This weekend I attended a Robotics Fair celebrating National Robotics Week. The event was sponsored by the Forum to Advance Minorities in Engineering (FAME). There was a presentation with a panel of experts followed by a demonstration. The panel was actually very interesting and enjoyable. The panel included Dr. Sunil K. Agrawal (University of Delaware), Dr. Rashmi Kumar (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Vijay Kumar (University of Pennsylvania), James Sills and Judson Wagner. The panel discussion included everything from a the lack of students in STEM subjects and the exploding demand for STEM graduates to videos of the professors' research.
Dr. Vijay Kumar's presentation was especially interesting. He works mainly with autonomous flying robots. He showed us how he is able to program his flying robots to do flips in the air and menuever through small slits while spinning, which a human would be hard pressed to copy using a remote. He also showed multiple of his robots flying together in interesting patterns without crashing into each other. He even demonstrated them working together to build a structure using magnetic pieces. I was really impressed with all of the research being done now in robotics.
The picture at the top of this post is a bomb disposal unit I got the chance to look at. Its base cost is about $150,000 with an additional $450,000 worth of upgrades. One robot costing $600,000?? I need to start making and selling those suckers.