Robot Investments Weekly: Car Ecosystem Earns Funding Influx

Continued investments in self-driving vehicle technologies across the automotive landscape were the highlights in this week’s funding transactions for startups. Whether it’s smart tire sensors or artificial intelligence software that helps car dealerships generate leads, technology is touching a whole range of spots in the car ecosystem.

This week we’re highlighting 13 recent transactions covering the robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence space. If you’ve missed some transactions over the past few months, you can track them through the RBR Transactions Database. This regularly updated database lets you sort deals by company, industry, technology, or transaction type.
Lidar startups score major funding
At the heart of self-driving technology, as well as any mobile robot that needs to navigate around obstacles, is the lidar sensor. This week, close to $200 million was invested in two companies developing new generations of lidar for automotive manufacturers (and, as a peace dividend, other mobile robot companies).

Israeli startup Innoviz Technologies raised $132 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to $214 million. The company said more funding is coming, as “the Series C round will remain open for a second closing to be announced in the coming months.” Innoviz said it will use the funding to support commercialization of its high-performance, solid-state lidar sensors and perception software (InnovizPro and InnovizOne). In addition, the company will focus expansion to markets in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China.

“We’ve experienced significant growth over the past year to meet increased demand for solid-state lidar,” said Omer Keliaf, CEO and co-founder of Innoviz. “We’re excited to transition our production, manufacturing and research and development efforts into the next phase and continue to furnish the full stack of lidar hardware and software solutions to the industry.” The company has partnered up with several OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, including Magna, HARMAN, HiRain Technologies, and Aptiv. A partnership with Magna, for example, resulted in the InnovizOne platform to be chosen by BMW for series production of vehicles starting in 2021.

The second lidar investment comes from Ouster, which announced raising an additional $60 million in funding. In addition, the company announced a new manufacturing facility to produce its lidar sensors, as well as the appointment of Susan Heystee to its board of directors. The company develops multi-beam flash lidar technology for applications that include autonomous vehicles, industrial robotics, agriculture, mapping, and defense. With its all-semiconductor approach to lidar, the company said its 3D sensors are smaller, lighter, more durable, and less expensive than other solutions.
Daimler grabs majority stake in Torc Robotics
Daimler Trucks, a division of the Daimler Group, announced this morning that it would acquire a majority stake in Torc Robotics, for an undisclosed sum. Torc, based in Blacksburg, Virginia, will remain a separate entity retaining its name, team, existing customers and facilities, the companies said in a statement.

Torc develops an autonomous software solution for mobility applications, including self-driving cars and transit vehicles. It also provides self-driving technology for safety-critical applications, including those in the defense, mining, and agriculture markets. The company has integrated its software into ground vehicles ranging from SUVs to 300-ton mining trucks.

Daimler Trucks North America President and CEO, Roger Nielsen, with Torc CEO, Michael Fleming

“With the ever-rising demand for road transportation, not the least through e-commerce, there is a strong business case for self-driving trucks in the U.S. market, and I believe the fastest path to commercialization for self-driving trucks is in partnership with Daimler Trucks, the OEM market leader,” said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc. “This move is in line with our mission of saving lives and represents another major milestone for Torc since crossing the finish line in the DARPA Urban Challenge 12 years ago.”

As part of the agreement, Torc will work with Daimler Trucks’ developers, especially with the research & development team of Daimler Trucks North America in Portland, Ore. Torc will continue to develop its Asimov self-driving software and testing within Blacksburg. The North America team of Daimler is currently working on a truck chassis for automated driving, “particularly the redundancy of systems needed to provide the maximum level of reliability and safety.”
Additional automotive sensor development
Las Olas Venture Capital announced a $2 million seed round investment in Preteckt, which develops a vehicle prognostics as a service offering for connected car and autonomous vehicle manufacturers and service providers. Preteckt leverages its proprietary real-time automotive data architecture to allow for continuous integration of artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning algorithms to handle automotive data, providing a 100x speed advantage over traditional big data solutions, the company said.

