National Defense Magazine reported today that the U.S. Army is hosting a robotics competition playfully named "Bot-Tober Fest" this October in Columbus, Georgia. The contest is open to all individuals from high school students, to hobbyists, to U.S. military officers, to international partners, with cash prizes offered to non-government winners. The goal of the event is to leverage talent in the hope of filling gaps in capabilities within the Army's current robotics inventory. A senior official was quoted at the Eurosatory land and air defense conference outside Paris earlier this month stating, "We’re going to put out a challenge and [say], ‘Hey, we need a robotic system that can do a ground reconnaissance, a surface reconnaissance and a subsurface reconnaissance of a bridge system or a dam system.’" He continued, “Build me a robot that can drive up to the shore, swim along the water line, submerge, come back out on the land."
The bar is set high, but the robotics industry has never been more prepared to meet the challenge. To learn more about "Bot-Tober Fest," read the full article from National Defense Magazine by clicking below.
Rich Lunak, President and CEO of Innovation Works in Pittsburgh, gave a thoughtful interview to Forbes this week regarding the present status of the robotics industry in Pittsburgh and around the world. As one of the most active investors in robotics, it is not by mistake that he and his company are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Along with details about the most up-and-coming robotics companies in the area, Lunak also discusses the purview of his own company and why he feels that there is great value when investing in robotics. Thank you to Mr. Lunak, for shedding even more light on Pittsburgh's booming robotics scene and encouraging other cities to increase their involvement in robotics.
Click below to read the full article and learn more about the industries that can expect the most disruption from the robotics boom.
No, this isn't from that Black Mirror episode, this is really happening. Researchers at FOCAS (Fundamentals of Collective Adaptive Systems) just completed a 5-year study on the benefit of introducing robotic bees into hives, taking the first steps to attempt saving the dwindling bee population. The study involved scientists using tiny, bee look-a-like robots to infiltrate a colony's hive, gather information, and understand what environmental factors are the largest stressors on the bee population, leading to rapid extinction.
During this study, artificial intelligence was relied on while trying to ensure the undercover robots not only looked like real bees, but could also wiggle, fly, and work alongside them, too. AI is integral in making the robots more sophisticated as they learn these behaviors from the real bees. Most importantly, the bees had to be able to do all of this as a unit along with one another and the real bees in the hive. This ability is the culmination of years of work in swarm robotics.
To learn more about these little robo-spies, click for the full article below!
In the wake of Facebook's most recent scandal regarding the misuse of user information, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sworn that the company will learn from its mistakes and continue building. Facebook is opening new labs in Seattle and Pittsburgh that will be geared towards research on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The company has hired three AI and robotics professors from both the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University. The hope is that these seasoned researchers will help recruit and train even more AI experts in the two cities.
This is not uncommon for Carnegie Mellon University, as it is known internationally for its high caliber robotics programs, but officials at the university are beginning to worry that not enough researchers are remaining at CMU to continue to uphold the prestige of its robotics programs. Nevertheless, the robotics and technology industries in Pittsburgh are robust and growing every day and will certainly be able to provide an ample pool of research potential.
Check out the full article by the New York Times below!
Director of Innovation at Brain Corp Discusses the Competitive Edge that New Cleaning Technology Provides
From bathroom sensors to autonomous floor cleaning robots, the cleaning industry is going through its most innovative technological revolution since the invention of the spray bottle that still works even upside down. The Director of Innovation for Brain Corp, Paul Behnke, penned an enlightening article for ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association) about the place that new technology is making for itself in the cleaning industry. The integration of smart trash cans, sensor-laden bathrooms, and autonomous floor cleaners (and more) is giving cleaning service providers access to something they have never had before: reliable data. The capability of these technologies to measure and record patterns that have never before been noticed give way to more efficient and valuable services to be provided. Mr. Behnke goes on to say that while technology's presence in the cleaning field still has room to grow, at its core cleaning will always been a people business. He states clearly that cleaning can never be a fully autonomous process. In the coming years, people and machines will learn to work alongside one another and our buildings and streets will be cleaner than ever.
See what else Paul Behnke has to say about cleaning tech in his full article below!
The CEO of iRobot, Colin Angle, recently discussed his opinions on where he thinks that robots have room to grow in the home. His company is the inventor of the Roomba, the autonomous vacuuming robot for home use. Angle feels that while the technology is not quite seamless enough for a full "smart house" just yet, soon robots will be more integrated and commonplace in people's' homes besides the already present examples such as the Amazon Echo and the iRobot Roomba.
