We’re gearing up to bring you the second TC Sessions: Robotics on May 11 at the UC Berkeley campus. We’ve got a great show on-tap, with some of the premier names in the robotics/AI/automation world, from research to startups to big companies. As we noted last week, we’ll be joined by Berkley professor Pieter Abbeel and big names from the VC world, including Meyer, Renata Quintini and Rob Coneybeer.
Today, we’ve got a pair of new names we’re excited to share with you.
Andy Rubin’s love of robotics earned him the nickname “Android” while working for Apple in the late-80s. Rubin leant the name to the software startup he founded in 2003, which was later acquired by Google and formed the basis for the world’s largest mobile operating system. While at Google, Rubin also headed the company’s robotics division. These days, he supports robotics startups as the head of Playground Global.
The Bay Area-based venture fund and incubator maintains Rubin’s passion for the category by funding a number of key robotics companies that run the gamut, from artificial intelligence to agriculture, delivery and warehouse fulfillment. Playground’s key robotics investments including Canvas Technology, Commonsense Robotics, Farmwise, Righthand Robotics, Skydio and Zippy.
We’ll speak to Rubin about Playground’s numerous investments in the space and the ways in which automation will transform the future.
A biologist by training, UC Berkeley professor Robert Full’s scientific background gives him a unique approach to the world of robotics. His research has inspired a wide range of different robots taking their cues from nature, specifically animal locomotion. Cockroaches have served as an unlikely source of inspiration for robots with jointed exoskeletons that can fit into tight spaces. The sticky substances found on gecko feet, meanwhile, have given rise to synthetic dry adhesives.
Professor Full’s work has led to the creation of two UC Berkeley Labs, CiBER, the Center for interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research, and the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory, which studies the motion of many-footed animals. Full’s work has also made its way into surprising spaces, including Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, which used his expansive knowledge of animal movement as a foundation for its computer animation.
Professor Full will be joining us to discuss how nature can help build a better robot.
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 the subject for some upcoming TechCrunch videos. If that sounds like a good fit, fill out this form here.
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