“While the general state-of-the-art of AI is becoming quite good – say perhaps 80% accurate – 80% isn’t good enough for most commercial applications that rely on mission-critical data accuracy,” said Dean Hatton, founding partner at Las Olas Venture Capital. “To improve accuracy, human-in-the-loop (HITL) computing is required to supplement the machine learning process. In the near term, the companies that figure out who make HITL efficient will be winners in the AI space.”

Revvo, formerly known as IntelliTire, announced it raised $4 million in Series A funding to further develop its Internet of Things smart sensor for vehicle tires. The company said monitoring tire health represents a $225 billion opportunity, with its initial focus on the fleet sector, “a segment consuming tires at a disproportionately high rate with clear pain points around tire usage.” The company’s sensor-enabled AI software platform monitors tire while a vehicle is on the road, including propriety sensors that are embedded inside a tire, generating a real-time feed of a tire’s condition and performance. AI and machine learning models can be applied to better predict tire tread wear, helping drivers and fleet managers to better understand the overall health of the tires on the vehicles, to improve efficiency and safety.

“Until now, tires have not benefitted from the mobility revolution,” said Sunjay Dodani, Ph.D., Revvo’s CEO. “Through machine learning and AI, tires can provide an invaluable data set of road conditions, driver behavior, and feedback for vehicle performance.” The company said it will use the financing to continue to build its product, as well as expand its technical and business development teams.
AI Corner: automotive electronics and sales leads
Germany’s Teraki announced raising an additional $2.3 million in funding for its AI and edge data processing software platform within the $395 billion automotive electronics industry. The company provides embedded, pre-processing software for sensor data in the automotive industry. “When embedded in automotive electronic systems, the software enables hardware to process more than 10 times more data without loss of information to train and run machine learning methods of customers,” the company said. The software also reduces energy consumption and heat production due to lower computational tasks, while still delivering the algorithm detection and prediction performance essential to advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles, Teraki added.

Moving from the production floor to the car dealership, we saw a $1.5 million investment in San Antonio, Texas-based FunnelAI, which is using AI to generate leads for car dealers. The software uses AI, machine learning, natural language processing and data to help connect businesses to potential customers, harvesting data from social media platforms such as Reddit or car enthusiast forums. While it works for real estate and financial services companies, the company is focused on auto dealers at the moment.
Underwater unmanned vehicles earn funding
Three companies developing underwater unmanned vehicles for different purposes received some funding this week. In the military space, the U.S. Navy awarded a $46.7 million contract to Boeing for further modifications to the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle XLUUV). The latest contract completes the XLUUV competition and brings the total awarded amount for five XLUUVs and associated support elements to $274.4 million, the Navy said.  Work is expected to be completed by December 2022.

A new company was formed by the merger of two startups working on undersea vehicle development. Sofar Ocean Technologies was created by the combination of ocen data startup Spoondrift and OpenROV, a maker of underwater drones. Sofar Ocean also announced a $7 million Series A financing round to support the new company. The company’s products “are already used by thousands of customers around the world, including researchers studying the health of coral reef ecosystems, aquaculture farmers monitoring operations, and surfers measuring real-time wave conditions,” it said in a statement.

“There have been multiple approaches to capturing ocean data, but up to this point they have been large, expensive and generally inaccessible by the ordinary person,” said Peter Rive, chairman of Sofar. “I believe the best approach to reaching a deeper understanding of our oceans is to have pervasive sensors and drones transmitting information in real time. By forming Sofar, we have great products available right now, as well as a platform for future development.”

The Sofar Trident Underwater Drone diving beneath the surface. Sofar Ocean Technologies is the result of a merger between leading ocean drone and sensor companies.

The company’s products include Spotter, a solar-powered device that transmits weather information such as wave and wind conditions in real time, can free float or be moored in place. Trident is an underwater drone used for exploration, research, and inspection, and can dive up to 100 meters and stream live video to a smartphone or tablet.

