We’re bringing TC Sessions: Robotics + AI back to UC Berkeley on March 3, and we’re excited to announce our jam-packed agenda. For months we’ve been recruiting speakers from the ranks of the most innovative founders, top technologists and hard-charging VCs working in robotics and AI, and the speaker line-up will capture the remarkable acceleration across the field in the past year.
New for this year, we will be hosting our very first pitch-off competition for early-stage robotics companies. There is still time to submit your application.
And one amazing fact: 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first use of the word “robot.” What better way to mark the occasion than to grab an early-bird ticket ($150 savings) right now and right here before prices increase.
We’ve still got some key guests to announce, and will be adding some new names to the agenda in the coming days. In the meantime, check out these highlights:
10:05 AM – 10:25 AM
Saving Humanity from AI with Stuart Russell (UC Berkeley)
The UC Berkeley professor and AI authority argues in his acclaimed new book, “Human Compatible,” that AI will doom humanity unless technologists fundamentally reform how they build AI algorithms.
10:25 AM – 10:50 AM
Investing in Robotics and AI: Lessons from the Industry’s VCs with Dror Berman (Innovation Endeavors), Kelly Chen (DCVC) and Eric Migicovsky (Y Combinator)
Leading investors will discuss the rising tide of venture capital funding in robotics and AI. The investors bring a combination of early-stage investing and corporate venture capital expertise, sharing a fondness for the wild world of robotics and AI investing.
10:50 AM – 11:10 AM
Automating Amazon with Tye Brady (Amazon Robotics)
Amazon Robotics’ chief technology officer will discuss how the company is using the latest in robotics and AI to optimize its massive logistics. He’ll also discuss the future of warehouse automation and how humans and robots share a work space.
11:10 AM – 11:30 AM
Innovation Break. Coming soon
11:30 AM – 11:40 AM
Live Demo from the Stanford Robotics Club
11:40 AM – 12:05 PM
Building the Robots that Build with Daniel Blank (Toggle Industries), Tessa Lau (Dusty Robotics) and Noah Ready-Campbell (Built Robotics)
Can robots help us build structures faster, smarter and cheaper? Built Robotics makes a self-driving excavator. Toggle is developing a new fabrication of rebar for reinforced concrete and Dusty builds robot-powered tools. We’ll talk with the founders of these companies to learn how and when robots will become a part of the construction crew.
1:00 PM – 1:20 PM
Select, early-stage companies, hand-picked by TechCrunch editors, will take the stage and have five minutes to present their wares.
1:20 PM – 1:35 PM
Engineering for the Red Planet with Lucy Condakchian (Maxar Technologies)
Maxar Technologies has been involved with U.S. space efforts for decades, and is about to send its sixth (!) robotic arm to Mars aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Lucy Condakchian is general manager of robotics at Maxar and will speak to the difficulty and exhilaration of designing robotics for use in the harsh environments of space and other planets.
1:35 PM – 2:00 PM
Lending a Helping Robotic Hand with Vivian Chu (Diligent Robotics) and Mike Dooley (Labrador Systems)
As populations age in a number of countries, caregivers are turning to robots for assistance. We’ll discuss the role technology can play in helping care for and assist those in need.
2:00 PM – 2:25 PM
Toward a Driverless Future with Anca Dragan (Waymo/UC Berkeley) and Jur van den Berg (Ike)
Autonomous driving is set to be one of the biggest categories for robotics and AI. But there are plenty of roadblocks standing in its way. Experts will discuss how we get there from here.
2:25 PM – 2:45 PM
Innovation Break. Coming soon
2:45 PM – 3:10 PM
Bringing Robots to Life with Max Bajracharya and James Kuffner (Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development)
This summer’s Tokyo Olympics will be a huge proving ground for Toyota’s TRI-AD. Executive James Kuffner and Max Bajracharya will join us to discuss the department’s plans for assistive robots and self-driving cars.
3:10 PM – 3:35 PM
The Next Century of Robo-Exoticism with Abigail De Kosnik (UC Berkeley), David Ewing Duncan and Mark Pauline (Survival Research Labs)
In 1920, Karl Capek coined the term “robot” in a play about mechanical workers organizing a rebellion to defeat their human overlords. One hundred years later, in the context of increasing inequality and xenophobia, the panelists will discuss cultural views of robots in the context of “Robo-Exoticism,” which exaggerates both negative and positive attributes and reinforces old fears, fantasies and stereotypes.
3:35 PM – 4:00 PM
Opening the Black Box with Explainable AI with Trevor Darrell (UC Berkeley), Krishna Gade (Fiddler Labs) and Karen Myers (SRI International)
Machine learning and AI models can be found in nearly every aspect of society today, but their inner workings are often as much a mystery to their creators as to those who use them. UC Berkeley’s Trevor Darrell, Krishna Gade of Fiddler Labs and Karen Myers from SRI will discuss what we’re doing about it and what still needs to be done.
4:00 PM – 4:20 PM
Innovation Break. Coming soon
4:20 PM – 4:45 PM
Cultivating Intelligence in Agricultural Robots with Lewis Anderson (Traptic), Sebastian Boyer (FarmWise) and Michael Norcia (Pyka)
The benefits of robotics in agriculture are undeniable, yet at the same time only getting started. Lewis Anderson (Traptic) and Sebastien Boyer (FarmWise) will compare notes on the rigors of developing industrial-grade robots that both pick crops and weed fields respectively, and Pyka’s Michael Norcia will discuss taking flight over those fields with an autonomous crop-spraying drone.
4:45 PM – 5:10 PM
Fostering the Next Generation of Robotics Startups with Joshua Wilson (Freedom Robotics) and speakers to be announced
Robotics and AI are the future of many or most industries, but the barrier of entry is still difficult to surmount for many startups. These companies are helping ease the first steps into the wider world of automation.
5:10 PM – 5:35 PM
Robotic Surgeons (speakers to be announced)
Robots have been part of the operating room for well over a decade, but we’re still only scratching the surface. Leaders from a number of robot-assisted surgery companies will discuss the changing role of robots in the hospital.
Tickets are on sale now
Book your $275 early-bird ticket today and save $150 before prices go up on Jan. 31.
Student tickets are just $50 and can be purchased here.
Got a startup? Book a startup exhibitor package today and demo your company in front of 1,000+ attendees. Each table comes with four attendee tickets, so you can divide and conquer the conference.