 2,018 drones for the company’s 50th birthday celebration.

Unmanned systems vulnerable to the enemy, which makes trusted computing a critical cyber design challenge
Reliable, secure communications becomes much more critical in unmanned systems. If communications are lost, the unmanned system may need to throttle back.
Trusted-computing is a difficult concept to implement, even in some of the best scenarios. Implementing adequate cyber security and other protections becomes even more challenging when the system being protected will be deployed into the harsh world without a trusted service member nearby to operate the system.[pull]=omeda%7C7100E1556389A7Q&oly_enc_id=7100E1556389A7Q

Armed drones to fly out of Niger air base now operational after delayed completion
Nigerien Air Base 201 is now operational — roughly a year after it was supposed to be completed.  U.S. Africa Command announced that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations are now being conducted out of the base in Agadez, Niger, which is designed to house armed drones and other aircraft that have historically operated out of Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Interior Dept Ceases Drone Operations Amid Investigations on Chinese Tech
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is directing his department to ground its fleet of over 800 drones in a move to prevent threats from Chinese-manufactured technologies.  The drones will remain grounded until investigations into security risks conclude. He noted that drones used for emergency response will be exempted from the directive.
Currently, the department uses its drones for a range of operations encompassing dam inspection, endangered species monitoring, erosion surveying and fighting forest fires.
Navy, Marines Moving Ahead with Unmanned Vessel Programs
The Navy is gaining enough experience with unmanned vehicles on and below the water’s surface that it’s becoming easier to kick off new programs, as each can build on previous program’s lessons learned.
Here’s the robotic vehicle that will carry equipment for US troops
The U.S. Army has selected General Dynamics Land Systems’ Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT, for its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport unmanned ground system program of record.
Epic water rescue tech - UUV
OceanAlpha has been bringing the same revolution that drones brought to the air to the ocean, with fleets of unmanned vehicles for oceanic sensing and exploration.  If you would like more information on this capability, contact Colin Guinn at
Unmanned battle tank could serve as robotic wingman
A new robotic tank designed to operate as a “wingman” was recently unveiled  The Ripsaw M5, originally featured on a reality TV show, has been transformed into a heavily armed combat drone equipped with an autocannon and two drones of its own. Armored wingmen will operate alongside U.S. Army tanks and armored vehicles, doing dangerous jobs to keep humans out of harm’s way.
New senseFly eBee X fixed-wing UAS undergoes tests with US Army
The US Army Engineering and Support Center is testing the new senseFly eBee X fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS).  The system will be used by the service to collect mapping data and high-resolution photography to support the center's more than 40 programs and several missions conducted globally.
First Navy Submarine Resupplied By Commercial Drone  (Well done to Ted Ralston and the folks in Hawaii for finally making this capability a reality)
It was only a matter of time before somebody thought of this. Last month, a small quad-rotor delivery drone, of the type used for delivering packages to your door, resupplied a U.S. Navy submarine.  The honor fell to the suitably named USS Hawaii (SSN 776), one of the latest Virginia Class fast attack submarines. It took place just a mile off Oahu, Hawaii, in partnership with the University of Hawaii Applied Research Lab. This may not sound very impressive, but it is a look into the future.
Drone delivers parts, medicine to Navy submarine off Oahu
4 questions with NATO on its unmanned tech test
As militaries around the world invest in advanced technology, the need to test the capabilities of new systems for military operations is critical — both to ensure the training of personnel as well as the effective integration with existing platforms.
China Is Exporting Killer Robots to the Mideast
China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to the Middle East, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. It’s the first time that a senior Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.
As Drone Encounters Rise, Study Shows Visibility Concerns (Thanks to Mark Rindler for sharing this article)
An airborne human-factors experiment conducted by researchers from Oklahoma State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University concluded in a recent published study that certificated pilots failed to see a common type of quadcopter during approach to a runway, and in most cases, could never detect motionless drones.
General Atomics’ Predator RPAs Mark 6M Mission Hours
A series of remotely piloted aircraft systems built by General Atomics’ aeronautical systems business has logged over 6M flight hours in support of the U.S. military, Department of Defense and other clients worldwide.
DoD should consider truly autonomous weapons
The US military should adopt artificial intelligence urgently without letting debates over ethics and human control “paralyze AI development.
US Army looks to boost Air Launched Weapons Inventory

The US Army Contracting Command has released a sources sought notice for the production of air-to-ground missiles (AGMs) for the army's fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Unmanned Uncovered - Episode 36 (Since I am having some issues transmitting important information via gmail, I am including some highlights from Stephen Glaus here regarding his most recent Unmanned Uncovered Podcast)
For those of you familiar with AIRT initiatives, you will likely recognize Chris Todd as the force behind AIRT's noteworthy contributions to the Unmanned Systems industry.  Christopher Todd serves as the executive director of the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT®), a Florida-based non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides unmanned aviation capabilities to help people prepare for, respond to, and recover from complex emergencies and major disasters. He’s also the founder and president of Airborne Response®, a Miami-based provider of Mission Critical Unmanned Solutions® for government and industry. As if that wasn’t enough, Christopher is the Director of AUVSI Miami and participates as a member of many different aviation and governmental groups and associations.
Unmanned submarines seen as key to dominating the world’s oceans 
Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are driving pioneering research in artificial intelligence (AI) underwater communications, autonomous navigation, and unmanned swarm technologies.
The influence of massive spending on developing AI for undersea systems portends the greatest change in military sea power since the introduction of nuclear-powered vessels.

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As reported in a November 8 LTU news release, “The Yandex-Mobis-LTU collaboration was one of five corporate mobility challenge projects announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Oct. 21. The projects will offer autonomous transportation around downtown Detroit during the auto show’s media preview, industry preview, and the public show, a period scheduled to stretch from June 6 to June 21, 2020.

‘We’ll be evaluating the on-demand riding service through a mobile app and testing their vehicles, collecting data, and writing a report on the vehicles and the service’,” professor CJ Chung said.

Story and photos courtesy of LTU News and DetroitNews[dot]com. Photo of Professor Chung by Max Ortiz, The Detroit News.



As reported by Adele Peters of, the Guardian can descend to the 200 – 500 foot depths where lionfish breed. The robot itself has evolved through a few developmental iterations to make it easier to handle and operate.  The robot is human controlled in order to avoid catching similar-looking fish such as the wolfish, but future iterations will be equipped with recognition software to distinguish between the two species.

A commercial version of the Guardian will come to market in due course.  In the meantime, online stores such as provide traditional fish hunting gear for avid divers who wish to help in this promising reef-protecting mission.

Story and images courtesy of and


As reported in a recent Army release, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Northwestern University have “taken a new approach to robot building, using “smarticles” that could lead to new ways for robots to move…”

Closeup of a smarticle, or a smart active particle, reveals 3D-printed arms, light sensor and servo motor output shafts that actuate the arms, at opposite ends of the smarticle body.   Photo 2 shows an interaction experiment. Images courtesy of Rob Felt, Georgia Tech.


The full video interview with Lucien Miller (Illo 1.), founder and COO of Innov8tve Designs, can be viewed on YouTube, here.   You can also find it by visiting Be sure and check out the full interview!  Note that a detailed report by Jim T. on BADASS products can be perused at RC Groups, as well (Illo 2). 

Lucien Miller (Illo 3.) notes that he entered the RC hobby “way back in 1975.” He launched Innov8tive Designs in mid-2006, and initially was the U.S. distributor of Scorpion products (electric motors and accessories).  He has been in the electric motor business, serving hobby, business, oceanographic, aviation, municipal, law enforcement and military markets ever since.

Lucien debuted the BADASS product line on the Innov8tive Designs website in September, 2019.  It occurred to Lucien BADASS would be a cool name. “It’s not in swearword filters that we are aware of, and otherwise was not a problem in the opinion of a couple of hobby magazine editors I called.”  Lucien reports that people who tested the prototype motors, which were not branded at the time, candidly volunteered that the motors were “badass”!


A key aspect of Innov8tive Design’s motor offerings is the R&D motor testing data that the company publishes for all its motors. See the Spec Chart (Illo 4.).  Note that if you click on the “CLICK HERE for the Performance Data Chart” link, you’ll get a Performance Test Data chart (Illo 5.).

Every motor is tested on 3 or 4 voltages with 20 to 30 different props on each voltage. These charts show real, live performance data from the dynamometer in the Innov8tive Designs motor lab. Pick a prop size, and the chart shows the static performance data for any of these props at any of the noted voltages.

Suppose you have a design and are limited to an 8-inch prop, and have a 4S pack on hand; you can scroll down and see the performance a given motor has on 4 cells with, e.g., an 8x4 or an 8x6 prop. You can see how many amps it’s going to pull, what RPM it’s going to turn, the theoretical pitch speed of this combination, and how many ounces of thrust it makes.

Innov8tive Designs is the only company in the industry that offers this. “A lot of companies may offer data on 2 or 3 props, but Innov8tive Designs will spend one to two days with each motor, running the tests with all the different props.” The results are color coded (Illo 6.).  The one that is coded Blue in the illustration is too small for the motor and not making enough power to make it worthwhile.

“If it’s Green, it’s somewhere between 50 and 80% power in the motor, and the Yellow range is anywhere between 80 and up to 100%.  You can use it but do so with caution—make sure you have good ventilation and cooling. If you see one that’s highlighted in Red, it pulls more than the maximum rated current for the motor, and so we recommend not using that prop.”
One can see at a glance the performance of any of Innov8tive Design’s motors. Also, if you click on a motor, about 10 difference reference photos will appear—different views plus CAD drawings that show different views.  Scroll to the right to see the external dimensions, those of the prop adapter, prop mounts and more.


Note a special design feature: on the cross-mounts that mount to the back of the motor there are slotted holes to give more spacing flexibility to be able to fit them to existing aircraft.  Innov8tive Designs offers long and extra-long prop adapters for prop mounting applications where spacers, prop hubs and spinners may require it.

A video linked to on YouTube shows a variety of shots including motor details and FPV shots, both from the ground and the aircraft. Videos were taken in Oregon and in Nevada.  More videos will be coming out.

BADASS Promo Video

BADASS Powered Drak First Flight 

BADASS Motor for RiteWing Drak 

4K 120MPH for 8 Miles 

Mini Drak cruising at 125 MPH 

BADASS prop adapters in the included hardware kit (Illo 7.) allow for the use of an M3 (metric hole) screw, so if you are using an aluminum spinner with one retention screw in its tip, the prop adapters (Illo 8.)  will allow for the use of an M3 screw on the 28 and 35mm BADASS motors. Another included option is the regular hex nut but also the nyloc style nut, so both types are included in the hardware. Be sure and mount with blue Loctite (not red).

If you have an application with the rotating can part of the motor facing toward the nose of the plane and you want to use a collet-style prop adapter on the front of the motor (where the standard prop shaft barely protrudes), BADASS offers a Smooth Shaft Prop adapter that replicates the back end of the motor and which can be bolted onto the front of the motor (Illo 9.)  You can use the smooth front shaft adapter shown, which is available for all of the motors, for collet-style prop adapters, and for folding props with aluminum hub yoke assemblies (that hold to the shaft with a set screw).

BADASS will be an exclusive only available from Innov8tive Deigns, and their West Coast development partner, RC Dude Hobbies (RCDH).  Randy Moody from RCDH has worked with Lucien for the last 2 or 3 years on this project.
BADASS Power is strictly an informational website where people can look at our products.  See

If you click on where to buy, it takes you to a splash page pointing to Innov8tive Designs or RCDH.


BADASS offers attractive packaging with a form-fit die cut foam insert that is the exact shape of the motor. The 35-20 motor box interior is shown (Illo 10.).

BADASS includes its own line of speed controllers (ESCs). These are made by ZTW, to BADASS exacting standards (Illo 11.). There have been some minor modifications for BADASS’s specific use, and there are two series of ESCs. There is the REBEL Series (Illo 12.), the sport model version, for from 12 to 85 amp. These are heat shrink covered, and come in six different models.  The 12 amp has a linear BEC but the 25amp and larger all have switching-type BECs.

The 25amp ESC has a 3-amp BEC, and once you get up to the 35amp ESC and larger, they have 5-amp switching BECs. In the case of the 45amp ESC and larger, you can select the output to either 5 or 6V.  They have a little LED programmer; you plug your ESC into the top and it’s self-powered off the BEC.

The Renegade Series is a higher-end product with a wrap-around extruded aluminum heatsink case so that it dissipates the heat of the FETs and the BEC circuit (Illo 13.).  The 45-amp model is shown. It has a 5amp BEC that is adjustable to 5 or 6 volts output.  BADASS also has 65, 85, 125 and 155amp ESCs.  These have 8-amp BECs, and they are adjustable to 5, 6, 7.4 or 8.4 volts. The 125 and 155 amp models comes with a nice molded mounting clip (Illo 14.) that you can attach to your aircraft and the ESC snaps right into it (Illo 15.). The Renegade Series includes a nice programming card that you plug right into it (Illo 16.). Pushbuttons enable scrolling through the menus, where you can set all the features.

All of these ESCs can be programmed with stick commands, too.  But note it can be a little tedious stepping down through twelve menu layers.  The LED programmer for the Rebel Series is $9.99, and the programmer for the Renegade Series is only $19.99.

Innov8tive Designs will be offering high-voltage (HV) BADASS options in the future.  To date, they have released the 28mm and 35mm motors, and in that family, 6S is the top end recommended pack.  There are a couple in the lower Kv, 3520 and 3530 motors that you could run on 8S packs, but for all intents and purposes, the motors so far released are for 6S and below, which all of the current BADASS ESCs address.

Jim T. asked Lucien for advice on his 1990’s Norman from Lance Planes (Illo 17.), which is running a PJS-100 from the 1990s, with an old Blue JETI ESC. Jim T. speculates that a 900Kv motor might be a match.  Lucien noted that the BADASS 2814 size is an 870 Kv, which is pretty close.

It is important to remember tht because BADASS motors use such strong magnets, and with such high-efficiency stators and high efficiency steel in the rotor cans, these motors do not “bog down” as much as most other motors do.  Because of that, a BADASS motor with a Kv value of about 10% less than a 3rd brand motor, under load, will spin a prop at about the same RPM. Most brushless motors under load drop down to about 70% of the no load speed, when you have them loaded to about 80% power.  BADASS motors, in contrast, only drop down to somewhere between 80 and 85% of the no-load speed under typical loads.

So, if you have an application with a 3rd-party 2820 1,000 Kv motor, and you replace it with a BADASS 2820 1,000 Kv motor, it will turn your prop at about 10% to 15% faster RPM.  This is why the prop performance charts are a key tool.
For the Norman, our 2814 870 Kv motor with an 11x5.5 prop will give you 450-460 Watts of power with a little over 4.5 pounds of static thrust on a 4-cell pack, pulling about 32amps at full throttle. Accordingly, a 4S 2200 pack would be fine, and would provide unlimited vertical. But throttling it back to about 1/3 throttle as when typically flying in a night-fly, the current would drop down to 7or 8 amps and one could expect 20-minute flights.

BADASS batteries are in the works. Innov8tive Designs will be teaming up with a major battery manufacturer in due course to offer complete BADASS power systems.

Moving forward, BADASS will be offering motor sizes in the 23mm range, including 2305, 2310, 2315 and 2320 sizes.  These are great power plants for smaller aircraft.  Then, 4520 and 4530, with lower Kv versions for 10 or 12 cells, and then matching ESCs.

