Robotics Education Journal


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 “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.


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.


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 the “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.”


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.


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.


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”?


Abha Bhattarai reports at on the hotel of the future.
-1. Voice Activated Rooms
-2. Greeting Robots that Bring Champagne
-3. Virtual Reality Headsets for Touring
-4. A Rainforest on the Roof, with Water Sports
-5. Marriot Request for Comments & Desired Features


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.


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.


For the first time, 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 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. Our thanks to David Place, NPS Research Associate / C3F UAS Advisor, and Robin Alexander, President, ATC, for this update. 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


Pierre Bouchard continues to methodically develop his full scale JARRVIS humanoid in Quebec, Canada. The latest development includes wireless 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.


UAS Magazine reported that Samsung has announced a new generation of high-capacity chips specially designed for use in airborne drones. Playback speed is increased by 5x, to permit faster review and editing. This is one more indication that the drone industry is flowering.


Everyone seems to be jumping into the exploding drone market. Tech Crunch described Intel’s new multirotor drone, which is designed to attract developers and runs on Intel’s Aero Compute board with a Linux O.S.


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 includes laser weapons.


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. The complete version of this list offers a baker’s dozen+ you probably want to know about. –Tom Atwood, Exec.Dir.


The Library of Congress 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 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 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.


For decades, inspections of newly assembled aircraft have been conducted by humans in an exacting, carefully choreographed procedure that ensures attainment of the highest safety standards in products rolling off the assembly lines. On-site flying robots that inspect airframes during assembly are at the heart of a recent leap forward in applied aerospace technology.


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.


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 includes historical robots, contemporary examples and provocative speculation on the future of robotics and the challenges of living with advanced artificial intelligence (AI).


The TESLA Technology Think Tank is dedicated to making rapidly emerging technology productive and safe for mankind. It was our pleasure to interview spokesperson Keith Kaplan earlier this spring. Keith is 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.


As reported 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 working on this category of robot, which will patrol warehouses, greet people at hotels, mind parking lots and the like.