Unmanned Systems Technology 026 I Tecdron TC800-FF I Propellers I USVs I AUVSI 2019 part 1 I Robby Moto UAVE I Singular Aircraft FlyOx I Teledyne SeaRaptor I Simulation & Testing I Ocean Business 2019 report

18 S ometimes, having a budding electronics engineer around the house can be a major test of parental tolerance. “I used to booby-trap the house with alarm systems,” says Tom Frost, now 45 and general manager of FLIR Systems’ unmanned ground systems division, recalling a childhood in which the engineering bug bit early. “That would drive my mom wild because I would alarm the door to my room, and the drawers in my bureau all had different alarms on them that would sound off. I even tapped the phone system,” he confesses. He credits his father as his early inspiration, recounting that he taught him to be hands-on and creative, both in playing around with electronics and making things in the back yard. “Sometimes it was building a wooden deck, sometimes it was building a circuit or an alarm system, even playing around with robotics by then, trying to build different things, some of which were successful, some of which caught fire!” he says. His interest in computer programming also came early, and he was able to pursue it through high school and university. “I liked software because it was an area where you could innovate very quickly,” he says. “You could solve some very difficult problems in interesting ways, but I always lamented the fact that I would write these pieces of code that I was quite proud of but could never really show them to anybody. “I didn’t like my creations being captive in the computer. Robotics to me was a way to make the code live in the real world.” Career inspiration The trigger for his choice of a career in robotics was an article in Discover magazine about Rod Brooks – later one of the founders of iRobot – and his work at MIT with his small, legged robots Attila and Genghis and the ‘subsumption architecture’ he was developing to give them what Frost calls a sense of life. The general manager of FLIR’s unmanned ground systems group explains his engineering philosophy to Peter Donaldson Ground force June/July 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology Early experience with the PackBot gave Frost an appreciation of how robust military UGVs have to be to operate and survive in the real world (Photos courtesy of FLIR Systems)