In Canada, the government of Canada awarded a contract worth $1 million CAD (about $745,000) to Kraken Robotics Systems for the ThunderFish 300 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. The company said it will deliver the ThunderFish to its test partner, Defense Research and Development Canada, in Halifax in Q2 2019. The ThunderFish AUV is a marine robot designed for high-resolution seabed imaging and mapping applications, which can be used for underwater surveys, environmental monitoring, habitat mapping, marine archeology, inspection of submerged structures, searching for downed aircraft, and naval mine countermeasures.
Wrapping up the rest
I’m pretty busy around getting ready to endure all of the fake news stories for April Fool’s Day on Monday, so here are the remaining transactions of note we spotted during the week:

3D Hubs, which is developing an innovative manufacturing outsourcing platform, raised $18 million in new funding.
InnerSpace, which is creating a sensor system for indoor GPS and location applications, raised $3.2 million in funding.
Radar, which is combining RFID with computer vision for improved inventory management in the retail space, raised $16 million in funding.

While these companies are tangentially related to the robotics industry, robot makers should pay attention to that technology for possible inclusion in their own systems.

That’s it for the week – the next few weeks will be super-busy with Automate and ProMat updates, so we may delay the investment column for a bit. If you’re attending these big shows, stop by the RBR booth (N6360 in the ProMat section) and say hello!
Robot Investments Weekly: Car Ecosystem Earns Funding Influx

Market for Commercial Drones to Nearly Triple by 2024, Research Says

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — New research says the commercial drone application space, which generated €16 billion (about $18 billion) last year, is projected to grow to nearly €38 billion ($42.5 billion) by 2024. Driving the growth of commercial drones include the energy, construction, and agricultural sectors, with all three expected to see continued growth in the future.

The research study by German research firm Drone Industry Insights, which will debut at Commercial UAV Expo Europe, describes how the drone industry has already developed and will continue developing by sector.

The most important uses of drones involve aerial imagery, inspections, mapping & surveying. Specific examples include inspections of infrastructure, surveying of construction sites and monitoring crops. In agriculture, drones are even being used to locate and identify crop disease.
Rapid industry growth to continue
By 2024, the market for commercial drone applications will more than triple from its 2018 level, the research stated.

Kay Wackwitz, CEO and founder of Drone Industry Insights, said there are several drivers behind this growth. First, the importance and usefulness of drones is finding increasing recognition. “Drone technology is becoming increasingly accepted. The commercial drone market is still in the early adopters’ phase, but we are quickly transitioning to the early majority phase when it comes to adoption.”

According to the innovation theory of sociologist Everett Rogers, these are the forerunners of the big majority that lead to the product becoming adopted and sold on a much larger scale. Countries such as the U.S., Japan, China, France, and Germany are taking the lead in this regard.

However, various developments in India are also important. Indian airspace will soon be opened for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. “This will create a big new market for manufacturers as well as service providers”, said Wackwitz.

More on drones, UAVs:

California Police Department Earns Drone Provision for BVLOS Flights
How State Farm Earned National Waiver for Drone Flights
Drones Assist With Police Standoff, Crime Scene Mapping
At Davos, Leaders Release Commercial Drone Guidelines for Operators
Skeyetech System Receives French Approval for BVLOS Flights in Europe
Airobotics Adds Lidar Into Aerial Drones, Expanding Use Case Possibilities
Public Safety Agencies Often Unaware of Aerial Drone Regulations
People More Comfortable with Public Safety Drone Use, Study Says

Identifying industry trends
In addition to hard data, the research also identifies various trends. Wackwitz points to the emerging usage of drones for the transport of medical goods or even people. Such applications are growing exponentially in countries where there is little or no transportation infrastructure, or where traffic in densely populated areas simply prevents quick transport.

“In Rwanda, a network has been established in which drones fly from one hospital to the other with (often life-saving) medications; in the rainy season, roads simply become impassable. And in mountainous Switzerland, a company named Matternet transports blood samples and other emergency materials from and to hospitals, clinics, and laboratories,” said Wackwitz.