Innov8tive Designs has been known since day one as a power system company. “We launched the Scorpion brand and made it a household name. We sold that brand, which left a hole, which is one of the reasons for launching BADASS. And we’ve offered Cobra motors for 9 years since 2010, with the same data and charts. We are known for the best motors and customer service, and we can advise on the best system for a particular plane.  This sets us apart from a lot of other companies. We care about our customers getting the performance they are seeking.

“We use super-oversized bearings, which results in a very robust product that can operate year in and year out in a brushless electric power system.  You can find our products and buy the best match for your needs at both and”


It is a new era in motor technology, pioneered by electrical engineer and inventor Lucien Miller of Innov8tve Designs.  Our thanks to Lucien Miller and Jim T. Graham for the opportunity to post these highlights from Jim T’s recent interview with Lucien on BADASS products recently published on

Photos by Jim T. Graham of; Illustrations by Lucien Miller of Innov8tive Designs. Our thanks to their assistance in the production of this report.


“We’re entering the market with this product that’s easier to use, easier to fly and about a third of the cost of what’s out there,” said Spiker. “It’s also going to be more efficient, easier to transport, can withstand high temperatures, flies smoother, has less battery consumption, is easier to launch, and is driven through our proprietary tablet-based app developed in-house.”

Customers “can use an Android Tablet with Hitec’s app to plan and execute a survey mission quickly and easily… Both the Xeno FX and Hitec’s SUI Endurance – Multipurpose Professional Multirotor use a Pixhawk Cube flight controller and fly ArduPilot, an open source, unmanned vehicle Autopilot Software Suite and an i.MX6, which provides more advanced payload control and software management functions.” Both Hitec multirotor and fixed wing drones are assembled in the U.S. 

The Xeno FX supports interchangeable payload and sensor packages, can be launched with a simple hand toss and is capable of flying for up to an hour at a time. Moreover, the system automatically integrates metadata and has a BVLOS capability of round trips reaching as far as 15 miles out (30 miles total).

Read the Inside Unmanned Systems summary here, and get all the details at Hitec by clicking here.


Available on November 18, the new personal robot is priced at $3,250.00 U.S.  If you have an interest in acquiring a gita, you can sign up at to get on a notification list. Piaggio will notify registrants how to place an order in advance of the product’s commercial launch.  “PFF was founded to create lifestyle-transforming mobility solutions, allowing people to move with greater freedom in their neighborhoods. With the gita robot, our first product, we’re thrilled to see that vision come to life,” said Greg Lynn, CEO and co-founder at PFF.  Photos courtesy of PFF.


The DRONERESPONDERS program is led by Chief Charles Werner (ret.) who serves as the director.  DRONERESPONDERS is a 501(c)3 non-profit program of AIRT, Inc.  Charles Werner is a retired fire chief for city of Charlottesville, VA and now serves as the director of Drone Responders Public Safety Alliance - a nonprofit program created to unite aerial first responders, emergency managers, and search & rescue specialists under a unified organization to help them learn, train, and test with one another with the ultimate objective of maximizing drone operations for public safety.

Click here to listen to the SoundCloud audio episode in which Charles explains the organization’s mission. This episode uncovers how drones are making an impact on the public safety industry and just how Charles has managed to create a thriving nonprofit drone organization.


The other ship may be a test design for autonomous human transportation. Interestingly, two websites that identify images uploaded to their image inboxes had no specific information on these photos. A cursory review of the websites of a few design houses noted for this level of prototyping turned up no leads that we could find. These mystery ship prototypes suggest an interesting and productive future in large scale drone and human transport applications.


Alex Douglas reported on “…[F]eatures include
convenient operation, high security, wide coverage, zero emissions and low noise. This is coupled with different payloads which provide solutions for global customers in areas like surveying and mapping, rescue, security & protection, border scouting
and forest scouting.”


On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, Major General Poss (ret), USAF, published an open letter to the new FAA Administrator with suggestions for optimizing the business growth of the Drone industry. General Poss is a leading expert on UAS and is CEO of ISR Ideas, an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company. Owing to the letter’s length, portions are excerpted, here. Click here for the full text.

An Open Letter to the New FAA Administrator, on Drones BY JAMES POSS, MAJ GEN (RET)

New Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration Stephen Dickson. Photo: FAA.
Victory! We finally have a former Airman appointed Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. And not just any Airman; Stephen Dickson is an Air Force Academy grad AND a former F-15 pilot.

Dear Administrator Dickson,
An Open Letter to the New FAA Administrator, on Drones - Inside Unmanned Systems

Use research better: ASSURE, your unmanned center of excellence, has done a great job with its tasks. Its drone air and ground collision work are world firsts. However, it takes forever to clear research tasks through your staff/DOT to get ASSURE working, and ASSURE can help much more with some of your big problems, like remote ID, training/airworthiness standards and C2 spectrum. Cybersecurity for autonomy is a crucial area that you can get ASSURE working on now.
Your Test Center in New Jersey is also underutilized. It’s doing great work, but it’s mostly for manned aviation. Research is your long-range radar; you can’t fight BVR if your researchers aren’t looking at issues before they become problems. Also, please make sure you use research to write rules.

…Recommend doing things the NASA way. Invite a lot of people to write your concept of operations (CONOPS), give a lot of feedback as they write it, hand the hard part over to researchers and leave no doubt in stakeholders’ minds as to why their idea was brilliant—or stupid.  …Get some straight stats from the staff. Don’t ask how many waivers they’ve approved; ask how many they’ve turned down. For example, the approval stats for drone night ops are great, but terrible for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and operations over people. …Congress told the FAA to start giving feedback on all waiver refusals and that’s a great idea. When you turn down 90% of waivers, it’s not the writer’s fault; a feedback loop is broken somewhere.

…Ask why we can’t do Red Flag waiver debriefs and tell everyone how to get better.
Beware the triad: This triad isn’t a Chinese crime gang; it’s an attempt by the Communist Chinese to take over drone traffic management and remote ID in the United States. Communist Chinese companies own more than 80% of the US consumer/prosumer drone airframe market and are using this position to take over the other two legs of the triad—unmanned traffic management and remote ID. …The CIA can brief you on the Communist Chinese plan to dominate key tech sectors. NSA has a great demo on what an adversary can do if they make the chips, firmware and software. It’s sobering.

…Want a safe and secure UTM? Write security into UTM and remote ID rules. Security must be “baked in” at the design phase to be effective, so you must work quickly. You have an Executive Order from President Trump that gives you all the cover you need to act on keeping hostile nations out of our networks.

UTM will take over the earth: No one has fielded a fully automated air traffic management system yet, but UTM will work and it will be automated. Right now, your staff is letting industry lead UTM development.  …Recommend that even though the FAA won’t own the UTM infrastructure, you will set standards and ensure they’re enforced.

It’s the data link, stupid: Sorry about the title, but command and control (C2) for BVLOS is a mid-air waiting to happen. EVERYONE one wants BVLOS but no one is thinking about the C2. The Air Force makes BVLOS look easy because it can afford SATCOM and has plenty of military bandwidth to use. But once you subtract military bandwidth and cell phone spectrum, there ain’t much spectrum left for commercial drone C2. …BVLOS links/autonomy are a great problem to turn over to your research folks and convene one of those big NASA-style CONOPS conventions.
   Remote ID: I’ve heard that the draft rules went to the Office of Management and Budget and the rules require all drones over 250 grams to have remote ID. That’s great! Everyone must have remote ID or we’ll never be able to tell hobbyist from terrorist. ASTM International has already produced a great remote ID standard for you.
   Operations Over People: The FAA draft Operations of Small UAS Over People was a swing and a miss. You can easily fix it by getting with your ASSURE team to get the ground impact numbers correct and by removing the prohibition on small drone flight over moving vehicles. The rest of the rule is pretty good.
   Large UAS in the National Airspace: We had great aviation rulemaking committee meeting on this subject and everyone (even the Air Traffic folks) agreed to use modified USAF procedures for flying drones over 55 pounds in controlled airspace. That was two years ago and your staff has gone NORDO on large drones since. Can we see some draft rules, please?
   Counter Drone: Congress gave you a lot of guidance on counter-drone operations. Recommend you move quickly on it. Congress told you to do a Counter-UAS ARC, but how about a big “open tent” counter-UAS CONOPS meeting first?
Sensible Automation
…It’s popular to talk about getting government out of the way of industry, but this is one industry that won’t progress without your rules. …A single drone squadron at Creech AFB routinely flies more hours annually than all the fighter squadrons in PACAF (Pacific Air Forces). Automation, autonomy and drones are the future, and you can do a lot on your watch to make that future happen safely, securely and profitably!
With Respect,
James Poss, Fellow Air Force Vet


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.



One of the challenges the military faces is communications between different aircraft systems.  For example, attack helicopters and F-22 stealth fighters use entirely different radio frequency (RF) systems that do not speak to each other. Morphing antennas are part of the solution for enabling communications between aircraft using incompatible radio frequencies. As reported in DEFENSETECH News at, a copper antenna is shown "printed directly onto the surface" of a MQ-9 reaper’s flap servo cover.

Photo of copper-retrofit antenna printed on surface of MQ-9 Servo Cover courtesy of Oriana Pawlyk.  MQ-9 Reaper photo courtesy of General Atomics


The editorial points out that a kind of “AI arms race” is underway that is heavily funded by both governments and corporations, and the reason is that AI is projected to add approximately US$15 trillion to the world economy by 2030.  By all accounts, China and the U.S. are focused not on ethics and codes of practice so much as they are on the competition to develop the most powerful AI resources.  However, this apparent gap is being filled by France, Germany and Japan, whose national research agencies have called for research proposals on “AI that incorporates an ethical dimension.” In addition, the U.K. has created a center for data ethics and innovation.  Meanwhile, officials from Canada and France were said to have been working on launching an International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI) in discussions at the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 24 – 26.

For more details, please see the editorial at


As reported by Stephen Shankland of CNET, Wong offered a number of directions for future progress:
--New technology will make transistors faster and smaller.
--A handful of new memory technologies will be built directly into processors instead of connected as separate chips.
--3D stacking technology will mean computer processor functions that are isolated today can be sandwiched into multiple layers, linked with high-speed data pathways.

Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET.  For further details, please click here.


The AtlasPRO was flown along the perimeter of the Maracanã Stadium, one of the largest stadiums in South America, during the tournament’s final series. The AtlasPRO system was used in both single and multi-UAS missions to gather data on public safety hazards and facilitate emergency response.  Also shown is the Atlas Blue-J fixed wing drone.  For details, visit the

08/01/2019 notes that “…[R]esearcher Samir Bouabdallah at EPFL and ETH Zurich, has come up with an inventive propulsion system modelled after those used by helicopters. His design, marketed through his start-up Flybotix, uses just two propellers and an algorithm-based stabilization mechanism, giving his drones ‘the aerodynamic performance of a helicopter and the mechanical stability of a quadcopter.’”  The design is less complex than traditional quadcopter planforms, reducing maintenance costs, and the larger blades are more efficient and less power consumptive than traditional configurations. For details, click here. Images courtesy of Flybotix via


In the most impressive show yet, hundreds of companies from dozens of countries showed off the latest in robots, machine intelligence and AI-driven platforms across commercial and military domains.  Xponential 2019 also offered a large variety of educational programming, seminars and workshops. Captions are in the order of posted images.

Aion Robotics,

Airborne Innovations LLC.,

Ascent Vision,


Boeing Company, The,


EarthSense 2019 TerraSentia,

Griffon Aerospace,


NAVMAR Applied Sciences Corp.,

Robotic Research,

Sinclair National UAS Center,

Sky Power GmbH,

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory,



Photos by Lucien Miller, CEO of; image editing and captions by Tom Atwood, executive director of The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF). © 2019



In recent years, there has been a belief articulated in various corners of the military that lethal robots must have a human in the decision-making loop. This report suggests that attitudes are beginning to change. “It was only a matter of time.” Photos of U.S. armed UGV courtesy of Military&Aerospace Electronics, photo of Russian Uran-9 courtesy of C4RISRNET.  For details, please click here.


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.


The TS3 can enable your robot to avoid people, pets and other dynamic objects in busy environments, and it can reliably map its surroundings with minimal processing overhead.  Learn more at


A Washington Post article notes that customers have brought up the question of human displacement.  However, restauranteurs maintain that jobs will be protected in the face of rising automation.  It is a thorny and complex issue. For more details on the restaurant bots, please click here.

Captain Crabs is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Wilmington, Delaware.  Photo courtesy of Robot Captain Crabs Cajun Seafood & Bar, via the Washington Post.


In June, reported that, “Raytheon has extensively tested a counter drone laser, successfully shooting down 50-odd drones up to the size of the Chinese-built quadcopters, using a 10kW High Energy Laser mounted on a Polaris MRZR so the system can be used in austere environments such as forward air bases. It can be programed with a specific set of rules of engagements to limit collateral damage and help ensure flight safety.”

News update and drone image courtesy of Breakingdefense[dot]com, via Unmanned Systems News (USN) by David Place.
Polaris photo courtesy of

Our thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics, the Unmanned Systems News (USN), in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.

06/29/2019 quotes Dr. Travis Deyle, Cobalt CEO: "Our goal is to combine the best parts of machines (unwavering attention, perfect recall, & super-human sensing) with the best aspects of people (warmth, responsiveness, and adaptability) to create service robots that dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone and fundamentally redefine the modern workplace." Photo courtesy of Cobalt Robotics via Google Images.



Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz

1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM (depending on model)

2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
Gigabit Ethernet

2 USB 3.0 ports; 2 USB 2.0 ports.

Raspberry Pi standard 40 pin GPIO header (fully backwards compatible with previous boards)

2 × micro-HDMI ports (up to 4kp60 supported)

2-lane MIPI DSI display port

2-lane MIPI CSI camera port

4-pole stereo audio and composite video port

H.265 (4kp60 decode), H264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode)

OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics

Micro-SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage

5V DC via USB-C connector (minimum 3A*)

5V DC via GPIO header (minimum 3A*)

Power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled (requires separate PoE HAT)

Operating temperature: 0 – 50 degrees C ambient

* A good quality 2.5A power supply can be used if downstream USB peripherals consume less than 500mA in total.

For details, please click here.




This initiative is part of a DJI 10-point plan intended to to “ensure the world’s skies remain safe in the drone era,” and was originally reported by


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.




As reported by, ESAero’s proposal, “Validation of UAM Dynamics Modeling Tool Suite Using Scaled Modular Aerial Research Testbed,” will comprehensively address a gap in knowledge due to a lack of publicly available datasets for the dynamic handling qualities of UAM and eVTOL aircraft powered by all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

ESAero will develop the Scaled Modular Aerial Research Testbed (SMART) vehicle to allow installation of modular vertical lift systems with modules representing common UAM aircraft configurations. The “as-built” vehicle characteristics and flight test data of three different UAM configurations will be provided as deliverables at the conclusion of the effort, enabling validation of UAM and rotorcraft dynamic tools suites specifically designed for eVTOL.

This will include the results of the Phase I work, which is a comprehensive tool suite for the quantitative assessment of UAM aircraft ride qualities with respect to passenger comfort.  Image courtesy of ES AERO.  For more information, please visit


The aforementioned conclusions were published in the advisory MIT Technology Review ©2019 about environmental consequences of AI models.  AI researchers have suspected such environmental impacts for years. “While probably many of us have thought of this in an abstract, vague level, the figures really show the magnitude of the problem,” says Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez, a computer scientist at the University of A Coruña in Spain, who was not involved in the research. “Neither I nor other researchers I’ve discussed them with thought the environmental impact was that substantial.” The findings raise an important question: are there viable mitigation strategies that should be pursued?


As stated on Dronelife, “Here is how the giveaway works:

• Step 1: Visit the contest page, click “Enter now,” and sign up for your free IBM Cloud to be in the running.

