Robotics Education Journal


An editorial posted on August 21 by nature, International Journal of Science, reported that France and Canada are convening an international committee to advise on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI). The editorial, titled: “International AI ethics panel must be independent” endorsed the committee with the comment, “The group should be supported and shielded from undue influence.”


Loosely stated, Moore’s law holds that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit on a chip, and its processing power, doubles approximately every two years. "Without any doubt, Moore's Law is well and alive. It's not dead, it's not slowing down, it's not even sick. It's well and alive," Philip Wong reported on Tuesday at the Hot Chips Conference at Stanford University. He should know, as he is head of research at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.


Atlas is a leading aerospace company specializing in the design and manufacture of UAS for law enforcement, security companies and first responders. As reported by the sUAS News, on Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Atlas partnered with the Rio de Janeiro State’s Military Police to provide security at the Maracanã Stadium during the Copa America soccer tournament. This was the first time in which MESH multi-drone UAS technology has been approved for usage to secure a major sporting event.


Last month reported on an interesting new inspection UAS design from Flybotix that employs a simplified propulsion system based on a pair of stacked propellers. These are enclosed in a shroud that is the body of the aircraft. The craft’s advanced stabilization system and light weight permits flight durations that are “twice as long as conventional models.”


The Xponential 2019 national conference was held April 29 to May 2nd by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) at McCormick Place in Chicago. In this preview of a full conference exhibit hall gallery to be posted by The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF) in August (our 4th year!), you will find a fascinating sample of what’s to come. This event featured some of the most advanced robots and their allied software, transport and admin support systems on the planet.


As reported by Military&Aerospace Electronics, support for unmanned combat vehicles for ground operations is growing in the military for a few reasons, the most important being that weaponized robots can protect human combatants’ lives. The article notes that the U.S. Army will begin field testing, in under a year, autonomous M2 Bradley fighting vehicles at Fort Carson, Colorado. Further, it states that the Army indicated last June it would be testing an unmanned ground vehicle carrying 20-to-50 millimeter canons. The vehicle is said to be capable of operating off-road or on-road. For comparison, see also the included phot of the Russian Uran-9.


This lightweight, low-power ultrasound sensor can be easily mounted to your robot, and it is unaffected by reflectance or opacity of objects in its field of view of up to 160° x 160°. Sophisticated algorithms coupled with carefully selected hardware components enables mapping of the TS3’s immediate environment in real-time.


At Robot Captain Crabs Cajun Seafood & Bar restaurant in Delaware, a tireless waiter named Sheldon, left, delivers food as fellow cyber employee Shirley meets and greets patrons. These new $20,000 Chinese robots greet customers and serve food, replacing the professional roles of humans. Will this become ubiquitous, threatening untold human jobs?


When hostile autonomous or remote-controlled drones probe the perimeters of forward U.S. bases, counter-UAS (C-UAS) defensive weapons are employed to neutralize these threats. Among the technologies deployed is a C-UAS laser developed by Raytheon that is mounted on a military dune buggy.


Cobalt Robotics makes autonomous security robots. Cobalt just closed a $35 million Series B, providing funds from investors that are slated to expand Cobalt services across the U.S. Cobalt security robots roam facilities monitoring large spaces with five dozen sensors including RGB, IR, video, thermal, ultrasound and lidar.


A new Raspberry Pi has been announced that is priced from $35. It is a micro-size, dual-display desktop computer on a small board. The hackable device has been quite popular with hobbyists, educators and students for years. One can drop the new Raspberry Pi into old projects for an upgrade. Three RAM versions are available. Software is backwards-compatible, so what one creates on a Raspberry Pi 4 will also work on older models.


DJI has announced that all of their new consumer drones weighing more than 8.8 ounces (250 grams) marketed as of January 1, 2020 will include airplane and helicopter detectors and will notify drone pilots of aircraft that appear to be on a collision course with piloted drones. The detectors, powered by AirSense technology, will be integrated into new DJI drone releases; AirSense receives ADS-B signals from nearby full-scale planes and helicopters.


Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. (ESAero), a leading Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) System design, development and manufacturing services provider announced today a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Award from NASA. The award, currently in negotiation, is under NASA Topic A1.06 for Vertical Lift Technology and UAM.


Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, recently undertook a life cycle assessment for training large AI models. Surprisingly, they found that some of these models could emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, or close to 5 times the lifetime emissions of the average American car—including emissions during the manufacture of the car.


As noted by Miriam McNabb on today, June 3, 2019, “Through IBM’s Code and Response initiative, along with non-profits, aid agencies, and local governments, IBM is putting open source technologies developed as part of coding challenges such as Call for Codein the communities where they are needed most,” says IBM “With this in mind, we have launched the IBM Developer Drone Giveaway to empower more developers to leverage drone-related code patterns, get up-and-running on IBM Cloud and inspire more entries to Call for Code, which is open to submissions until the end of July.”


