2023 Year in Review

Monterey Bay DART Year in Review: Soaring High in 2023!

2023 Year in Review

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, we want to express our sincere gratitude for being part of the Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technology (DART) community. It has been a year filled with innovation, growth, and exciting developments, and we’re thrilled to share our Year in Review with you.

A Year of Achievements:

  • In October, Monterey Bay DART and CSUMB secured a $1.95 million grant from the James Irvine Foundation. This funding will build on our momentum, expanding the DART-Joby Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (AMAP), launching the DART-FarmNG AMAP, strengthening partnerships with CBOs, and enhancing DART’s organizational capacity. 

Highlighting Key Projects:

  • Monterey Bay DART, in partnership with the Hatamiya Group, is finalizing a Feasibility Study which assessed the demand for a Regional Workforce Training Center focused on preparing the local workforce for the jobs of the future in advanced manufacturing, drones, automation, and robotics technology. Expected completion in Q1 2024.
  • The CITRIS Center for Drone Education and Research (CIDER) at UC Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay DART are continuing to make significant progress on our collaborative DART Workforce Skills Demand Study. This study is actively assessing the current and future workforce skills demand for the use of drones in agriculture, infrastructure inspection, construction monitoring, and related fields within the tri-county region. Expected completion in Q2 2024.
  • In June, Monterey Bay DART supported the planning, marketing and implementation of the UCANR Drone Camp at CSUMB, including 8 Drone Camp scholarships in partnership with Building Healthy Communities in Seaside. The UCANR Drone Camp celebrated its 6th year in Monterey acknowledging DART’s instrumental role in facilitating the UCANR and CSUMB collaboration.

Community Collaboration:

Our thriving community is at the heart of everything we do. This year, we’ve fostered even stronger partnerships and collaborations. Together, we’ve shared insights, exchanged ideas, and collectively worked towards shaping the future of community and economic development in our region.

  • In November, the Monterey Bay Joby Aviation Working Group celebrated Joby Aviation’s $9.8M Cal Competes Grant to expand their facility at Marina Airport. This award will leverage a $41.3 million investment by Joby, creating 690 full-time jobs statewide by 2027. Locally, this will open hundreds of job opportunities, building on the DART-Joby Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship pilot program.
  • In March, Monterey Bay DART hosted a delegation from the Kern Career Technical Education Campus (CTEC). Participants from Monterey Bay included Cabrillo College, UCSC, CSUMB, Monterey County, Learning For Life Charter School, MBEP, and Joby Aviation.
  • Additionally, DART was represented at the following community outreach events during the past year:
    • Black August 2023
    • Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce – Economic Vitality Committee
    • California Special Districts Association Annual Meeting
    • EDGE Collaborative iHub Convening, Manteca
    • ChicoStart – North State Familiarity Tour
    • SIEDI Annual Convening 2023 
    • MBEP State of the Region 2023 
    • CALED Annual Conference, Los Angeles 2023
    • DOT Inter-Agency Working Group on Advanced Air Mobility, October 2023

Industry Events and Engagements:

Looking Ahead to 2024:

As we embark on a new year, Monterey Bay DART is committed to exploring new frontiers and continuing to lead the way in the ever-evolving landscape of drone, automation, and robotics technology.

Thank You for Your Support:

None of our achievements would be possible without the unwavering support of our community, partners, and stakeholders. As we reflect on the past year, we’re excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Stay tuned for more exciting developments, projects, and collaborations in 2024!

Wishing you a joyful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

SIEDI Delegation Explores FIRA-USA 2023

Author: Barbara Meister, SIEDI Mentor

A SIEDI (Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative) delegation explored the emerging world of robotics in agriculture by attending the FIRA-USA conference in September at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds. Participants included representatives from Mujeres en Acción, ALBA and Loaves, Fishes and Computers along with the Ag Tech class from Rancho Cielo

Drone Pavilion

The conference drew entrepreneurs, academics, government scientists, graduate students, venture capitalists, journalists and growers from all parts of the globe. Thanks to our partners at DART, 12 of us had the chance to see field-level robotic demonstrations, meet company representatives, and hear panel discussions about the emergence of robotics and mechanization of agriculture, its promises and possibilities, and the threats and opportunities that come with technological innovation.   

SIEDI leaders had several key takeaways and lots of questions.   Robotics is driven, at least in part, by the shortage of farm labor. Robotics and the mechanization of production agriculture will certainly change work.  

Some new jobs will be created as robotics will require engineering and programming skills for their creation and problem-solving applications. Could these be job opportunities for graduates of Hartnell and CSUMB’s new Mechatronics program? Could the sons and daughters of farm workers be prepared for these jobs? 

Drone Pavilion

Some jobs will be replaced, not immediately, but over time. There is not a robotic solution to harvest strawberries in the field (yet?) because it is difficult for a robotic eye to see the fruit under the leafy canopy of a strawberry plant. A more likely robotic application will be a machine to cut the pre-harvest berry runners and replace those jobs. For a grower, the higher return on labor is during harvest, not during pre-harvest maintenance of the plant.  

