Helping robots avoid collisions

George Konidaris still remembers his disheartening introduction to robotics. “When you’re a young student and you want to program a robot, the first thing that hits you is this immense disappointment at how much you can’t do with that robot,” he says. Most new roboticists want to program their robots to solve interesting, complex tasks — but it turns out that just moving them through space without colliding with objects is more difficult than it sounds. Fortunately, Konidaris is hopeful that future roboticists will have a more exciting start in the field. That’s because roughly four years ago, he co-founded Realtime Robotics, a startup that’s solving the “motion planning problem” for robots. The company has invented a solution that gives robots the ability to quickly adjust their path to avoid objects as they move to a target. The Realtime controller is a box that can be connected to a variety Continue reading Helping robots avoid collisions

GITAI Sending Autonomous Robot to Space Station

We’ve been keeping a close watch on GITAI since early last year—what caught our interest initially is the history of the company, which includes a bunch of folks who started in the JSK Lab at the University of Tokyo, won the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials as SCHAFT, got swallowed by Google, narrowly avoided being swallowed by SoftBank, and are now designing robots that can work in space. The GITAI YouTube channel has kept us more to less up to date on their progress so far, and GITAI has recently announced the next step in this effort: The deployment of one of their robots on board the International Space Station in 2021.

Zipline Partners With Walmart on Commercial Drone Delivery

Today, Walmart and Zipline are announcing preliminary plans “to bring first-of-its kind drone delivery service to the United States.” What makes this drone-delivery service the first of its kind is that Zipline uses fixed-wing drones rather than rotorcraft, giving them a relatively large payload capacity and very long range at the cost of a significantly more complicated launch, landing, and delivery process. Zipline has made this work very well in Rwanda, and more recently in North Carolina. But expanding into commercial delivery to individual households is a much different challenge.  Along with a press release that doesn’t say much, Walmart and Zipline have released a short video of how they see the delivery operation happening, and it’s a little bit more, uh, optimistic than we’re entirely comfortable with.