• Step 2: On Tuesdays between now and June 16, 2019, watch the IBM Developer Twitch channel and check your email. Each week, we’ll randomly select a group of winners who will receive a DJI Tello drone, full access to code patterns for drone programming, and a nice surprise or two.

• Step 3: Code something amazing with open source patterns. Complete a series of challenges, using tools like Node-RED and IBM Watson Visual Recognition, Watson IoT, IBM Cloud, and IBM Data and Analytics, to create a drone application that makes a difference in your community. Showcase your work on social using #IBMDroneDrop.”

For details, please visit: IBM Developer Drone Giveaway



AerialX, a six-year-old company based in Vancouver, British Columbia offers a patent-pending solution for ridding the sky of hostile UAVs when the need to act is urgent. As reported at, the 910-gram DroneBullet is a highly maneuverable quadcopter multirotor with a 4-kilometer range and a speed approaching 220mph in a dive attack.  DroneBullet approaches and then locks onto the target drone, then uses its own kinetic energy to knock it out of the sky by ramming it.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.


As announced by, “The U.S. Army Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Aviation’s Project Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence to identify and prototype new drone capabilities with commercial companies that specialize in on-demand, “eye in the sky” technologies…

In this process, the U.S. Army is partnering with the Pentagon’s internal startup accelerator to adapt small commercial drones for the battlefield. Parrot, the leading European drone group, is one of the 6 companies[1] that have met the standards set in the solicitation issued in November 2018[2] to develop and prototype the next generation of small-unit surveillance drone.”

For details, please click here.

Our thanks to Monica England of Planck Aero and who is AUVSI San Diego Lindbergh Chapter President for her assistance with this news update.




In the big picture, Boeing is maintaining its leadership aviation role developing advanced urban aircraft technologies for a new world in which autonomous systems will simplify transportation in crowded urban environments.  This will keep passengers of all ages pleasantly occupied—plans foresee immersive broadband internet access that will permit work or play while commuters are on the way.  As reported by, “In the coming months, Boeing will continue to advance the development of the CAV with flight testing focused on forward flight, loads analysis and vehicle performance.”  Lead image courtesy of Boeing via Commercial Drone Professional; 2nd & 3rd CAV photos via

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes that are mixed in, from which this news update was sourced. To subscribe, simply email David a subscribe request. If you have the time, please note you learned of this subscription opportunity, here, and thank you for reading NREF robotics and AI news updates!




Theoretical computational scientist Kenneth Reagan had found that human chess players assisted by computers could outplay humans or computers playing on their own.  Reagan called the player-computer teams “centaurs”, suggesting a certain battle prowess, and the approach, itself, was dubbed “freestyle chess.” argues that freestyle chess is the strategy our military plans to use in the event of a global war. That said, the concept is being reviewed and tested by the military via the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.


Aergility Atlis Cargo UAV  
Larry Yonge, Aergility VP, R&D, notes in the video that Jim came to him with the idea, and he carefully reviewed the patent application Jim had submitted and the technical aspects. The aircraft is formally named the Aergility Atlis Cargo UAV, and its advantages over other VTOL designs include simplicity: “It’s just got rotating things, no control surfaces.”  The multirotor features long range with low maintenance, because it uses a gas engine. Aergility refers to this technology as “Managed Autorotation.”  The gas-powered prop provides all the energy that propels it forward.

Jim comments that they had a vision for different sizes and so they built a scale version to prove out the technology.  They first checked out the design on simulators, then validated the simulations on a coaxial static test stand, to test thrust, torque, current and all the parameters of the speed controller, rotors and motors.  Next, they mounted a test stand on a truck to measure aerodynamic performance at 70 mph.  They then flew a quarter scale model with a maximum gross weight of about 55 lbs. at a flight speed of 70mph.  Power was provided only by the propulsion engine, not the rotors, to prove the autorotation concept. 

When scaled up, Aergility envisions an autonomous UAV that will go from point A to point B hauling a 400-lb. cargo at over 100mph, with a range of multiple hundreds of miles on a single tank of fuel.  Jim excitedly notes in the video that the possibilities may not even be imaginable at present given the potential to autonomously transport a significant payload at relatively low cost. Photo of Aergility Atlis at Xponential 2019 by Lucien Miller of Innov8tive Designs; illustrations courtesy of Aergility; photo of Aergility prototype with Scorpion brushless pusher motor taken by Bobby Watts of Watts Innovations.
For Aergility Atlis Cargo UAV details, please click here.



One of the most impressive exhibits at Xponential 2019 was the mockup of a full-scale multirotor, the Bell Nexus, that will autonomously shuttle people in the future.  The Bell Nexus fans are far quieter than helicopter blades, a major requirement in future inner-city aerial transportation. Nexus fans incorporate curved blade tips with the distance between blade tips and the contoured shroud carefully designed to minimize operational noise. A Bell engineer said the first prototype could be test flown within two years. This futuristic vehicle may be a commonplace within decades, a glimpse of future urban life. We will tell you more after next year’s Xponential 2020, May 4-7, in Boston!

Standing at the Xponential 2019 show entrance is NREF photojournalist Mark Essenburg, photo courtesy of Lucien Miller of Innov8tive Designs. Images of the Bell Nexus interior and its fan blades tilting forward by Monica England of Planck Aero and who is AUVSI San Diego Lindbergh Chapter President. Nexus front and side views, cabin and fan detail, by Tom Atwood, NREF Executive Director.


As reported by, the new CUBERG electrolyte is thermally stable and provides greater power density even if other items in the drone are overheating. The batteries are said to be far safer than traditional Li-ion technology, and they can be manufactured using current manufacturing techniques.  “Critically, the electrolyte is able to be introduced into current lithium-ion battery making processes.”  CUBERG was founded on research by Stanford students, who went on to finish their studies. In April, the company was awarded $1.57 million in grants from the California Energy Commission to scale up production.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.



During testing, RoCycle demonstrated 85% accuracy when identifying and sorting the three materials from a fixed position. Accuracy decreased to 63% when RoCycle collected items from a moving conveyor belt. Material type can be very difficult to distinguish optically, and is more easily identified tactilely. “Computer vision alone will not be able to solve the problem of giving machines human-like perception, so being able to use tactile input is of vital importance,” MIT professor Daniela Rus said. The research will be presented later this month at the IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics in Seoul, South Korea. To contact the author of this article, email
Story and images courtesy of Marie Donlon, and MIT and Yale universities, courtesy of Engineering360, IEEE Global Spec


The KUB is potentially a mass-marketed product that may become widely used by countries worldwide owing simply to effectiveness and cheap pricing based on economies of scale. Traditional air defenses cannot combat swarms of this category of lightweight drone, and defenses to this new threat will have to be invented.  This puts a keen priority on defenses against killer drones—that is to say, it will be critically important for countries to develop means to defend against, and defeat, swarming UAVs approaching from above.   The next chapter in drone warfare will see counter-drone technology as the growing priority in defense budgets, worldwide. Photo credit: Zala Aero Group via Youtube, and Kalashnikov.  Story courtesy of


As reported at,"If at first you don't succeed, you try again," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at SpaceIL's control center in Yehud, Israel. Story and image courtesy of


Beresheet will orbit Earth, gradually increasing its apogee until it can maneuver to be captured by the Moon's gravity. It will travel to the Moon's surface under its own power, a voyage taking nearly two months.  SpaceIL's four-legged lunar spacecraft, which was competing in the Google Lunar XPrize, will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the Moon, at only 180 kg. Once it has completed its mission, Beresheet will represent Israel's first spacecraft and the world's first privately funded spacecraft to reach the Moon. Its mission is to transmit photos and video of its new home and conduct scientific measurements. Upon the mission's completion, it will remain as a lunar time capsule commemorating this historic accomplishment. Images in order:
1. Beresheet Moon Capture,
2. Beresheet Earth photo April 5, 2019,
3. Prelaunch Beresheet with Engineers,
4. Beresheet Earth View Selfie,
5. Beresheet detail,
6. Beresheet Laser RetroreflectorArray,
7. 3D printed bracket from RUAG Space holds the lunar lander engine, all photos courtesy of RUAG. 

For more details, please click here.

See also, Times of Israel report.  


New products include the C200 Bin-Carrying Robot Shuttle System, Autonomous Forklifts, and the OpenBox System, a SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) navigation system for autonomous point-to-point deliveries.  Lit Fung, Managing Director and Michael Hao, President, will be available for interviews at ProMat in Chicago, April 8-11. For more information, please click here.  Images courtesy of Geek+. Our thanks for the assistance of Frank Tobe, consultant and founder of The Robot Report, and co-founder of ROBO Global, in the preparation of this news update.


Andreas Raptopoulos, Founder & CEO, Matternet “Together with UPS, we aim to shift the status quo for on-demand logistics for healthcare systems in the U.S. through drone delivery networks. Our technology allows hospital systems to transport medical items at an unprecedented level of speed and predictability, resulting in improved patient care and operational savings. We are excited to work with our partners to breathe new life into healthcare logistics, and help establish a new layer of ultra-fast, predictable transportation.” Photos courtesy of Matternet. For details, please click here.



Locker notes this robot, well on in development, will “become a tireless warehouse worker who never needs a bathroom break, won’t form a union, and will never ask for a raise.”  For details, please visit the report here.


Final results from a study carried out by the German research firm Drone Industry Insights will be presented at the Commercial UAV Expo Europe, to be held April 8 – 10 at the Amsterdam Congress Centre. For details, please click here.



03/23/2019 reported that the system provides a “better type of reconnaissance in inspection and surveillance information” in places where humans should never go.  The Guardian S carries six 4K cameras that record details of the environment, as shown on YouTube.  The human operator uses a tray-style controller with a large display. “We are really focused on the part of robotics that is about human augmentation, as opposed to human replacement,” says Fraser Smith, president and co-founder of Sarcos Robotics.  Images courtesy of Sarcos Robotics.


A major force in Thai Robotics, Dr. Laowattana is a highly respected expert in the fields of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. In this trenchant interview, Tom explores future directions in robotics and AI in Thailand and Asia with Dr. Laowattana. For details, please click here.


As noted in the announcement on PR Wire, Drone Delivery Systems will offer ASW autonomous commercial delivery drones powered by “the hardware standard for open source autopilots… With DroneCare's integration into the AirBox ecosystem, recipients around the world will know that their drone deliveries are being conducted with certified, reliable, and safe drones for years to come.”  Learn more about ASW, here.


The robot drones, weighing under under 200 grams each, will monitor battlefields as well as terrorism suspects before troops are on-site.  They are scheduled for deployment to Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of this year.  3D drone fleet illustration courtesy of Chesky W/ Getty Images via CNBC.  Click here for details.


FEDOR displays amazing accuracy in a demonstration of two-fisted gunplay in the YouTube videos.  

The footage was posted on the Twitter page of Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.  FEDOR is being developed to support exploration of the Moon and Mars.  The video also shows FEDOR using tools and driving a car.  The executive director of the FEDOR project noted his team has since begun sourcing or fabricating their own versions of motors, sensors, cameras, computers and other parts previously supplied by Western firms. Report details can be found, here.   Photos courtesy of the FEDOR project via


In this episode, Mark Levin explains how cyber threats can potentially undermine and destroy space, link, user and ground segments of our and our allies’ space systems.  He delves into anti-satellite (ASAT) missile technology and the extent to which the Chinese PLA has already deployed initial battle-ready systems. Full disclosure: Blaze TV is a pay-for-view subscription service we are not associated with in any way, but is available at arguably very reasonable rates. For details, please click here.


The drone is the well-known Schiebel Camcopter© S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS).   The Camcopter CS-100 is shown prior to both nighttime and day-time BVLOS pipeline inspection flights in Nigeria.  The VTOL Camcopter requires no prepared area or supporting equipment for launch and recovery, and operates in adverse weather conditions with a BVLOS capability said to extend out to 200 km, over land and sea. For more detail on Kongsberg Geospatial, please visit  For more on this news story, see the Kongsberg Geospatial press release via PR Web. photo credit: Schiebel


The photos in this sequence show hardware and current sampling work, in the order listed:

Photo 1 reveals the scale of the spacecraft as workers assemble the faring, image courtesy of JAXA.
Photo 2 itemizes Hayabusa-2 components as viewed from above, and Photo 3 as viewed from below. Courtesy of JAXA.
Photo 4 reveals the Minerva rovers, courtesy JAXA, via
Photo 5 shows the Mascot rover’s design, courtesy of the German Aerospace Center.
Photo 6 is a close-up of the metallic “bullet” that was shot into the asteroid, via
Photo 7 is an image of Hayabusa’s shadow on Ryugu, circa 2018.
Photo 8 depicts the Hayabusa sampler horn that will collect material for return in 2020. Image courtesy of JAXA.
Photo 9 shows a triumphant team of mission scientists in the control room, Sagamihara, Japan; image courtesy of AFP. 

This research may help us better understand whether asteroid impacts seeded the earth in a fashion favorable to the evolution of life. NREF will continue monitoring this historic mission and will keep you posted—stay tuned! This is your website; please feel free to email NREF with suggestions and/or comments anytime.  Executive director, Thomas Atwood, tatwood[at]the-nref[dot]org.    


The chain’s automated restaurant warehouses will operate in temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius (32 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit), which is too cold for rats and cockroaches to survive, noted company Chief Information Officer Shao Zhidong.  The smart store approach will employ around 140 human servers, or 30 fewer than branches of similar sizes before automating, in turn cutting labor costs by approximately 17%. Report and images courtesy of


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of the aircraft. Owners and operators may no longer place or write registration numbers in an interior compartment. The rule is effective on February 25. The markings must be in place for any flight after that date.

When the FAA first required registration of small drones in 2015, the agency mandated that the registration marking be readily accessible and maintained in readable condition. The rule granted some flexibility by permitting the marking to be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, if it could be accessed without the use of tools.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number. The FAA believes this action will enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier directly without handling the drone.

This interim final rule does not change the original acceptable methods of external marking, nor does it specify a particular external surface on which the registration number must be placed. The requirement is that it can be seen upon visual inspection of the aircraft’s exterior.

The FAA has issued this requirement as an Interim Final Rule—a rule that takes effect while also inviting public comment. The FAA issues interim final rules when delaying implementation of the rule would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. In this case, the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners, and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.

The FAA will consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule, and will then review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the ultimate Final Rule should be changed. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to and search for “RIN 2120-AL32.”

As Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao promised last month, the FAA also posted proposed new rules to let drones fly routinely at night and over people, and to further integrate them safely into the nation’s airspace. The comment period for these proposals is now open and ends on April 15.





This is the first time that authorization has been given to a commercial UAS company to operate at MCAS Miramar’s Autonomous Vehicle Proving Ground (AVPG). On any given day or night, the airspace includes fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft performing training flights, including the C-130, V-22, CH-53E, AV- 8B, F/A-18 and F-35B.

“This type of testing is critically important to prove that small UAS can safely be operated in close proximity to a high volume of military air traffic, which will continue to be the case as small UAS become proliferated more widely with operating forces,” said Josh Wells, CEO and Co-Founder of Planck Aerosystems and former US Navy Pilot. “Through close coordination with Air Traffic Control leads from the Marine Corps, we were able to demonstrate that our technology could perform safe, autonomous missions, from moving vehicles, in national airspace - not only during the day but also at night. The team from MCAS Miramar and Marine Corps Installations Command is leaning forward and breaking down barriers to adoption of advanced new solutions that enhance capabilities for surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time situational awareness, and force protection within DOD.”