If an apparently hostile drone appears to be threatening some sort of attack, the “DroneBullet” offers a swift solution; it will outmaneuver and then destroy the offending UAV by ramming it at high speed.


In a significant step, the U.S. DoD has noted that it is working with Parrot on a project to develop the next generation drone for the U.S. military. Well known in the industry, Parrot has been a pioneer in drone technology for the private sector for many years.


Boeing’s CAV UAV, years in development, will soon lift 500-pound cargo payloads (227 kilograms) in urban settings. Boeing has described the CAV UAV as an “unmanned electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) cargo air vehicle (CAV) prototype.” Since its unveiling in early 2018, the design has been refined through extensive testing and simulations. The aircraft uses 6 dual-rotor motor pods, 12 propellers and weighs 1,100 pounds (498.95 kilograms). CAV is 17.5 feet long (5.33 meters), 20 feet wide (6.1 meters) and 5 feet tall (1.52 meters). Current plans foresee autonomous flights much if not most of the time.


Human-machine teaming is a hallmark of the Pentagon’s “Third Offset Strategy”, which has guided weapons development since November 2014, when the military announced a strategy that would employ autonomy and artificial intelligence. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work championed this approach, notes. The bottom line was the notion that humans properly paired with machines will outfight machines, as well as humans. Does this sound a bit like sci-fi?


Only a year ago, as an independent contractor, Bobby Watts of Watts Innovations flew a proof of concept prototype of the new Aergility Atlis multirotor design. The prototype used a Scorpion motor-powered pusher from Innov8tive Designs, and the bank of rotating blades atop the vehicle, a hallmark Aergility innovation, acted as “flat plate” airfoils, providing lift. Bobby then posted the following enthusiastic note on the Watts Innovations website:
“We recently worked with Aergility to help tell their story of a new type of aircraft that they developed that solves the traditional problem of short flight time that plagues all multirotor aircraft. Their new aircraft is an exciting piece of technology that will allow it to carry a heavy payload and fly for hours/ hundreds of miles all on a single tank of fuel. Watts Innovations is extremely excited to be a part of this and wish the Aergility team nothing but success in their new endeavor! For more information, check out:
We were thrilled to visit the Aergility booth at the recent Xponential 2019 conference and trade show hosted by the AUVSI in Chicago. Aergility has taken the multirotor concept to an entirely new level.
Jim Vander Mey, Aergility CEO, notes in the short YouTube video linked to below, shot by Bobby Watts, that he started the project many years ago when he was considering how to find a more functional VTOL aircraft that did not have the complexity of a helicopter. Jim describes how he conceived a design that would do exactly that.


The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF) has captured an expansive photo gallery of Xponential 2019, and, as in past years, it will take a little bit of time to edit and post the hundreds of images that represent this leading-edge technology event. We will post a few show scoops in advance to portray the amazing diversity of robotics and AI technologies exhibited at this latest conference and trade show. Check out this mock-up of the amazing BELL Nexus full-size, person carrying multirotor!


A new lithium-ion battery breakthrough was recently demonstrated by CUBERG. A video shows a quadcopter using CUBERG’s new lithium metal battery flying 70% longer than one powered by a traditional lithium-ion battery. CUBERG is supported by Boeing, the U.S. Department of Energy and venture capitalists. The battery uses a new non-flammable electrolyte that lacks many of the weaknesses of traditional Li-ion chemistry batteries; the company notes that previous generation lithium ion cells are “heavy, they underperform and are vulnerable to rapid degradation.”


MIT and Yale University researchers have developed humanoid waste sorters that rely on touch, not vision, to pick and place. Able to differentiate between paper, glass and plastic using “soft robotics and sensors,” the system utilizes a gripper made of a material called auxetics, which expands when pulled. The robot identified objects with 85% accuracy working from a fixed position, but that lessened to 63% when picking from a moving conveyor belt.


Veteran Russian AK-47 manufacturer Kalashnikov has introduced a new drone named the KUB. Kalashnikov’s distinguished firearms history suggests that the company would pull out all the stops if it chose to enter the market with a weaponized drone. The KUB is said to be able to precisely deliver a 3-kilogram warhead to a target more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. Shown in Abu Dhabi at the February IDEX 2019 arms show, the drone was said to be able to fly for 30 minutes at 80 to 130 kilometers per hour (49.7 to 80.7 mph). Kalashnikov notes that the KUB is low-cost, highly efficient and well-equipped to evade aerial defenses.


The Israeili-built, privately funded Beresheet moon lander failed, today when its handlers lost communication with the robot when it was approximately 489 feet above the lunar surface. "We had a failure in the spacecraft, we unfortunately have not managed to land successfully," Opher Doron, the general manager of IAI said during a live broadcast from mission control. "It's a tremendous achievement up 'til now."


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