Our Favorite Moments at Robotics Alley

We just got back from a couple days in Minneapolis, MN where we attended the sixth annual Robotics Alley Conference & Expo to get the latest on what’s happening in the world of robotics.

And it wasn’t just Suitable Technologies’ employees who attended; this year we provided a number of Beam Smart Presence Systems for the conference so that speakers, panelists and guests from far-flung places including Florida and California could present, sit in on breakout panels and walk the expo floor.

To kick off the event, Nilesh Mohan, the 2016 Robotics Alley Conference Chair and director of Supply Chain Engineering at Target, began with a splash by Beaming in to welcome the enthusiastic crowd to two days of thought-provoking presentations, panels, breakout sessions and networking events. Robotics Alley is an initiative founded by ReconRobotics and the Minnesota High Tech Association and was designed to support the development of public-private partnerships in the business, research, and development of the world’s foremost robotics and automation systems.

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“Robotics Alley loves to showcase innovative ways that robots can make your business more efficient, and so we’re delighted to welcome Beam to this year’s event to demonstrate its technology,” said Eileen Manning, Executive Producer of Robotics Alley.

With more than 500 international leaders from all areas of robotics and automation including research, design, engineering, business development, investment, law, and public policy, we enjoyed hearing leading-edge information about a variety of aspects of our industry.

Among the highlights:

The conference’s kick off keynote speech on “Automation Ethics” by Jacob Ward, former Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science and current PBS and Al Jazeera correspondent, brought forth a number of compelling questions, including, “Who do you sue when a robot car crashes?” and “What happens when voice-recognition software becomes confused by an adult suffering from dementia?” As robotics and automation becomes increasingly integrated into our everyday life, the ethical aspects become more and more prevalent – and in need of addressing.

The second day of the conference featured a fascinating keynote address by Executive R&D Imagineer Martin Buehler of Walt Disney Imagineering. For the millions of people who visit Disney Parks worldwide, there is no happier place on earth, thanks to the magic created by people like Buehler. In his speech, Buehler discussed the approaches, challenges and future of advanced robotics and how he and his colleagues use the technology to devise the fantastic attractions and bring beloved Disney characters of all shapes and sizes to life. He also made a compelling case for why we all are (or, as he argued, should be) in the robot experiences business, regardless of what industry we actually are in.

The “March of the Robots,” is always a Robotics Alley Conference & Expo highlight, where Minnesota-based middle and high school students showcase robots they have designed and built. This year two all-female groups, the Rubies and Ponytail Posse, marched to not only show-off their robots but also to “break the stereotype” and illustrate the fruits of encouraging girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

And one more thing made the Robotics Alley Conference & Expo special — learning what the opposite of a sunbeam is:

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Thanks to the Robotics Alley Conference & Expo for another educational, informative and fun event!