Designing robots to survive lunar nights; Waymo ‘no plans’ to expand in Ariz.

The Robot Report

Welcome to Episode 33 of The Robot Report Podcast, which brings conversations with robotics innovators straight to you. Join us each week for discussions with leading roboticists, innovative robotics companies, and other key members of the robotics community.

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This week I chat with Tom McCarthy, VP of business development, Motiv Space Systems. His team is developing the Cold Operable Lunar Deployable Arm (COLDArm), a first-in-kind robotic arm that can survive the cold weather of lunar nights on the Moon. The COLDarm will be able to survive temperatures as cold as –279°F, and will do so without using a heat source. Tom discusses the challenges of engineering such a system.

Motiv also built the robotic arm on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover that is scheduled to land on Mars on Feb. 18. We discuss the importance of this mission and what Motiv will be watching for over the next few weeks.

I also talk to Ben Upcroft, VP of Technology at Oxbotica, a company developing autonomy software for a variety of autonomous vehicle applications, both off-road and on-road. We discuss the keys to infrastructure free navigation, the acceleration of innovation in the autonomous vehicle space and why Level 5 robotaxis might never happen.

I also comment on the week’s top robotics stories, including Boston Dynamics introducing the Spot Arm for its Spot quadruped. Learn why Spot Arm is an important development for Spot. And Waymo reportedly has “no plans” to expand its robotaxi service in Arizona in the near future. Is this a hint at Waymo’s next move?

If you would like to be a guest on an upcoming episode of the podcast, or if you have recommendations for future guests or segment ideas, contact me. For sponsorship opportunities of The Robot Report Podcast, contact Courtney Nagle for more information.

Podcast timestamps

  • 0-1:18: Show Intro
  • 1:19-26:45: Conversation with Tom McCarthy, VP of business development, Motiv Space Systems
  • 26:46-35:43: News commentary – Boston Dynamics Spot Arm; Waymo not expanding in Ariz.
  • 35:44-1:05:44: Conversation with Ben Upcroft, VP of technology, Oxbotica
  • 1:05:45-1:06:37: Show Outro

Show notes

The Robot Report Podcast

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