My History through Robots

After over a decade of professional robotics experience, I realized I could illustrate my history through the robots I’ve worked on.

I won’t go back further than being an official pre-release beta tester for the original LEGO MINDSTORMS platform, the RCX, a couple of years before starting college. It was great to finally realize so many of my fantasies of programming robots and learn LEGOs block based programming, embedded C, JAVA and so on. I’ve stayed involved with LEGO MINDSTORMS mentoring FLL teams and teaching programming classes through 4-H with them.

During my bachelors I was lucky enough to get a scholarship for a Sony AIBO ERS-220 robot. I learned more real robotics doing my bachelor’s senior projects on Sensory Graph Planning with a Physical Agent and Multi-Robot Coordination and Navigation.
My master’s thesis was on Adaptive Topology Control for Mobile Mesh Networks so I broke the AIBO back out to use for transporting Berkeley Motes on it’s back.

One of the most exciting robots I’ve had the privilege to work with was the Dorado class AUVs from MBARI. These large underwater robots conduct ocean science around Monterey Bay and the world. I got to work on the system software and then help with operations on an 8 day research cruise. Robots on a boat! I’m still looking for a way to do field robotics again.

Anybots was a 5 person R&D startup company when I joined. Initially I worked on the Monty teleoperated humanoid upper body, two wheel balancing base robot. It was a startup so I did everything from hardware maintenance to firmware to network management software to marketing and of course teleoperating the robot for many demos. The high point for Monty was guest staring on the TV show How I Met Your Mother on the episode Robots vs. Wrestlers. Anybots pivoted to enterprise telepresence robots with our initial concept QA and then QB. Ultimately Anybots didn’t make it but I still want telepresence robots to be an option, it was great teleworking at Anybots while it lasted.

I took a break from robotics to work on some extreme aerospace systems at Sandia National Laboratories.

And for the past 5 years, until it shutdown, I worked at Anki doing systems architecture, exploring the boundaries of what we could pack into consumer robots and filling gaps all up and down the stack. Social robots is anther tough challenge that I don’t regret for a moment trying to crack.

Interior of automated chicken coop
The hen house includes a SAD lamp to extend daylight hours and keep hens laying through the winter, an automatic door to keep them safe at night, automatic watering, climate control, etc.

I don’t know what robots I’ll be working on professionally next but on the side I am combining my love of robotics, being out doors and sustainable agriculture developing robotics and automation technology for sub 10 acre farms starting with my own urban farm and growing as it does.