The Future Is A World Of Robots And Drones

Thanks for the all notes of concern about my bike accident on Thursday. I’m doing a lot better – still a little fuzzy and tired feeling – but on the mend. I’ve gotten confirmation that it wasn’t a hit and run – I clearly lost control of the bike during a turn, crashed into a curb, went over, and landed on my head. Lights out for a while.

I’m done biking. I’ve never really been a cyclist – I’ve always been a runner. Given that I’ve now had two single bike accidents that were 100% my fault, I’m clearly not cut out for being on a two-wheeled vehicle. So – back to running.

Over the weekend I took it easy and just let my mind drift around. A lot of friends came over to visit us which was nice. We hung out in our backyard by the pool, enjoyed the sunshine, and I let my mind drift around.

I had some weird dreams – some were clearly PTSD – but some were stuff I’ve read recently. I listened to Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion on Audible over the past two months on my bike rides and runs and lots of weird associations with it came up in my dreams, which, if you’ve read the books, is delightfully recursive.

All of this kept leading me back to robots and drones. We are investors in a number of companies in this arena, including Sphero3D Robotics, and Modular Robotics, and I think we are just at the beginning of a decade long revolution that has been a long time coming.

My friends at Techstars agree and last week launched – with Qualcomm – the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars. I mentioned it on my blog last week when writing about Mentors 8/18: Adopt At Least One Company Every Single Year. Experience Counts and I realized I missed a key nuance in the post, which was about engagement with new things.

It’s nice to talk about robots and drones.  But if you don’t engage with them right now, you aren’t going to understand them, and the amazingly rapid trajectory they are going to be heading on. Reading science fiction can give you a sense of where they are going, but getting a drone right now from 3D Robotics, buying the new Ollie robot from Sphero, or grabbing the ModRobotics MOSS robot will change your understanding of these things. Oh – and these things are amazing fun.

Techstars and Qualcomm aren’t fooling around in this arena. Qualcomm gets this market – they’ve already been focused on it with their Snapdragon processor and work with Brain Corporation – and their participation in the program will be invaluable. The Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is another big leap forward for Qualcomm as they establish themselves as a leader in this market.

And – if you are an entrepreneur and want to go deep here along with hanging out in San Diego, check out the robotics revolution.

  • RocBusinessman

    FIRST Robotics ( is a very important component of being sure this is part of our future. Do you know that there are no standardized k-12 school curricula for teaching any of the STEM skills necessary to build robots, service them, program them, or use them in our schools today in the US? FIRST offers every student, at all different age levels, the opportunity to participate in real engineering exercises – building robots, writing code and implementing projects with limited budget, tight deadlines and realistic engineering challenges. You can help by volunteering to mentor, or simply dollar sponsoring a team (see the above link for more info).

    • I’m a huge fan of FIRST and regularly support teams in Colorado. I totally agree with you on the value of it.

  • Shawn Bridgeman

    I’m so glad you’re ok (relatively) after your bike accident, Brad. Strange/serendipitous where our minds take us when we’re not 100% in our bodies. I am really looking forward to seeing this new robotics Qualcomm / TechStars accelerator in action! (It’s also going to be great for San Diego!) We just organized a welcome-committee for startups–who should I get in touch with to make sure we connect with the incoming TechStars class in 2015?

  • So I guess no Harley Davidson in the horizon for you 🙂

    Yeah, stick to running man, the world needs Brad Feld in one piece.

    That video production is really high end! Can you share what the budget is for something like this?

    • We have our own full time person on staff so there isn’t a real “budget.”

      Yes – no motorcycles.

  • LOVE the video — really well done. Great background music too!

    • Gotta love that soundtrack, especially how it transitions through at least 3 genres.

  • Tonislav Kaziev

    Cool robots, I have a robot at home, not only that but its a
    cleaning robot 😀 I saw it at,
    and it blew my mind , that little thing cleaned twice more than what my vacuum
    could clean, plus that it cleans 99% of the fur that falls from my cat , btw
    she loves to ride on top of it for some reason I die laughing every time I see
    it . xD

  • Rick

    Will companies in the idea stage be accepted into the program?

    • Some of them generally are at the idea stage.

      • Rick

        Should I try to come up with an idea or just give up on all this. It’s been a while that we’ve been trying and we haven’t gotten together on anything. You say you liked one of my most recent ideas but I didn’t get a call for us to get started on making it a reality.

        • I’m not the selector / gatekeeper for Techstars. Apply directly to the program if you are interested.

          • Rick

            The application doesn’t accommodate idea stage companies,

          • Rick

            I can say from looking at the application that it seems a bit conflicting at times and or repetitive. What are you doing to accommodate people with OCD?

  • I’m looking forward to more in the area of “personal robotics”, remotely controlled or close by.

    • Rick

      I was recently working on doing manned drone flights. Sounds conflicting I know. It was just too hard to get any interest for funding. I think people get scared when you say “I want to make a machine that transports people that will have noone flying it.”
      I’m beginning to think it would be best if someone just said to me. You’re some kind of nuts! Maybe a nice room overlooking a quite lake is what I need.

      • A nice room overlooking a quiet lake is always good!

        • Rick

          I know. But I’m thinking I’m gonna’ need one for pondering purposes. I’ve notice so many people getting help with funding and other resources for there start up needs but I don’t get any. It’s like people are saying “See here everyone is getting start up help. Start up help is everywhere. You can get $50K just to make potato salad. But, oh wait, not you. You don’t get any. Sorry.”
          I’ve even watched as others get help for basically the same ideas as I’ve had but I get nothing. I’ve seen and heard of this pattern. Heard about it from my grandparents that needed to leave Europe. Seen it happen to my parents because of their religion. You watch as others get things over and over again but you just get to watch nothing more.

          I’m just wondering if it’s time to admit to myself that I’m gonna’ be on the outside looking in even though I’m following all the suggestions and doing the same as others? How many people does a person have to contact with no response? How many times does a person have to watch as others get what they need to follow the same dreams before one realizes they are not equal or are just the scenery and not part of the story line?

  • I really need to get around to upgrading to Ollie, it looks amazing!

    More on topic, I’m fascinated with how the post-millenial “insanely digitally native” generation is bonding with their technology on an emotional level. My daughter treats her Sphero the way I used to play with my favorite stuffed animal – giving it emotions, talking to it, even tucking it in bed. I see her friends behaving similar with their devices. This will somehow be meaningful and important in the next decade IMO. I remember reading an article in WIRED that touched on this, but heck if I can’t find it now. :

    • Wow – awesome story about your daughter and Sphero. Super interesting observation.

  • Toby Kazus

    nice robots I have a
    robot vacuum its called bObsweep, bought it from an online site, had it

    recommended by a friend, anyway you should check this

    the battle of the vacuum robots, funny, but the bobsweep totally won

  • Tonislav Kaziev

    You have to have a clean and healthy
    home. You can get so much bad stuff from the dust and the dirt if you don’t
    clean good. I used to use a vacuum that I thought it cleaned and it turned out,
    it didn’t clean at all, so a friend recommended I try out,
    and it cleaned perfectly. Now I know I live in a clean germ free environment .