Attending your first RoboBusiness event can be a daunting task, even for the trade show and conference veteran. If you’re a RoboBusiness newbie, figuring out where to go and what to do among the four conferences, 60-plus sessions, and more than 70 exhibiting companies can make your head spin.
While I’ve attended RoboBusiness events in my past life as an editor and videographer for IDG publications Network World and Computerworld, this will be my first RoboBusiness as a member of the Robotics Business Review staff.
Although my colleagues might prefer that I be in five places at once to attend every session, party at each networking event, and visit every company on the show floor, the technology to do so isn’t a reality yet. Someday, maybe, but not yet.
So if you’re a RoboBusiness newbie, let me be your guide to make sure you get the most out of your first-time experience in Santa Clara, Calif.
Keynote sessions to knock your socks off
The opening keynotes for each day promise to give you a great overview of the robotics and artificial intelligence landscape, especially important if the industry is new to you. Even if you’re not particularly interested in AI, I’d recommend that you attend “Driving the Next Wave of Robotics Through AI” by Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Machines at NVIDIA, on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Based on Talla’s presentation at the 2018 CES, it will likely include some very cool videos on what the industry is doing around autonomous vehicles and AI. With more than seven months since that presentation, the advances are likely to be more impressive.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, “The New Wave in Robot Grasping Technology” keynote by Ken Goldberg, distinguished chair in engineering at UC Berkeley, should also be entertaining and informative.
Whenever I attend a conference where someone is speaking about robotics, those in the education and research space always provide great information about where the future of robotics is headed. Seeing what’s coming next is always a great goal for a RoboBusiness newbie.
For closing keynotes, I’d suggest the one on Thursday, Sept. 27, right before the closing cocktail session. Most closing sessions at conferences start with the speaker saying something like, “Well, the only thing standing between you and the alcohol is me,” eliciting groans from the audience. But in this case, you’ll want to stay.
The session, called “Safe vs. Safer: Is Public Perception on AI and Robotics Changing?” will feature a discussion on the ethical and legal implications on AI and robotics as they enter the workforce. I’ve spoken with one of the panelists, Matthew Linton from Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, and I’m fascinated by many of the ethical debates around automation, safety, and decision-making processes that have popped up as robots interact more with people.
Learn stuff in breakout sessions
After the opening keynotes on each day, the event will break out into four individual conferences with different tracks and sessions geared towards specific interests. If you’re a RoboBusiness newbie, you can decide whether to attend just one conference or split your time between sessions at different conferences. It’s your choice!
The Robo Supplier & Tech Forum is aimed at robotics developers, component suppliers, and senior and midlevel executives, as well as designers and engineers. The conference will discuss details of where next-generation technologies are hitting the market, plus trends in robotics and AR/VR. It will also look at the latest in sensors, motors, and other components. RoboBusiness newbie must-attend session: “Robotics Infrastructure at Global Scale,” which will discuss requirements and lessons learned from deploying robots in far-flung locations around the world.
The Robo Industry Summit is geared for C-level executives, founders, analysts, and others interested in the business challenges for robotics developers. It will also examine the technological and financial challenges in the emerging tech space. Newbie must-attend session: “Learning from Meltdowns: How to Best Manage Your Company’s Legal Risk,” hosted by attorneys Brian Clifford and Mark Voigtmann.
The CRO Summit is geared to COOs, CTOs, business owners, and other executives looking to create a chief robotics officer at their companies, or at least learn more about what roles such a title would take on. The conference will give ideas and tips on how to evaluate and manage the deployment of automation, robotics, and other technologies into the workplace. Newbie must-attend session: “What are the Characteristics of a Robotics Champion?” moderated by yours truly, and featuring Brian Carlisle, CEO of Precise Automation. We’re going to chat about all the facets around the CRO concept. Plus, you’ll get to see me.
The Robo Design & Engineering Forum is designed for the true gearhead – hardware and software developers and engineers across the landscape – mechanical, electrical, and mechatronic. The conference will provide attendees with the latest technical information to stay competitive in the robotics industry. Tracks will include seminars, classes, and hands-on training and labs. Newbie must-attend session: “Reducing and Eliminating Downtime in Robots Using Predictive Analytics,” presented by Scott Melton of FANUC.
Expo Hall – more than vendor booths
One of the best parts of a trade show or conference is walking up and down the aisles of the expo hall. It’s where RoboBusiness newbies can find new companies, new products, and things they’ve never seen before. Make sure to carve out some time to visit with more than 70 companies on the RoboBusiness show floor – I promise they’re all nice companies.
The Expo Hall features more than just sponsor companies – it’s also where we’ll have the Expo Theater area, as well as the Robotics Business Review booth, which promises many surprises and appearances. While we can’t divulge everything that’s happening there, you will want to stop by and visit the RBR booth at least a few times during the event.
The Expo Theater will feature a continuous schedule of presentations, demonstrations, and panel discussions aimed to inform and entertain attendees. Make sure to check the schedule of events for the Expo Theater once you arrive to the event.
Check out startups at Pitchfire, Startup Incubator Center
Because RoboBusiness is being held in Silicon Valley, there’s going to be a lot of discussion and companies of the startup variety. Our Pitchfire event, held at the end of Day 1 (Wednesday, Sept. 26), will feature six startups looking to woo a panel of judges for a chance to win a cash prize – but more importantly, meet with and be seen by many investors and other industry luminaries. First-time attendees definitely should watch the Pitchfire presentations to see what’s coming next in the robotics space.
The Startup Incubator Center also gives attendees a chance to meet with innovators and startups in the robotics industry. It includes educational sessions, one-on-one meetings with investors, and presentations around the startup ecosystem.
Networking for the RoboBusiness newbie
The most important thing to do at RoboBusiness, of course, is to network with colleagues and pass out as many business cards as you can. This can happen during any of the breaks between sessions, as well as on the expo hall floor, but most of this will happen during the networking receptions.
On Day 1, it’s the “4th Annual C. Walton Musser Industry Cocktail Reception”, sponsored by Harmonic Drive.
On Day 2, it’s the Closing Cocktail Reception, sponsored by Honeywell Intelligrated. Drinks, lively discussion, and possible dancing from RBR editors are likely to take place.
If you need one final reason to attend as a RoboBusiness newbie, here it is – not only will I be at the show, but I’ll be handing out special prizes for those who come up to me and say the code-word “robot.” We’ll have a limited number of these items, so be sure to find me early.