Sarcos’ Kiva Allgood and Boston Dynamics’ Robert Playter discuss what it takes to put robots to work

If you thought turning academic research into robots is challenging, you’d be right. Turning academic AI research into products is brutal. If you want to 10x the challenge, though, it would be to take that research and the fun prototypes that come out of the lab and turn it into a commercially viable company.

Robots work in all sorts of wild contexts, ranging from restricted workcells — away from humans and unpredictable obstacles — to autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) designed to work alongside humans and negotiate the dynamic obstacles in warehouses or factories. That is a huge challenge in a lab setting, but “real” robots don’t work in clean and tidy labs; they face dirty, dangerous and unstructured environments. And they have to take a beating and keep doing the job regardless.

The challenges are varied and complex, which is why we’re thrilled to welcome to TC Sessions: Robotics on July 21 two experts who have gone through the process: Kiva Allgood, the president and CEO of Sarcos Robotics and Robert Playter, the CEO of Boston Dynamics.

In “Putting Robots to Work,” the panel will discuss the complicated journey they took to bring their robots to market — from pilot testing to scaling manufacturing.

In her newly minted role as president and CEO, Kiva Allgood joined Sarcos at the end of last year, and oversees the development and commercialization of the company’s products. She’s a technology executive with experience leading multibillion-dollar business units within public companies, and she has spent more than 20 years managing the commercialization of complex technologies.

Prior to joining Sarcos, Allgood served as the global head of IoT and automotive for Ericsson. She previously served as chief commercial development officer for GE Business Innovations and as managing director for GE Ventures and Business Innovation, a corporate venture company and innovation group of General Electric Company.

Robert Playter is CEO of Boston Dynamics. You’ve seen the company’s dog-like robot Spot in countless demos and on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage. Under Playter’s leadership, Boston Dynamics has launched two commercial products: Spot, the first commercial four-legged robot targeting the industrial inspections market, and Stretch, a box-moving robot that unloads trailers for more efficient warehouse operations.

Playter has held leadership positions at Boston Dynamics for more than three decades. He launched and led the company’s early work on humanoid robots culminating in the creation of Atlas, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot.

TC Sessions: Robotics is a free online event, happening July 21. You can catch all of the sessions and join the robotics community online for speed networking, chats and one-on-one meetings. Simply register here for free.