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As all of us are spending more time confined in our domiciles, robo-maids could not be a more timely concept. Last month, Sebastian Seung, President of Samsung Research, unveiled at (virtual) CES 2021, Handy — the autonomous butler. Seung described his innovation as “an extension of you in the kitchen, living room, and anywhere else you may need an extra hand in your home.” The highly-produced video was complete with examples of dish-loading, wine-pouring, and toy-picker-upping. What wasn’t shown were the numerous bloopers and behind-the-screen outtakes of the exhaustive programing hours to set up the demos.

In pulling back…


CBS MarketWatch declared 2020: The Year of the SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation). A record 219 companies went public through this fundraising vehicle that uses a reverse merger with an existing private business to create a publicly-listed entity. This accounted for more than $73 billion dollars of investment, providing private equity startups a new outlet to raise capital and provide shareholder liquidity. According to Goldman Sachs, the current trends represents a “year-over-year jump of 462% and outpacing traditional IPOs by $6 billion.” …


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One of the more positive news stories this year was the cooperation agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Israel. In a matter of hours following the announcement, the countries began working towards opening up their economies. The excitement was felt across the Middle East, in words of Jon Medved of OurCrowd, “Once the Sand Curtain starts coming down, there’s no stopping it.” Weeks following the statement, Medved’s firm secured a $100 million deal with the Al Naboodah merchant family of Dubai to invest in technology.


For too long I have flown over the middle of the United States ignoring the creativity of my fellow citizens below. Covid-19 changed everything, grounding planes, and forcing me on a cross-country adventure. To my surprise, the I-35 corridor that stretches from Dallas, Texas through Oklahoma City is one of the busiest centers for entrepreneurship in aviation, drones, and unmanned systems.

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Last month I met with Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute as part of my participation in AUVSI’s (virtual) Xponential conference. As the chair of OSU’s Aerospace Department, Professor Jacob literally sits in the…


The first presidential debate of 2020 is already known as a debacle for public discourse. Unfortunately after 200,000+ deaths from Covid-19, America is as divided in grief as it was in prosperity. Already in New York we are seeing a spike in cases as Springtime memories fade. Few still immediately recall the panic of overwhelmed hospitals and empty supermarket shelves. Our ability to adapt to the new normal of social distancing and masks has brought an air of quasi-stability. …


The great lyric poet Billy Idol once sung “Eyes without a face, got no human grace, you’re eyes without a face.” This profound statement has been ringing loudly during this period of social distancing and masked encounters. As I professed on several webinars to understand the mechanics of reopening with robots, I have been challenged to explain the benefits of humanoid-looking devices over utilitarian machines.

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This past week my family introduced a new mop into our cleaning closet, but this one demanded a name as part of the set up prompts. I have never thought of a kitchen utility in…


Already five regions within New York State have reopened for business, ushering in a new reality of “test, isolate, and trace.” The United States estimates it will hire close to 300,000 people to become contact tracers, identifying potential spreaders of the virus. Governor Cuomo has appointed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomber to head up its army of tracers, equipping each with access to citizen geo-tracking data. Bloomberg explained, “When social distancing is relaxed, contact tracing is our best hope for isolating the virus when it appears and keeping it isolated.”

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As roboticists, and venture capitalists join the fight…


Driving over the Whitestone Bridge, looking out at the magnificent view, I pressed the accelerator a bit harder, speeding away from the skyline. Now in a remote location, missing the urban action, I await orders from the Governor on reopening. If there are any certainties in this age of coronavirus, we will never return to life as we knew before March.

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This past week I joined the Urban Land Institute’s webinar panel, presenting how robots will facilitate an economic renewal. Currently, COVID-19 has led to a 30% decline in the US economy with more than 30 million Americans filed for…


Living in the epicenter of the coronavirus plague is a surreal experience. Outside my window, New York City appears serene — devoid of its former noise, bustle, and loud citizenry. However, a few blocks north, south, and east it is literally a war zone with fatalities piling so high that administrators are utilizing mass graves. One of the most maddening images of the early days of the crisis was seeing nurses wearing Hefty garbage bags as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress passed the 1941 Fifth Supplemental DoD Appropriations Act which mandated…


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Reporting from America’s novel coronavirus hot spot provides little comfort. Let me share with you the reality of life in the Big Apple. The City that never sleeps is quiet, very quiet. I seldom see cars driving outside my windows (but on a plus side, parking is substantially more available). Pedestrians are nervous, avoiding each other literally like the plague, carefully staking out their own personal force fields. In between moments of anxiety, there are bright spots — family time, personal reflection and Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings.

Oliver Mitchell

Founding Partner of Autonomy Ventures a seed stage fund investing in robotics, AI, and smart devices. Oliver is a chronicler of robotics on RobotRabbi.com.

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