Some jobs are at present being replaced. The mechanized PlantTape,  only needs 2 workers to operate it when typically there are 8 or more workers riding a machine and feeding transplants into the soil.  

Some jobs will become safer. We saw an autonomous sprayer that could run at night, by itself and thus eliminate or reduce pesticide exposure for workers. On the other hand, the job of a sprayer often pays a $2-3 per hour premium, and is an attractive job for some because of the higher pay. What happens to these workers when they are replaced by machines?  

Ag Demonstration

Some jobs will be made more efficient. We saw smaller robots, called Burro and Amiga, that could carry small loads behind or alongside a worker, reducing physical burdens and increasing time-labor efficiency. For piece-rate crops, like strawberries, the time a harvester spends carrying a carton of berries to the end of the row is money lost. Will the cost-savings of a robot flow to the worker because they are more productive now? 

SIEDI leaders concluded that at present, robots have both the potential to be a complement to making work safer, less physically demanding, and more efficient for workers AND robots can displace workers. We are  eager to explore the questions of opportunities and threats to our Salinas Valley workforce. How do we create a pathway for the  jobs being created by innovation in ag tech for our youth? How do we re-skill and up-skill those currently work to plant and harvest our food? What impact will robots have on wages for farm workers?  

Drone Pavilion

As SIEDI prepares for its plan of work for the next two years, we are eager to have more conversations, starting with farm workers themselves – what do they want from ag tech? And with small farmers, can robots improve efficiencies at small scale? What capacity do our educational institutions, adult schools and community colleges have for upskilling and re-skilling our current workers? What kind of partnerships can we create alongside these institutions, including CSUMB and UCSC, to prepare our Salinas Valley students for the design, engineering, programming and manufacturing of ag tech? We are eager to talk with farmers who are using and experimenting with ag tech to find out what they are learning and the impact on their labor force. And we want to talk to the ag tech companies in our region  to understand what problems they are trying to solve and their workforce needs.   

Robotics and automation are happening. SIEDI is ready to be proactive in mitigating the downsides and shape how this innovation can enable more Salinas Valley families to be included in the economic opportunities this technology will create.

MBDART and CSUMB awarded $1.95M workforce development James Irvine Foundation grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monterey Bay Drone, Automation and Robotics Technology (DART) Initiative and CSU Monterey Bay Awarded $1.95M Grant by the James Irvine Foundation

Marina, CA – 10/12/23 – The Monterey Bay Drone, Automation and Robotics Technology (DART) Initiative and CSU Monterey Bay are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition of a $1.95 million funding award from the James Irvine Foundation. This generous grant will propel their collaborative mission forward, building upon momentum established during the 2022-23 period, and helping DART achieve ambitious program goals and objectives over the next two years.

In 2022-23, with the invaluable support of the James Irvine Foundation, the Monterey Bay DART Initiative, working in collaboration with Joby Aviation, the CSU Monterey Bay Institute for Innovation and Economic Development, and the University Corporation as fiscal agent, made significant strides in strengthening industry and community-based organizational partnerships. Key outcomes of the initial funding round include: Establishing the DART-Joby Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (AMAP) pilot, completing a regional workforce training center feasibility study, and supporting the expansion of Joby’s prototype manufacturing capabilities at the Marina Airport. 

“We are grateful for the expanded support of the James Irvine Foundation, as well as the continued partnership of our many regional partners – especially Joby Aviation and CSUMB, and Monterey County, City of Marina, UC Santa Cruz MBEST, the Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative, and the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership,” said Josh Metz, MBDART Executive Director. “We look forward to extending these partnerships and engaging new ones to realize the economic development potential of these exciting technologies, rightly applied to solving critical issues of our time, while creating a more inclusive economy on the Central Coast and beyond.”  

 

Goals for the awarded program funding, spanning from October 2023 through September 2025, include: Extension of the DART-Joby AMAP and initiation of a new DART-FarmNG AMAP, Deepening partnerships with community-based organizations (CBO’s), and further Increasing DART organizational capacity.

“Our partnership with DART has enabled us to forge deeper connections within our community, paving the way for new upskilling opportunities and career onramps that are tailored for the diverse population in our region.” said Cody Cleverly, Workforce Development Lead at Joby Aviation. “With this funding, we are poised to build on that momentum and establish a scalable framework that can be deployed across industries to close skill gaps, empower workers, and uplift entire communities.”

 

“We’re glad to be able to partner with DART to promote advanced manufacturing jobs for workers in our region and to support exciting local firms like Joby and Farm-NG,” said Jennifer Kuan, associate professor of entrepreneurship and economics in CSUMB’s School of Business Department and interim Executive Director of Innovation and Research for iiED.

The Monterey Bay DART Initiative is profoundly grateful to the James Irvine Foundation for their unwavering support and commitment to our mission. With this significant grant, we are well-positioned to continue our work in advancing technology-driven career opportunities, fostering community engagement, and contributing to the growth and development of our region.

