Developing Technologies: Robotics & Drones (Presentation)

  Author: Chris Miceli
  Dated: 2018-12-13
  Uploaded: 2018-12-13
  Last Edited: 5 years ago




‘Prezi' Online Presentation Link:


A robot can be generally classified as a man made machine, capable of performing work or actions usually carried out by humans (Idaho State Board of Education, 2014).


Drones are unmanned aircraft which may be controlled or flown autonomously, with the assistance of on-board sensors and GPS (Margaret Rouse, 2018).


Growing military and consumer markets drive research & development in both industries, and overlapping technologies accelerate advancements.




Nicola Tesla's exhibits his radio controlled boat in 1898 (AllOnRobots, 2009).


In the 1930's, the Soviets developed a remote controlled tank (AllOnRobots, 2009).


George Devol invented the first industrial robotic arm, the Unimate, in 1954 (RobotWorx, 2016).


Developed in 1972, ’Shakey' was the first robot with the ability to perceive and reason its surroundings (SRI International, 2013).


In 1986 Honda launched a project to build a walking humanoid robot, releasing the infamous ASIMO in 2000 (Honda, 2005).


The 'da Vinci' minimally invasive surgical robot gained approval from the FDA in 2000 (Amanda Davis, 2017).


Essential Robotic Characteristics:

  • Sensing 
  • Movement 
  • Energy
  • Intelligence

(Galileo, 2003)


Robots automate dangerous or repetitive tasks in industries including automotive, electronic, chemical production & food processing (IDTechEx, 2018).


China's 2008 automation boom kick-started industry growth (IDTechEx, 2018).


Research & development into industrial and commercial applications is largely responsible for advancements in military robotics.




Drones were originally a military focused technology until commercial products were produced in 2006 (Luke Dormehl, 2018).


'Kettering Bug' was an unmanned aerial torpedo developed by the US in 1918. It never saw combat (Margaret Rouse, 2018).


Both the US and the USSR used military drones for spy missions during the Cold War (Justin F, 2018).


First use of modern drone warfare occurred during The Bekaa Valley War in 1982. The Israeli Air Force used drones to recon the enemy’s position, jam communications, and act as decoys that would prevent the loss of pilot life (Rebecca Grant, 2002).


US developed the first military Predator Drone in 1995, which carried out the first targeted killing of its kind on February 4, 2002. Within days of the strike, journalists on the ground were collecting accounts from local Afghans that the dead men were civilians gathering scrap metal (John Sifton, 2012).


Amazon announced delivery drones in 2014, igniting public interest (Kashyap Vyas, 2018).


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle's (UAV's) consists of the physical drone and a control system.


Main Categorisation:

  • Fixed Wing
  • Single Rotor
  • Multi Rotor

(Shawn Herrick, 2017)


They can also be sub-categorised by size, range, endurance and purpose (Shawn Herrick, 2017).


Areas of Use Include:

  • Search and rescue
  • Security
  • Inspections
  • Science & research
  • Aerial photography & video
  • Surveying & gis (mapping)
  • Unmanned cargo system

(Jack Brown, 2016)




Most drone and robotics research is focused on perception-centric intelligence, where devices can read and interpret data, and also then take that information and use reasoning to make decisions (Purdue University, 2018).


"Robots are becoming uncaged, mobile, collaborative and increasingly intelligent and dexterous, moving beyond their traditional strongholds to bring automation to previously inaccessible tasks" (IDTechEx, 2018).


These devices currently benefit from Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), and are rapidly approaching Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).




Although robots can vary significantly in materials and design, they often share similar components.


Sensors are used to gather surrounding environmental data whilst effectors are components responsible for performing tasks.




Light & Vision (2D/3D)



Welding Guns


Vacuum Cups




Cutting Tool

Collision Detection



Screw Drivers / Spanners 


Spray Guns

Torque Detection

Sanders / Polishers

(Samuel Bouchard, 2014), (Loop Technology, 2007)


Technologies such as the Kinect 3D for Xbox have made it feasible for rapid innovative progress to be made in robotics (Frank Tobel; Manoj Sahi, 2011).


Series Elastic Actuator technology has brought enhanced touch sensitivity to robots, enabling them to safely and efficiently interact with humans (Frank Tobel; Manoj Sahi, 2011).


Lightweight and sturdy material design has led to many innovations in robotic exoskeletons, assisting disabled persons to restore motor function, and allowing military personnel to carry heavier loads with ease (Jelor Gallego, 2016).


Drones (UAV’s)


UAV's consist of the aircraft (platform) and attachments, such as payloads or sensors (Bas Vergouw; Huub Nagel; Geert Bondt; Bart Custers, 2016).


