2014 set new records for robotics of all types, industrial, field and service. 2015 is also setting records for attendance and number of exhibitors at robotics-related trade shows, contests and events.
More than 18,000 students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis, MO, to put their engineering skills to the test at the annual FIRST(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship. 900 teams from 40 countries competed in the four FIRST programs: FIRST and Junior FIRST LEGO League; FIRST Tech Challenge; and FIRST Robotics Competition. The four-day event came down to an exciting conclusion in front of a roaring crowd of more than 40,000 when four teams from League City, Texas, and Davis, Clovis, and Palmdale, California of the Newton Subdivision won the coveted FIRST Robotics Competition. Team Wolverines, Los Angeles, Calif, won the Chairman’s Award recognizing the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.
Nearby, and a week earlier, in Louisville, KY, 850 teams from 29 nations – 15,000 people strong – gathered at the Kentucky Exposition Center to compete with custom-built robots during three days of intense back-to-back matches. Teams from China, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States prevailed, taking home the highly coveted Championship Trophies for the VEX IQ Elementary & Middle School World Championships, the VEX Robotics Competition Middle & High School World Championships, and the VEX U World Championship. The VEX Robotics Competition High School World Championship Winning Alliance included Lynnfield College Robotics, from Auckland, New Zealand, T-VEX, from the Mandarin Chinese School in Arlington, Texas, and Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. The VEX U World Championship team Blue Rooster Robotics, from Worcester, Mass.
April’s Hannover Messe, with more than 220,000 trade visitors, 120 lectures and keynotes, and 6,500 exhibitors held in a massive arena, was by far the biggest trade show and conference thus far in 2015. Attendees uniformly commented that the show’s main theme was human-robot collaboration (HRC) and the news of Kuka’s acquisition of gomTec and launch of Kuka’s 2-armed Yumi robot were big take-aways from the event.
Automate and Promat, jointly held in March in the Chicago Convention Center, reported 18,000 and 37,000 attendees respectively, in an exhibition space 76% greater than in 2013, and with international visitors from 115 countries.
Smaller shows also did well. The 2nd Annual Precision Farming Expo held in Portland, OR, a very specific show for a very specialized audience, had 290 attendees and exhibitors; 40% more attendees than their first expo.
Finally, the 6th Annual Silicon Valley Block Party, held in conjunction with National Robotics Week, was overwhelmed with too many people, big and small. It was a sunny day, the weather was perfect, and the kids had lots to do and play with.
This week, the Unmanned Systems 2015 conference and expo in Atlanta, GA expects more than 8,000 attendees from around the world to participate in three days of exhibits and over 200 educational sessions, workshops and panel presentations focusing on commercial, humanitarian and military unmanned systems and applications.
The following week is set to inaugurate a new conference: RoboUniverse. According to the hosts, attendance will reach 2,000, of which 75 are press, 105 are speakers and exhibitors and the rest are either paid conference attendees or expo visitors. RoboUniverse is following up with similar events later this year in Seoul, San Diego, Tokyo and Shanghai.