At TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics, on July 17 at MIT’s Kresge auditorium, the programming lineup is set to showcase the fast developing new ecosystem around robotics.
For a long time robotics was more the domain of academic research, defense spending, and big corporations, but the surge in new technologies, from sensors to AI to GPUs has made the field more accessible to entrepreneurs and early stage investors. At the same time, the fundamentals of robotics are at work in products few thought possible a few years ago, such autonomous vehicles, drones, and collaborative workplaces.
Robots In The Sky
Drones are robots too, and no doubts that the skies will soon be full of drones carrying out work from package delivery to security patrols. Our first speaker to join this panel:
Andreas Raptopoulos is the founder and CEO of Matternet, which is a startup working to deliver a “complete solution for automated aerial logistics,” which among other things means combining drones and delivery vehicles in a closely synchronized delivery solution. Andreas studied at industrial design engineering at the Imperial College London and founded two UK-based companies, Aylo and FutureAcoustic, before starting Matternet in Silicon Valley.
The Venture Capital View
Helen Zelman Boniske is a co-founder of Lemnos Labs, a Silicon Valley-based early stage venture firm that invests in robotics and hardware companies — “putting silicon back in the Valley.” An MIT engineering grad, Zelman and her partners have invested in 23 companies, including many up and coming startups in the robotics world.
She will join Manish Kothari (SRI Ventures) and Josh Wolfe (Lux Capital) on our venture investing panel to discuss robotics from the standpoint of early stage investors.
One of the fastest growing categories is collaborative robotics, “co-bots” for short. These are smaller, flexible robots and systems designed to work alongside humans as well as other machinery, as opposed to working inside cages.
Clara Vu is co-founder and VP of engineering at Veo Robotics, a startup creating sensor-based systems that control spaces where human and machines interact. A Yale University math graduate, Vu is a veteran of iRobot, where she was a senior software engineer, and co-founder and director of software development at Harvest Automation.
Jerome DuBois is co-founder of 6 River Systems, which has developed “Chuck” a warehouse robot designed to interact with the mixed machine and human environment typical found in many warehouse settings. A UNH engineering graduate with an MBA from Northeastern, DuBois worked at Kiva Systems and later Amazon Robotics, which acquired Kiva.
We will announce more of the agenda next week. In the meantime, here are some helpful links in case you want to attend or participate in the show.
Startup Pitch Competition and Student Demos
Here are some key links: