Iranian Robotics Advances, With or Without Sanctions

In the U.S., most of the news coverage of Iran focuses on economic sanctions and renewed geopolitical tensions. The current Middle Eastern republic, previously known as Persia, is only about 40 years old and commonly evokes images of natural resources, religion, and revolution — but not usually another “r” word, robotics. At the same time, Iranian robotics has made some advances.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Iran boasts a population about 82 million, with a median age of 28.8 and a gross domestic product of more than $1.3 trillion. Let’s see how recent Iranian robotics developments add to our understanding of the country.

Iranian robotics is unconventional

Part of Iran’s robotics journey involves robots that are unique to Iran. In 2016, Ikap Robotics won a startup award at Automatica with an “intelligent robotic suitcase” named Olive. A person can ride the suitcase like a Segway. Olive is self-balancing and has a built-in camera that enables it to follow its owner.

That same year, Iranian professor Berok Khoshnevis at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California announced that he had been working for 20 years on enabling robots to construct buildings with 3D printing.

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