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.
From smart forklifts and web-based simulation interfaces, to assistive walking devices, robotic companions — even one for your pet! — the range of mature robotics that made it to the 2015 Robot Launch international startup competition was astounding. Now in it’s second year, the competition attracted more than 75 startups from 19 countries covering the gamut of medical, educational, consumer, industrial and service robotics. The finalists pitched to a live panel of judges and robotics entrepreneurs in Palo Alto, CA. Find out who judges picked for the winning RobotLaunch 2015 startups!
Robot Launch is the first international startup competition designed specifically to help robotics entrepreneurs get off the ground. Now in it’s second year, Robot Launch has attracted a diverse range of applicants that show just how quickly the business of robotics is maturing. Narrowed down from almost 100 robotics startups from around the world, the following 15 finalists represent 16 countries and cover an amazing cross-section of consumer, service and industrial robotics We are extremely impressed with the quality of the finalists! Check them out!
Established in Berlin in 1847, and with a presence in Silicon Valley since the 1950s, Siemens invests more than $1B in the US each year for research and development. Now their Technology to Business team (TTB) has launched the Frontier Partner program, which aims to give startups in robotics and 3D printing a head start by providing them with software and resources to accelerate the development and manufacturing of their products. We spoke with Director of Strategy for Siemens PLM Software, Andy Swiecki, about why Siemens is focusing on robotics right now, and what startups can expect to get out of the Frontiers program.
The Robot Launch competition finals will be held on Friday Sept 18 when a selection of great startups will pitch live to an investor panel. Are Robohub readers on the same wavelength as our expert panelists? Let’s see! Here are the most popular startups so far out of the 30 semifinalists as judged by our readers. This week is your final vote for the “Readers’ Pick”. Will it be the same startup as the judges pick in our finals?
For the past two weeks, Robohub readers have been voting for the “Readers’ Pick” startup from the Robot Launch competition. This week we publish the final 10 videos from our Top 30. During our live final in September (details TBD), we’ll announce the ultimate Robohub Readers Favorites. Each week we’ve been showcasing a different aspect of robotics startups and their business models, from consumer facing robots, to B2B service robotics, to component technologies suitable for use by the robotics industry. Make sure you vote for your favorite – below – by 11:59pm EDT, 1 September and spread the word through social media using #robotlaunch2015.
This month, Robohub readers can vote for the “Readers’ Pick” startup from the Robot Launch competition. Each week, we’re publishing 10 videos from our Top 30. Our ultimate Robohub Readers’ Favorites, along with lots of other prizes, will be announced in a September live final. Every week we’ll showcase different aspects of robotics startups and their business models, from consumer facing robots to B2B service robotics and component technologies. This week we kick off round two. Make sure you vote for your favorite – below – by 11:59pm EDT, 25 August, spread the word through social media using #robotlaunch2015 and come back next week for the next 10!
For the next three weeks, Robohub readers can vote for their “Readers’ Pick” startup from the Robot Launch competition. Each week, we’ll be publishing 10 videos from our Top 30. Our ultimate Robohub Readers’ Favorites, along with lots of other prizes, will be announced in a September live final. Every week we’ll showcase different aspects of robotics startups and their business models: from consumer facing robots to B2B service robotics and component technologies. Make sure you vote for your favorite – below – by 11:59pm PDT, 18 August, spread the word through social media using #robotlaunch2015 and come back next week for the next 10!
Renowned technology commentators and authors John Markoff, Jerry Kaplan and Martin Ford entranced the audience with their perspectives on robotics, automation, AI and the impact on society. The event at IDEO on July 16 was one of a new series of salon talks organized by Silicon Valley Robotics to create a venue for enjoyable, intelligent and informed discussion around the important issues in robotics and AI.
“Happy Birthday!” to industrial robotics pioneer Joe Engelberger who turns 90 today, July 26. That also means that robotics as an industry is around 60 years old. Joe Engelberger and Georges Devol formed Unimation, the world’s first robotics company in 1956 and the first Unimate arm was installed in General Motors in 1961, transforming the automotive industry. Today the robotics industry is a multibillion dollar business. While the automotive industry is still the largest piece of the robotics pie, the range of commercial uses for robotics is expanding into many of the service areas Engelberger also pioneered decades ago.
First it was robot vacuum cleaners; now it’s robot kitchen appliances. Robots are back in the popular imagination as household helpers, and industry seems to be taking a bet on leveraging that interest as a viable marketing strategy.
Siemens has joined the Robot Launch as a sponsor, offering an impressive “Industrial Robotics Award” consisting of access to the Siemens Frontier Partner program,which provides mentorship and industry leading commercial software. It’s hard to put a dollar value on such a big award because the startup will receive access to a wide range of products and services, but this easily brings the total value of prizes offered to over $100,000, including $5,000 cash or travel prize for Grand Winner. There are still two days to enter Robot Launch – Don’t miss the July 12 deadline!
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.