Each year the AUVSI Xponential Conference is held at a different location. This year, it was Dallas, Texas. What remains a constant is that new autonomous technologies are usually introduced there. Things like unmanned helicopters, pipe crawling robots and systems for managing the terabytes worth of data being gathered by unmanned systems.
Some of the exhibitors are firmly planted in the industry like Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor for the U.S. Lockheed martin is probably best known for the fighter jets that they produce. So it was interesting to see the land based technologies they are developing, like unmanned ground vehicles that can re-supply troops or act as transport vehicles.
Some of the robots are well placed in manufacturing, like Baxter, from Rethink Robotics; shown here. Each year, however, these familiar faces are showing up with new tricks and capabilities, some of which take advantage of Artificial Intelligence, and advanced sensors. The latest developments include speech and facial recognition functions, intended to improve human interactions with these machines.
Small is not a term that fits every vendor. This Norwegian made MR can lift 150 lb payload; Griff Aviation makes even larger ones that can carry 400-500 lb or more. These systems are intended for heavy lift operations like rescuing a person from the ocean, or troop supply missions.
Other vendors like UKR Spec Systems are competing heavily in the commercial market for Small UAV’s like this Airframe; The PD-1 which is similar in range and options to the Penguin C, but for around 40% less cost.
Even consumer electronics companies like Samsung have products emerging that will change the way we think of robotic assistants. Check out this vehicle designed for parking lot security, mall security, etc. In addition to being able to raise and lower a Boom Camera, this Autonomous vehicle includes a Call button for emergencies so the operator can carry on a 2 way conversation with patrons in distress.
We can hardly wait for the 2018 AUVSI Expo, which is to be held in Denver next year, from April 30th until May 3.