Planck Aero’s products open a new world of possibilities in UAS operations for both commercial
and government organizations.  For more information, please visit

Thanks to Monica England, Monica[at]planckaero[dot]com and CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this news report.



The order comes 2 years following China’s declaration that it intends to become a global AI leader. According to The Hill, the order does not direct Congress to appropriate any new funds for AI programs. Rather, federal agencies are to take the lead in setting aside more money and resources for AI development. Photo credit: Chris Kleponis /Getty Images.  The Hill’s news update can be read, here.


“CB Insights’ third annual cohort of AI 100 startups is a list of 100 of the most promising private companies providing hardware and data infrastructure for AI applications, optimizing machine learning workflows, and applying AI across a variety of major industries.” Get the free download, here.


Popular Mechanics reports that the drone is designed to hit ground targets in support of manned aircraft, and to destroy headquarters units and their defenses. provided the size comparison between the Sukhoi S-70 and Okhotnick-B variant, and notes that the first flight of the Hunter is expected in 2019. Ground photos courtesy of VK/Military Informant, via Popular Mechanics. 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

Please note: David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request.



The robot used the self-simulator internally to “contemplate and adapt to different situations, handling new tasks as well as detecting and repairing damage in its own body.” Photos show a time-lapse composite image of a “damaged” robot arm performing pick and place, and the undamaged arm successfully placing objects in a tray.  Next steps reportedly include having the robot simulate and contemplate its own thinking process, which would appear to be a significant step toward machine sentience. The study was DARPA supported. Images courtesy of ROBERT KWIATKOWSKI/COLUMBIA ENGINEERING.

For the fascinating details, please see


and Science Robotics.


The report noted that Starship Technologies is partnering with food-and-facilities-management company Sodexo. In the January 22nd edition of The Washington Post, Peter Holley reported that George Mason University has received 25 mobile robots designed to deliver meals to students and faculty.  Holley noted that each mobile robot can haul a food payload of up to 20 pounds and make deliveries in 15 minutes or less. 

George Mason is reportedly the first campus in the country to incorporate robots into its student dining plan and has the largest fleet of delivery roots on any university campus.  The cost per delivery: $1.99.  

Photo credits:
1. (on-road robots) Starship Technologies;
2. (Starship interior view);
3. (Fleet group photo);
4. (3/4 portrait view of Starship) AUVSI.


DARPA’s synopsis: “The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is issuing an Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) opportunity inviting submissions of innovative basic research concepts exploring new computational frameworks and strategies drawn from the impressive computational capabilities of very small flying insects for whom evolutionary pressures have forced scale/size/energy reduction without loss of performance.”  Illustration: A locust is fitted with an electro-implant to monitor neural activity signaling odorant detection (photo courtesy Huy Mach/AP, from NewsMax,  Review the solicitation, here.


"The NREC gantry supports a 55-foot-long, 24-ton arm that is about 20 feet above the ground. A carriage suspended from the arm will have two hoists for picking up, transporting and positioning concrete blocks so they can be tied together with wire to create the mats. Each concrete “square” is 25 feet-long, four-feet-wide and three inches thick and weighs 3,600 pounds.

…The Corps of Engineers’ ARMOR 1 final prototype robot will dwarf this current test system. It will have six of the 55-foot arms for moving concrete squares. The assembly barge will measure 180 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, said Gabriel Goldman, technical lead for the project at NREC. It will produce mats with 35 rows of concrete squares."  Photos courtesy of CMU/NREC.  For the full story, please click here.


Interestingly, as reported by The National Interest Blog, Robots will team with other robots on the battlefield.  “While the Army is planning on creating heavier, faster, and more heavily armed and armored M2A4 and M2A5 models of the Bradley, it is also set to begin a competition late in 2019 for an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, (or Next Generation Combat Vehicle) to succeed it. …The new robotic combat vehicles may themselves deploy their own small flying drones to scout ahead for enemy forces.”

Semi-autonomous vehicles can be remote controlled by a human operator but also programmed to perform particular tasks autonomously. Letting such machines operate lethal weapons independent of human oversight has always been a red line for those debating the ethics of war, as mobile “robotic” weapons that have the ability to search and destroy on their own are considered to be a different kind of weapons system than traditional arms.  As the cliché goes, nobody wants to unleash the first “Terminator”.  The debate may get more complicated for some when one considers fire-and-forget smart bombs. In any case, the rise of semi-autonomous fighting machines is well underway.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


As witnessed by a gathering full of drone enthusiasts and professionals, and reported December 19 at,  the Forvola Mega Drone took flight and remained airborne at a little over 1 meter for one minute and three seconds carrying a weight of 101kgs.

“Mission Accomplished”, declared the official from the Guinness World Record to a resounding applause and satisfaction from members of both the tech teams. The previous record belonged to the University of Oslo, Norway, whose drone lifted about 61kg. for 37 seconds in 2015. Find details of the latest record flight at this link. For details on the Forvola Mega Drone specifications, which has a staggering top-end payload capacity of 200 Kg, please visit


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

Note to site visitors: David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!



“That’s an enormous difference,” says Jon Bornstein of Amprius. Silicon hairs shown in the photo swell and shrink without damage during charge and discharge. The report notes that this new development could lead to improved electric power systems for manned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) transport systems. Initial cells are “very expensive,” Bornstein admits, but as production volume grows he expects them to be close to cost parity with conventional lithium-ion cells by the mid-2020s, when the urban air mobility market is forecast to take off. This development bodes well for numerous robotics, AI and other e-applications.

12/07/2018 noted: “DARPA tested the technology during a recent three-week series of exercises at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The CODE systems, which included as many as six live and 24 virtual drones, collaborated to navigate, search, and engage both pre-planned and pop-up targets. According to a Nov. 19 release from the agency, the CODE-equipped systems demonstrated an ability to “adapt and respond to unexpected threats in an anti-access area denial environment.” This included preventing communications and GPS signals.

“When communications were degraded or denied, CODE vehicles were able to maintain their mission plan and accomplish mission objectives without direction from humans, the agency said.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

Note to viewers: David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here.



The team flew the plane a distance of 60 meters in a large, sweeping arc in 10 trials at MIT's duPont Athletic Center. "This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system," said Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. "This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions."

"It took a long time to get here," Barrett says. "Going from the basic principle to something that actually flies was a long journey of characterizing the physics, then coming up with the design and making it work. Now the possibilities for this kind of propulsion system are viable."  The flight required an incredible 40,000 volts of electricity—enough to strip electrons from nitrogen atoms in the ambient atmosphere.  Images courtesy of MIT news video.

For additional details on the physics of these groundbreaking flight tests, please visit:

MIT News,

Nature, International journal of science, Haofeng Xu et al. Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion, Nature(2018).



Jane’s notes, “The weapon is manufactured by KBP Instrument Design Bureau, Tula, and is driven by an electric motor, enabling a standard rate of fire of 6,000 rds/min, although this can be lowered to 3,500 rds/min to conserve ammunition. It features a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s with a claimed effective range of up to 1,000 m.”  Read more about the vehicle at


PC Magazine reports that China's state-run Xinhua News Agency has announced that it will be using "composite anchors" to read the news, which combines artificial intelligence with synthesized voices to create puppet-like newsreaders. The artificial newsreaders are based on real-life reporters, and could help with 24-hour news cycles.

The machine-learning program makes it possible for the artificial newsreader to copy lip movements and facial expressions in time with the story it's reading, according to the South China Morning Post. News reports are fed into the system uninterrupted, meaning these newsreaders could theoretically operate 24-7.


As reported by the, the system must carry between 500 and 1,000 pounds to outfit up to a 15-Marine unit. While the main objective is for the vehicle to move with the squad through inconsistent terrain, a nice bonus would be if it could manage intra-squad resupply. 

Of four prototypes now in contention, one is tracked and one uses "tweels" for locomotion, as the photos show.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.




Harbour.Space is an international private university based in Barcelona, Spain, that combines entrepreneurship, technology and design.  We offer innovative university degrees taught in English by industry leaders from around the world.  Our students develop the assets they need to shape the world of tomorrow.

This year, we’ve partnered with Remy Robotics, the latest project from technology investment group Kinetic, to offer top students the unique opportunity to study at Harbour.Space in our Master’s Robotics program. This includes a full scholarship, in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Those who undergo this experience will spend a year they will never forget.

The program begins in January 7, 2019. Deadline for applying is November 12, 2018.

The scholarship value is €34,900 (approximately $40,018.00 USD), and it includes:
• Complete coverage of the University tuition fee (€22,900)
• Living allowance (€1,000 per month during 1 year)
• Internship at Remy Robotics (20h per week during 1 year)

Harbour.Space’s Robotics Program

Harbour.Space’s Robotics program is the bridge between a personal interest in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a top-level professional future in one of the most exciting and fastest growing fields of technology.

The HSU Robotics Program will provide students with:
• The knowledge they require to understand the framework around computational systems, how these systems interact with the physical environment, and how these systems function in, relate to, and can be used to improve human society.
• The practice they need to build on this knowledge. Students will study at the University and then apply their knowledge when they work for 4 hours a day.
• The door to connect with, and eventually become, industry leaders of the future.
• The experience that will change their lives. Barcelona is a thriving entrepreneurial hotspot on the coast of Spain and a gorgeous city at the heart of Europe’s international culture.

Program Prerequisites and Requirements

The Harbour.Space is defined by excellence.
Our community is comprised of some of the foremost robotics and AI leaders of our time. The winners of our Robotics program scholarship will be no different.

Candidates are not required to have previous experience in robotics—however, they are strongly encouraged to have backgrounds in either mathematical or technology related disciplines, preferably physics, engineering, and computer/data science.

We welcome motivated individuals—technology enthusiasts who can work effectively both in teams as well as in isolation, individuals who have the humility and the passion to learn when they don’t know, and who have the drive to step up and lead when it is asked of them.

How to Apply

The application deadline is November 12th, 2018.

To apply for the scholarship, please visit this page.
Once you have submitted it, we will contact you with more information about how to proceed.

If you have any questions about our Robotics program, please feel free to contact Harbour.Space University at




As reported at, “The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the environment,” said Sanchez.  It’s taken a number of years to try and figure this out.
“In essence, it’s the difference between having a brain joystick and having a real telepathic conversation with multiple jets or drones about what’s going on, what threats might be flying over the horizon, and what to do about them.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.



The Daily Beast reported: “The mind-controlled drone trials took place in Pittsburgh between June 2016 and January 2017, according to DARPA. ‘Using a bidirectional neural interface, a volunteer named Nathan Copeland was able to simultaneously steer a simulated lead aircraft and maintain formation of two, simulated unmanned support aircraft in a flight simulator,’ Tim Kilbride, a DARPA spokesperson, told The Daily Beast.

“Test-subject Copeland, who is partially paralyzed, never actually steered a real drone using only his thoughts. Instead, he channeled his thoughts through a medical implant embedded in his skull, which used electroencephalogram—or EEG, the same method doctors use to diagnose epilepsy—to interface with a computer simulation of a drone navigating an obstacle course in the company of two robotic wingmen.

“And the communication, in both directions, is limited to vague directional commands. Go left. Go right. The technology isn’t nearly ready to, say, beam a drone’s video stream directly into a user’s brain. ‘High-resolution electro-neural interface with read and write capabilities in 3-D is a long ways away,’ Daniel Palanker, an expert in prostheses at Stanford University, told The Daily Beast.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.



As reported by the Army Times, one such solution presented at a recent industry day at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, is an aerial drone mobile retrieval system that would help units get their drones back after missions without having to pause.

The “Talon,” was showcased to Army officials and it made an impression.  It uses a Venus Flytrap-like capture system on the back of a moving vehicle through which either a fixed-wing or rotary-wing drone can fly and be caught.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


This extension, like the foot in a bi-valve, enables your phone to clamber across your desk like a primitive animal moving across a primeval sea floor.  For some, “Feely Finger” may point to the uncanny valley.   Feely Finger may reflect an early stage in the robotic evolution of our cell phones.  NASA has equipped some of its rovers with cell phone-based brains.  Now, cell phones are evolving their own kinetic capability. Find Feely Finger details here.

Our thanks to Thomas Marsh,, for his assistance with this story.



For more information, please visit Rethink Robotics at, and








The deployment of the tethered drone was carried out by the security branch of French company Delta Drone, with support from Elistair.  The system surveils an impressive 193 hectares with a minimal logistical footprint. Security at this event included 800 police officers, firemen, police dog teams, independent security services as well as deployed anti-drone technology.  The control room had on-demand access to aerial views of the entrance, greens, stands and the grounds perimeter.  This enabled the security forces to prevent intrusions, detect any incidents from their inception and monitor crowd flow -- all of which help the authorities ensure crowd safety.

Elistair is a leader in the tethered drone field for military, emergency services and private security actors.  The firm has systems deployed on 5 continents and in over 40 countries.  Elistair's references include the French Defence Agency, the Thales Group (multinational security), the U.S. Army, the U.K. police, Total, Paris Airports, Securitas (Sweden-based multinational security group), ENGIE (French multinational energy company), and Vodaphone (U.K.-based telecom multinational). Details are available here.  





The DARPA competition takes place on two tracks: the systems track, in which teams develop and demonstrate physical systems for live competitions; and a virtual track, in which teams develop software and algorithms to compete in simulated environments. Participants will compete for more than $3 million across four events. DARPA will award $2 million to the winner of the systems track and $750,000 to the winner of the virtual track. 

A final event in the fall of 2021 will combine all three types of subterranean  environments.  Underground illustration courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University,




Challenge Schedule
Registration opens August 15, 2018
Challenge Competitors Day, Fall 2018
Tunnel Circuit, Fall 2019
Urban Circuit, Spring 2020
Cave Circuit, Fall 2020
Final Event, Fall 2021

Background on the CMU Subterranean Challenge team is available at



The Android DC-2 robot became Hollywood’s first “robotic outlaw.” See how this unfolded in this entertaining video by LGR Tech Tales.  Our thanks to Gene Beley for his assistance with this update! 


Flirtey just demonstrated deliveries with multiple drones per pilot for the first time, which is a major milestone toward scaling drone delivery nationwide,” said Flirtey Founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny. “We’re excited to be working with our partners and the FAA to save lives and improve lifestyles with Flirtey’s drone delivery.”   The IPP program had been endorsed by President Trump a year earlier.  For details, click here


The opening at USNA is Professor of Practice in Aero, focused on UAS. The USNA recruiters require a Masters degree. Review of job applications will begin on 15 September 2018, and will continue until the position is filled.  For details, please CLICK HERE.

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Coordinate across the Naval Academy for all UAS activities in support of science and education with applicable government agencies.
• Classroom instruction for 2-3 courses per year within the Department.
• Assist and advise Capstone Design teams in support of the project-based-learning environment of the Department.
• Function effectively in a university environment that requires a strong commitment to undergraduate engineering education.
• This position is for an initial 3 years appointment with possibility of renewal contingent on incumbent's performance, funding, and needs of the department.

• An M.S. in Aerospace Engineering or a closely related field from an accredited institution.
• Demonstrated capacity to operate UAS in the National airspace for science and education.
• Excellent organizational and communications skills.
• Experience with operation of vertical lift (or rotorcraft) vehicles.
• Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen.

Photo courtesy of U.S. NAVY.



The DRS rescue system is currently available for drones weighing up to 25kg (55.1 pounds). DRS electronics are independent of the flight controller and contains sensors that monitor flight status of the drone. In the event of a system failure, loss of radio link or unrecoverable pilot error, the pilot does not need to take action or press a release button as the system acts on its own. The system operates beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and does not use pyrotechnical or explosive mechanisms, and so maximizes safety of property and bystanders. Second photo shows founders Markus Manninger and Andreas Ploier. For full details, please visit click here.


