Michael Belfiore is an author, journalist, and speaker on the
innovations shaping our world. He has written about game-changing
technologies for the New York Times, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics,
Smithsonian, Air & Space, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and
other outlets. He is an International Aerospace Journalist of the Year
Michael has appeared as a commentator on the Fox Business Network,
Bloomberg Radio and TV, CNN, CTV’s Canada AM, NPR’s Marketplace and
Morning Edition, Showtime’s Penn & Teller: BS!, and C-SPAN. He has
delivered his message of change to audiences at Noblis, Medtronic, the
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Rutgers University, and
Michael’s Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space is the first book to chronicle the birth of the commercial space age
and show how innovative companies are radically changing how we reach
space and creating potentially vast new markets in the process.
His book The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs is the first book to go behind the scenes at the Pentagon agency that
gave us the Internet, the first satellite positioning system, and many
other game-changing innovations.
Michael lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley with his two daughters.
Here's my latest blog post on the DARPA Robotics Challenge that I attended in December:
Projects that I'm tracking right now:
-DARPA's Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. $140 million for spaceplanes that can launch on a daily basis.
-SpaceX Grasshopper. Reusable booster rockets taking off and
landing on their tails "the way God and Heinlein intended." Could become
the iPhone of rockets.
Space Station cargo mission planned for March 16. Possible demonstration
of Grasshopper technology on the return from orbit.
-XCOR Lynx spaceplane nearing completing; possible first flight this year.
-Virgin Galactic first commercial spaceflight possible this year.
-Robots getting ready for the next DARPA Robotics Challenge, late this year or early next year.
-Bigelow space stations getting ready for launch in 2016.
BOOKS (click on image to buy book on Amazon Now!):
Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots is Boldly Privatizing Space
The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs
Aeon Magazine published my extended essay on humanoid robots today.
At 3.7k words, it’s feature length, and enough room for me to go into
depth about the state of the art of these machines that are poised to
invade our lives, and what the future holds for them.
The setting is the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, Trials held near
Miami in December. Sixteen teams from around the world brought their
robots to compete in such apparently mundane tasks as walking across
uneven terrain, opening doors, and…driving a car.
But this is just the beginning. If the DRC goes the way of DARPA’s
autonomous car races, we’ll see these bots clomping around in our
streets, workplaces, and homes within a few years. They’ll respond to
high-level commands from humans who direct them from afar, rather than
remote-controlling them in the conventional sense.
Are we ready for autonomous humanoid robots? Like it or not, they’re coming.
From my story:
The robots of the DRC will be back on the field as early
as this December, most likely much, much more capable than before, after
their teams have a further year to work on improving the hardware and
software that drives them. The eight best teams from the DRC Trials are
in line for DARPA funding to help them along, but many of the others,
including the all-volunteer team Mojavaton, will continue on their own
dime, undaunted. Immediately at stake is a $2 million prize from DARPA.
But more than that, the competition promises to launch yet another DARPA
project from the realm of science fiction into the mainstream by once
again proving the seemingly impossible to be, in fact, possible. The
repercussions will be profound – our squeamishness about autonomous
SCHAFT : DARPA Robotics Challenge 8 Tasks + Special Walking: