Here’s why you need to attend TC Sessions: Robotics

Robots are soon going to eat the world. And not in a scary, death of humanity way. Robotics are innovating and disrupting every facet of society from medicine to manufacturing to flipping burgers. It’s in this vein that TechCrunch programmed our first, one-day conference centered around robotics, machine learning and how small companies can make an impact.

TC Sessions: Robotics brings together the best minds in the industry to chat about current developments and trends shaping the future. The event will be held at MIT on July 17.

Let’s get this out of the way: There are few tickets left to purchase, and seating is limited. MIT’s Kresge Auditorium cannot hold everyone. The event will not be live streamed.

I haven’t been this excited about an event in years. The agenda is below and it’s stacked. There are fireside chats, panels and workshops with the most important leaders, educators and investors in robotics. Rising companies are demoing their products and there’s even a pitch-off competition where four startups will pitch their robotic startup to a panel of judges.

There isn’t a way to highlight key speakers. Literally everyone involved in this event is making significant contributions to the robotic industry. Look for yourself. The agenda is below.

We hope to see you at the event. TC Sessions: Robotics is the second event in TechCrunch’s new Session event series. We held the first several weeks back on social justice and fighting inequality. You can find all the interviews and panels from that event here.


9:00 am – 9:05 am
Opening Remarks from Matthew Panzarino

9:05 am – 9:25 am
What’s Next at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory with Daniela Rus (MIT CSAIL)

9:25 am – 9:50 am
Is Venture Ready for Robotics? with Manish Kothari (SRI), Josh Wolfe (Lux Capital) and Helen Zelman (Lemnos)

9:50 am – 10:10 am
The Future of Industrial Robotics with Sami Atiya (ABB)

10:10 am – 10:35 am
Collaborative Robots At Work with Clara Vu (VEO), Jerome Dubois (6 River Systems) and Holly Yanco (UMass Lowell)

10:30 am – 11:15 am
WORKSHOP: Fresh Out of the MIT Lab with Robert Katzschmann, Claudia Perez D’Arpino and Andrew Spielberg

10:35 am – 10:55 am
Coffee Break

10:55 am – 11:20 am
Robots, AI and Humanity with David Barrett (Olin), David Edelman (MIT) and Dr. Brian Pierce (DARPA)

11:20 am – 11:45 am
Building A Robotics Startup from Angel to Exit with Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works), Andy Wheeler (GV) and Elaine Chen (Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship)

11:45 am – 12:05 pm
Imagineering Disney Robotics with Martin Buehler (Disney Imagineering)

12:15 pm – 1:00 pm
WORKSHOP: Educating the Next Generation of Roboticists with David Barrett (Olin College), Ryan Keenan (Udacity), and Dr. Robert McMahan (Kettering University)

1:00 pm – 1:20 pm
Robots at Amazon with Tye Brady (Amazon Robotics)

1:20 pm – 1:55 pm
Building The Robot Brain with Heather Ames (Neurala), Brian Gerkey (Open Robotics) and Deepu Talla (Nvidia)

1:55 pm – 2:20 pm
When Robots Fly with Buddy Michini (Airware), Andreas Raptopoulos (Matternet) and Jan Stumpf (Intel)

2:20 pm – 2:40 pm
Bringing Robots Home with Colin Angle (iRobot)

2:40 pm – 2:50 pm
Demo with Carl Vause (Soft Robotics)

2:50 pm – 3:00 pm
Demo with David Perry (Harvard University SEAS)

3:05 pm – 3:25 pm
Coffee Break

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
WORKSHOP: Getting the Most Out of DARPA with Dr. Brian Pierce

3:35 pm – 4:15 pm
Robotics Startup Pitch-off

Contestants: CP Robotics, Hand4Help, Tangible Media Group and Franklin Robotics // Judges: Jeremy Conrad (Lemnos Labs), Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works), Daniel Theobald (Vecna Technologies) and Melonee Wise (Fetch Robotics).

4:15 pm – 4:35 pm
The Age Of The Household Robot with Gill Pratt (Toyota Research Institute)

4:35 pm – 4:55 pm
Fireside Chat with Rodney Brooks (Rethink Robotics)

4:55 pm – 5:05 pm
Demo with Bruce Welty (Locus Robotics)

5:05 pm – 5:15 pm
Demo with Sangbae Kim (MIT Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory)

5:15 pm – 5:20pm
Wrap Up

5:20 pm – 7:00 pm

Robotics Workshops

The mission of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is “to prevent and create strategic surprise by developing breakthrough technologies for national security.” The agency’s project-oriented approach to science and engineering, however, is different both in approach and execution from other U.S. governmental funding agencies. In this workshop, DARPA leadership will discuss the Agency’s vision and goals, provide overviews of each of the organization’s technical offices, in addition to an explanation of the mechanics of working with DARPA. The objective of the workshop is to elicit help in fomenting institutional evolution in America’s broader science and technology ecosystem that is needed to better and more rapidly respond to future challenges.

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is tasked with researching activities around the bleeding edge of technology. Attendees of this workshop will get an insider’s look at some of the hottest projects being developed in CSAIL’s labs and engineering bays. Robert Katzschmann will present Soft Robotics and the team’s creative approach to allowing robots to manipulate objects. Claudia Perez D’Arpino’s presentation will demonstrate how robots can learn from a single demo and Andrew Spielberg will explain a novel process to create and fabricate robots.

Building Roboticists
David Barrett, a professor of mechanical engineering at Olin College, Ryan Keenan, curriculum lead for Udacity, and Dr. Robert McMahan, President of Kettering University will lead a workshop discussing their views on the best way to train the next generation of roboticists. Each of these educators leads vastly different programs, but the aim is universal: to train the next generation of globally competitive engineers. It’s important that these students learn through hands-on experience how to not only write code, but deploy code in a viable manner that results in a sustainable product.