RoboNexus and the DARPA Grand Challenge
Today history was made! What an amazing accomplishment. I didn’t expect anyone to finish the DARPA Grand Challenge and to my amazement three teams did it. If you are not familiar with the DARPA Grand Challenge it is a race for fully automated robotic vehicles to complete a 150 mile course, in less than 10 hours, with no human assistance. The prize this year was $2 million dollars. Last year the furthest any team had gotten was 7.3 miles. No one else was even close. I was at RoboNexus with my oldest son when it was announce that Stanford’s team had completed the course in about 7 hours. It was assumed that Stanford won but later there was an announcement that 2 other teams had crossed the finish line and Stanford may not have won. It’s all very exciting.
I think robots are the next personal computing technology wave. There are a lot of companies selling kits, HomeBrew clubs, and people passionate about their hobby. I think the movement is very similar to the personal computer movement. Maybe the mantra will be, "A robot in every home!" My son is only 4 ½ (he’d want me to add that half, it’s very important to him) and the people at RoboNexus really were great with the kids. The exhibitors took the time to educate them and make it interesting to them. Even the big companies whose customers are industry and government were absolutely fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been to a lot of conventions and I have never been to one that was kid friendly before. Hats off to all the companies that had their people stay, to the exhibitors who took the time to make robotics accessible, to the hobbyists and students who shared their enthusiasm and demonstrated their projects.
Building on an exciting and educational day, I just ordered the LEGO MindStorm Robotics Invention System, I think my kids and I are going to have a blast. And I spent some time thinking about that Roomba by iRobot...I'm not really all that attached to vacuuming! And the demonstrations were very convincing. The Roomba allows me to fantasize about a pet hair free home without all the heavy lifting. Or more accurately...pushing!