Robotics Education Journal


Frank Tobe, founder of, notes that funding of robotics start-ups was up 50% in 2016, compared to the previous year. He lists 128+ robotics startups with capsule descriptions. Frank's report spells out the continued growth of the robotics industry in dramatic detail. Frank plans an upcoming report detailing 49 2016 acquisitions involving billions of dollars, so keep your eyes on his website!


At the recent RoboUniverse trade show held in San Diego in mid-December, 3D Rapid Prototyping demonstrated advanced systems that allow you to 3D print large, custom objects. With these tools you can build prototypes and working device parts using your choice of colors and a variety of materials.


MatterHackers exhibited at the recent RoboUniverse held in San Diego in mid-December. MatterHackers credo is to “enable people to turn the ideas they have into the things they use.” Located in Orange County, CA, MatterHackers offers an extensive online showroom tour, where the company notes if offers the widest selection of 3D printers and materials in the world.


At both the RoboBusiness 2016 (late September, Silicon Valley) and RoboUniverse 2016 (mid-December, San Diego) conferences, 5D Robotics presented unique sensor technology 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. At RoboUniverse, NREF Executive Director Tom Atwood caught up with 5D Robotics Chief Marketing Officer Phil Mann for an exclusive interview. Phil noted that 5D systems work indoors or outdoors, even in the rain or snow, and in other difficult, harsh arenas.


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.


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. NREF Chairperson JoAnn Laing had tweeted about this on our site, earlier, but we now have another video that explains the engineering behind this remarkable machine.


In the photo, Kevin Evison of Britain’s Team Imperial opens a bottle at the Powered Arm Prosthesis Race in the first Cybathlon, held in Zurich, Zwitzerland. 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.


SAMSUNG's new patent application looks like a UFO, commentators note. The patent reveals a circular design with supporting legs and an open area on the top for air intake.


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. USAS's team of American-based technicians will quickly repair and trouble-shoot your drone to maximize your service availability.


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.


AS reported by Sandra Helsel of the UK’s Mirror, 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 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.


Follow this thread to see links to all 11 exclusive video interviews filmed by The National Robotics Education Foundation at RoboBusiness 2016 in Silicon Valley.


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


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.


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 SBIR award is granted in partnership with the NASA Langley Research Center.


This is our latest interview from RoboBusiness 2016 held in Silicon Valley in late September; be sure to scroll down for many more NREF-produced videos from this exciting conference (click on the link at bottom).

SRI International is a pioneering robotics company that you want to watch! Robotics division mechanical engineer Mike Stevens addresses 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. But that's just one of several robotics arenas addressed by Stevens in this must-see exclusive interview.


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.


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.


Jim Lawton, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Rethink Robotics, Boston, explains that their new generation of collaborative robots are safe, inexpensive, and designed to work side-by-side with humans. In a vast improvement over past practice with respect to safety and productivity, the robot “Sawyer” can pick-and-place products working alongside people.


CEO John S. Ostrem, Ph.D, notes that AvatarMIND robots have been used in China for some years, particularly as companion robots in one-child families, and in healthcare. Next year, the company 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.


As explained by CEO Tracy McSheery, PhaseSpace, founded in 1994, specializes in motion capture and motion control. Based in San Leandro, CA, PhaseSpace develops new products and technologies for emerging motion tracking markets, and offers 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!


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 news release) get established. Don't miss our interview with Carolin!


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.


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.”