WeRobotics Global has become a premier forum for social good robotics. The feedback featured below was unsolicited. On June 1, 2017, we convened our first, annual global event, bringing together 34 organizations to New York City (full list below) to shape the global agenda and future use of robotics in the social good sector. WeRobotics Global was kindly hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation, the first donor to support our efforts. They opened the event with welcome remarks and turned it over to Patrick Meier from WeRobotics who provided an overview of WeRobotics and the big picture context for social sector robotics.
Mosquitos kill more humans every year than any other animal on the planet and conventional methods to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses haven’t worked as well as many hoped. So we’ve been hard at work since receiving this USAID grant six months ago to reduce Zika incidence and related threats to public health.
Over the past year, 398 audiences of up to 2,000 people witnessed an octet of colorful lampshades perform an airborne choreography during Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway show Paramour, which ran until April 20th. The work behind the design and choreography of the flying lampshades, which turn out to be self-piloted show drones, bears the signature of the Swiss high-tech company Verity Studios.
But how novel is it really that robots have appeared in theater? Since Karel Capek’s science fiction play R.U.R. (short for Rossum’s Universal Robots) introduced the word “robot” to the English language and to science fiction almost 100 years ago, the technical challenges of incorporating robots into live performance and theater have been difficult to master. Before these Broadway drones, nearly all theater robots were remote-controlled puppets, relying on humans hidden off-scene to steer their movements and provide their intelligence.
It is unclear if Masayoshi Son, Chairman of Softbank, was one of the 17 million YouTube viewers of Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog before acquiring the company for an undisclosed amount this past Thursday. What is clear is the acquisition of Boston Dynamics by Softbank is a big deal. Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper is trading up her dainty wheels for a pair of sturdy legs.
FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) is a robotics program for students from K-12, and I was in the last division, FRC. The program is about more than introducing students to STEM and giving them hands-on experience, it’s about helping students to grow and have positive impacts by recognizing community service efforts, celebrating good values, developing soft skills, and guiding students to pursue higher education.
The fields of modular and origami robotics have become increasingly popular in recent years, with both approaches presenting particular benefits, as well as limitations, to the end user. Christoph Belke and Jamie Paik from RRL, EPFL and NCCR Robotics have recently proposed an elegant new solution that integrates both types of robotics in order to overcome their individual limitations: Mori, a modular origami robot.
The device named “Spark” flew high above the man on stage with his hands waving in the direction of the flying object. In a demonstration of DJI’s newest drone, the audience marveled at the Coke can-sized device’s most compelling feature: gesture controls. Instead of a traditional remote control, this flying selfie machine follows hand movements across the sky. Gestures are the most innate language of mammals, and including robots in our primal movements means we have reached a new milestone of co-existence.
We develop the fastest, smallest and lightest distance sensors for advanced robotics in challenging environments. These sensors are born from a fruitful collaboration with CERN while developing flying indoor inspection systems.
The Xponential 2017 national conference was held May 8-11 by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The event took place in the largest exhibit hall ever dedicated to unmanned systems and robotics, with over 370,000 square feet. It featured over 650 robotics organizations – companies, research institutions, universities, consultants, nonprofits and more – from the U.S. and countries worldwide.
Drone company Atmos UAV has launched Marlyn, a lightweight drone which flies automatically, effortlessly and at high wind speeds. One of the first customers that signed up is Skeye, Europe’s leading unmanned aircraft data provider. This new technology allows industry professionals around the world to map the surface 10 times faster and guarantees no more drone crashes.
In 1985, a twenty-two year old Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion. Twelve years later, he was defeated by the only player capable of challenging the grandmaster, IBM’s Deep Blue. That same year (1997), RoboCup was formed to take on the world’s most popular game, soccer, with robots. Twenty years later, we are on the threshold of the accomplishing the biggest feat in machine intelligence, a team of fully autonomous humanoids beating human players at FIFA World Cup soccer.
JD Claridge’s story epitomizes the current state of the drone industry. Claridge, founder of xCraft, is best known for being the first contestant on Shark Tank to receive money from all the Sharks – even Kevin O’Leary! Walking the floor of Xponential 2017, the annual convention of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Integration (AUVSI), Claridge remarked to me how the drone industry has grown up since his TV appearance.
Last month, Swiss start-up and NCCR Robotics and ETH Zurich spin-off noonee, announced the start of series production and sales launch of their Chairless Chair. The company was founded in 2014 and since then has been working on creating and testing a prototype of the Chairless Chair – an ergonomic solution to health issues that affects factory workers.
NATO Nations have agreed to use JANUS, a new underwater communications device, as the NATO Standard for digital underwater communications. This is the first time a digital underwater communication protocol has been acknowledged at an international level. Implementing JANUS paves the way for a standardised ‘Internet of Underwater Things’ with many exciting future applications.