The 2017 Silicon Valley Robot Block Party set a new high for attendance with over 1000 robot fans plus investors, exhibitors and media. 45 different companies, organizations and groups were represented on the day, April 12, 2017, and the Jabil Blue Sky Innovation Center proved to be the perfect host for what is now the longest running National Robotics Week celebration.
“Robotics has emerged as one of the most important technologies in the 21st century impacting on almost every part of society from self-driving cars, to improved outcomes in medicine, to taking care of our aging parents to teaching our next generation of engineers and scientists,” says John Dulchinos, VP Strategic Capabilities, Jabil. Silicon Valley has become one of the leading areas for the advancement and commercialization of robotics technologies.”
It would be hard to pick a star of the show when watching the smiles on children’s faces throughout the day. There were big robots, small robots, mobile robots, robot arms, humanoid robots, toy robots, robots you could ride on or in and even robot insects. The Robot Block Party is a blend of professional robotics, the latest in robotics research and startup innovation, and school clubs, hobbyists and makers, so the event provided entertainment for all from investors to juniors.
Companies at the Robot Block Party: Jabil, Radius Innovation, Intel, Fetch Robotics, EandM Robotics, SICK Sensors, Harmonic Drive, SRI International, Toyota Research Institute, Savioke, ABB Robotics, Olympus Controls, Universal Robots, Starship Technology, Zume Pizza, Silicon Segway, SAKE Robotics, MITSUI Chemicals, NorthEastern University, BEST Tensegrity Lab UC Berkeley, Catalia Health, Chime, Electric Movement, Augmented Pixels, Viking Team 6688, Central Park STEAM Robotics, RoboTerra, Dash Robotics, Techy Kids, USPTO, SF Drone School, sUAS News, GIGAmacro, Homebrew Robotics, Ubiquity Robotics, Point1 Seconds, EBSB, Emoshape, Carrender Robotics, Robot Garden, Tempo Automation, RMUS Dynamics, Beetl Robotics, krtkl, Greppy, and Let’s Robot.
— Radius (@radiusinnovates) April 12, 2017
This year there were speakers at the Robot Block Party with a keynote from Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. Anderson talked about the power of the democratization of technology and how the continuing reduction of costs leads to the exponential expansion of access to technology, and then to innovations. His new initiative DIY Robocars is following the same path as DIY Drones – a consumer open source drone community. The success of DIY Drones heralded the successful commercialization of the drone industry and lead to Anderson 3D Robotics. The transition to 1/10th scale autonomous vehicle building seems like a timely reflection on the increasing commercialization and accessibility of self-driving vehicles.
John Dulchinos, President of Silicon Valley Robotics and VP of Global Automation at Jabil spoke abut the role of robotics in reshoring manufacturing and ensuring American economic growth. Andrew Dresner, Principal Engineer at Interbotix Labs described many uses of Intel Joule in developing innovative robotics projects.
Alex Kernbaum of SRI International showcased a range of new technologies from MotoBot to Microbot Factories. Rich Mahoney talked about Superflex, a smart assistive garment and SRI spinout that is now being commercialized in a range of scenarios, from assisting elders and children with muscular dystrophy, to helping factory workers.
We also heard from UC Berkeley’s BEST Tensegrity Lab which is creating new robotics skeletons and structures suitable for space exploration. Will Vaughan, from Savioke talked about some upcoming new roles for Relay the hotel delivery robot. And Robert DeNeve, from Brite Lab talked about the benefits of local manufacturing.
— Radius (@radiusinnovates) April 13, 2017
Another innovation at the 2017 Robot Block Party was the VC Office hours and startup pitch competition. Many startups applied and 6 finalists battled it out live on stage with 5 minute pitches to a panel of judges, Heather Andrus, Managing Director of Radius Innovations, Tobin Fisher, CEO/Founder of Vantage Robotics, John Dulchinos, President of Silicon Valley Robotics and VP Global Automation at Jabil and Cyril Ebersweiler, CEO/Founder of HAX.
The startups ranged from drone technology to virtual reality with robots and the winning pitch came from Ross Mead, founder and CEO of Semio. Semio has a developer framework for building social interactions for any robot, something the judges saw as having enormous potential in this new world of social and collaborative robots.