SHEPHERD: Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in

Published: 11/18/2016, Last Updated: 11/17/2016

Don't get me wrong, I was a quite willing participant with all of this. 

I am sitting at a table with some amazing folk at the second day of the Intel Innovator Summit. I've been asked what I do, a quite typical question in a group setting with people you don't quite know yet. I've answered "I am a worm farmer", which has caused little or no consternation in the hearers, reflecting the wonderful nature of the denizens here. I have been on leave from teaching for the last two years and have become insanely busy with the delights of hanging with my wife 24/7. It is the most wonderful occupation in which I have ever engaged. 

Anyway, I ran into some former students three months ago at IDF in San Francisco. They became inspired, as I did. They are now full time undergrad and grad students, occupying a great deal of their free time. That said. We brainstormed a bot project and came up with the idea of a garden robot to identify plants and photograph emerging fruit to help with harvesting and to pick up downed fruit and pinecones.  A hexapod spider to more securely handle uneven garden terrain seemed a good idea. When my rancher lost a sheep to a mountain lion, it made sense to modify the idea. A hexabot the size of a german shepherd equipped with infrared vision tied to a deep learning database will help to identify the commonly expected lifeforms and allowing unrecognized ones to be considered likely predators. Rapidly, safely, navigating the ranch's slopes without tipping over will be a highly important constraint, as will be the goal of using an open source design, and as much open source software and hardware as possible so the assembly and use can support education.

I came up with the acronym, Sheep Herding, Electronic Protector, and Hazard Encountering Robotic Defender. Thanks to the Innovator's Summit, I have luckily encountered a wide range of highly creative, helpful people. I know the task ahead will be that much more fun and successful because of them.

Kudos to the Intel team and management for supporting what is really an eclectic think tank. People are creating products, which accomplishing personal and professional goals, but that was no really the focus of the Summit. We got a very early heads up on upcoming tech. We had a chance to work with freshly available tech. The usage feedback on this tech will be helpful, but the real hard to measure value is the value of getting this group together to play together for four days. It is very much what took place with the Usual Suspects, only at  larger scale of around 60 people, with a focus on doing good.

As a group we were encouraged to use Intel's DevMesh (, which is a great place to document projects, as well as linking to code repositories, video streams, etc. I think it may end up being a great place for collaboration. I've started one on this project that I will be refining with what we learn:



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