Monday, September 19, 2011

Robotics Meeting Blog Post - September 19th, 2011

Over twenty robotics executives, academics and enthusiasts convened at Kiva Systems for September's MassTLC Robotics Cluster. Cluster meetings take place every other month at a MassTLC member company. This was the first meeting since June so it was kicked off with introductions and the group talking about highlights in the robotics community over the past several months. Highlights included those found on the MHT robotics page, , as well as, these stories,
Member company Jaybridge teams up with Kinze, Rodney Brooks quoted in NYT article,

The group also talked about upcoming Robotics events in the Boston area including:
1.) Robotics Trends: RoboBusiness Leadership Summit - November 2-3, 2011, Boston Sheraton 2.) MassTLC Future of Robotics Summit - December 2, 2011, Microsoft NERD
3.) ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction - March 5-8, 2012,
4.) Back Bay Hilton Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA) - April 23-24, 2012 , (Paper submissions due November 15, 2011)

Rich Erb, Robotics Trends, gave the group an update on the RoboBusiness Leadership Summit (see above details) with over 25 sponsors and partners that will be at the event and a delegation from Denmark attending. MassTLC is helping to promote this event to our robotics community, members can use code RBP1 when registering for a $100 discount.

MassTLC had asked Bill Thomasmeyer formerly head of the Pittsburg Robotics Cluster and now working with Helen Grenier on the Robotics Tech Consortium (RTC) to speak and give an update on RTC activities. Bill's talk started with on an overview of the RTC (see attached slides) which helps its members to find and apply for government contracts through their own contractual relationship with the DOD. The RTC also gives Robotics a presence in Washington DC at the Robotics Caucus meetings. Bill also brought up new regulations that are being proposed that would require ITAR approval for all autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV's) that could possibly be used off-road. These new regulations are not yet defined well which could make approval on new AUV's tough and expensive for robotics companies. MassTLC will work with Bill and the RTC on the appropriate response to these newly proposed regulations. Finally, Bill discussed a new competition that was created by the Innovation Accelerator and the RTC with funding from NSF for early stage Robotics start-ups called, RoboBowl. The first competition will be held on October 13th in Pittsburg at CMU in conjunction with the NSF Innovation Summit at CMU on October 14th. The next competition is slated for February or March of 2012 in Boston at MIT. MassTLC will help organize this event with the help of cluster members.

The meeting ended with a presentation by Benge Ambrogi of Kiva Systems and a tour of their new North Reading Headquarters which houses engineering, manufacturing and a large demo/test floor for the material handling robots. The presentation described how the company started and has grown to be the leader in automated material handling. The presentation included some great videos that can be found at,

The next meeting of the MassTLC Robotics Cluster will be on November 8, 2011 at Myomo in Cambridge, MA.

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