Robotics Education Journal


The next stage in UAS development has appeared with this prototype, we think, as it does something never done before: it takes off like a drone and then unfolds its wings and flies as a fixed wing aircraft, with enough lift and size to carry a multispectral camera that can image crops to diagnose growth patterns and health. David Hambling tells the tale.


There was an unsettling moment in the development of cyberspace in recent decades when it became apparent that most computers are hackable, and so we who post content, either for a living or as a hobby, or in the course of talking with our peers, became accustomed to the fact that we are potentially “on TV” when online. It seems that a next step in arguably invasive cyber-snoopability has now been implemented in China, although for beneficent, good, pro-public safety reasons.


An initial trial test run ahead of the start of the latest Formula E electric car race in Buenos Aires with two robot cars competing resulted in a crash of one of the racers, and the second used on-board AI to avoid hitting a dog that had strayed onto the track.


This commercial school, “Unmanned Experts FAA Part 107 Academy,” will be back in  March and offers future UAS operators a comprehensive package of online and classroom Ground School.  This includes hands-on flight training, and guidance to facilitate passing a Part 107 Exam at a local FAA Test Center.


The Robot Report, at, 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. We recommend that you check out today's update at!


The BBC reported that as many as 1,000 colorful drones lit up the sky at a recent festival in Guangzhou, southern China. A single computer controlled the swarm as it broke into distinct aerial formations and dramatically changed colors above the city.


Concern has risen regarding declining bee populations owing to their critical role as flower pollinators, but small robots will be flying to their rescue. Researchers have developed tiny 1.7-inch quadcopters with arms to which pollen will adhere, and that can transfer the precious payload to pollen-receiving flower stigmata.  The drone of honey bees working in the garden may soon be complemented by the sound of tiny quads working alongside bees in the croplands of the world.


A new cargo robot by Piaggio is calld the Gita. This is the company that made the very popular Vespa motor scooter. It has all the "braking, balancing and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcyle."  With a top speed of 22mph, Gita can follow its owner or navigate autonomously.


A recent development in artificial intelligence research again raises the question of how quickly robots will have information processing systems that may embody some of the elements of what humans regard as self-awareness. That incremental development was demonstrated when computers triumphed over professional human poker players and won. Bluffing was a part of the robotic strategy, and the robot rose to the occasion.


c-Link Systems, based in Maine, has for years internationally marketed its Forager robot, a wheeled or tracked ground system designed for search & rescue, coal mine exploration and other applications.  C-Link is now completing development and testing of a new Forager application – “RanchVac” – that will clear and clean ranch grounds and fields.  Think of an outsized iRobot “Roomba” weighing upwards of 1400 pounds that moves from stable to pasture to exercise track, cleaning and manicuring the grounds of a modern ranch, all robotically. 

Forager sports a host of fail-safe sensors ringing its chassis for safe operation around people, animals and vehicles.  Wheeled and tracked versions are available, and it will perform automated snow clearing.  Will you be visiting AUVSI’s annual Xponential conference in Dallas, May 8 – 11, 2017?  RanchVac will be exhibited and c-Link Systems looks forward to seeing you there.


By JoAnn Laing, The NREF Robotics Toy Editor


The growth in toys designed to teach coding and other IT related skills is moving exponentially and on a world-wide basis. One of the latest such toy-tools is Cubetto, the award winning, Montessori-approved coding toy for children ages 3 and up.  Cubetto is the only screen-less programming system, powered by a revolutionary coding language made of colorful blocks that lets children write their first computer programs.
Designed to be the first such toy for children, Cubetto consists of:

• a friendly wooden robot named Cubetto,
• a physical programming console,
• a set of expandable coding blocks,
• a collection of illustrated maps and
• an activity book.


TheRobotReport founder Frank Tobe does not miss a beat when it comes to the business of robotics, and his new 2017 event calendar is a must-have for your desktop, so check this out and make a copy, now. You will be using it for the next year!


Nikola Danaylov, aka “Socrates”, who has blogged for over half a dozen years on all things Singularity and AI, posting over 200 riveting interviews on questions of strong AI, the future of humanity, robotics, the outer bounds of technology, and much more, has just published a book, and we cannot wait to get our hands on it.


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). If you are as curious as we are about the next key steps in the development of artificial intelligence (AI), you will want to carefully review Tom’s articles on the national AI programs launched by China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, among other Asian nations, to expedite AI research and development over the next four years.


Vanessa Bates Ramirez, associate editor of Singularity Hub, reported that job automation may take longer to implement than previously thought. With AI now driving trucks, performing surgery, diagnosing disease and guiding financial experts in investment decisions, the concern that no jobs are safe from the coming generations of service robots has been widespread. But a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute, that broke 800 jobs into constituent parts, found that many work-related tasks will not be automated any time soon, owing to the nature of those tasks.

01/14/2017 reported that one of five teams in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, Moon Express, has announced that it is fully funded for its lunar mission. The Florida-based company noted that it has secured $20 million in “Series B” funding. This brings the total the group has raised from private investors to over $45 million, said co-founder and CEO Bob Richards. 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. That is just the beginning in terms of tasks in this challenge -- and with respect to cash awards.


Swarms of robots (“swarm bots”) are at home in air, maritime and land environments and are as unstoppable as an ant colony on the march. Made up of large numbers of inexpensive units, swarm bots will theoretically overwhelm, out-compute and outgun their automated adversaries. Fielding swarm bots is a sophisticated, expensive undertaking, and yet, surgical deployment of flocks or schools of swarm bots may be coming sooner than you think. Testing of swarms of drones is underway worldwide. Swarm demos were shown at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.


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.