Robotics Education Journal


Parallax, founded by Ken Gracey, is one of the venerable, pioneering robotics education companies that have created an industry supporting educators, students and hobbyists in recent decades. Parallax is the creator of the multicore Propeller and the original BASIC Stamp microcontrollers. Parallax’s Boe-Bot is widely used in education and by hobbyists, as are many other robots and robotics products originated by Ken and his engineering team at Parallax. Parallax has recently updated its website, and you probably want to take a look! It represents a lot of work and is a lot of fun to explore!


A picture of the RQ-180 high altitude unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was reportedly taken a few weeks ago inside the Military Operating Area around Edwards AFB, California. “The picture was taken in daylight hours, and the unknown aircraft was flying above California City in a racetrack pattern at an estimated altitude of 20,000 ft.”

11/18/2020 announced that Turkey is launching its first Combat Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV). A partnership between two leading Turkish defense companies has launched the country’s first armed unmanned surface vessel, the ULAQ. The new CUSV is “equipped with day and night vision capabilities as well as encrypted communication infrastructure, which can be operated from mobile vehicles and headquarters or from sea platforms such as aircraft carriers or frigates. That infrastructure can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, surface warfare, asymmetric warfare, escort and strategic infrastructure protection missions.” The first vessel will enter Mediterranean waters in December.


Join the UAS community every day this week to focus on an important element of safe drone operations. As the market continues to grow, so do training opportunities for remote pilots that ensure safe, reliable service. Explore the available resources and discover how best practices can be implemented into new or existing operations.


QinetiQ formally delivered the first of four experimental “light” Robot Combat Vehicles (RCV-Ls) to the Army on 5 November. They will be used with 4 Textron RCV-Mediums in 2022 field tests. The Army plans to buy 16 more of each as it scales up to determine the feasibility of using a forward line of robots that precede human troops on the battlefield. Building on years of R&D by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, the ongoing collaborative effort brings together technologies from QinetiQ, Pratt Miller and the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center.


As reported in a preview of the next edition of the Unmanned Systems News (USN), “The robotic fleet will survey water from the surface to a depth of 2,000 meters — more than a mile deep. They will continuously collect data that scientists use to observe ocean ecosystems and monitor elemental cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the ocean. The floats will also gather data on the growth and respiration of phytoplankton, which provide the basis for the ocean's food web, and regulate carbon cycles.”


Stealth Technologies will collaborate with autonomous drone technology company, Planck AeroSystems in the development of systems for launching off of and landing onto moving unmanned ground vehicles and surface vessels. Planck’s core enabling technology is vision-based precision landing on moving platforms without GPS.


The 14th Annual UAS Summit & Expo was held as on online event October 28-29. The Northern Plains of North Dakota have become known to many as the Silicon Valley of Drones owing to the volume of commercial, governmental and military UAS flights conducted there yearly. The UAS Summit again provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of the current state of the UAS industry. This brief recap underscores why you may wish to add this to your annual schedule.
Keynote speakers included:
- 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

Presentations were also given by speakers from Northrop Grumman, L3Harris Technologies, Thales, Northern Plains UAS Test Site, and more.


The UAS Summit & Expo started as a small gathering of regional stakeholders. Now, 14 years later, the event in the Northern Plains of North Dakota has become a major yearly event for UAS experts from around the world. It’s the original epicenter of drone research, earned its place as the Silicon Valley of Drones and as you’ll see from the commercial, government and military flight activity filling the sky of the Northern Plains and beyond every day, it has truly become America’s UAS proving grounds. The UAS Summit will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the current state of the unmanned aircraft systems industry.


For Immediate Release, compliments of AUVSI San Diego:

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

"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.


In a world’s first demonstration, the Skeldar V-150 was autonomously flown across continents while under the observation and control of a team based in Switzerland. UMS SKELDAR will now be able to provide remote product demonstrations to prospective customers on a global basis.


In the twentieth edition of the Decision 2020 Report, Hoover fellows assess the economic, national security, and geopolitical implications of innovations in artificial intelligence (AI). Hoover fellows speak for the Hoover institution. As described by Wikipedia, “The Hoover institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is an American public policy think tank and research institution located at Stanford University in California. Its mission statement outlines its basic tenets: representative government, private enterprise, peace, personal freedom, and the safeguards of the American system.” It is regarded as advocating a conservative viewpoint on questions of policy and governance. The report notes that AI will “…force a change in thinking about how nations manage their security challenges and adapt their militaries.”


The new WAVE camera from FreeFly is now available to well-heeled roboticists, researchers and institutions. It offers continuous 2K and 4K high-speed streaming image capture, with packages from $9,995.00.


