It’s only natural for the Velodyne team to celebrate National Robotics Week. Our founder and CEO, David Hall, has been involved in the design and development of robot technology for over a decade.
If you’re a fan of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors, you’ve probably seen his work. The Robot Wars television series was a competition involving radio-controlled vehicles built by mechanics, engineers and inventors. Mr. Hall built Drillzilla, a competitor robot on the first season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors. Drillzilla, named after the famous Japanese monster Godzilla, was a shufflebot. That’s a special type of walkerbot using sections of feet in line with each other, rather than the legs used by traditional walkers. This gave Drillzilla extra speed and weight, as well as pushing power.
Watch Drillzilla wipe the smile right off Conquering Clown’s face…
But robot technology isn’t just for games. In fact, Mr. Hall’s other robot, Da Claw, is a retired robot fighter spending his golden years as part of a permanent collection housed at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In 2011, Velodyne was honored to donate Da Claw, as well as two LiDAR sensors and other LiDAR technology. (Click to learn more about Velodyne LiDAR technology.)
“Technological advancement has always been a strong theme running through American history,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “The donations…not only reflect the historical record of robotic development, but offer a glimpse of-and inspiration for-the future.”
Glass is not the only one to value the development of robot technology. In 2009, Congress established the second week of April as National Robotics Week in recognition of this growing sector of the U.S. economy. The yearly event is designed to celebrate the U.S. as a leader in robotics technology development and to educate the public about how robotics technology impacts society, now and in the future. It’s also designed to inspire students to pursue careers in robotics, technology, engineering, and math-related fields.
This weeklong celebration of robotics isn’t taking place in just one location. There are events going on all over the country. The National Robotics Week Advisory Council invites people everywhere to use their creativity in organizing local activities. The council recommends hosting an open house to demonstrate robots, organizing a Robot Block Party, or holding a robot competition. Anyone participating can submit their event to the Advisory Council for inclusion on their website.
If you’re fresh out of ideas this year, maybe you can find inspiration at the RoboGames in San Mateo, California at the end of this month. This event is referred to as the “Olympics of Robots”. There are 50 different events with participants from around the world. These “participants” include combat robots, firefighters, LEGO bots, walking humanoids, sumo bots, and androids that do kung fu. Some robots are even autonomous. And anyone can compete.
If you’re more of a pacifist, your inspiration may come from this year’s second annual Robot Film Festival, which takes place in New York City July 14-15, 2012. This event is a two-day celebration of robots on film. The official awards ceremony of the Robot Film Festival is called the “Botskers” and takes place at the end of the second day. It is a black tie red carpet ceremony with films duking it out for a coveted botsker award. The award is a 3D printed robot statuette.
It’s clear that robots are no longer just for techies and engineers. They’ve clearly moved into mainstream society.