When it comes to transporting people, Wackwitz points to Uber’s ambitious plans. “Under the name of Uber Elevate, the company aims to build hubs on the main traffic routes in the cities. The vision is to have a major hub with the capacity of up to 1,000 takeoffs and landings per hour.” Partner cities including Dubai, Singapore, Dallas, and Los Angeles have been selected for the project, due to their persistent traffic and need for mobility alternatives.

While all signs point towards continued growth in the drone industry, Wackwitz notes that “most of the companies don’t make their finances public; they won’t do so for strategic reasons. But we were able to identify other ways of finding the necessary data.” Drone Industry Insights said it has monitored the commercial drone market for more than four years, and spent the last two years building a bottom-up market model to collect their findings.

The Commercial UAV Expo Europe focuses on drone solutions for the commercial services market and the construction, energy & utilities, agriculture & forestry, infrastructure & transport, safety & emergency services, and surveying & mapping sectors. This includes the use of drones for visual imaging, monitoring, and mapping & surveying. The event and related conference was first held in 2017, with the previous edition in 2018 also being hosted in Amsterdam.
Market for Commercial Drones to Nearly Triple by 2024, Research Says

Infographic: The Influence of AI and Automation on Manufacturing

The AI revolution is having a ripple effect on businesses of all industries, especially manufacturing. Straight out of high-tech labs, artificial intelligence is grabbing the attention of manufacturing leaders as it offers a smarter, more streamlined supply chain process.

Combined with automation, manufacturers are now creating products of higher quality, with greater efficiency. This makes for a winning formula for manufacturing. So just how exactly is AI and automation impacting manufacturing? To answer this question, we need to first highlight the differences between AI and automation since they are often used synonymously.

A revolutionized supply chain
A manufacturer’s level of production is quite often dependent on the efficiency of a firm’s supply chain. This is why businesses are always looking to improve sales and profit margins – and AI can do just that. The State of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprises states that supply chain operations is one of the biggest areas driving revenue for AI investment. But how exactly is this technology changing the nature of the supply chain and logistics?
AI’s capacity for processing large datasets
Through exceptional algorithmic and computer processing abilities, AI can digest colossal amounts of data, unearth trends and provide solutions at lightning speed. Before the AI boom, there was no technology advanced enough to deliver work of this value. Older technology was unable to take into account influential factors, such as consumer spending habits with regards to demographics, personal preferences and seasonal factors.

 

The insurgence of AI has changed the playing field. This technology is now capable of tracking and measuring all factors needed to provide accurate forecasts for supply chain managers. AI can, in fact, provide an endless cycle of forecasting, capable of continuously making adjustments based on real-time sales, stock levels and even the weather.

Within warehouses, supply chain officers may experience drastic changes such as self-driving forklifts and self-managing inventory systems powered by drones. Amazon is already leading the way in this area by investing heavily into highly autonomous distribution centers.
Human-robot cooperation
The number of robots replacing humans in factories is increasing incrementally putting us in an interesting position of ensuring that human-robot collaboration is efficient and safe. To achieve this requires an in-depth understanding of robotic applications, as well as being able to identify risks and access to the right portfolio of safety solutions.

The main benefits of human-robot cooperation is robots will be able to take on the challenges of greater cognitive complexity, making autonomous decisions based on real-time data. As highlighted in the Artificial Intelligence of Logistics, a report conducted by IBM and DHL, there are a number of technologies capable of doing that:

Intelligent robot sorting – the ability to sort letters, parcels and palletized shipments at hyper-speeds.
AI powered visual inspection – this is an effective way of identifying damage to cargos by taking photos and deciding on the most appropriate form of corrective action.

For more on how AI and automation is impacting all industries, click here.

About the author: Asavin Wattanajantra is Sage’s dedicated expert in issues that impact large corporations worldwide. He has a vast amount of experience in this field, in which has spent more than 10 years working as a digital B2B and content marketing strategist, copywriter, community manager, account manager and journalist. His expertise lie within topics relating to industry 4.0, digital transformation and cloud innovation. He can be reached in at LinkedIn here.
Infographic: The Influence of AI and Automation on Manufacturing

Prime Robotics Deploys Warehouse Robotic System for Prague 3PL

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Prime Robotics announced this week the successful deployment of its Mobile Shelf logistics robot system for a newly operational warehouse by Fordist Group in Prague, Czech Republic.