Contributors: National Academy of Engineering, 2018; Steve Olson, Rapporteur. Autonomy on Land and Sea and in the Air and Space: Proceedings of a Forum. Topics: Engineering and Technology -- Applications of Technology: Policy, Reviews and Evaluations.  File is available at: Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Download FREE PDF, here:  46 pages | 6 x 9 | PAPERBACK ISBN 978-0-309-47849-6 | DOI 10.17226/25168.  


UAS Vision, picking up a Bloomberg report, noted that the demonstration in Blacksburg was conducted under the U.S. government’s Integration Pilot Program, which was unveiled last May. The Department of Transportation selected 10 government and tribal agencies to work with industry and academia to push the boundaries of drone technology at the same time that they wrestle with potential public unease and legal questions.


Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


Other partners in the SUPER PBD project include Optonicus LLC ( , SolAero Technologies Corporation ( and Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (
“We believe that this project will demonstrate that remote electric refueling of DoD systems via high energy laser power beaming to extend mission operation time in contested and remote environments can be delivered to the war fighter in the near future”, said the project’s DARPA lead, Joseph A. Abate PhD.
“We are extremely fortunate to partner with DARPA in this first of its kind demonstration of new and innovative UAS technologies. The SUPER BPD project will set the stage for future applications of the power beaming capabilities and further demonstrates the versatility of the technology embedded in the Silent Falcon™, the only solar electric, long range, long endurance UAS”, said John W. Brown, Silent Falcon™ UAS Chairman.
ABOUT SILENT FALCON™ UAS TECHNOLOGIES Silent Falcon™ UAS Technologies manufactures patent pending, state-of-the-art small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and components and sensors for the security, military and commercial markets including oil and gas and pipeline inspections, power utility inspections, large scale agriculture, natural resource management, security/ISR, public safety, and mapping/surveying. Silent Falcon is the only solar electric UAS to provide long endurance and range, silent operations, and an open interface payload bay accommodating a wide- variety of payloads that are also quick and easy to change. The company is headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information, please visit:
Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.
David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!


A Request for Information (RFI) has been posted at FedBizOps,, to elicit conversations to help generate ideas to make SLAMR a reality.  Please consider participating and forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.

The RFI is located here:

Submit a conversation proposal here:

This announcement, provided courtesy of David Place, was prepared by:
Kerri Williams, CISSP, PMP
Faculty Associate - Research
Naval Postgraduate School
Information Sciences Department
Root Hall Room 227A
Office (831)656-3112
Cell (443)254-7999

Disclaimer and Notice: The sender is not a government contracting officer. Information contained in this email or related conversations does not create a requirement and does not obligate the Government in any manner to award a contract or otherwise pay for the information provided in response. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included any response.  All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official positions of the Naval Postgraduate School or any other government entity.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.





As reported in the sUAS NEWS, “The Wingcopter XBR, piloted by World Champion drone racing pilot, Luke Bannister, achieved a top speed average of 240.06 kilometres per hour [149.17 mph] at the famous Goodwood estate. The record for the fastest ground speed by a remote-controlled tilt-rotor aircraft was officially confirmed by Guinness World Records.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!


As reported by CR4ISRNET, the Association of Unmanned Vehicles System International (AUVSI) has provided an in-depth look at how exactly the 1.4 percent of the defense budget allocated to drones is spent, detailing the minute differences in the comparatively meager $9.6 billion allocation.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


The small and medium UAVs include armed UAVs that have a range of up to 50 km and endurance time of 5 minutes to 6 hours. They can be either hover or loiter type UAVs. It is also stated that the UAVs should be compatible with common tactical mobile smartphones or other mobile devices and capable of single and double person operation.

Ordinary close range-UAVs are usually used only for reconnaissance and surveillance tasks; however, the UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should be armed for immediate firing on targets found during reconnaissance and surveillance flights. The purpose of this RFI is to inform future armed UAV procurement, the navy stated.


Color opener photo: As reported by The, the Israeli military tested a 30-pound (13-kilogram) rifle on a consumer drone supplied by Duke Robotics, it was able to stay in the air for just five minutes. But this was an off-the-shelf drone, and the design has since been improved.

Shuttlecock grenade carrying multirotor; photo courtesy of the Iraqi Army via The Firearm Blog.

A rotary wing UAV from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific, lifts off as part of exercise Unmanned Warrior in October 2016. Photo: US Navy

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format that is distributed every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!



“Nasa will send a rover to Mars in 2020. This will search for interesting materials, drilling and scooping them from the surface and caching them in canisters. These will be dropped at various depot points. There could be 30-plus of these pen-sized tubes awaiting pick-up.” "The vehicle will have to cover large distances using a high degree of autonomy, planning its own path ahead day after day," said Ben Boyes, who will lead the feasibility team at Airbus. BBC News. Photos, courtesy of News show the rover, collection equipment and an illustration of what will be the first interplanetary rocket launch from Mars. For more detail, please view the BBC report by clicking here.


Moderator David Place served 34 years of active duty in the Navy followed by 14 years as a civil servant.  The last 11 years of his combined career was spent as a Research Associate for the Naval Post Graduate School.  His total experience as an Unmanned Systems subject matter expert spans the last 25 years.  He spent eight years on the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Board of Directors.  Today, as a part-time consultant, he helps small businesses connect with other companies with collaborative opportunities in unmanned systems.

Panelists included Amir Emadi, President and CEO, Skylift Global; Dave Twining, Co-Founder and COO, Planck Aerosystems; Chris Williams, COO, Drone Citadel and Chad Amon, CEO and Co-Founder, Inova Drone.  Presentations were riveting, and David Place moderated the discussion with incisive questions and comments that opened up the discussion in ways you don’t want to miss! View this event by clicking here!      

Readers who wish to contact David can email him at: davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com. Please tell him you sourced his contact info via the National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF)!
              --Tom Atwood





This enhanced Wankel design offers improved thermal efficiency and higher power output per unit of burned fuel, as well as reduced fuel consumption per hour.  

Wankel photos by Lucien Miller, CEO of; photo editing and captions by Tom Atwood, executive director of The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF), © 2018.  The NREF team has posted full coverage of the Denver Xponential 2018 conference and trade show -- click here to see over 400 exhibits!

In a June 28 press release, Liquid Piston notes that it has already raised $18 million in funding, and that DARPA has just added $2.5 million (bringing DARPA’s total investment to $6 million) to continue development of its 30kW X4 rotary diesel engine prototype.  The engine design has major benefits to offer.  “For the military, LiquidPiston’s propulsion can also reduce UAV engine heat signature and minimizing vibration impact on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment,” says the company. LiquidPiston believes the new design will help drone manufacturers increase flight endurance by more than 50%. Moreover, the engine's small size will likely enable miniaturized portable power generators.


The Anafi includes a controller that plugs into an iPhone or Android device, for touchscreen visualizations via the FreeFlight 6 smartphone app.  It has various modes and can follow you and shoot selfies. comments that, “…at first glance, it appears as though it might not be as advanced as DJI’s latest stab at creating a truly mainstream drone.” The Anafi will retail for $699, $100 less than the Mavic Air. It will be available July 1 from Amazon, Parrot and “select retailers.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report!

David offers a free, periodic, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format, from which this news update was sourced. We highly recommend David's information-packed news updates! To receive his unmanned systems and robotics news, simply email a subscription request to David at the above address, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!  :-)



The AUVSI noted that through the contract, Insitu will support manned aerial operations for a variety of scenarios. “We are honored that Insitu has been selected to bring our professional aviation, aerial data collection and analysis experience to assist the DOI as they strive to suppress devastating wildfires,” said Esina Alic, Insitu’s president and CEO.

Equipped with a variety of payloads including Infrared and electro-optical cameras, sensors, and a customized TK-5 Firewatch smart tactical mapping payload, ScanEagle will provide “near real-time fire line maps and wide-area, high-resolution imagery intelligence” to help with fire suppression planning.


Kelsey Atherton of reported that the “Lightweight loitering munition promises to be as accurate as the human piloting it.”  Additionally, “…[R]ecent trials for strategic customers are just the latest in a long list of successful trials,” said Noam Levitt, CEO of UVision. 

A report by Azeri Defence magazine added: “scenarios demonstrated with the Hero-30 included the silent pneumatic launch, loitering and ISR capabilities, locating and locking on to the target and finally the precise hit (less than one-meter CEP [probable circular error]).” 

06/20/2018 notes that the new bird, also referred to as a NANO UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE, appears to be very similar to PD-100s tested in Afghanistan by the British military, which has also purchased Black Hornets for use by regular ground forces. 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report!

David offers a free, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format, from which this news update was sourced. To be included in his viewership, simply email a subscribe request to David and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here.


See our photo gallery by clicking, here.

Xponential 2018 offered a large variety of educational programming, seminars and workshops.  Hundreds of companies from dozens of countries showed off the latest in robots, machine intelligence and AI-driven platforms across commercial and military domains. 

Photos by Lucien Miller, CEO of; editing by Tom Atwood, executive director of The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF), © 2018


As reported by, the experiment has a planned life of 5 years, and it contains 12 racks with 864 servers with 27.6 petabytes of storage (enough to store approximately 5,000,000 movies).  The center is powered by renewable energy from the Orkney Islands via a cable that also connects the center to the internet.  For more information and a video, visit; click here.


A key issue are provisions in the contracts that the workers want to include that will prohibit their jobs from being taken by food service robots.  As noted by, “The servers and chefs are likely concerned because they’re seeing cooking technology creep into other kitchens. Autonomous cooks make a spectacle outside of Vegas: Meal stations cook and plate meals at Boston’s Spyce, and CafeX in San Francisco uses a single robotic arm to whip up lattes and cappuccinos. Some larger mechanisms, like Momentum Machine’s burger chef, work on the scale that Vegas needs — the robot reportedly  pumps out 400 custom burgers an hour. The Pew Research Center predicts more automation will work its way onto the food scene by 2025, and several of the center’s tech experts anticipate that food service employees will have to adapt the most.” For details, please click here.


Of particular interest is the degree of autonomy embodied in this weaponized robot. C4ISRNET comments,
”How armed robots are fielded and controlled is a question for the future and a pressing concern on battlefields today. If the control is at the tactical level, what rank does that put the person operating it? Are they directing the Uran-9 by waypoints on a tablet or steering it remotely, with a person constantly responsible for its every movement. What kind of communications is it relaying back to the person operating (supervising?) it? Is it making targeting decisions on its own, and then checking in with a human before firing? Just how protected from unauthorized access can a robot be when it’s controlled in-theater."


The FAA has agreed with GAO’s recommendation. The GAO recommendation can be downloaded here.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com for his assistance with this report.


Using 3W’s UAV motor kit concept, one can pick a motor block and add carburation or fuel injection, various prop hubs, telemetry, and further options for communications and control.  3W engines shown at Xponential featured dual ignition with independent redundant ignition systems, i.e., two spark plugs per cylinder. Two sparks give cleaner combustion and more power.  If an ignition system goes out, with two plugs, the engine will continue running.  3W also showed twin and single Wankel engines, all with dual sparks. 

Karl Schudt, managing director of Sky Power GmbH, a 3W engine line, further noted, “Thanks to the construction-kit principle, we can quickly and graphically illustrate to the customer the components of which his future engine will consist. An adaptation of the engine to the application area can thus be quickly visualized. We're convinced that an efficient, sustainable engine application can only come through application-specific engine designs. 3W-International's basic engine always stands at the centre here. We illustrate the overall principle on the new SP-110 FI TS engine.” Learn more at 3W's well-engineered website.

Our thanks to Lucien Miller, CEO of, for his assistance in the development of this article, and for photography.

If you enjoyed this article, we respectfully request that you share it with other robotics and engine enthusiasts, the editors




Dr. Kissinger calls for a national commission to confront the several issues forced upon us by the explosion of AI: "The U.S. government should consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision. This much is certain: If we do not start this effort soon, before long we shall discover that we started too late."

HENRY A. KISSINGER served as national-security adviser and secretary of state to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Read Kissinger's article, here.



Markets for aerial drones range from municipal management and infrastructure inspection to agriculture.  In the farming industry, Hitec’s XENO FX fixed wing drone will be invaluable in mapping and observing crop health and moisture levels to better enable farmers to irrigate and fertilize crops.

The modular payload enables sensor camera packages for specific applications to simply snap in and out of the payload bay.  Aerial photography can involve straight RGB imaging or multi-spectral sensors that detect different light frequencies that reflect crop and ground conditions, and more. Agricultural properties are huge, and the advantage in this technology inheres in the large volume of aerial coverage data the XENO FX can provide per mission. The XENO is competitively priced in this emerging market. For details, please visit

Our thanks to Lucien Miller of for his assistance in producing this news update.

Photos by Lucien Miller and Tom Atwood.


iSENSYS was one of the few companies that are marketing to all phases of the drone market. iSENSYS notes on its website that it “…was born out of the need for fast, custom development of various sensing platforms for the military and search and rescue industries.” The booth also showed the Michilin “Tweel”, a wheel with a flexible structure instead of an inflated tire, and which is therefore more reliable in the most demanding applications. Click here for more detail.


Our thanks to Lucien Miller of for his assistance in producing this news update.

Photos by Lucien Miller.


This is a form of powered autorotation technology.   Here, the theory is to tilt the aircraft and power it forward, and then the aircraft has the necessary forward speed to “autorotate” the 8 forward props the entire flight.  For more from Watts Innovations, check out their website, here. You can learn more about Bobby Watts at

Our thanks to Lucien Miller of for his assistance in producing this news update. Poster photo by Lucien Miller.


Xponential 2018 offered a large variety of educational programming, seminars and workshops.  Leaders in automation from dozens of countries showed off the latest advances in machine intelligence and hardware platforms across commercial and military domains.  NREF was there photographing the exhibitor floor and will soon post a photo gallery of the largest collection of robots under one roof we’ve ever seen!

Here are a few “teaser” photos that suggest the scope of land, sea and air robotics systems exhibited at this year’s Xponential! These include the Houston Mechatronics Aquanaut, Sensys Target Drone, NAVMAR Applied Sciences TigerShark XP, Ghost Robotics Quaqdrupeds with miniature UGVs and a quadcopter, and c-Link Systems Forager search & rescue UGV.


As reported at, over 1/3 of the robot faces were black, and most have a mouth but no eyebrows, cheeks or nose. Circular eyes were the most popular, and only 1 in 10 had human-shaped eyes. Clusters were noted; one group had Baxter-like faces, and another, Eve-like Faces. Notably very simple faces were also popular, many with only eyes. Yumi, FURo-D, Buddy, and Datou were perceived to be the friendliest robots. The robots rated as most intelligent were FURo-D and Gongzi, while Sawyer, Buddy, and Datou were rated as least intelligent. Datou and FURo-D were deemed the most trustworthy, and Gongzi the least. The researchers delved far more deeply into the analysis than is suggested, here. For details see “Characterizing the Design Space of Rendered Robot Faces.


The announcement noted that these teleoperated construction vehicles can repair and recover a damaged airfield without exposing the remote driver to danger.  The Company received a $2.9 million Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to develop a drop-in robotic kit.  A separate program named “CARNAC” was announced for retrofitting air vehicles with robotic pilots that will enable autonomous flight. Visit RE2 here.