Standard Platform Components

Payloads & Sensors

Brushless Motors


Standard & Pusher Propellers


Landing Gear

Mail Parcels

Electronic Speed  Controllers


On-board computer

Fire Extinguishant

Flight Controller

Flyer Distribution

Receiver & Transmitter

Toxin Sniffers

GPS Module






(GrindDrone, 2017), (Bas Vergouw; Huub Nagel; Geert Bondt; Bart Custers, 2016)


Swarm technology is being developed to enable autonomous collaboration between two or more drones (Andrew Masterson, 2018).


Consumer drones have seen increased popularity greatly due to their ability to capture professional photography and cinematography (Steven Flynn, 2016).


This is made possible though digital & physical image stabilisation technology, pioneered by Canon in the early 1990’s (DP Review, 2005).


Effective obstacle sensing and avoidance technology is achieved through a combination of sensors and algorithms; a necessary complementation for costly devices being flown by inexperienced persons (IDTechEx, 2018).




Strides towards achieving Artificial Super-Intelligence – an intelligence that surpasses human cognitive capacity, has enabled robotics & drones to reason and perform complex actions once thought to be science fiction (Karim Jebari; Joakim Lundborg, 2018).


Drones have learnt to fly autonomously by applying deep learning concepts to large sets of flight data, without being given a prior objective (Evan Ackerman, 2017).


Advanced AI has enabled object recognition, greatly pushing the boundaries of drones & robotics.




Over the next decade, the variety and amount of robots and drones in the workplace is forecasted to increase rapidly (IDTechEx, 2018).


They will take over many jobs that are too dirty, too dull or too dangerous for people to perform. Already, about 1.4 million industrial robots are deployed around the world, as well as several million robotic devices designed for in-home consumer use. (The Kiplinger Washington Editors, 2013)


The use of military robots could replace up to a quarter of troops in combat by 2030, according to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command official Gen. Robert Cone (Tom Gardner, 2014), (Chris Opfer, 2014).





Industrial robots automate production lines, saving time and money. They reduce waste whilst producing higher-quality products with continuous precision. (RobotWorx, 2018)


Robots can also handle the most tedious and dangerous manufacturing applications, keeping workers safe, healthy and motivated (RobotWorx, 2018).


China is the largest purchaser of robotic arms, yet it has a below-average robotic density (IDTechEx, 2018). In parallel to traditional robots, a new class of service robots are emerging that are collaborative, mobile and increasingly intelligent (IDTechEx, 2018).



The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) saw the arrival of a new generation of home and service robots, promising to make everyday life that much easier. They can assist with housework, accompany the elderly and children, and even protect the home while owners are away. (Keith Chan, 2018)


Domestic Robots represents a huge market potential - sales reached $3.8 billion in 2016 and are predicted to be in 10% of homes by 2020. (Medium, 2018), (Pablo Valerio, 2016)


Amazon's next major investment is in the development of household robotics (Mark Gurman; Brad Stone, 2018).



The US has deployed a number of robots to the front lines of Iraq to assist troops in weight-bearing, stealth and defence (Ed Grabianowski, 2005).


Many robots use game console controllers or joysticks as their primary form of input. They are capable of handling input on multiple axis, and many people are already familiar with their design (Motherboard, 2015).





Military drones original purpose was for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance (DroneTechUAV, 2017).


Drones have become weaponised, resulting in thousands of deaths since 2004 (Mary Ellen O’Connell, 2010).


Nano-UAV's are now being used for spy missions and close range surveillance (Benedette Cuffari, 2018).


Google is providing the military use of its advanced TensorFlow AI systems to assist in drone operations, causing widespread debate (Samuel Gibbs, 2018).


'Personality' strikes target a known and identifiable person whereas 'Signature' strikes are targeted at locations of reasonably suspicious terrorist activity (David Luban, 2014).



Over the last 5 years, drones have evolved from a niche hobby to a massive pro/consumer industry (IDTechEx, 2018).


The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting an average of 26% yearly growth in this sector, with estimates that 420,000 consumer drones will be in the air by 2021. (Marcus Chavers, 2018), (FAA, 2017)


Three factors led to the rapid growth of the consumer drone industry:


  • Fierce competition resulted in cheaper, reliable and more capable drones
  • Federal Aviation Administration was comparatively slow to introduce regulation
  • Market leaders such as DJI formed quickly, forcing competition to compete by enhancing innovative software

(The Economist, 2017)



Unmanned aircraft equipped with appropriate sensors and equipment can benefit the following industries:


  • Law-Enforcement
  • Search and Rescue
  • Healthcare
  • Filming and Photography
  • Real Estate
  • Scientific Research/Conservation

(Rob Nightingale, 2014)


Drones have the added advantage of being able to be deployed within minutes of request (Frank Segarra, 2018).