 

### About Monterey Bay DART Initiative

The Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technology (DART) Initiative is a pioneering organization committed to fostering innovation and creating high-road career pathways in the fields of drone, automation, and robotics technology. Through strategic partnerships, community engagement, and educational programs, we aim to empower underserved communities and drive economic growth in the Monterey Bay region.

### Media Contact:

Josh Metz

MBDART Executive Director

josh@montereybaydart.org

(831) 264-8299

MBDART hosts US Commercial Service and US Embassy Representatives

MBDART was honored to co-host the US Commercial Service and Market Access Specialists from US Embassies in Germany, Turkiye, Croatia, and Romania for a trade focused exchange. Working in partnership with the Monterey County Economic Development Office, Central Coast Marketing Team, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, UC Santa Cruz-MBEST, Santa Cruz County Economic Development, See Monterey, Monterey Wines, and Joby Aviation, the local coalition and Commerce teams held a day of meetings and tours at the UCMBEST Marina Office and Joby Aviation’s Marina Manufacturing facilities.

“We really appreciate Joanne, Chris and the whole delegation for making the time to come visit us here in Marina and the Monterey Bay region. We learned about key features of their respective markets, tools and programs available to U.S. companies looking to initiate or expand EU trade, and key market access events occurring throughout the year. We also had the opportunity to educate the EU-based folks about the amazing companies, economic drivers, and quality of life offered here in the Monterey Bay region. Perhaps most importantly, we had the chance to meet, share a meal and establish person-to-person connections that will facilitate more effective and efficient engagements into the future.”

Josh Metz, Executive Director, MBDART

US Embassy Market Access Specialists provided information and insights into unique market interests and access information for each of their respective countries. Topics such as key growth areas, Commerce provided market access services, and key events were discussed. The local coalition provided market and organization overviews, including strategic programs, key economic sectors, interest and opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment, and tourism and hospitality opportunities for EU travelers.

“Our meeting with DART leadership and so many local experts who are instrumental in leading economic development in the Monterey Bay region was incredibly valuable.  Gaining a deeper understanding of the industries that underpin the regional economy and drive workforce development allowed for an enriching conversation about how the U.S. Commercial Service/ITA can help support existing efforts to grow international trade and investment the region.  We look forward to more such engagements in the months ahead.”

Joanne Vliet, Director, U.S. Commercial Service – Silicon Valley/San Jose
U.S. Department of Commerce | International Trade Administration

The exchange was productive and left the Commerce and EU teams with increased market awareness, inspiration for future exchanges, and key contacts to develop new market channels for Monterey Bay regional and California companies. Significant international opportunities exist in sectors including travel & tourism, processed food, education/training, agtech, aviation, and information technology, all of which are key industries driving the regional economy. We look forward to growing and expanding these relationships, both with the local San Jose based Commerce team and their US Embassy-based colleagues.

About the US Commercial Service

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. The Global Markets unit promotes U.S. exports, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises; advances and protects U.S. commercial interests overseas; and attracts inward investment into the United States. https://www.trade.gov/

DART Drone Pavilion at FIRA-USA, Sept 19-21 @ Salinas Rodeo Grounds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DART Drone Pavilion to Showcase Cutting-Edge Technologies at 2023 FIRA USA Agricultural Robotics Show

Monterey County, CA – August 31, 2023 – The highly anticipated 2023 FIRA USA Agricultural Robotics Show, scheduled to take place from September 19th to 21st at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds in Monterey County, CA, is proud to announce the inclusion of the inaugural DART Drone Pavilion. This pioneering pavilion will gather leading companies, organizations, and educational institutions at the forefront of agricultural drone technology, highlighting their contributions to the evolving landscape of agtech.

Participating in the Drone Pavilion are industry giants such as AgBee, AgXactly, AeroSystems West, FarmX, and Insightup Solutions, among others. These visionary companies are set to exhibit their latest drone innovations, services, and solutions designed to revolutionize agriculture and address the challenges faced by the industry.

“We’re excited to host the first Drone Pavilion at the FIRA Agtech Show,” said Josh Metz, the Executive Director of Monterey Bay DART. “We’ve got a great group of leading-edge platform developers, service providers, and educators, along with local Monterey County hosts. We hope to see everyone at the show!”

The Monterey Bay DART (Drone and Autonomous Robotics Technology), the driving force behind this innovative initiative, envisions an interconnected innovation ecosystem that brings together industry, academia, government, and community-based organizations. The goal is to collaborate on future growth opportunities and advancements in agricultural robotics, promoting sustainable and efficient practices.

In addition to the featured companies, the UCSC CITRIS Institute for Drone Education & Research will join the pavilion, underlining the importance of education and research in shaping the future of drone technology in agriculture. This esteemed institution will provide insights into cutting-edge research and educational programs focused on driving the industry forward.

To learn more about this groundbreaking event and other engagement opportunities within the Monterey Bay DART community, visit MBDART.org.

For press inquiries and interview requests, please contact Monterey Bay DART

Email: info@montereybaydart.org 

Phone: (831) 264-8299