October 29, 2012
Practical, important and cutting edge
It concluded the way it began with packed venues tuning in on relevant, high-octane robotics content, engaged audiences fluidly interacting with world experts who spoke on every imaginable aspect of robotics technology and business; and there was, of course, networking, networking, and more networking: people mixing with people, a veritable bazaar of rare contact opportunities that attendees made the most of in a hurry.
For three days, from the opening gun to the closing ceremony, RoboBusiness 2012 held court in Pittsburgh, PA to a constant flurry of all things robotic for an audience that was more than appreciative of what had been set before them. “There’s nothing like it in the world,” smiled Elad Inbar, CEO of the Robot App Store. “It’s the best! This year, I flew in from California; last year, I flew in from Israel. Whatever it takes, I’m here every year.”
The quintessential gathering of robotics technology and business
RoboBusiness, much more modest and informal than its larger brethren—Automate, Automatica, or even MODEX, the supply chain big hitter—is informal enough for attendees to intimately relate to every conference session yet comprehensive enough that RoboBusiness addresses, somewhere in its forty-five hours of sessions, nearly every aspect of robotics from innovation and invention, to research labs, to applications, to startups, to investment, to commercialization, to intellectual property, to just plain exchanging of war stories, travails, lucky breaks, serendipitous encounters, successes, and the joys of being in close proximity with so many other likeminded colleagues.
Look around the Internet and you won’t find its equal, which is one reason for the incredible loyalty of its attendees. High-value content that means something and can be put to immediate use is another reason; and rubbing shoulders with high-value people—thought leaders, corporate founders, business leaders, educators, researchers, inventors, and innovators—adds to the allure and mystique of this one-of-a-kind event.
Inbar wasn’t alone in his enthusiasm, loyalty and distance traveled to be there. International attendees flew in from Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, China, Italy, Germany and Spain. There was even a cohort of Danes and Swedes who arrived together, participated in keynotes or conference sessions, and whose leader, Claus Risager of the Danish Technological Institute, beamed that they had also networked with over one hundred other attendees.
Something for everyone…and then some!
If you needed a startling announcement to admire, you had Martin Hitch, CEO of Bossa Nova Robotics proclaiming his company’s break with making robots just for kids (a wonderfully popular and successful business) to entering the personal robotics field. Hitch further surprised everyone present with the unexpected introduction of Bossa Nova’s first market entry, mObi.
If you were looking for a one-of-a-kind encounter with the future of robotics to inspire, you got it in renowned roboticist Rod Brooks (Rethink Robotics) and the first public appearance of his ultra-new, co-worker robot, Baxter.
If you needed to witness an idea evolve into a real-world business, Jason Zielke, President of Precise Path Robotics, had the perfect case study of his RG3 taking over a niche market as robotic greens keeper to dozens of golf courses—pulled off under the looming shadow of industry titans John Deere and Toro.
Or if you needed inspiration from the great heroes of robotics, they were there as well, like “Red” Whittaker exciting the audience with tales of ice-drilling robots on the Moon. Awe, inspiration and down-to-earth information were in large supply everywhere at RoboBusiness 2012.
From interfacing quality-of-life robotics into the $2.2T annual healthcare system; to the remaking of manufacturing, materials handling, warehousing and supply chain logistics through automation and robotics; to robotics applications for agriculture, mining, transportation, energy production, and education; to robotics perspectives from angel and VC investors, how-tos, bootstrapping a start-up, or where and how to get help, RoboBusiness 2012 had a venue to meet every need and aspiration.
The movable feast of robotics moves on
Like all super events when they are over, there was sadness that things had come to an end so fast tempered with true joy that everyone had experienced something unique and personally enriching.
Fear not, of course, RoboBusiness is an ongoing, movable feast with its sights for 2013 set firmly westward to Silicon Valley; and in the following year, Genoa, Italy. Where ever it chooses to set up its tents, RoboBusiness always seems to get ever bigger and better.
There’s always that special and personally enriching RoboExperience awaiting anyone who has yet to partake. See you in Santa Clara—land of robotic surf boards.
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