04/07/2018 reported that each Marsbee will carry an integrated suite of sensors and wireless communications, and will have a body size approximately that of a bumblebee.  A mobile charging base will serve as a communications relay station for swarms of Marsbees.  Engineers foresee very low power requirements for these flying sensor packages. The design may include a torsional spring at the wing root to store energy and facilitate flapping motion.  Testing will be performed in a vacuum chamber adjusted to simulate Martian air density.  Illustration: JOSH MCCANN / SHUTTERSTOCK. Check out the extensive technical reporting on robotics and automation at!   


One of several different robot models manufactured by Knightscope, the K5 has multiple sensors and can be driven by an operator or programmed to autonomously navigate a defined area while sending back information to security personnel. Each of its 4 cameras can read up to 300 license plates a minute and track vehicle dwell time as well as overall parking lot usage. K5 can also identify mobile devices and rogue routers within its operational area. Photos by Thomas Marsh. Broadridge is a global fintech leader with 40 offices worldwide.


As explained on the conference website, you’ll learn how data can help you track progress towards your goals and lead to more useful, constructive feedback. SMARTx Tech Talks will spotlight visionary leaders who will deliver short inspirational talks on smart manufacturing and business transformation through the implementation of new, leading technologies. Attendees will earn about using intelligent systems to cut costs, improve service and promote innovation.

Jack Shaw, Technology Futurist (shown), will deliver the May 2, 2018 keynote, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., titled: “Artificial Intelligence—Business Systems and Processes That Think for Themselves.”

Intelligent Systems are transforming business, commerce, and society. Self-optimizing production scheduling, autonomic supply chains, and self-configuring business ecosystems are just a few examples of Intelligent Systems that will shake the world.  In this presentation, Jack will cite success stories that show how leading-edge businesses are using these technologies to cut costs, improve service and promote innovation.


Byron Spice reports from CMU that the robots can measure radioactivity from within the pipes to a greater degree of accuracy than human inspectors, and that this process simultaneously spares humans the hazards and enormous person-hours and daunting logistics of inspection duty.  DOE officials estimate the robots could save tens of millions of dollars in completing the characterization of uranium deposits at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon (shown), and save perhaps $50 million at a similar uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky.

RadPiper is a robot developed by the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute for the Department of Energy. The treaded robot moves within the pipes of uranium-enrichment facilities to determine areas where radiation levels may pose a hazard. Robot photo credit: Carnegie Mellon University via For more information, contact Byron Spice at, 412-268-9068. 


As reported by, IOActive researchers Lucas Apa and Cesar Cerrudo described how an attack on service robots was similar to how a computer system or other network-connected device can be compromised and held hostage. Accordingly, on top of basic security vulnerabilities, developers need to be vigilant regarding the potential hazards of newly developed ransomware targeting service robots.


"We could be making the next epochal advancement in oceanography," says Craig McLean, NOAA's assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research and acting chief scientist. As noted by, it was not all smooth sailing. At the equator, the drones were temporarily stuck in a “wind dead zone.” Another prototype with a larger sail will depart for the equator in July to see if it can better negotiate what has been called “the doldrums,” where there is minimal wind.

A discovery made in the first trip was that water temperature could vary by 1° in less than a kilometer. Buoys and Satellites are unable to detect this kind of information, the measurement of which is another example of the advantages of the new Saildrone tech.


To facilitate robotic play, teams are limited to 8 players each, and bonus points are awarded for completing passes.  The ball just needs to touch the receiving robot for a pass to be completed.  Like human football, robotic football is physically rough. Robots must be robust to withstand the hazards of play. Student helpers quickly replace spent batteries and pull robots off to the side to replace broken parts.  In the game shown, some of the plays are spectacular.  Notre Dame won this particular match by a landslide 51 to 9, though admitting Purdue had really kept Notre Dame “on its toes.”  To view the ROBOT FOOTBALL video, Click here.  The robot football video was posted by Kyle Smith at Bell Media on 2-18-18.  The video will be available on the Bell Media server as an MP4 downoad until 4-19-18. 

VisualEdge was also in attendance -- it provides game arenas, VEX and VEX-IQ competition systems (hardware and software), in Indiana as well as other states (see wall poster).   To learn more about Visual Edge, visit their website link above, or contact CEO Dan Ward, directly, at visualedge1[at]gmail[dot]com.  Tell him you learned about Visual Edge here!






As shown in this video, a hand-mounted camera finds the door handle, and body-mounted cameras orient the robot as it navigates through the doorway. Locomotion and balance are guided automatically, and the robot, perhaps contrary to the gut instinct of some observers, is able to overcome and ignore interference from the technician with no emotional response or apparent concerns. Robots not only perform dull, dirty and dangerous jobs, they are oblivious to stimuli that humans might find quite distracting or even frustrating.


C4ISRNET further noted that Mattis is being advised on AI issues by the Defense Innovation Board, a group of Silicon Valley experts formed by Ash Carter, the previous defense secretary.  Interestingly, Mattis commented with respect to future warfare, that “If we ever get to the point where it’s completely on automatic pilot and we’re all spectators, then it’s no longer serving a political purpose. And conflict is a social problem that needs social solutions.”

Interestingly, Mattis commented with respect to future warfare, that “If we ever get to the point where it’s completely on automatic pilot and we’re all spectators, then it’s no longer serving a political purpose. And conflict is a social problem that needs social solutions.” Photo credit (Mattis): DoD/Kathryn E. Holm; (combat photo): U.S. Army


As stated in a SUAS News release, the UASPC is a model, not a standard. Three versions are available: the annotated version unabridged with extensive endnotes and supplemental materials, the condensed version intended for pilot implementation, and this abbreviated version containing only the core principles, and introducing and promoting the UASPC. It is available free of charge at


As reported by Meredith Bauer of the DoD’s in late January, “It’s an arms race…  In theory, the only technology capable of hacking a system run by artificial intelligence is another, more powerful AI system… At least, for now.”   Photo: An Army sergeant launches a RQ-20 Puma Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) while conducting UAV training during exercise Combined Resolve V at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany in 2015. The Army is investing in artificial intelligence to help protect its drone systems from cyberattacks. This scenario has been repeated hundreds of times since then. U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Cress Jr./Released.


This year’s line up will continue the tradition of top-tier “learn how to earn” content. Expect a variety of experts offering valuable firsthand insights that will have many saying ‘I heard that first at the SUSB Expo!’ That is what makes this program a “can’t miss” event and probably the reason why it is the last drone symposium standing in San Francisco.

We are changing venues this year to the historic Marines’ Memorial Club next to Union Square on Wednesday, April 25th. On Thursday the 26th, we’ll be heading out to Treasure Island for presentations and flying demonstrations right in the City of San Francisco.  This is an exceptional opportunity for end-users and investors to see products and services demonstrated “cage-free” and in real-world conditions. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a demonstration speaks volumes. Click here for details:

Check back often, we will be updating the website, agenda and program information as we get closer to the event.  We look forward to seeing you at the 2018 SUSB Expo as sUAS celebrates ten years of service to the drone community.

We still have a few wildcard slots to present, sponsor and demonstrate at the 2018 Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. We are also producing a SUSB Expo compendium Expo-SE, a downloadable journal of case studies and articles to share with the community.  So, if you have something you believe the world must see, email


UAS operations that occur near airports may impact current and future airport operations as well as entities surrounding airports. This document explores how some airports are already taking actions to better understand and tackle the challenges associated with managing UAS at their airports, and highlights their varying degrees of success.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


As posted by Charles River Analytics, MINOTAUR lets operators use voice and hand signals to communicate with the UGV, and the system can communicate with other military squads. “The robotic platform can become a true support agent as part of a human-robot team, only requiring direct teleoperation for executing specific tasks that need the most human skill, such as disarming or detonating an IED.” This frees up the operator’s attention while allowing reliable control of mule-like UGVs. MINOTAUR can operate in inclement weather and situations with compromised visibility, and includes a wearable operator control unit.


As reported by The Washington Post, the robot can assign ownership of objects to different members of the household, recognize faces, and has access to a network enabling sharing of information about objects with other Aeolus robots. Story courtesy of Peter Holley of the Washington Post. Image courtesy of


If your company is an early-stage startup approaching Series A round or between Series A and Series B, has product or service offerings that aims to enhance unmanned systems technologies and processes in a distinctive way and can demonstrate growth potential and scalable investment opportunities, then you need to participate in Startup Showdown at XPONENTIAL. The deadline to complete the Startup Showdown Application is Friday, January 26, 2018.” For more information, please click here.

If you are new to Xponential and would like a tour of last year's exhibitor floor, or if you simply would like to revisit that awesome gathering of the finest robots in the world, please check out NREF's exclusive gallery.


The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems recently announced new standards projects. 

Ethically Driven Nudges

“Nudges” are defined as “overt or hidden suggestions designed to influence human behavior or emotions.” The first of four standards proffered by the IEEE is IEEE P7008. This defines the “Standard for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems,” and it delineates “the concepts, functions and benefits necessary to establish and ensure ethically driven methodologies for the design of robotic, intelligent and autonomous systems in accordance with worldwide ethics and moral theories.” The standard requires robots to adhere to widely accepted ethical norms of fairness and principles of moral behavior in their interactions with humans.

Fail-Safe Design

The second of three principles is IEEE P7009, the “Standard for Fail-Safe Design of Autonomous and Semi-Autonomous Systems,” which applies to the safe cessation of robotic operations. The standard applies a scale from weak to strong that is used for measuring, testing and certifying a system’s ability to fail safely.

Wellbeing Metrics

IEEE P7010 is the “Wellbeing Metrics Standard for Ethical Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems.”  The standard looks beyond economic growth and productivity to further considerations such as emotional health, societal impacts and the environment. Sponsored by the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society, IEEE P7010 establishes a baseline for consideration of objective and subjective data that will incorporate “globally accepted ethical considerations.”

Photo courtesy of the IEEE


According to, “The Department of Homeland Security issued guidance on the matter late Wednesday, noting that while operating system updates could help mitigate the issues, the only true solution would be to replace computer processing units' hardware.” The flaws reportedly affect Intel, AMD, Google, Microsoft, Apple and other brands of chips used in millions of computer systems.

Michael Daly, chief technology officer of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon, noted that “The vulnerabilities and sample exploit code are now in the wild, so we should expect that criminals and nation-state actors are using them.” The report noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre say that, to date, they have not seen evidence of malicious exploitation of these vulnerabilities.


The New Indian Express reported that a 16-member team created the robot in the Makers Leeway lab facility in Hyderabad. H Bots founder PSV Kisshhan noted the robot works with people but is not designed to replace them. 

This is not the world’s first robotic police officer per se—shown below is "Robocop," currently deployed in Dubai.


The development of these interactive robots was led by Dr. SK Song, founder and CEO of Future Robots.  Travelers, shoppers and business guests can interact in 6 languages using the 32-inch touch screen. Future Robots’ service robots will subsequently greet and guide attendees at the Olympics, February 9 – 25, 2018, in South Korea.  This will put these robots in front of 300+ million viewers worldwide, quite a marketing introduction.

Read Tom’s report, here

A note to our valued site viewers: is the last word in developing AI, robotics and machine intelligence in Asia—we recommend that our readers subscribe to this excellent free service. Images courtesy of Future Robots via


The following articles and presentations scrutinize the risks and opportunities for human employment in an ever more automated workplace., Will Cobots & Augmented Reality (AR) Spike Productivity?  Tom Green, May 2017

AUVSI NEWS, WAL-MART DEPLOYING SHELF-SCANNING ROBOTS IN 50 OF ITS STORES (Wal-Mart states this will not affect employee head count), Staff, November 2017

BBC, How automation will affect you – the experts’ view, Richard Gray, May 2017

BBC News, Will warehouse packing robot cost jobs?, November 2017

CBC, These Canadians are helping the world become replicant ready: Don Pittis, Don Pittas, October 2017

Central Valley Business Times, The Future of Work,  (video) from Retro Report and Quartz, November 2017, When Robots Do It All and Leisure is Mandatory: Not for Another 100 Years, Shushanik Papanya, July 2017, When the robots take over, will there be jobs left for us?, David Pogue, April 2017

Computerworld, There’s no such thing as a ‘remote’ employee, Mike Elgan, September, 2017

GeekWire, Robots vs. jobs: Report says automation will displace up to 375M workers by 2030, Alan Boyle, November 2017, New Study Confirms that, Yes, Automation is Taking jobs, Graham Templeton, March 2017, Americans are totally delusional about what robots could soon do to their careers, Catey Hill, August 2017

Mother Jones, You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot –and Sooner Than You Think, Kevin Drum, October 2017

PC Magazine, Will the Robots Take Our Jobs in 2018? Experts Weigh In, Rob Marvin, December 2017

Reuters News, Rise of the machines: Philippine outsourcing industry braces for AI, Karen Lemu, November 2017, Robots won’t steal our jobs if we put workers at center of AI revolution, Thomas Kochan & Lee Dyer, September 2017

TED, How we’ll earn money in a future without jobs, Martin Ford, November 2017, Radio Atlantic: Ask Not What Your Robots Can Do for You, Matt Thompson, August 2017, What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Read this to prepare your future, Arwa Mahdawi, June 2017

The Japan Times, Japan’s robots stepping up to fill worst labor shortage in 40 years, Pavel Alpeyev and Katsuyo Kuwako, December 2017, The Future of Jobs Report, Klaus Schwab, September 2017

The New York Times, Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?, Alex Williams, December 2017

Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, The Future of Employment, Carl Benedikt Frey & Michael Osborne, September 2013

Photo: A worker observes a riveting robot inside the mid-body fuselage of a 777 jet (image courtesy of Boeing).  Chart via the McKinsey Global Institute. It shows that automation is likely to have a more disruptive impact on employment in richer countries such as the U.S. and Japan. Statistical sources include the World Bank and Oxford Economics.  Image and illustration courtesy of
Our thanks to Marc T. Liu, for his assistance in compiling these links.  © 2017 NREF


12/13/2017’s case study shows how the robot was taught to perform polishing motions by having it record the movements of a skilled human technician. Recording the procedures took less time and cost far less than if this were done using programming. Automating glass polishing at the factory has enabled production of the same amount of completed glass panes in two 8-hours shifts that would have required human workers three 8-hour shifts. Case study courtesy of Images courtesy of Saint-Gobain via


The CSAIL/Harvard research team notes that their 2.6-gram muscle can hoist a 3-kilogram object, which is like a “mallard duck lifting a car,” and also shrink to 1/10th its original size. This is accomplished using significantly less power than traditional motors comprised of metal, wire and electronics. The research was funded by the military and reported at Photos courtesy of the CSAIL/Harvard team.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.

Please note: David, with Robin as a contributing journalist, offers a free, first-rate, comprehensive news report on unmanned systems and robotics in PDF format, from which this news update was sourced.  To receive his Unmanned Systems News (USN), simply send David a subscribe request, and please let him know you sourced the opportunity here!


c-Link Systems CEO Bill Lovell notes: “We do not consider having a whole factory with the same robot model; we then differentiate its job by the end-effector and the software to control it. This paper will look more at the basic hardware than the complex software used to create a full functioning robot.  Since the omni-robotics term is not really used in the robotic arm industry I began using it for a new type of robot.

“The concept of an omni-chassis, autonomous or otherwise, is to allow companies, agencies and individuals the ability to take advantage of a robot with multifunction ability at a lower cost. A single chassis can handle multiple jobs where as the alternative is multiple robots, each built for a specific job at a higher cost.” Read Lovell’s paper here.

