As we’re gearing up for May’s big show, the announcements are starting to come fast and furious. In the past two weeks, we’ve revealed that Andy Rubin, Marc Raibert, Melonee Wise, Robert Full and more will be joining us May 11 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.
We’ll be unveiling the full schedule for the event in the coming days, but for now, we’ve got a couple of new names to share with you, showing the best and brightest from across a wide range of robotics categories, from self-driving cars, to DARPA, to human-robotic interaction.
Diving Deep with Driverless Cars
Chris Urmson has been deeply involved with autonomous vehicles for more than a decade. In 2007, his team at Carnegie Mellon won the 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge for self-driving cars. Two years later, he joined Google/Alphabet’s self-driving car team, eventually taking over as project lead.
These days, Ursom is the CEO of Aurora Innovation, an autonomous car company he cofounded with Tesla alum Sterling Anderson. The Bay Area-based company has been building systems for Volkswagen and Hyundai, and announced a partnership with NVIDIA earlier this year. Ursom will be joining us to discuss the promises — and pitfalls — of autonomous vehicles.
DARPA’s Latest Challenge
Launching a robotics company is challenging — and expensive. Thankfully, DARPA has helped play a key role in helping a number of important robotics startups get off the ground. Much of that funding has come courtesy of various DARPA Challenges, like the Subterranean Challenge launched late last year.
DARPA Tactical Technology Office program manager Timothy Chung will be on-hand at the event to lead a session exploring the department’s latest challenge, which seeks to “rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments.”
Human and Robots: Can’t We Just Get Along?
As robots and humans increasingly share spaces and overlap in capability, ensuring safe and efficient interactions grows more important. What new technologies and methods will enable them, and what challenges lie ahead for human-robot relations?
We’ll be joined by some top researchers in the field, including Ayanna Howard of Georgia Tech and Leila Takayama of UC Santa Cruz to explore these challenges and more.
We Want to Hear From Your Robotics Company
It wouldn’t be a real TechCrunch event without a good, old-fashioned startup pitch. As we mentioned last time, we’re searching for four early-stage robotics startups to show off their goods for our panel of VCs and a crowd of students and roboticists. If your company has what it takes, you can apply here.
We’re also looking for companies to participate in demos and serve as subjects for some upcoming TechCrunch videos. If that sounds like a good fit, fill out this form here.