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    October 31, 2023

    7 Takeaways from RoboBusiness 2023 on the Development of Robotics and Automation

    On October 18 and 19th in San Jose, I had the privilege of presenting at RoboBusiness, an esteemed event that brought together thought leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs from the robotics and automation industry. It was an honor to share my knowledge on creating teams that scale, and I'm excited to delve deeper into this topic in future posts.

    The conference sparked a sense of magic and excitement reminiscent of the Internet boom in the late 90s, where groundbreaking innovations like Google Search and Zappos transformed our digital landscape. This time, however, the focus is on adapting and changing our physical world. Robotics and automation are no longer just concepts for science fiction enthusiasts but tangible technologies that are shaping industries and revolutionizing the way we live and work.

    At RoboBusiness, I was amazed by the sheer range of applications for robotics and automation. From healthcare to agriculture, logistics to manufacturing, there seemed to be no limit to what these technologies could do.

    Here are some highlights I took away from the event:

    1. Daniel Theobald, CEO of Vecna Robotics, spoke of his 3Ms concept. He emphasized the three critical areas of manufacturing, maintenance, and movement as central problem spaces that hold abundant business opportunities for the foreseeable future. As automation continues to revolutionize industries, there is immense potential for growth and success in these areas.

    2. Joyce Sydopolous, Chief of Operations for MassRobotics, a leading robotics accelerator, also made a significant announcement during the conference. They introduced a new program that offers non-dilutive funding of up to $100K for robotics startups. This initiative, led by their new Director, Marita McGinn, aims to provide essential financial support to the most innovative robotics companies.

    3. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and underlying Large Language Models (LLMs) was another fascinating topic discussed at the event. Pras Velagapudi, Chief Architect and VP of Innovation at Agility Robotics, shed light on how AI is supercharging robots' ability to function autonomously and efficiently. With technological advancements, robots can now be given directions and perform complex tasks with greater autonomy.

    4. Amit Goel, Head of Product Management and Embedded Ecoystems at NVIDIA, highlighted the role of simulations and fictitious scenarios in training robots. Tools like Chat-GPT can be utilized to create immersive virtual environments for robot training, enhancing their capabilities and intelligence.

    5. The future of robotics lies in multi-modal capabilities, combining vision, language processing, inertial measurement units (IMUs), tactile feedback, and sound. This integration allows robots to gather information from multiple sources and increase their overall intelligence. Ken Goldberg, William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering, UC Berkeley, highlighted the potential of these multi-modal robotics and hinted at even more exciting developments to come.

    6. Paolo Pirjanian, Founder & CEO at Embodied, Inc., shared his inspiring vision for improving the well-being of children through Moxie Robot. He also provided practical advice for robotics companies seeking financial partners and advisors who understand that generating revenue may take up to a decade. This realistic perspective doesn't always align with the expectations of some investors, but it acknowledges the long-term nature of this industry.

    7. I had an engaging conversation with Ricardo Petrazzini, Founder & CEO of Robotic Crew, and his team about the impending engineering labor shortage. Their company aims to address this challenge by providing access to an engineer dream team based in Argentina. It's encouraging to see innovative solutions emerging to tackle the impending talent gap in this field.

    I want to thank Joyce Sidopoulos for inviting me to speak and Steve Crowe, Co-chair of RoboBusiness, for organizing such a remarkable event. The insights shared by fellow attendees were invaluable, and I look forward to continuing my learning journey at future events and becoming an active participant in this vibrant community.

    The world of robotics and automation continues to evolve rapidly, opening up endless possibilities for growth and success. By aligning talent and business strategies, leveraging technology, and embracing innovation, we can shape a future where robotics and automation enhance our lives in remarkable ways. Stay tuned for more captivating insights and discussions on this fascinating field.

    Want to learn more about the impact that robotics and automation will have on the future of work? Check out my show, The Lever with Drew Fortin.

    Drew Fortin

    Drew is a people-first, values-driven leader with nearly 20 years of growth strategy and team-building experience across retail, marketing technology, local media, and HR tech. He spent 7 years at The Predictive Index, where he was Chief Growth Officer responsible for the company's strategy to build the world's first...

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