As a third-party logistics provider, Fordist chose automation as their core strategy to address the tight labor market, providing the speed, flexibility, and precision to scale their operations.

“After searching the World for a suitable AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robot) system, we selected Prime Robotics, because of the robustness of their hardware platform and their pedigree building warehouse management software,” said Tomáš Kochaníček, CEO of Fordist Group. “The Mobile Shelf has been running smoothly for more than 3 months and we have been impressed with the ease of use, the ten-fold increase in picking speeds of our warehouse workers and the excellent customer support from Prime. We can now offer our customers a level of speed and efficiency that rivals Global market leaders.”

Prime implemented two models of its Mobile Shelf robots for Fordist: The T-1000 capable of carrying loads up to 500kg together with piece picking stations for small to medium sized inventory items. For larger items and bulk orders, Prime deployed the T-2000 Mobile Shelf robots designed to carry pallets up to 1,000 kg along with a corresponding pallet pick station. A video of the T-2000 robots interacting with the pallet pick stations can be viewed here.

“Prime appreciates the opportunity to partner with Fordist to leverage our Mobile Shelf warehouse robots to gain a competitive advantage over their peers in central Europe. Integrating our Robot Control System with their in-house warehouse management system went smoothly thanks to their mature business processes and clear vision.”

More on supply chain & warehouse robotics:

ProMat Preview: Managing Inventory Through Aerial Robots
ProMat Preview: What’s Really Happening With Mobile Robots
ProMat Preview: Synchronizing Robots With the Supply Chain
Robots Will Be Working in 50,000 Warehouses by 2025, Report Says
NextShift Robotics Receives Patent for Vertical Lift Capability as Part of Robotic Picking Process
Vecna’s Latest Tugger Includes Auto-Hitching, Auto-Charging Features
IDC Predicts $53B+ Market for Commercial Robots by 2022
Prime Robotics Deploys Warehouse Robotic System for Prague 3PL

Video: Watch a Robot Assist With Hurricane Disaster Cleanup

PITTSBURGH — RE2 Robotics recently announced the use of its Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery (RADR) robotic applique kit on a commercially available telehandler to perform teleoperated robotic disaster cleanup at The Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC) following Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

“Tyndall Air Force Base sustained catastrophic damage during Hurricane Michael. When we were asked to use the Air Force-funded RADR robotic retrofit kit technology to assist with the clean-up efforts, we deployed our team without hesitation,” stated Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics.

RE2, a developer of human-like robotic manipulator arms, demonstrated two distinct operations in support of cleanup from Hurricane Michael using a Genie GTH-1256 telehandler.

Source: RE2

The first operation was sweeping, helping to clear debris off of a roadway. The second operation was debris removal using the fork attachment, which helped remove debris such as culverts, metal structures, sheet metal, and a large tubular structure from a test range.

RE2 was able to demonstrate non-line-of-sight teleoperation of the telehandler, including simultaneous operation of the vehicle, boom, and auxiliary hydraulics.

RE2 was also able to train AFCEC and AFCEC contractors within minutes to easily teleoperate the vehicle and perform debris removal. Training time was minimal because teleoperation with the RE2 Operator Control Unit (OCU) is very similar to actual vehicle operation.

Pedersen continued, “Consistent with our company’s mission, the teleoperated RADR technology was able to keep AFCEC telehandler operators at a safe distance while performing this dangerous clean-up mission.”

More on robot development, new applications:

6 Experimental Uses for Robotics in 2019
Survey: Retailers Say Inventory Problems Could Be Solved With Robotics
Companies Make Strides in Improving Stroke Rehabilitation With Robots
Sphero Launches New Programmable Mobile Robot via Kickstarter
Creator Offers Better Burger Experience With Robot Cooks

Universal Robots to Show Cobot Uses for Labor-Hungry Industries
Looking Back, Looking Forward: The Year in Robotics
Video: Watch a Robot Assist With Hurricane Disaster Cleanup

Play Ball! Robots Chalk Baseball Foul Lines for Fields

As the baseball season opens this week in the U.S., one of the pre-game rituals is the chalking of the foul lines, batter’s boxes, and other areas, a mundane, but necessary task usually handled by one or more people of a grounds crew. Could a robot be handling this part of pre-game field preparation in the future?