"We should be designing smart homes like we design robots — with sensors, inputs, and outputs that can do physical things, like controlling lighting, heating, opening up blinds, and so on."
To see what else the iRobot CEO has to say about the future of robotics, as well as the future of his own firm, check out the full article below!
It's the middle of April, and snow storms are still plaguing much of the United States, making it feel as though the warm Spring weather will never come. By now, most of us have had our fill of hand-shoveling snow off of our sidewalks and driveways and these unusual snowfalls are causing continued work for those in the snow removal business. For those who are sick and tired of the snow this year, you will want to get in line for next season's release of the SnowBot Pro, an autonomous snow-blowing robot.
The SnowBot Pro clears driveways and sidewalks with just the tap of an app. It is a gas-powered, autonomous machine that uses a 4-foot wide brush to plow snow from any outdoor surface. Left Hand Robotics, the proprietor of the SnowBot technology, acknowledges the difficulties that face snow and ice removal companies, property management companies, and government agencies when securing the necessary labor for snow removal on short notice. With a robot on staff, the issues of harsh conditions and strenuous work hours are nonexistent and save humans the risk of possible on-the-job injury. And with its optional addition of a rear deicer sprayer, this robot can turn a six-person job into a one-robot operation. The SnowBot Pro is currently in production for the Winter Season of 2018-2019.
To learn more about the SnowBot Pro, to pre-order a unit, and to watch a video of it in action, click below!
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM Fields) are frequently thought of as a "boys' club" in both school and the workforce. However, four influential Pittsburgh women are utilizing their unique skills to help bridge the gender gap and encourage other women to pursue their dreams of succeeding in tech. These women are reducing barriers to entry by engineering ways through which they can break up the stagnate climate within STEM Industries. These women understand that the need to support the growth of these industries is crucial to the city's future and that it cannot be done without the input of the female perspective. By offering all women access to machine workshops, coding programs, and entrepreneurial centers we can hope for a more inclusive climate and further success for the City of Pittsburgh.
To learn who these women are and what they are up to, click the link below!
In an analysis of last years' employment trends, the Cyberstate 2018 report finds that Pennsylvania increased its tech workforce by 4,500 jobs last year, moving itself up the list of tech hubs to 7th place. 1,700 of those jobs were created in Pittsburgh, where employees in the technology industry make up 8 percent of the total workforce. The same industry contributed over $11 billion to the Pittsburgh economy in 2017. These numbers are thanks to the substantial presence of large companies such as Google and Uber, as well as the many budding robotics and software companies nurtured by The Pittsburgh Technology Council, Innovation Works, and their respective universities.
In Pennsylvania as a whole, the technology industry makes up 7 percent of the workforce and contributed a total of $46.7 billion to the state economy last year. Pennsylvania comes behind California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Virginia on the list of largest numbers of technology employees.
Check out the full report below to see where your state landed!
Knightscope CEO calls to action students across the nation in plea for an increase in school security
Knightscope is a robotics company founded in 2013 in Silicon Valley. They are a leader in developing autonomous physical security systems. Their robots roam dark, empty buildings at night sensing for out-of-the-ordinary sounds and sights. If either of these are found, an alert is sent out and the proper authorities are notified.
On a weekly basis, Knightscope takes out full-page ads in national newspapers, namely the Wall Street Journal, advertising the price for a lease of their product. This week, in a bold marketing move, Knightscope CEO William Santana Li used this platform to pen an open letter to the students of America. In his letter, he references the increasing incidents of violence in schools and on campuses across the nation, an extremely hot topic due to the most recent deadly shootings in Florida.
His letter called the students to action by posing an essay competition. The winner of this competition will have submitted a thoughtful and compelling essay on how Knightscope's robots could help in the student's specific school's location. The winner will secure a donation worth $500,000 of Knightscope's services to the school over a two-year period.
Directly reaching out to students aged 14-22, Santana Li pleas with students to "work together on a solution while the 'adults' keep bickering." In the same ad, he also strongly encourages corporate partners to match Knightscope's donation, allowing them to introduce more security robots in more schools. He states that the kids' safety "is the key to our future."
Check out the full-page advertisement below.
We're fascinated by development in the worlds of cleaning, robotics, and our hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Check back here every week to see what's new!