Robotics Education Journal


Rosemary Hattersley recently posted a description of this cute robotic canine on The MagPi and noted that the Raspberry Pi microcontroller provides the robot dog’s controls and artificial intelligence.  At around $225 for the Bittle kit, this robot is aimed at adult tech enthusiasts.


After a bruising, year-long fight with Congress, part of the Navy’s plan to field unmanned ships appears to be on life support, making 2021 a crucial year for plotting a path forward.  In the 2021 appropriations and policy bills, lawmakers eviscerated funding for the Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface


As reported by in The War Zone, the new unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Snakehead drones will be the largest carried by our nuclear submarines and will be deployed and recovered underwater.  Initial missions will include intel, surveillance and recon (ISR), and Snakehead drones wil

01/06/2021 reported that Russia is developing a helicopter drone to complement anti-aircraft systems in the counter-UAS mission.


2021 will likely be a break-out year for drone businesses, and a host of new jobs may emerge as career options mushroom.


Parallax has been a pioneering company in educational and hobby robotics for decades. It is well known for its BASIC Stamp line of microcontrollers, as well as its Boe-Bot, Activity Bot, Scribbler, Elev8 quadcopter and other robotics platforms.


The new Rotrics DexArm is an eye-opening addition to the array of table-top robot arms commercially available to hobbyists and professionals.


Daniel Rogge of TORMACH has presented a YouTube video on the new TORMACH Robot Arm, or “ROS-Based Open Industrial Manipulator.” TORMACH is an employee-owned company of about 40 people based in Madison, WI. Their mission is to help people make things, and TORMACH has been offering computer controlled (CNC) machining equipment such as milling machines, lathes, surface grinders and similar tools for many years. TORMACH controllers are built on top of the open-source LinuxCNC framework.


The U.S. Marine Corps wants to equip its infantry units with a man-portable, swarming loitering munition to help counter China’s growing military with a light and deadly seaborne infantry force. The “Organic Precision Fires - Infantry Light” program is pursuing ground-launched drones that have a range of up to 20 kilometers, can loiter for 90 minutes, swarm, be jam resistant and able to take out both enemy troops and equipment.


David Hambling of Aerospace & Defense,, reported that the NAVY has developed the ability to guide torpedos far beyond the horizon using airborne drones. Hambling reported that Adm. Dave Goggins revealed the deployment in a webinar at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium. Speaking Nov. 18, Adm. Goggins said the SLUAS was “a pretty awesome capability to provide to the fleet.” The drones are launched from beneath the surface from 3-inch tubes normally used for noisemaking decoys. The UAVs bob to the surface, unfold and take off.


TEL AVIV (JNS) “A recently launched artificial intelligence (AI)-driven operating system company allows companies to receive an unprecedented level of operational efficiency and data-driven decision-making, according to Michael Ouliel, founder and CEO of BlackSwan Technologies. Its signature Platform, ELEMENT, combines multiple AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, neural-network and data-operation facilities into a single platform. …ELEMENT is described by BlackSwan Technologies as a cognitive operating system that enables the rapid development of enterprise applications in any number of areas critical to companies—from product design, finance, marketing, supply chain and human resources.” BlackSwan Technologies launched officially in October and has generated tens of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts with leading businesses.


Undefined Technologies, a startup based in Doral, about 15 miles out of Miami, says it has managed to increase the thrust levels of ion propulsion systems to “unprecedented levels” with its “Air Tantrum” technology, thereby enabling nearly silent drones to slowly fly with no moving parts. Instead of using fans or blades, ionic propulsion uses electromagnetism. Undefined Technologies’ prototype is shown hovering in a test laboratory at the top. Other companies as well as university level research groups are entering the prototype ion-propelled aircraft testing phase.

12/11/2020 reported that Hyundai Motor Group, along with some associated companies and Chairman Euisun Chung, will acquire an 80% interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corp, leaving the Japanese firm with a 20% share, the companies said in a Friday statement. The Bloomberg reports noted that South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Motor Group has been beefing up its research in robotics as it expands further into electric and autonomous vehicles.


NAVY experts are purchasing 15 ScanEagles for the Afghanistan National Army intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) military department under a $9.8 contract. The ScanEagle can carry a sensor payload consisting of a visible-light camera, a medium-wave infrared imager, or both integrated in one turret. It is a relatively small UAV but can fly as high as 19,500 feet at speeds of up to 80 knots, and can stay on mission for 24 hours.


A revolution in orchestrated drone warfare has riveted the attention of world powers. The decisive military defeat inflicted on Armenia by Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan, has brought this development to the fore. It has been likened to the arrival of tanks on the battlefield that obsoleted horse-mounted cavalry. This new form of warfare integrates intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (IRS) with electronic warfare and pinpoint real-time targeting of weapons. It was reported by Scott ritter at that "For every $1 in losses suffered by Turkey, Syria lost approximately $5". 2,425 Armenian soldiers were reportedly lost in the fighting, as well as 185 T-72 tanks, 182 artillery pieces, 73 multiple rocket launchers, 90 armored fighting vehicles and 26 surface-to-air missile systems. What was behind this?


The Liquid Robotics Wave Glider is a surf-board-size unmanned surface vessel powered by wave and solar energy, and it can cruise in normal weather conditions at 3 knots. Military applications of the Wave Glider include anti-submarine warfare (ASW), countermine operations, coastal and border security, drug and human trafficking interdiction, and maritime domain awareness. Wave Glider has two components -- a surface vehicle and a tethered submersible with moving wings that dangles underneath the surface vessel and uses wave energy for forward propulsion.


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.