Lovell currently holds bachelor of science degrees in electronic, mechanical and industrial engineering obtained through the Air Force education system, and has been developing robotics systems for over 35 years. He has more than 30 years in embedded/FPGA Industrial controls development, and 15 years in high speed fiber optic controls and communication. He worked in fiber optic control systems integration of Alcoa’s #3 rolling mill in Davenport, IA. This included the development of G.E. FANUC Series 9070 and G.E. Drive System 3800 integration hardware.  Lovell was also a proponent and developer of Intel’s MultiBus II and MIX bus structures.  He also has over 8 years teaching and course creation military/civilian in electronics and robotics. For further detail on his expansive IT background, see

Photo: Shown is an earlier version of a Disaster SaR. To date this is the most complex Forager payload ever designed. It covers 100% of the chassis with 50% being additional batteries. The other 50% contains two 6-axis arms working together on moving debris. The end-effectors can be change on-the-fly by the control system from a tool rack, thus allowing for holding and cutting simultaneously. Coupled with the arms are a pair of extendable boom arms, one has a color camera and the other a forward looking infrared sensor [FliR]. The FliR allows the robot to see hot spots and evaluate the potential for human life. Photo courtesy of c-Link Systems.



Made purely of silver, the Silver Swan plucks a fish from the simulated water in which it sits, and then consumes it. The glass rods that simulate water cause light to play on the swan with great verisimilitude. As can be seen in the video, the light reflections closely resemble those created by slightly disturbed water. The Silver Swan is exhibited at the Bowes Museum in England, in the town of Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England.


If you want to own any of these domain names, please look on or email


As reported by the, Professor Bayram Sade , President of KTO Karatay University, said that the school will collaborate with AkinSoft and initiate internship programs.  Operating since 1995, AkinSoft has partners in 28 countries and is a leading software company in Turkey.


As reported by the Central Valley Business Times, “[t]he two news organizations have teamed to produce a series of video reports on the radical transformations coming to central aspects of life in the near future, through the experience of people already living them.” Keep your eyes on the CVBT, they have a knack for posting interesting stories.


As noted on its home page, “PI is a leading manufacturer of precision motion systems including Piezo Stages, Air Bearings, Linear Positioners, Microscope Stages, Motor Controllers, Piezo Nanopositioning Systems, Piezo Ceramic Motors, and Hexapod 6-Axis Systems. Applications include photonics, bio-nanotechnology, medical device, and semiconductor manufacturing.”  A short video overview of PI’s offerings can be found, here.


Bergbreiter teaches and researches robotics, and in this video, posted by Megan Crouse via, presents a panorama of current trends in an interesting and informative 35-minute presentation.


AUVSI News reported that Bossa Nova Robotics produces the robots, which check pricing, labeling and misplacement of products, and then report any anomalies to human workers.  Chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and ecommerce, Jeremy King, noted that these bots are “50 percent more productive than their human counterparts,” owing to greater accuracy and the ability to scan shelves 3X faster than humans.

Photo credit: (scanning) courtesy of Wal-Mart; (turning corner) Special to the Democrat-Gazette,


Coordinated by C-TEST Labs in conjunction with the Youngstown State University and co-sponsors, the program was sub-titled “A PRACTICAL DISCUSSION ON THE IMPACT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN OUR COMMUNITIES”.  We recommend these presentations to all who have an interest in AI. These speakers are leaders in the field and many of their contributions have influenced and benefited our reporting at NREF over the years. Please click here to see program highlights!


The Panelists

•Nikola Danaylov|
Singularity Keynote Speaker
Blogger and Podcast Host

•Paul Carlson
Intelligent Community Strategist
Columbus, Ohio

•Andrew Konya,
CEO of Remesh
Cleveland, Ohio

•Doug McCollough
Chief Technology Officer
Dublin, Ohio

•Dr. Jay Ramanathan
Humanitarian Engineering Center
Ohio State University

•Dr. Mark Vopat
Political Philosophy,
Technology Ethicist,
Youngstown State University

•Dr. Shiqi Zhang
AI and Human-Robotics Researcher
Cleveland State University


Event Sponsors

AIJ: Financial sponsor through “Funding Opportunities for Promoting AI Research”.
Youngstown State University, Computer Science and Information Systems Department

AWH of Dublin Ohio

Oak Hill Robotics Makerspace

National Robotics Education Foundation

CTEST Laboratories

Dr. James Dale Ethics Center: Venue/promotion sponsor

Cleveland Machine Intelligence Meetup: Promotion sponsor

ACM SIGAI: Promotion sponsor

YSU ACM-W Student Chapter: Promotion sponsor.


AvWeek noted, “The 22-kg (48-lb.) Flexrotor is a tailsitter that takes off vertically like a helicopter then transitions to fuel-efficient wingborne flight, its two-blade proprotor providing both lift in vertical flight and thrust in forward flight.” AvWeek noted that the previous endurance record for a VTOL was “22 hr. 30 min., set in August 2016 by a Latitude Engineering HQ-60 hybrid quadrotor. The HQ-60 takes off vertically like a multicopter and transitions to wingborne flight using a pusher propeller.”


HitecRCD’s pioneering development work in servo and actuator technology over the decades has led to new and powerful solutions for hobby and research markets that use machines that require precise motion control.  These innovations in motion control and machine mobility have, in turn, facilitated the growth of diverse industries, worldwide.  You can check out the interesting details on the scope of Hitec's servo and actuator products that serve hobby and professional markets at  However, for insights into Hitec’s extraordinary new generation of industrial actuators, and how these products are helping grow large scale industries worldwide, please see

Photos courtesy of HitecRCD; HitecRCD booth by Tom Atwood, May, 2017, AUVSI Dallas Xponential trade show. 

Reader Alert!  Please note that you can see Hitec’s expanding product line, in person, at the upcoming Commercial UAV Expo Americas, October 24 – 26 in Las Vegas, NV!


Among his key “takeaways” for consideration by educators:
 Course Levels: More students had skills using drones than I expected, whether it was playing with one at a store or having done a simulation on a video game system. Many students caught on very quickly. To improve, we are going to create beginning, intermediate, and expert classes to better serve our students.
 Coding: There are drone companies – Parrot Education is one – that are specializing in coding aspects that can be easily integrated into a school project like designing obstacle courses. It is another investment but also another engaging way to introduce coding to students.
 Teamwork: The best decision I made was adding our math teacher into the mix of drones because she instantly knew the math standards that aligned to our obstacle course drawings. She even interjected the idea of making our course using our school’s 3D printer prior to building it with PVC piping.
 #EduDrone Community: Our phrase EduDrone quickly became a hashtag picked up by Twitter users to connect an unofficial community of teachers who are implementing drones in school.

Find out more about Brian’s work, here.

Our thanks to Charlee Smith at Bob Smith Industries (BSI) adhesives, for his assistance with this news update.  For more information, please visit Bob Smith Industries (BSI), at, (805) 466-1717.

10/04/2017 noted, “The team behind the project thinks that robotic technology could improve yields in agriculture, which is necessary if the world's growing population is to be fed in coming years.

Hands Free Hectare is an experimental farm run by researchers from Harper Adams University, in the United Kingdom.
Photo credit: Harper Adams University


The Swedish start-up was founded by four researchers from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, who have spent years developing a social robotics platform that combines advanced conversational artificial intelligence with robotics technology. Their mission is to create a new interface between humans and technology that will be as groundbreaking an interface as the smartphone and as revolutionary a software platform as the Windows operating system.


As reported by, “What Microsoft has done, though, is focus on a different aspect of how quantum computing can work — and that may just allow it to get a jump on IBM, Google and other competitors that are also looking at this space. The main difference between what Microsoft is doing is that its system is based on advances in topology that the company previously discussed. Most of the theoretical work behind this comes from Fields Medal-recipient Michael Freedman, who joined Microsoft Research in 1997, and his team.” Photos courtesy of


It was reported on Reuters that “The institute’s offices and laboratories are under construction at the University of Toronto, where artificial-intelligence pioneer Geoffrey Hinton conducted breakthrough research in a field known as deep learning, and trained some of the most accomplished researchers in the field.” Garth Gibson has earned numerous awards in his research. Photo credit:




Estonian unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer Eli is developing a drone nest for the tethered multi-rotor project. "Remotely controlled robotic systems that keep our soldiers in a safe distance are crucial to the next generation of battlefield effects that will give asymmetric advantage to the warfighter," said Kuldar Väärsi, Milrem Robotics' chief executive officer.  The report further noted that “the cognitive burden on the warfighter is vastly reduced through the fusion of sensor data and advanced battlespace management systems.”  Click here for more system details.

Our Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report.


As reported by, “YuMi, whose name is derived from the phrase ‘you and me’, was taught all the movements by Colombini, who held its arms in rehearsals so the computer could memorize the correct gestures. The robot is not able to improvise and any unexpected change in tempo from the musicians would have been ruinous.” Photos by REUTERS/Remo Casilli.


Nine university and high school student teams designed autonomous, robotic boats that navigated an obstacle course in a race against the clock. The boats replicated scaled-down tasks similar to those being developed for coastal surveillance, port security and other types of oceanographic operations. Shown is the Georgia Tech team. Click here for the gallery and the exciting details!


As reported by Peter Brown of Electronics 360 at IEEE, CSAIL noted that “The system analyzes factors such as speed and stability to make suggestions so the user doesn’t create a robot so top-heavy that it can’t move without tipping over for example. Once the robot is designed, it is then fabricated using an origami-inspired 3D-printing technique that involves flat faces connected at joints and then folding the design into the final shape, combining the most effective parts of 2D and 3D printing.”

Future plans include designing flying robots. The full research can be found in The International Journal of Robotics Research.


Reuters reported on hurricane Harvey drone efforts, yesterday. World famous disaster robotics pioneer, Robin Murphy, Director of TEES Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR), offered helpful direction to disaster relief managers, with posts at on best practices for Small UAVs at Disasters, and with suggestions regarding flying at Hurricane Harvey and aftermath. Photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman, east Houston, TX, 8-28-17.


“Many leading hospitals are providing experience-focused programs that enhance patient satisfaction and improve loyalty and referrals,” notes Stephan Sonderegger, CEO of Swisslog Healthcare. “These ‘concierge’ services are modeled after the hospitality industry where Savioke mobile robots are already commercially deployed in dozens of hotels worldwide. There are clear applications for this technology in healthcare, which we are excited to explore together.” Swisslog sold legacy autonomous mobile robot (AMR) models in healthcare applications for nearly 10 years.

The Savioke Relay is a dynamic, low-profile AMR that combines fast, secure delivery with a responsive, friendly human interface for more reliable and personalized patient services.
“Savioke’s Relay Robot has widespread applications in all parts of the healthcare supply chain including securely delivering prescription and over-the-counter medications to nurses and patients in hospitals,” said Steve Cousins, founder and CEO of Savioke. “Our joint partnership with Swisslog, a leader in medication supply chain solutions, will enable Relay to expand these use cases and enter new healthcare-related markets globally.”

Wally The Butler robot is shown at the Residence Inn Marriott LAX.


An article in Inside Business, in The Hampton Roads Business Journal described Walker’s program.  When Walker first hit upon the idea, he noted from his own study of drone operations, that “They happened to be standing by and they happened to have a drone.” Walker demonstrated the app to several law enforcement members in Virginia on August 21. The app includes a map that shows the location of available drone operators within a given radius. In the demo, one of Walker’s neighbors simulated a missing person.

The demonstration was live and the “missing” person was Walker’s neighbor, who hid in her backyard till one of the drone pilots found her. A video feed of the last few seconds of the search was displayed on a screen.  According to Walker, less than 1 percent of drones are used for commercial purposes; the remaining 99 percent are used by hobbyists and enthusiasts. Those drones have the potential to be a positive impact on society, he said.  Walker noted, “Right now, there’s 120,000 to 150,000 drones flying in Virginia,” he said. “We believe by the end of 2018, there will be about a million drones flying in Virginia. That’s not an insignificant number.”

This is great news for Virginians, and we, at NREF, look forward to the program spreading to other states.


The Commercial UAV Expo Americas focuses on the business needs of asset owners and operators. “The conference program addresses critical questions enterprise users have about UAS implementation and operation, including systems selection and integration; developing enterprise workflows, guidelines and policies; data management and integration; and legal, safety and regulatory considerations… The exhibitor floor grew to 170 booths in 2016 from 130 in 2015, an increase of 31%, with the world’s top UAS vendors showcasing cutting-edge airframes, components, software and services, all focused on industrial applications.”

A report on the outlook for the commercial drone market is being given away by the Commercial UAV Expo Americas and can be downloaded from the event site. Image courtesy of the Roswell Flight Test Crew.


The Skylift website further notes that “Direct delivery was once reserved for emergencies and exceptionally valuable cargo, but it is now quickly becoming mainstream as part of the On-demand Economy. The rapid growth of on-demand delivery has brought on a confluence of new vehicle requirements. Skylift competes with the capabilities of helicopters and the costs of traditional ground transportation.” 

Skylift focuses on parcels weighing under 150 pounds, which it notes constitute 80% of all deliveries, in a global industry said to be valued at $242 billion.  CEO Amir Emadi explains in the company’s YouTube videos how Skylift will meet the needs of this critical market segment.  Key elements of its systems include autopilot, sense & avoid as well as redundant communications.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.


According to a U.S. Army memo obtained by sUAS News, the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy have concluded that there are operational risks associated with DJI equipment. The official memorandum directs the services to "cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from the devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction."

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report.


Noting the emergence of lidar technologies from multiple firms,  SPAR reported:  “Latest among these players is Draper, a not-for-profit R&D company which is developing a solid-state lidar sensor expected to cost $50 when produced at scale. The sensor will have a range of 300 meters, an angular resolution of less than 0.1 degrees, and a scan rate of 20 frames per second… Draper’s lidar is also slightly different from most solid-state lidar sensors on the market. Leveraging its background in integrated photonics, the company developed its sensor to use Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Where a majority solid-state technologies use an optical phased array to direct the emitted laser, MEMS technology uses microscopic moving mirrors.”


The app performs a variety of operations including topographic surveys and volumetric calculations, and has various autonomous flight modes with multi-engine cloud processing. The Dive article further notes:  “The AEC-focused 3DR is growing its foothold in the drone space as the technology takes off in the construction industry. In May, the company scored $53 million in Series D funding from investors including Atlantic Bridge, Autodesk and True Ventures. At the time, the Berkeley, CA–based company said it planned to invest that capital into expanding its flagship product, Site Scan, and marketing it toward construction and engineering firms.”


Matthew Humphries reported in PC Magazine that Kalishnakov will demonstrate AI-controlled combat robots at a late August conference in Moscow.  The conference is the Army 2017 International Military-Technical Forum.   Humphries’ report noted:  “a comment from Sofiya Ivanova, the Group's Director for Communications, gives a clear idea of what to expect: ‘In the imminent future, the Group will unveil a range of products based on neural networks ... A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at the Army-2017 forum.’ “


To facilitate R&D, Amazon is holding “The Amazon Robotics Challenge.”  The Challenge “starts Thursday and tasks teams with picking up objects ranging from towels to toilet brushes and moving them between storage bins and boxes. The handiest contestants stand to win prizes from a pool totaling $250,000...  The showdown is taking place in Nagoya because it’s part of this year’s RoboCup, a festival of robotic competition which includes events for rescue, domestic, and soccer robots.”  RoboCup is taking place in Nagoya from July 25th to the 31st.

Amazon has held versions of the challenge twice in previous years. “This time around, though, the retail giant has revised the rules in ways that make the competition more difficult. ‘I think it’s getting closer to the real conditions you would find in a warehouse,’ says Juxi Leitner, who leads a team from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision. ‘They’re getting people to work on a problem they think they will need to solve to stay competitive without needing to hire anyone.’ ”


This view captured by Opportunity shows Perseverance Valley, from the west rim of Endeavour crater. This is where the rover will spend the current solar conjunction period. 