While this may be a few or more years away from happening at the professional level, some municipal parks and recreation departments, strapped with funding issues that don’t affect the professional leagues, are exploring whether a robot that could chalk and paint lines for baseball, soccer, football, and lacrosse fields would save man-hours, materials, and provide a more accurate marking of the fields than humans.

Such was the case with the Decatur, Alabama, parks and recreation department, which started using a robot from Turf Tank, the U.S. subsidiary of Intelligent Marking of Denmark.

A robot helps chalk a baseball batter’s box. Source: Intelligent Marking

The company was founded by co-CEOs Anders Ulrik Sørensen and Andreas Ydesen as a high school project in 2014. The company’s robot is now automating the chalking and painting of sports facilities worldwide, a market the company said is worth more than $1 billion.

The patented Intelligent One robot can mark lines on all types of sports fields on natural grass or artificial turf, managed through a mobile app, eliminating the need for an operator while increasing precision and sustainability. Intelligent One is already sold or leased to non-profit sports organizations, municipalities, school districts, private schools, commercial contractors and professional teams in Europe, the U.S., Australia and Japan.

“Our customers have as many as 250 playing fields that need to be painted continuously, and once they try autonomous line marking with Intelligent One, they find that they cannot do without it,” Sørensen said in a statement. “With our robot, they just have to choose the desired sport type and field layout, push a button, and then the robot will drive from field to field and make sure that the lines are accurate and precise. Some of our customers have proven annual savings of nearly 70%.”
Cost and materials savings
In Decatur the parks and recreation department may not be saving that much, but the savings are significant, said Darrin Allen, sports field manager.

More on service robots:

6 Experimental Uses for Robotics in 2019
IDC Predicts $53B+ Market for Commercial Robots by 2022
iRobot Terra Robot Mower Launches, Entering a Crowded Market
Where Will the Service Robots Market Grow Fastest, and Why?
Singapore-Based Techmetics Brings 2 Service Robot Lines to the U.S.
RBR, IDC to Team Up on Selecting RBR50 2019 Top Robotics Companies

“We have to take care of so many sports fields weekly,” said Allen, pointing to his department’s oversight of 52 soccer, 28 softball/baseball, and seven football fields, as well as use of some of the fields for lacrosse and Ultimate (flying disc game). “My boss saw the robot on an online site a few years ago, we got in touch with the company and they did a demonstration for us. Ever since we started using it, it’s been great for us.”

According to Allen, the robot saves 75% of the man-hours typically needed to chalk and paint fields, freeing up his six-person staff for other duties. The robot also saves about 50% of the material needed.

The robot is simple to use, Allen adds. Using a tablet to create field line plans and the robot’s connection to a GPS satellite, a user can plan the markings for any field.
Improved accuracy
The GPS positioning means the markings are precise, adds Jason Aldridge, president of Turf Tank. “It has to be precise, otherwise it wouldn’t be a viable solution for the customer.”

If the field is uneven, which can throw a human worker’s lining efforts off by several inches, the robot uses the GPS positioning to self-correct, he adds. An operator can also adjust the speed of the robot to coincide with the field conditions (faster for smooth fields, slower for rough ones).

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the robot is $49,999, and based on prior experience with customers, the return on investment is 12 to 18 months. Companies, organizations and local authorities can also choose to lease the robot system for less than $899 per month.

While that would seem out of the range of many municipal parks departments, Allen said the robot paid for itself within a year.

Aldridge added that customers report an average cost savings of as much as $2,000 per field per year.  Some municipalities partner to share the cost, while the company also offers the robot as a service to help with any cost or budget concerns.

