Enterprising duo has designs on bomb-detonating robots

Published in the Philadelphia Business Journal

Many of the 650 people who receive their bachelor’s degrees from the Wharton School in a few weeks will go elsewhere to seek fame and fortune.

Samuel Reeves will hang around Philadelphia and try to make the world a little safer and himself a little richer.

Reeves is staying in the area to try to get Humanistic Robotics Inc. off the ground. The company, started by Reeves and his friend, Josh Koplin, has just finished a proof-of-concept prototype of a machine for detonating land mines.

The machine is basically an inexpensive robot pushing a big metal roller. Reeves thinks it can be sold profitably for less than $100,000. That’s much less than other machines for getting rid of mines, which start at around $250,000.

The lower price should appeal to all organizations that do demining, but Reeves especially wants it to enable the nonprofits in the field to expand their efforts.

“In place of buying one or two of the larger machines, I would like them to buy a whole fleet of ours,” he said.

Humanistic Robotics recently won the $5,000 grand prize in the first PennVention competition, which was sponsored by Weiss Tech House, a technology incubator run by the University of Pennsylvania for its students.

Reeves and Koplin, who earned a master’s degree in industrial design from the New York’s Pratt Institute in December, will use the money to build a better prototype.

“It will hopefully look like our actual production model,” Reeves said.

The two planned to spend the past week in Croatia, meeting with a potential manufacturer.

“If we had that in place and we had an investor to kind of complete the R&D process, it would be very close to coming to fruition,” Reeves said.