Meeting UBR-1

Meeting UBR-1

Robo Madness participants had the opportunity to interact with a number of robotic guests, including UBR-1 from Unbounded Robotics.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Robot Central

Robot Central

SRI International hosted the event for the third year running, at its International Conference Center.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Beam Me Up

Beam Me Up

Suitable Technologies brought several of its Beam Pro remote presence devices to Robo Madness, and turned them loose in the lobby during the pre-event, mid-event, and post-event socializing.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Curt Carlson and John Markoff

Curt Carlson and John Markoff

Carlson, outgoing president and CEO of SRI International, spoke with Pulitzer-winning New York Times journalist John Markoff.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Upgraded to the Auditorium

Upgraded to the Auditorium

In previous years, we've held Xconomy's annual robotics event in the conference center's banquet hall. This year we got to use the fancy auditorium.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Your Friendly Host

Your Friendly Host

I put on a suit and tie about twice every year. You're worth it, Xconomy event-goers! And no, my name isn't Will Robinson, but I was shocked at how few people got the joke.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Scott Hassan, Suitable Technologies

Scott Hassan, Suitable Technologies

Suitable's founder and CEO demonstrated the Beam Pro from his office in Palo Alto.

Photo by Palvinder Jagait

Demonstrating Remote Presence, Remotely

Demonstrating Remote Presence, Remotely

From his office computer, Hassan could control a video presentation on screen behind the Beam Pro.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Brian Gerkey, Open Source Robotics Foundation

Brian Gerkey, Open Source Robotics Foundation

Gerkey shared stories about the rapid uptake of the Robot Operating System (ROS), an open-source software framework designed to speed up robot development inside companies and academic labs.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Robots in Education

Robots in Education

Why do kids seem to love robots so much? And how can educators take advantage of that fact? Those were the questions for this panel, which included Play-i CEO Vikas Gupta, Barobo CEO Graham Ryland, and Origami Robotics CEO Aubrey Shick.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Vikas Gupta, Play-i

Vikas Gupta, Play-i

Gupta said Play-i's robots Bo and Yana are designed to teach early programming concepts to kids 5 and up.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Aubrey Shick, Origami Robotics

Aubrey Shick, Origami Robotics

Origama's robot, Romibo, is designed to teach communications skills to children on the autism spectrum.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

David Mindell, MIT

David Mindell, MIT

Mindell, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of the history of technology, previewed themes from his upcoming book on robots in extreme environments. One central idea: there's no such thing as true robot "autonomy," just degrees of it, depending on cultural and safety concerns.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Paolo Pirjanian, iRobot

Paolo Pirjanian, iRobot

Pirjanian is iRobot's chief technology officer, overseeing advanced R&D for the maker of robots for home cleaning, bomb disposal, and remote presence. He said future iRobot products are likely to have greater ability to sense and navigate their envronments.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Giving New Meaning to Networking

Giving New Meaning to Networking

Suitable employee Brianna Lempesis, on the Beam, high-fives a Robo Madness guest.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Graham Ryland, Barobo

Graham Ryland, Barobo

Ryland explains Barobo's Linkbot robot to a guest.

Photo by Palvinder Jagait

Barobo's Linkbot in Action

Barobo's Linkbot in Action

Linkbots are modular, wheeled units that communicate wirelessly and can be joined into groups. They can be manually "programmed" to repeat certain motions.

Photo by Palvinder Jagait

Frank Tobe, Richard Erb, Rich Mahoney

Frank Tobe, Richard Erb, Rich Mahoney

Tobe is the founder of the Robot Report and co-founder of Robo-Stox, an exchange traded fund for robot companies. Erb is general manager of Robotics Trends, which runs the annual RoboBusiness conference. Mahoney is director of the robotics division at SRI.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

James Gosling, Liquid Robotics

James Gosling, Liquid Robotics

Known as the father of the Java programming language, Gosling is now chief software architect at Liquid Robotics, which sends fleets of autonomous floating robots into the world's oceans.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Benny Brown, Barobo

Benny Brown, Barobo

Brown shows a guest how to program Linkbot.

Photo by Palvinder Jagait

Explaining UBR-1

Explaining UBR-1

Unbounded Robotics co-founder and CEO Melonee Wise talks with guests about the company's one-armed robot.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Helen Greiner, CyPhy Works

Helen Greiner, CyPhy Works

The famed co-founder of iRobot talked about her new company, CyPhy Works, which is building tethered, flying robots for commercial and military surveillance and reconnaissance.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

The New York Times' John Markoff

The New York Times' John Markoff

Markoff led a panel of technologists building and studying autonomous robots. He started with a hard question: these days, what's the definition of "robot"?

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Ryan Gariepy, Clearpath, with John Markoff

Ryan Gariepy, Clearpath, with John Markoff

Canadian firm Clearpath makes land, air, and water robots for sensing and surveillance.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

James Gosling, Jason Calaiaro

James Gosling, Jason Calaiaro

To Calaiaro, lead engineer at Matternet, a robot is "a machine that can perceive its environment and react upon that perception." Gosling predicted that "the year of the robot," when robots finally become mainstream, is still decades away.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

William Li, Knightscope

William Li, Knightscope

Knightscope is developing an autonomous robot to aid in law enforcement. He said today's robots are about as evolved as PCs in the 1980s, relative to today's computers.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics

Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics

Wise described UBR-1's origins in a design project at Willow Garage, the Scott Hassan company where she and Brian Gerkey formerly worked. The "Platformbot" project was intended to come up with specifications for an affordable mobile robot that could perform tasks in a home or warehouse environment.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Investor Panel

Investor Panel

Joining Robo Madness to discuss the state of venture investing in robotics were Devdutt Yellurkar from Charles River Ventures; Aydin Senkut from Felicis Ventures; Peter Hebert from Lux Capital; and Frank Tobe from Robo-Stox. SRI's Rich Mahoney led the panel.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

Final Jam Session

Final Jam Session

John Markoff welcomed the keynote speakers back on stage for an upbeat discussion on the near-term and long-term future for robotics.

Photo by Scott Bramwell, SRI

SRI International in Menlo Park was the birthplace of the da Vinci surgical robot, which made it a natural location for Robo Madness 2014, Xconomy’s third annual Silicon Valley robotics event. Held (as always) during National Robotics Week, the forum was a celebration and exploration of entrepreneurship and technology in robotics, here in the Bay Area and around the continent.

In the slide show above you can click through a few photos from the event, which come courtesy of SRI’s Scott Bramwell and Suitable Technologies’ Palvinder Jagait.

You can also check out Elise Craig’s rundown of Robo Madness 2014 takeaways, where you’ll find quotes from our fabulous speakers and moderators, including Helen Greiner, Scott Hassan, Paolo Pirjanian, James Gosling,  David Mindell, Brian Gerkey, Melonee Wise, and John Markoff.

It was a fun and informative event. We’re incredibly grateful to sponsors SRI International, Silicon Valley Bank, Intel, and RoboBusiness for their support this year—and to all of our fantastic speakers. Now, if you’ll not be needing me, I’ll close down for a while.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.