Play Ball! Robots Chalk Baseball Foul Lines for Fields

Automate 2019 Preview: Can’t-Miss Sessions and Events

More than 20,000 attendees are expected to converge at Chicago’s McCormick Place from April 8 through 11 for the Automate 2019 showcase, devoted to automation industry trends, the latest technologies and business innovation. Collocated with the ProMat 2019 event, the Automate side of the event hosts many of the industry’s leading manufacturers and system integrators of robotics, machine vision, metrology, software, safety, motion control, and motors.

Produced by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the show will feature more than 500 exhibitors, 160,000-square-feet of exhibit space at McCormick Place. In addition, the show will host an educational conference that also includes practical training in vision and motion control technologies.

Robert Doyle, RIA.

Robert Doyle, vice president of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and A3 Mexico, said one of the goals of the show is to target companies that may have never automated before. “They’re very early in the automation process, and they want to come to learn to see these technologies in action, and then to learn about them,” Doyle said.

He said they specifically put the integrated solutions center is in the front part of the exposition floor. “So when attendees first walk in, they see the integrators who are actually developing and implementing these automation solutions for the end users,” said Doyle. “Then as you go further back into the show, that’s where you see the really big booths with the robot suppliers and others. Additional companies displaying at the show include vision, motion control, motors, artificial intelligence and industry 4.0 providers.

Beyond the show floor companies displaying products (we’ll post our show guide next week), here are some other things to do at Automate 2019. If you’re attending, remember that an Automate 2019 badge allows access to the ProMat 2019 areas of the show floor, and vice versa.
Task #1: Attend a conference session
In addition to the specific training sessions for Certified Vision Professionals (basic and advanced), and Certified Motion Control Professionals, the event plans to have additional tracks for attendees, including:

How To Automate
Automation Solutions & Innovations
Collaborative & Mobile Robotics
AI, Digitalization & Smart Manufacturing
Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Updates

Most of the tracks go across four days of the show (starting Monday, April 8), but the advanced certification for vision professionals also takes place on Friday, April 12.

In the How to Automate track, for example, tracks will include basic sessions, to ones that include ROI, choosing a systems integrator, and navigating the differences between collaborative and industrial robots. Feel free to check out the entire agenda here.
Task #2: Network with colleagues
Like every good show, Automate has opportunities for meeting and chatting with fellow attendees to try and build relationships that could benefit your business. At Automate 2019, networking opportunies include the Nextgen Networking Meet-Up, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Show Floor Theater on Monday, April 8, where the A3 young professional’s network, NextGen, will provide programming designed to inspire and inform those growing in their automation careers.

Source: Automate

On Tuesday, the Networking Party will take place from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Vista Ballroom (an extra $35 per ticket), which includes exhibitors, speakers, entertainment, and refreshments.

On Wednesday, April 10, the event will host the Engelberger Awards Dinner, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Vista Ballroom ($125 per ticket, or 10-person table for $1,250). This year’s awards recipients include Catherine Morris from ATI Industrial Automation (Award for Leadership), and Dr. Howie Choset from Carnegie Mellon University (Award for Education).

In addition, at booth 8967 on the show floor, the event plans to have “Expert Huddle” areas, with specific topics where attendees can gather and discuss solutions.
Task #3: Find a new job in robotics!
The show is dedicating Thursday, April 11, to jobs in automation. Theater sessions will focus on working in automation, and exhibitors on the show floor will have on-site contacts who attendees can bring their resumes and ask about job openings. A job fair co-sponsored with Robots.Jobs is also planned for the show at 12:15 p.m. through 1:30 p.m.
Task #4: Watch a startup competition
Seven finalists in the startup space will compete for a $10,000 price on April 10 at 3 p.m. in a theater on the exhibition floor. Similar to the Pitchfire event at RoboBusiness, startups will pitch their technology solution to a panel of judges. The 2019 finalists are:

Firefly Dimension
Innovative Mechatronic Systems
Realtime Robotics
Southie Autonomy (the 2018 Pitchfire winner)
Ubiros
WiBotic
Wilder Systems

For additional events and schedules, visit the Automate 2019 website.
Automate 2019 Preview: Can’t-Miss Sessions and Events