UC Berkeley Professor Abbeel to speak at TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics, May 11 at Zellerbach Hall

TechCrunch’s upcoming TC Sessions: Robotics is fast taking shape. The single-day event, held on May 11, will focus on the crossroads of the latest AI and robotics technology and the startup ecosystem. We’re really pleased to announce two sessions for the show — as well as throw open the application for an early-stage robotics startup pitch competition.

Robotics and Deep Learning

Pieter Abbeel is a professor at UC Berkeley (EECSBAIR) and co-founder of Embodied Intelligence, which is applying advances in deep imitation and deep reinforcement learning to train robots for new assignments.

Abbeel’s lab has pioneered deep learning for robotics, including learning locomotion and visuomotor skills. His lab enabled the first end-to-end completion of reliably picking up a crumpled laundry article and folding it. During his PhD, he developed  “apprenticeship” learning algorithms to advanced helicopter aerobatics, including maneuvers such as tic-tocs, chaos and auto-rotation, which only exceptional human pilots can perform. 

TechCrunch’s editors will talk with Professor Abbeel about the impact of the latest deep learning technology on the advancement of robotics, as well as his plans for Embodied Intelligence.

Abbeel earned his PhD at Stanford University in computer science.

Venture Capital and Robotics 

Long a quiet category for venture capitalists, robotics is attracting more venture investment thanks to dramatic advances in sensors, GPUs, artificial intelligence and materials technology. We’re pleased to announce that three experienced investors in robotics will join us onstage to discuss what VCs are looking for in robotics startups.

Chrissy Meyer recently joined Root Ventures after spending a decade developing and shipping hardware, primarily at Apple and Square. Prior to Root, she was a founding team member at Pearl Automation, a vehicle technology startup. Meyer has managed projects that shipped tens of millions of units. She has an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, and a BSEE from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Root’s previous investments include Momentum Machines (robotics for the food industry), Tortuga AgTech (harvesting produce) and Superflex (integrating clothing & robotics).

Renata Quintini is a partner at Lux Capital, where she focuses on founding teams that are transforming health, food and longevity. Prior to joining Lux Capital, Renata was a partner at Felicis Ventures, where she worked with Planet and Cruise Automation, among others. Lux Capital’s robotics investments include Auris (surgical robots),  Zoox (autonomous transportation), Saildrone (autonomous sailing drones), Veo (safer co-bots for manufacturing) and CyPhy (unmanned aerial vehicles). Quintini earned LLM and MBA degrees from Stanford.

Rob Coneybeer is managing director at Shasta Ventures and focuses on investing in emerging platforms — Robotics, Space, the Connected Home and AR/VR. His investments include Nest (IoT), Fetch Robotics (industrial robots) and Vector Space Systems (satellite services). Earlier in his career, Rob served as a lead integration engineer in the Astro Space division of Martin Marietta, where he helped build the first EchoStar spacecraft. Rob earned an MS degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia. He also holds an MBA degree from the Wharton School.

Robotics Pitch-off

TechCrunch loves startup pitch-offs, and we’re looking for a four early-stage startups that would like to take the stage to wow our judges (all notable VCs) and the audience with cool robots. There’s no prize, just lots of attention from a big crowd (live and online) and a fleeting moment of glory for the winner. Apply here if you are interested.

Early-bird tickets are on sale now. (Special 90 percent discount for students!)

Interested in a sponsorship, contact us. See you there.