From: Time Magazine
By: Tim Bajarin
May 23, 2016
They help interest children in the fields of the future
This weekend, I hopped on a train for my annual trek to Maker Faire, held this year at the San Mateo Events Center. Over 150,000 people attended this year’s show, coming to check out new drones, 3D printers, robots and more.
This particular event is the granddaddy of Maker Faires, started by Maker Media and its visionary founder Dale Dougherty. It bills itself as the greatest “Show and Tell on Earth.” (There’s a National Faire in Washington, D.C., a New York event, and global Faires in France, Germany, Tokyo and more.)
I’ve long been following the Maker Movement as a part of my overall interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. These shows have become increasingly important as a means to introduce kids to these fields. At Maker Faires, children get hands-on experience with electronic gadgets, from programming to soldering. Kids can play with robotic kits, try building a drone and generally tinker with all sorts of gizmos.
Maker Faires typically feature dozens of speakers from the technology world who share details about what they’re doing and how it relates to the Maker Movement. As one walks around these shows, you see kids excited to learn about technology and making things. This year’s show also included booths from major sponsors like Intel, Google, Microsoft and more.
One new exhibitor at this year’s Bay Area event was the Department of Energy, who wanted to give kids the chance to interact with its scientists and to try to get them involved in the future of energy. “Kids are untapped resources that will help deal with climate change, energy issues and the environment,” said Jetta Wong, director of the DoE’s Office of Technology Transition. (U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz recently blogged about the subject.)
Still, one concern of mine about the Bay Area Maker Faire is that very few minorities attend this show. This is not the fault of the folks who manage the Maker Faire, as they work extremely hard to make this event inclusive. In fact, on Friday, the first day of the show, they and sponsors LinkedIn, RoboTerra and ThinkLogix brought over 4,000 students from underserved communities to the show to see demos and play with the various projects. However, this underscores the fact that the tech community as a whole has to work harder to get kids of all genders, races and ethnicity interested in STEM, as these scientific disciplines will open up new opportunities for them in the future.
The Maker Faires’ true importance lies in its focus on getting kids interested in making things. Over the last few years, I have written multiple pieces on STEM focusing on how companies around the world are backing STEM-based programs. All of them see how important these disciplines will be in the future. Still more germane to them is the real concern that if we cannot get kids trained in the sciences, we will not have the engineers and scientists to run our companies in the future.
Indeed, just about every business is having to rely more and more on the role technology plays in their world. The need to get this generation of students interested in STEM and tech has become a priority for companies, educators and parents. To that end, these Maker Faires, along with the tireless efforts of teachers, educators and companies rallying around STEM, can plant seeds of interest and help cultivate these future scientists and engineers. If they are successful they will create the next generation of leaders who will guide and power the businesses, schools and homes of tomorrow.
Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry
I am not a big fan of “Battle Bots” but I am in favor of anything that gets kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The National Robotics League (http://gonrl.org/) looks to be a battle bots event for High School Kids started by the National Tooling and Machining Association.
I don’t like the fact that the bot is destroyed as part of the competition, but if an interest in STEM lasts, then it is worth it!
From: Google Robotic Trends
By RT Staff March 22, 2016
Robots and stairs have never been friends. Maybe now they’ll start talking more. The folks at Transcend Robotics have released its ARTI3 Mobility Platform that enables mobile ground robots to ascend 3 steps in less than 8 seconds.
The company says it Articulated Traction Control (ARTI) technology enables the quick climbing without the need for complex software and controls. Using its custom treads, an ARTI robot simply needs to move forward to climb up and down steps and navigate other obstacles that have previously limited robotics capabilities.
The key is ARTI3’s “upwards and downwards articulating joint between two or more motorized sections,” according to the company. This passive joint allows the ARTI platform to overcome obstacles without ﬂipping over, skilled human prepositioning or additional traversal software and electronics.
The top speed is 2.8 MPH, payload is between 25-50lb, and the max angle for ascending is 89° and the max angle for descending is 30°. Transcend currently distributes the platform to a variety of industries, including telepresence, defense/security, 3D scanning, manufacturing, hospitality, mining, education, and research.
The ARTI3 product line has two offerings:
ARTI3 Mobility Platform enables integrators and developers to mobilize a broad range of applications in the real world. Use cases and industries include 3D mapping, telepresence, construction management, mining, and manufacturing. This versatile platform enables integrators to quickly mobilize sensors, electronics, and software, in as little as 90 days.
ARTI3 Vantage is an out-of-the-box solution for anyone to bring mobile robots into the environment they work. It comes equipped with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, 30-lb payload capacity, IP-54 for wet environments, zero-degree turn radius, and color LCD remote control. ARTI3 Vantage is ideal for human and dangerous environments, such as tactical operations and hazardous inspection.
Depending on ARTI3’s use and environment, the technology can be scaled larger or smaller to satisfy a slew of applications.
From: US News and World Report
Date: March 17, 2016
Google Is Poised to Slow Its Robot Revolution
The robot uprising may be postponed if Google sells Boston Dynamics.
Humanoid robots designed by Boston Dynamics were an internet sensation after people witnessed them walking around rough terrain or getting up after being knocked down with a hockey stick. But the engineering firm’s parent company, Alphabet, is reportedly trying to sell it because they think its machines are unprofitable – and maybe a little scary.
The tech giant, which also owns Google, bet big on the future of robots in 2013 when it purchased startups including Boston Dynamics, but now fears that a marketable version won’t be produced soon enough.
Tension between Boston Dynamics and Google staff also pressured the sale, according to notes from a meeting that were posted on a company wide forum and later obtained by Bloomberg. The staff reportedly had difficulty working together and executives were impatient about how soon the firm would create an affordable robot for consumers. The internal messages also show Alphabet executives are concerned by the negative press and media questions about the four-legged and humanoid robots that Boston Dynamics displayed in a video last month.
Google Communications Director Courtney Hohne stated in one of the internal messages obtained by Bloomberg that the company “would not comment on the video” because of the disturbing questions it generated about robots that can walk autonomously through snowy forests or withstand being hit by human engineers.
“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” Hohne reportedly stated.
Existing computer technology is capable of replacing up to 45 percent of activities individuals are paid to do, according to a recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Google’s separate investments also including research into artificial intelligence – a field of science that tech leaders including Elon Musk and pioneering physics professor Stephen Hawking have warned could be dangerous to the future of humanity. A Google engineer told U.S. News in a previous interview that it take many years to create machines that are smart enough to out think humans.
Congratulations to the Collierville VEX Robotics Team who won the TN State Championship on Saturday in Nashville. The robot named “The Illuminati” was crowned Tournament Champion and will advance to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY April 20-23. The Illuminati team also received the Sportsmanship award, voted on by the other tournament teams and Shelli Brasher (their coach) received the award for TN VEX Partner of the Year for establishing VEX robotics in West TN.
The Collierville team is looking for sponsors to help offset transportation, hotel and meals costs. Contact Shelli Brasher at (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in helping sponsor the team at the world competition.