NASA notes that “Two weeks of commanding have been uploaded to the rover to keep her active during the solar conjunction with short communications with the Mars orbiters during the period.”  The report continues that “As of Sol 4792 (July 17, 2017) the solar array energy production was 344 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.706 and a solar array dust factor of 0.534. Total odometry is 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).”


If you wish to get started, please order a RoboButs circuit board.  “Choose the type of kit you want, send a PayPal payment to wperko [at] brainless dot org with your [kit] choice and mailing address in the comments”. Or contact Walt via the menu at the top of the RoboGuts webpage, here.  The initial run of RoboGuts circuit boards are made in the U.S. and are completely RoHS compliant (safe, non-toxic parts). 

If interested in these tools for educating the very youngest robotics students, take advantage of these offers while they last. The RoboGuts STEAM Education Program comes with three online lesson plans and curricula. The 3D printer .STL files are available for free download, also.


Xconomy reported on Transfix, one of the companies developing AI for truckers: “The drivers of Transfix’s entry into truckload management are machine learning and automation software, which the company deploys to create a streamlined online marketplace to connect shippers with carriers ready to transport their goods.”

Image via Xconomy, licensed by Depositphotos, copyright Tono Balaguer.


In this episode, guest George Purdy discusses the use of drones in disaster relief scenarios as well as gatherings he leads where students and families are shown drones in flight in selected urban and rural areas to demonstrate how drones can be operated by public authorities to facilitate public safety.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report.


As noted on the NVIDIA website, NVIDIA teaching kits “contain everything instructors need to teach full-term curriculum courses with GPUs in machine and deep learning, robotics, accelerated/parallel computing, and a variety of other academic disciplines.”

“‘Jet’ is a smart, autonomous robot utilizing Actobotics components and is based on the powerful NVIDIA Jetson embedded development platform. Jet’s brain is built around the revolutionary NVIDIA Tegra® SoC and uses the same NVIDIA computing cores designed into supercomputers around the world. This gives Jet compute-intensive computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and self-driving capabilities in a low-cost package…  'Jet' utilizes the Robot Operating System (ROS) for abstraction, [and] scales from K-12 projects to real industrial applications.” Photo of TX1 ‘Jet’ courtesy of ServoCity.

The new robots can be purchased here:

The robots are in active use, e.g., at this high school camp:

We recommend that educators, programmers and serious hobbyists visit NVIDIA’s remarkable site to take a closer look at these new robots. Educational discounts are available.


As reported by, “The drone has passed initial tests after being modified to fit the FAA’s regulations for small drones, which required the payload and amount of gasoline to be reduced to meet the FAA’s overall weight limit of 55 pounds. Future tests are needed to determine if the UAV can actually fly for more than five days straight”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report.


Yaser Sheikh, associate professor of robotics, said these methods for tracking 2-D human form and motion open up new ways for people and machines to interact with each other, and for people to use machines to better understand the world around them. The ability to recognize hand poses, for instance, will make it possible for people to interact with computers in new and more natural ways, such as communicating with computers simply by pointing at things. See a demonstration of the technology on Youtube, here.

Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy


As reported in The Bakersfield Californian, when a group of firefighters heard the telltale whiz of an illegal firework followed by a trail of smoke, they were quick to deploy LOIS.  The drone cost the fire department roughly $1,000, so the first citation payed off the cost of the drone. The report suggested that this last weekend, the department earned enough in citations to purchase a minor fleet.


Speakers include a dizzying array of top experts in the UAS field from the military as well as leading technology companies.  Looking at previous symposia held by TTC, Boeing noted “Good speakers and good contacts in audience”; COMFOURTHFLT stated “Excellent planned & executed conference.  High quality of speakers.”  The event website will be up in several weeks, and any who would like to exhibit should contact marketing and exhibiting director, Ken Hood,  Image courtesy of TTC, sourced from an ISR next generation report posted by TTC,

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report. To subscribe to David Place’s free list serve email service, please contact David at


As reported by, the new goggles offer a 28-degree field of view, lower latencies and freedom from the kinds of RF noise and interference that can plague analog systems.  The base system will ship this Fall. Not just for racing, it is compatible with DJI drones and HDMI and so should work well with videography drone apps.  It appears these goggles may raise the industry bar for clarity, efficiency and reliability.


In the BBC report, professor Victores noted that next steps in R&D will focus on speeding up the robot to a more typical pace when ironing, and to extending its training so that it can perform many other common household tasks. 

This project at Madrid’s Charles III University is just one example in the rapidly advancing world of humanoid robot development.  Researchers, worldwide, are creating full size humanoids with grasping hands to master an enormous range of generalized tasks. Photos courtesy of  professor Victores, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.


Frank’s report includes an invaluable listing of remaining 2017 robotics events, as well as an updated directory of companies and educational institutions, all free to job seekers and researchers. Image courtesy of ICRA via


In this 2-part video, Socrates is interviewed on profound questions of AI and related subjects by Omer Ozdemir for the Turkish website Her-An . In part-2, Socrates discusses AI research and agendas in selected foreign countries, military implications and much more. We highly recommend this very interesting discussion.

And, please check out additional interviews by Danaylov with leading intellectuals of our day at Singularity.FM– you will find well over 200!


Tom offers the viewer his uplifting perspective:

“We live in a hyperloop of robotics ideas and innovation. Blink, and a lot will pass you by. Keep an eye on what’s happening, and you’ll understand it all. Seriously!  These great ideas are disruptive, transformative…and necessary. If we can get close to these ideas and understand their intentions, we can, as humans have done for millennia, adapt and evolve and master each new wave of technological change.  Every great new idea is like an alien arriving on Earth for the very first time. We need to step out, meet it, greet it, understand it and then integrate it into our way of life and living.

“Great Ideas in Robotics is a new breed of online talk show/webcast programming that actively goes on the hunt looking for these great new ideas, finds them and the brainiacs behind them, and then brings it all back to you.” See an interview with David Hanson of Hanson Robotics on Tom's first episode of Great Ideas in Robotics, here:

Tom’s Great Ideas in Roboticst!


“All you need is a path the drone can recognize visually," said Team technical lead, Nikolai Smolyanskiy.  He walked a forest path mapping the terrain with GoPro cameras, and loaded the data to the drone.  It then successfully flew .06 miles down the path, avoiding obstacles. news report cited above includes fascinating video of the path flown as seen by the drone.


Held May 8-11, Xponential 2017 took place in the largest exhibit hall ever dedicated to unmanned systems and robotics, with over 370,000 square feet. The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF),, shot the show, which can be viewed at:

It is our pleasure to offer this survey of drone and UAV engines exhibited at this unprecedented event!

For blown up, expanded  views of these power plants, please visit:, hosted by our friends at, who we thank for providing the detailed views.

Photos by Lucien Miller, CEO of;
editing by Tom Atwood, NREF executive director. © 2017 The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF),


Thanks to Kate Harrison for authoring and passing along this article. Image courtesy of getty. Read the entire article at:

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at], and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at], for their assistance with this report.


Amazon noted that RoboCup 2017 will be held in Nagoya Japan, 27 – 30 July.  A symposium on July 31 features Ms. Ayaka Watanabe, doctoral candidate at the Aichi Institute of Technology, and member of the AIT Pickers (DERA Pickers), who will be interviewed on this exciting new technology that incorporates machine vision and AI to emulate human picking.


The photo shows Sören Schwertfeger in his lab at ShanghaiTech University, fresh from a postdoctorate on autonomous robots earned in Germany. He notes, “You couldn’t have started a lab like mine elsewhere…” He received a grant 6X larger than what he feels he might have received in the U.S. or Europe. His AI lab includes his assistant, a technician and a group of doctoral students. “It’s almost impossible for assistant professors to get this much money,” he said. “The research funding is shrinking in the U.S. and Europe. But it is definitely expanding in China.”

The DOD has been reviewing China’s continuing investments in U.S. AI companies with some concern. For a deeper insight into the state of AI research in Asia, we recommend the reader look to

Photo credit: Sören Schwertfeger testing his latest space detection and scanning robot. Tim France for the NY Times.

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


NASA is planning to send a crew to Mars in the 2030s. To meet tomorrow's ambitious goals, the country will need thousands of today's students to follow career paths that will create the next generations of scientists, engineers and space explorers. According to a national survey of 1,000 teachers, as reported by the Aero News Network  ...while just 38 percent of teachers report that a majority of students seem naturally interested in STEM, 83 percent see discussing space-related careers as a potential way to increase student focus on STEM. Other polling highlights include:

• 52 percent of teachers believe a near-term return to the moon would increase students' interest in STEM
• 43 percent of teachers say their schools' curriculum is sufficiently preparing students for a STEM career (12 percent of which say very sufficiently preparing students)
• 23 percent of teachers agree that the current school curriculum is sufficiently preparing students for a career in space exploration

Mars Rover Curiosity Illustration courtesy of NASA/JPL. Our thanks to Charlee Smith of BSI Adhesives for sharing this STEM education-related story!


BIKI is designed to give the operator a drone like experience beneath the waves. Suited for fresh and salt water, it is a great observational tool for hobbyists and educators, and serves well as a diver’s companion underwater robot. Story and images courtesy of


The day began at 9 o’clock in the morning in Nepal at an altitude of just 3867 meters above sea level.  In less than one hour after taking off, the drone fulfilled its mission, it was reported.  Wind gusts reached up to 27 meters/second, but SKAT 640 had no problems.  Two government ministries in Nepal confirmed the 9333 meter altitude. This is a greater altitude than the official world record for light unmanned aircraft weighing under a ton.  Total flight time was 1 hour, 35 minutes.


The movie franchise originated in 1987 and depicts a dedicated police officer who is injured in the line of duty but who returns, “transformed into a powerful cyborg.”  Wikipedia reports that after expanding the RoboCop history via three movies, TV programming, video games and comic books, the franchise has made over $100 million U.S.D. The latest addition was a remake released in 2014.


Curated by industry veteran, Tom Green, Asian Robotics Review offers valuable reports, industry narratives, video programming and more. This slide derives from an Asian Robotics Review report on the Factory of the Future. See details here.


The NY Times report quoted an expert regarding lidar technology, “We believe it will be the basis for autonomous driving,” said Guillaume Devauchelle, who oversees innovation at Valeo, a major parts supplier to automakers.  The report also noted,  “Lidar — pronounced LIE-dar — is shorthand for light detection and ranging. It is a type of sensor that is at the heart of many autonomous car designs and is critical to several worldwide high-resolution mapping efforts.”


Echodyne said that MESA-DAA operates like a phased array radar with true beam scanning in both azimuth and elevation and with built-in search while track (aka track while scan) capabilities. Tracking range on a Cessna 140 has been confirmed out to 3km (see video here) and Phantom 4 drones out to 750m (see video here). The radar provides excellent resolution and accuracy across a broad field of view of ±60° in azimuth (120° total) and ±40° in elevation (80° total). Multiple units can be combined if greater field of view is desired. Story and photos courtesy of Echodyne.


The report notes that: “The new fund has said it would seek to buy minority and majority interests in both private and public companies, from emerging businesses to established, multi-billion-dollar firms. It expects to obtain preferred access to long-term investment opportunities worth $100 million or more.”


Xponential 2017 was packed with new technology.  HitecRCD, long famous for its range of high quality servos, has become a real force in the industrial robotics actuator market.  Rajant, represented here piggy-backed onto an X2i radio control model, is taking its long network technology history into the modern world of free-forming kinetic mesch networks among drones on the move.  Boeing sported an impressive unmanned helicopter.  We have not seen this helo on the web and since Xponential 2017 was all about newest technology, this may well be a new market entrant from aviation powerhouse, Boeing.


Designed for a large variety of soldier-carried uses, this Techaya hub also works seamlessly with air and ground UAV and ROV devices. Techaya Inc. is a prime developer, innovator and manufacturer of military-grade, ruggedized COTS and customized IP-based communication solutions.  It seems only a matter of time until we see more devices like this widely available on the civilian market.  MilSource is the exclusive distributor of Techaya’s MILTECH products.  You can reach MilSource at (310) 694-9930 or


The problem that has been identified is human error in the lab where two hands are needed, and in this context, as Tom Green reports, it has been shown that Maholo robots vastly improve the accuracy and reproducibility of lab results.  The report notes, among other details:

A key development for RBI is its software and easy-to-use GUI (graphical interface).  At Maholo, “Researchers can describe experimental workflows intuitively on their PCs. And each workflow is translated and compiled into robotics operations automatically, so scientists can use our robotic system without the need for coding or programming through keyboards.”


Innovator's Magazine reported that  “The Traffic Management of Unmanned Aircraft Systems initiative is being driven by NTU’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI) – a joint research centre by NTU – and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

“Led by NTU robotics expert Professor Low Kin Huat and Mohamed Faisal Bin Mohamed Salleh, ATMRI Senior Research Fellow, the project will work on technologies designed to ensure safety. These will include “smart and safe routing, detect-and-avoid systems, and traffic management to coordinate air traffic,” NTU said.”



We recommend that you peruse this TRR update:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - Today's top stories from The Robot Report. Click over to the site to read these and all the other articles, directories, global maps and events calendar.

•  Mobility, grasping and collaboration at Automate and ProMat shows - Three articles that sift through the 1,250 exhibitors to report on products and technologies companies are buying.

•  CBS News outlines jobs and robotics debate; Intl Federation of Robotics fills in gaps - Does the deployment of robots increase overall jobs? Or reduce them?

•  Vertical farming boasts 130 times more productivity using 95% less water - Are those figures real? Is this a viable alternative to row-crop farming?

•  Fundings, acquisitions and IPOs continue to grow - March saw 29 startups get over $222 million along with eye-popping billion-dollar acquisitions.

•  42 companies providing robots and accessories that collaborate with humans - One research firm predicts that 30% of all new robots will be smart collaborative robots as early as 2018.

The Robot Report strives to keep you informed about new startups, acquisitions, IPOs, fundings and failures; about successes, technological achievements, and forecasts. The Robot Report also has an extensive free worldwide database (and global map) of over 5,000 entities involved in robotics.

Please send any tips, stories and information about new startup companies or companies missing from the global map of robot providers. Also I'd appreciate if you told your friends and associates about The Robot Report.

Thank you,

P.S.: You can follow us on Twitter at @TheRobotReport

Frank Tobe
The Robot Report
Tracking the business of robotics


"Policymakers are flying blind into what has been called the fourth industrial revolution," said Tom M. Mitchell, the E. Fredkin University Professor in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, and Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-chairs of the NASEM study.

"Government agencies need to collect different kinds of labor data to accurately assess and predict how computer and robotic technologies will affect the workplace, Mitchell and Brynjolfsson said. Failure to do so could, at best, result in missed opportunities; at worst, it could be disastrous."

04/13/2017 reported that in November, Centaur surveyed the proposed high-speed train route in Northern and Southern California. Equipped with the TAGS-7 gravimeter sensor from Micro-g LaCoste, Centaur gathered very specific data to help authorities develop a comprehensive model of the earth’s structure along the proposed rail route, particularly around numerous fault lines, for better planning and engineering of the rail system. The partnership of Aurora, Quantum Spatial, Seibert & Associates and Micro-g LaCoste worked in support of the University of California, San Diego’s work on the California High Speed Rail project.


The FAA and local governments tend to favor a relatively permissive, open-market approach that will foster UAS industry growth.  The following report by examines the resulting fragmentation of UAS marketing and regulatory approaches at the local level, a natural consequence of this pro-industry-growth philosophy : Report Probes Local Drone Laws: What’s Going on Around the Country?


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.”


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.


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.