Freedom Robotics at Boston Robotics Summit 2019

Our team has attended every single Boston Robotics Summit and this year was no different. With half our team coming out of MIT, Boston is always an easy place to revisit - especially when there are robots involved.

 

The Robotics Market Is Shifting

We were happy to see a shift at the conference from a focus on gears, actuators and PLCs to a more balanced approach focusing on how to develop better robotic products in a frontier industry. Catching up with all of our friends and customers within the space, it was clear for us to see the trend deviate away from robots only having a place research and industrial applications.

Product creation and development teams of multiple industries are now more focused on using robots and automated systems to help people do the dangerous/boring jobs, all while growing the scale of fleets of robots in the market.

While we enjoyed all the keynotes and presentations, there were two which stood out and aligned with our team’s focus on enabling companies to deliver robots at scale: 1) Microsoft’s presentation on IoT, Robotics, & Automation and, 2) Cruise’s “Why Precision Maps are Actually a Really Good Idea” and their announcement of Webviz.

 

Microsoft Paints Their View Of The Next Generation Of Robotic Developers

Part of Microsoft’s presentation dove into defining the customer profiles looking for automation and it was something that we as a company really agreed with:

  1. Researchers: We all know who these folks are.
  2. Brownfield: Companies with existing devices that they want to turn into autonomous devices. These folks are already managing their devices at scale and now want to add automation on top of it.
  3. Greenfield: Folks that are looking to build brand new autonomous devices from scratch.
  4. Enterprises: Folks that are looking at how to integrate multiple robots and other autonomous solutions all at once for a particular solution.

They also focused on bringing a suite of development (ROS for Windows, Linux), automation (Navigation) and infrastructure tools to the industry based on Azure.

Microsoft is investing in robot developer tools and Azure cloud services for robotics and automation.

After the presentation, we caught up with Cyra Richardson and Lou Amadio who were leading these efforts over at Microsoft. It was exciting to see their passion in driving Microsoft to be a core contributor to the next step of robotics.

As we contemplate the future of robotics, it’s interesting to be able to see that businesses of all stages of maturity are all marching towards automation. These definitions from Microsoft also support the type of customers we’ve been seeing as well.

 

Cruise Introduces A New ROS Visualizer

Cruise went big and announced the open sourcing of their WebViz ROS data visualization platform! It was beautiful to see such robust robotics data visualization. This is based on their previous WorldView React Web library they announced in February.ROSVisualizer

Cruise’s visualization platform was shown at the Boston Robotic Summit.

One of our favorite features was their live map and how any vehicle, at any given time, could update the data bank for all vehicles within the fleet based on new information. Imagine a vehicle driving down a street that has recently been rezoned. Because all the cars in that fleet are connected to the cloud, every vehicle that has come before it or after it will now have this new street rezoning information without having to recompute. Awesome.

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