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Toyota Research’s Gill Pratt is speaking at TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics at MIT July 17

TechCrunch’s first ever robotics event is fast approaching, and we’re putting the final touches on an amazing programming line-up, which includes MIT’s Daniela Rus, Disney’s Martin Buehler, Amazon’s Tye Brady, ABB’s Sami Atiya, iRobot’s Colin Angle, SRI’s Manish Kothari and many more. Look for the full agenda soon, but today we’re announcing several big addition to a line-up designed to bring together the fast emerging robotics and AI startup ecosystems with the  well robotics in the corporate, government, and research worlds.

General admission tickets for the July 17 event at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium are on sale now. (See below for special student ticket pricing.)

The Toyota Research View

Dr. Gill Pratt is the Executive Technical Advisor and CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), where he oversees research on AI-based autonomous systems in vehicles as well as home robotics. TRI’s mission notes that “Home robots may become even more personally prized in our future than cars have been in our past.”  

Before joining TRI, Dr. Pratt served for five years as a program manager in the Defense Sciences Office at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His areas of research included interfaces that  enhance human/machine collaboration and the application of neuroscience techniques to robot perception and control.

Dr. Pratt has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and holds several patents in series elastic actuation and adaptive control.

How to Build a Robotics Startup

We’ve already announced a panel of leading VCs, including SRI’s Manish Kothari, Lux Capital’s Josh Wolfe and Lemnos Labs Helen Zelman Boniske t tho discuss the state of robotics startup investing. To help entrepreneurs, we’re adding a second panel that goes at the big question: What does it take to succeed as a robotics startup?  Our three panelists know the topic cold.

Helen Grenier is one of the most distinguished serial entrepreneurs in the robotics field. She is the founder of CyPhy Works, one of the leading commercial drone manufacturers, as well as a co-founder of iRobot, arguably the most successful robotics startup to date. Grenier is an MIT graduate with degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science,

Andy Wheeler is a general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures), the venture arm of Alphabet Inc. Wheeler is a technologist who helped pioneer breakthrough in wireless networking and energy management and an entrepreneur who played leading roles at Adura, Tendril Networks, and Ember. He is an avid investor in robotics startups and has a BS and MS in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

Elaine Chen literally wrote the book on bringing products, especially robotics products, to market. She worked as VP of engineering and product management at several startups, including Rethink Robotics, Zeo, Zeemote, and SensAble Technologies. Chen is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Elaine holds a MS and an MS in mechanical engineering from MIT.

Look for the full agenda soon and in the meantime check out our other speaker posts here.

Students currently enrolled in a college or university program are eligible for reduced admission to TC Sessions: Robotics. To apply for this rate, send a copy of your current transcripts showing your current enrollment status and a copy of your university identification card to Upon approval, you will be provided instructions on how to complete your registration.

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