Get Ready for Robo Madness Boston at Google, March 11

It’s a critical time for robotics and artificial intelligence companies. Once the domain of niche players and academic spinouts, the field has become more mainstream—and could be crucial to the future of big industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and transportation.

Tech giants ranging from Google and Amazon to Facebook and Qualcomm have made big strides in their robotics programs. Established companies such as iRobot continue to innovate in markets new and old. At the same time, a newer wave of startups is blazing trails in areas like healthcare, education, and smart homes.

In other words, the time has come for Xconomy’s first-ever dedicated robotics event in New England.

We’re really excited to announce Robo Madness Boston on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11. The half-day forum is taking place at Google’s offices in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA. (If you’ve been following the news, you know that Google has become a major player in robotics, with its pioneering work in self-driving cars, AI, and several recent acquisitions, including Boston Dynamics, a maker of walking and running robots.)

Boston has a deep and diverse cluster of robotics companies, cutting-edge research coming out of local universities, and experienced venture capitalists. The region seems ready to turn all that expertise into a new generation of success stories. But who will emerge as the preeminent robotics company of this era? How should the New England business community press its advantage in technology and talent? And how will the new wave of robots impact jobs and society?

We’ll have details on the agenda and format soon, but here are a few speakers to highlight off the bat:

Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, which is looking to transform manufacturing and logistics with a dexterous robot.

Mick Mountz, founder and CEO of Kiva Systems (acquired by Amazon), maker of automated-warehouse robots and software.

Helen Greiner, founder and CEO of CyPhy Works, a leading drone company.

Daniel Theobald, founder and CTO of Vecna, who is helping lead a new incubator and community startup effort called MassRobotics.

We’ll also have chats and demos from hot companies like Jibo, Harvest Automation, VGo Communications, and Empire Robotics. If you’ve got a robotics startup or project you’d like to pitch or demo, let me know. (And yes, at some point we’ll need to define what constitutes a “robot.”)

Sure, robots have always been cool. Now they’re a big business, and one of the keys to the future of technology. Time for a show of force in Boston.

Tickets will go fast, but you can get yours here. Looking forward to telling you more about March 11 in the weeks to come.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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