OCEANSIDE, CA, October 7, 2020 -- FoxFury Lighting Solutions (FoxFury) officially announces the addition of new and improved Rugo drone mounts for use on DJI Matrice and Inspire 2 drones. These new mounts allow the waterproof, rechargeable Rugo lights to be used in low light inspections and meet global night flight requirements (including FAR 107.29) for anti-collision lighting.


It was reported in the # 20 - 20 - 3 OCTOBER 2020 issue of the Unmanned Systems News (USN) that AeroVironment has unveiled its Switchblade 600, a loitering munition with a larger, anti-armor warhead than earlier versions. Switchblade 600 is the first in a series of new loitering munitions AeroVironment plans to offer, the company said on 30 September. The new loitering munition weighs 22.7kg (50lb), is man-portable and can be set up for deployment from a launch tube in less than 10min. It also can be configured for launch from a vehicle or slow-moving aircraft. The UAV is powered by an electric battery and propeller. It has endurance to fly 43nm (80km) and make multiple orbits above a target before striking. That equates to about 40min of flight endurance, says AeroVironment. It has a dash speed of 100kt (169km/h).


Electronic canines are just one link in what the US military calls the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). ABMS uses artificial intelligence and rapid data analytics to detect and counter threats to US military assets in space and possible attacks on the US homeland with missiles or other means. Sgt. John Rodiguez, 321st Contingency Response Squadron security team, patrols with a Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype at a simulated austere base during the Advanced Battle Management System exercise on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 3, 2020.


The January-February 2011 issue of Robot magazine published an eye-opening article titled The Robots of China, by Taiwan-based Chinese technology correspondent Humanoido. This feature story about the inner sanctum of full-scale humanoid robotics R&D in a country largely hidden from view in the West was revolutionary journalism for its time. The state of Sino humanoid robotics research, today, is not publicly available, but certainly this repost with enhanced digital photography from the original shoot offers provocative historical insights.


Elistair, the tethered drone manufacturer has announced the opening of their first North American office in Boston. This will facilitate the company’s rapid growth in the US and Canadian markets and its ability to provide local support to customers and partners. Created in 2014 in France, Elistair has rapidly positioned itself as the leading manufacturer of tether stations and tethered drones with more than 600 systems deployed in 65 countries. The company’s patented tethered drone systems are capable of flying for extended periods and have been deployed at major events such as the US Democrat party Primaries in 2020, the Superbowl final in 2019, the Champions League final in 2019 and the Ryder Cup and Paris Peace Forum in 2018. Elistair offers multiple products in the tethered drone arena that address event safety and community surveillance needs.


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.


The BELL NEXUS full-scale multirotor has received extensive press in recent years, and BELL says the aircraft could be operational as early as the mid-2020s. Given the ubiquitous presence of hobby and commercial multirotor drones, and the extensive use of drones by the military, we have put together a brief refresher on how multirotors fly. Full-scale multirotors and RC versions operate by the same aerodynamic and mechanical principles.


The U.S. Marines Corps is moving smaller unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into its ground combat units even as its aviators are further refining the Large UAS Requirement. The U.S. Marine Corps is still charting its path forward for large drones.


A blossoming of small table-top robots in the early 2000s lit up the robotics world for several years. This era has been dramatically recalled by Masahico Yamaguchi’s recent demo of his latest humanoid robot. Yamaguchi, affectionately nicknamed “Dr. Guero” by his many followers, recently demonstrated his latest robot on YouTube and on his Facebook page. In 2011, Robot magazine posted a Buyers Guide of the two dozen+ humanoid robots then available, and Dr. Guero’s latest demonstration shows how far the technology has come. See Dr. Guero’s latest humanoid robot demo and a historical perspective, below.


ACEINNA, one of the world’s leading developers of inertial based guidance and navigation systems for autonomous vehicles and devices, today announced the availability of their new ACEINNA OpenIMU ROS Driver for developers of robots and robotic applications. “This new ROS driver makes it simple to integrate a wide variety of ACEINNA IMUs (Inertial Measurement Unit sensors) into almost any robotics applications (warehouse robotics, autonomous vehicles, last mile deliver robotics, etc.), which uses ROS,” says James Fennelly, Product Marketing Manager – Inertial Systems at ACEINNA. “When combined with our IMU’s industry leading reliability and accuracy, as well as very competitive pricing (under $100), developers of robotic solutions finally have an easily integrated, rock-solid solution for their navigation and localization challenges.”


A publicly posted Chinese news bulletin ostensibly reports on the Chinese answer to the U.S. Space Plane. Although we cannot verify the information in the document and have not contacted its author(s), the article offers what you may find to be an illuminating perspective on the still largely veiled Chinese space plane program.


The USN reports that Pentagon has given the green light for military units to purchase small drones from five companies following a months-long review aimed at ending the military's reliance on emerging tech made in China. Earlier this month, the Defense Department's Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) approved small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) made by Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal, and Vantage Robotics for use in the field. The drones fall under DIU's "Blue sUAS" program.