Chris Anderson’s Expanding Drone Empire

At the former Wired editor’s start-up, 3D Robotics, open-source robots take to the skies

10 min read
Chris Anderson’s Expanding Drone Empire
Fly, My Pretties: Chris Anderson (center) and his merry band of dronemasters test multicopters near San Francisco Bay.
Photo: Chris Mueller

Friday is Fly Day at 3D Robotics, a maker of small robotic aircraft. So here we are, on a windswept, grassy landfill with a spectacular view of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, looking up at a six-prop copter with a gleaming metal frame. It’s like a spiffy toy from the future. Buzzing like a swarm of bees, it lifts off smartly, hovers, then pinwheels.

“Jason’s making the hex twirl,” says CEO Chris Anderson, a trim man in jeans and an untucked oxford shirt. “That’s just for show—a human pilot couldn’t do that.” That’s because Jason, the flight tester, did nothing more than figuratively push a button. The hexarotor—technically, the 3DR Y-6—is on autopilot, which it demonstrates by zooming off on a preprogrammed route. The Y-6 sells for US $619. That’s a lot for a toy, but it’s chicken feed for a capital investment.

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Boston Dynamics AI Institute Targets Basic Research

Hyundai’s new robotics venture recalls Bell Labs’ and Xerox PARC’s glory days

4 min read
A collage of a headshot of Marc Raibert who is an older man with a beard and glasses in a flower print shirt, and an large black and white Atlas humanoid robot
Photo-illustration: IEEE Spectrum; Photos: Boston Dynamics

This morning, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, to “spearhead advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.” BDAII (I guess we’ll have to get used to that acronym!) will be located in Cambridge, Mass., with more than US $400 million of initial investment from Hyundai (Boston Dynamics’ parent company) and BD itself to get things started. Heading up the whole thing will be Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert himself, with Al Rizzi (Boston Dynamics’ chief scientist) as chief technology officer.

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Steve Schneider

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Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

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Keysight
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Win the race to design and deploy satellite technologies and systems. Learn how new digital engineering techniques can accelerate development and reduce your risk and costs. Download this free whitepaper now!

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