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EP 15 —  Swarmbotics AI’s Stephen Houghton on Leveraging Military Experience in Swarm Robotics Leadership

On this week's episode of the DIB Innovators podcast, Stephen Houghton, CEO and Co-founder at Swarmbotics AI, dives into his journey from Marine officer to tech innovator. Stephen shares how his military background has uniquely shaped his approach to strategic leadership and decision-making in the tech industry, particularly in innovating swarm robotics. 

In fact, he offers insights on the gaps and opportunities he and his co-founder, Drew Watson, sought to address with groundbreaking technologies that set Swarmbotics AI apart in the field of ground autonomy and swarm robotics. Stephen also talks about the challenges and rewards of balancing the multifaceted responsibilities of being a CEO while driving innovation and growth. 

Topics discussed:

  • How Stephen Houghton's experience as a Marine officer has influenced his strategic leadership and decision-making skills in the tech industry.
  • The groundbreaking technologies Swarmbotics AI is developing in the field of ground autonomy and swarm robotics.
  • The most exciting and challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur and founder in the defense industrial base.
  • Identifying and addressing strategic issues within the tech and defense sectors.
  • Stephen's approach to building a strong and effective company culture, including sharing his leadership philosophy and values with new team members.
  • Managing the multifaceted responsibilities of being a CEO, from product reviews to investor meetings, while driving innovation and growth.
  • Key milestones Swarmbotics AI aims to achieve in the next two years and their long-term vision for five to ten years down the road.
  • The importance of collaboration within the industry to deploy and employ new technologies effectively, including the capabilities they bring to the table. 

Guest Quotes: 

“We've all watched the eighties and nineties movies. Robots should be here by now. But we realized that there's this entire category of low-cost robots that have to be explored and built at volume so that you can actually aggregate them into swarms.”

“And so, you know, with your military background that you have to come up with a catchy acronym for whatever it is you're doing. That's where that came from. So ants stands for attributable network, tactical swarm. And so what we tried to get in there was this very clear implication that this is not an extremely exquisite, expensive system and that it is built from the beginning to swarm.” 

“And it's really serious if you lose something and it's a lot of red tape to get through. We want these robots to be south of that, maybe somewhere in the expendable range. So if you fire off ammunition, you don't have to account for every single one of those at all times, it's expected that you're going to be losing those.” 

“Right now, if you're watching this Russia Ukraine being on the ground in the future is going to be a, it's going to be sporty, but, you know, a ring of electronic warfare, you know, anti vehicle kinetic applications, and then you start getting, you know, into where you're doing ground resupply, medevac and things like that. And so all of those robots working in concert together in the future is a vision that we're very excited about contributing to.” 

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