Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting the innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is also founder of Robot Launchpad for startups, and cofounder of Robot Garden, a new robotics hackerspace.
Andra is a core contributor to Robohub, the global site for news and views on robotics. She obtained her MA in Human-Robot Culture at the University of Sydney, Australia in 2011, building on a background as a robot geek, STEM educator and film-maker.
Andra graduated as an ABC film, television and radio technician in 1986 and obtained a BA in Communication from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Australia, in 1998.
Yesterday SoftBank, FoxConn and Alibaba cemented a strong robotics initiative. Having acquired a majority stake in Aldebaran in 2012 (just after the Amazon acquisition of Kiva), SoftBank’s interest in robots has been cause for confusion. Do they want an ‘emotional’ humanoid robot or is their interest in Aldebaran a pathway towards a more practical robot?
Robot Launch 2015is bringing together a great pool of prizes and services for robot startups. All startups in the semis or finals are eligible for awards as we search for offers such as “Crowd Pleaser” or “Best European Startup”. And for the first time, we’ll be offering a grand prize of $5,000 to the winner, in cash or travel. Deadline to enter: July 12! Register now!
*updated* SoftBank today announced a $236 million investment into their robotics division by Alibaba and FoxConn for marketing and distribution, including Pepper and Fetch robots. Fetch Robotics has just announced a $20 million Series A round lead by SoftBank, on top of the earlier seed investments of $3 million from Shasta Ventures and O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures. Fetch is a mobile manipulator aimed at the logistics and warehouse industry. At the same time, SRI International and Sandia National Laboratory have been showing off their new humanoid robots at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Expo. While DURUS is still a research robot, we can now see that useful humanoids have a pathway to commercialization.
With this robotics Grand Challenge, DARPA has advanced both the science of robotics and the story. Real robots did useful things, like operate power tools, drive cars and climb stairs far more successfully than we anticipated. But at the same time, the world saw that it was incredibly difficult for them to perform simple human tasks like opening a door. Anyone who is worried about robots stealing their jobs, or killing us in our sleep, can sleep a little sounder tonight.