"The Ambulance Drone contains a compact defibrillator, CPR aids, medicine and other supplies average people can use in the absence of an actual ambulance. When the first person on the scene calls 911 as usual, both an ambulance and the drone are sent, but the drone can arrive in 1 minute's time. The drone also features built-in speakers to free up the caller's hands and live video that streams back to an overseeing medical team." (Alyson Wyers, 2014)


Law & Ethics


Technology has always been adapted or used for purposes not originally intended by their creators.


"Much more favorable conditions ... could be created if nuclear bombs were first revealed to the world by a demonstration in an appropriately selected uninhabited area" (James Franck, 1945).


Furthermore, a system that learns from information it receives from the outside world can act in ways that its creators could not have predicted, and predictability is crucial to modern legal approaches (Maksim Karliuk, 2018).




Ethics regarding robot use and capabilities are greatly determined by advancements in AI.


The European Union issued the European Civil Law and Robotics report in 2017, which discusses key ethical issues present or likely to arise from robots and artificial intelligence (European Parliament, 2016). Refer to Appendix A for a table of contents snippet referring to the aforementioned discussions.


Research suggests ethical and moral concerns may be ameliorated through the use of software which encompasses ethical principles (Robert Bogue, 2014).





US Drone Strikes Killed over 3000 persons in Pakistan between 2004 and 2014, many of which non-combatants, and up to 200 children - inaccurate identification is a prevalent issue (Barry Kellman, 2015).


UN Article 51 authorises proportional "self defence if an armed attack occurs", however it is highly subjective - Anticipation vs Active Threats (United Nations, 2018). 


Data from Afghanistan comparing drone strikes to typical manned attacks reveals 10 times more civilian casualties from drones, yet they are advertised as having superior accuracy (David Luban, 2014).


Effects of Drone Strikes

Long lasting traumatic effect on a population (Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic; Global Justice Clinic (GJC) at NYU School of Law, 2012).


Parents are unwilling to send children to school in areas where low school attendance is already an issue (Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic; Global Justice Clinic (GJC) at NYU School of Law, 2012).


Victims and their families have been stigmatised as terrorist associates in tribal societies.


Destabilisation of governments which seem impotent to prevent drone strikes by a foreign power  (David Luban, 2014).


Unfulfilled desire for justice or vengeance. "We are a people who wait 100 years to exact revenge. We never forgive our enemy," the Pakistani Tribal leaders said in a statement. (BBC News, 2011), (Rooj Alwazir, 2014)



In the UK, amendments have been made to the Air Navigation Order of 2016 which restrict use of commercial drones to less than 250g, flight below 400ft and outside a 1km radius of airports. Police have been given elevated powers of intervention when responding to cases where related laws are being challenged. (David Atkinson, 2018)


US laws are similar, with restrictions extended to flight over crowds, near emergency response and at sports events. In coming months, recreational drones will need to be registered with a government agency. (Maggie Tillman, 2018)


US Police departments are using drones for surveillance, causing privacy concerns (Michael Sisitzky; Simon McCormack, 2018).


Eight countries have completely banned the use of drones: Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, and Uzbekistan (Therese Jones, 2017).




Drones and robotics are closely linked emerging industries with related technological advancements often benefiting both industries. Progress in software (AI, machine learning, etc) is rapidly improving the technologies such that the rate of development has outpaced ethical and legal considerations.




Further Reading




Appendix A: European Parliament Civil Law Rules in Robotics


Snippet of the report’s table of contents:



3.1. Incongruity of establishing robots as liable legal persons

3.2. Liability for damages caused by an autonomous robot


4.1. Devising a general ethical framework for robotics: proposal to establish 

       the main roboethical principles for protecting humanity from robots

4.1.1. Protecting humans from harm caused by robots

4.1.2. Respecting the refusal of care by a robot

4.1.3. Protecting human liberty in the face of robots

4.1.4. Protecting humanity against privacy breaches committed by a robot

4.1.5. Managing personal data processed by robots

4.1.6. Protecting humanity against the risk of manipulation by robots

4.1.7. Avoiding the dissolution of social ties

4.1.8. Equal access to progress in robotics

4.1.9. Restricting human access to enhancement technologies

4.2. Analysing the legal value of the Charter on Robotics


European Parliament (2016)


Load More