#015 – Nature Inspired Robots For All – Nick Kohut, PhD

Published On February 7, 2016 | Engineers, Mech Eng

Nick Kohut is the CEO and co-founder of Dash Robotics. Him and his team are launching their first product, a nature inspired crawling toy robot called the Kamigami robot. It has been featured on Wired and Tech Crunch. Recently Dash Robotics raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter, their second successful crowdfunding campaign.

Nick studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of California Berkeley.

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Discussion timestamps:

02:30 Guest intro
03:14 Discovering mechanical engineering through a love for cars.
03:59 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign SAE formula team.
04:50 College internships with Caterpillar, Chrysler, and Ford.
06:00 Pursuing research in academia.
07:21 Master’s thesis with the vehicle dynamics lab: Predictive control to improve fuel economy using traffic info.
09:00 Transitioning from master’s to doctorate. Insights into the life of a PhD candidate.
11:35 Research on biomimetic robots.
12:36 What intrigues Nick about robotics. A full technical spectrum.
13:12 Biomimetic millisystems robotics.
14:11 The Sail Roach robot – using aerodynamics to turn a legged robot.
16:48 Essential ingredients in research: curiosity and dogged perseverance.
17:44 The creation of Dash Robotics. Meeting co-founders. Discovering Kickstarter.
18:52 The Kamigami robot. Sandwich composites.
20:20 Dash Robotics goals.
22:23 Experiences from two successful crowdfunding campaigns. Getting user feedback.
26:06 The vision and future of Dash Robotics.
27:19 Leadership and teamwork advice. Thoughts from a startup CEO.
31:06 Future technologies: Self-driving cars. Automation.
32:08 Advice to listeners about college and professional life.

Episode related content:

Introducing Kamigami by Dash Robotics:

The Kamigami running in slow motion:

Biomimicry’s surprising lessons from nature’s engineers – Janine Benyus TED Talk:

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