BOSTON—At MassRobotics’ fifth annual Robot Block Party this weekend, the public had an opportunity to see and touch many of the robots developed and built in Massachusetts. The event was part of RoboBoston, which included a career fair last Friday.
Approximately 5,000 people attended the Robot Block Party, according to Joyce Sidopoulos, co-founder and chief of operations at MassRobotics. Over 760 people registered for the Robotics and AI Technical Career Fair—even more than expected, she added.
The Robot Block Party drew families from Boston’s growing Seaport District and beyond.
“We’re just grateful to all our partners, and we hope the public takes advantage of this chance to see what’s going on in our community,” Tom Ryden, executive director of MassRobotics, told Robotics 24/7.
MassRobotics is a Boston-based organization dedicated to nurturing the robotics ecosystem in Massachusetts, with startup and co-working space, networking events, and educational opportunities.
Danish autonomous mobile robot (AMR) provider Mobile Industrial Robots has been expanding its North American presence. AutoGuide offers tuggers and is working on lifts for custom payloads, said a company representative.
Mitsubishi Electric, a strategic partner of MassRobotics, demonstrated its MELFA FR robot arm. The company, whose U.S. office is in Cambridge, Mass., wanted to show the public how strong the Massachusetts robotics community is for innovation and supporting industry, said James Knauer, field application engineer.
A light robotic arm using Harmonic Drive LLC drives attracted several families. “It’s great for kids to see how they can use robots in the future,” said Eugen Niselson, a sales engineering manager at Harmonic Drive.
Also from Wilmington, Analog Devices Inc. used small autonomous cars to show its semiconductor and communications technology can do.
Vicarious Surgical Inc. had toy robot arms for children to assemble and continued its recruitment efforts from MassRobotics’ career fair the day before.
The Waltham, Mass.-based company entered into a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger last year. It completed the Beta 2 system design of its minimally invasive surgical robot this summer.
On the consumer side, Tertill Corp. fielded several inquiries about its robot for weeding gardens. The technology can help busy people as they return to offices, noted Rory MacKean, co-founder and chief product officer at the North Billerica, Mass., company.
The wedding robot is called Tertill and is sold on the company’s website for $349.
“Tertill is a solar-powered weeding robot for vegetable and flower gardens,” MacKean said. “It’s waterproof, so you can leave it outside all season. Every day, it’ll charge itself up using sunlight and drive around avoid any plants.”
Mobile systems draw attention at Robot Block Party
Always popular, Watham, Mass.-based Boston Dynamics Inc. had multiple Spot quadrupeds, including two with robot arms on them.
Boston Dynamics demonstrates its Spot quadruped picking up objects. Credit: Eugene Dematire
Festo Corp.showed off its BionicOpter and BionicSwifts, which were inspired by dragonflies and swift birds, respectively. Johannes Linzbach, head of the company’s research hub in Boston, said the birds were developed as part of the company’s Bionic Learning Network.
Within that network, Festo studies animal movements and tries to emulate them with its technology. Linzbach said the birds are helping the company design products for industrial applications.
Piaggio Fast Forward showed how its gita robot can carry a load and follow a user with the push of a button. The gitamini is currently available at $1,850, and the gitaplus will cost $3,475, said engineer Kevin Robb.
Similarly, Segway, which is best known for its scooters, displayed mobile service robots.
GreenSight, another MassRobotics resident, showed how drones and gel-based marine robots can gather information for agriculture, environmental monitoring, and the energy industry.
Ridgefield, Conn.-based Target Arm Inc. discussed how its Tular patented device enables drones to be launched and recovered from moving vehicles. In June, the company won a U.S. Space Force contract for package delivery into space.
R&D displayed at MassRobotics event
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) demonstrated its Punyo bubble gripper, which includes hydraulics and vision-based internal sensors to detect the right pressure for handling fragile objects. For example, it could be used for household tasks such as loading and unloading a dishwasher.
TRI has only 250 to 300 employees nationwide, and its lab in Cambridge, Mass., focuses on manipulation, said research scientist Joseph Masterjohn. With MIT, the institute has developed the Drake model-based design for contact simulation of robot manipulation.
The institute also showed off one of its four-legged robots. Earlier this year, a version of the robot beat a world record for the being the fastest legged robot.
Onshape Inc. showed how its computer-aided design (CAD) software enables developers to design parts for robots and other systems. A robot designed with Onshape that shot table-tennis balls into a net was popular with small children.
In partnership with PTC, Boston-based Onshape has provided its cloud-based software to MassRobotics resident startups.
The University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell showed Digit, a bipedal robot from Agility Robotics Inc. While Tesla Inc. had revealed the latest version of its Optimus humanoid last week, Digit is already available for research and warehouse use.
Agility Robotics' Digit humanoid, displayed in UMass Lowell's area, is designed for handling boxes and parcels. Credit: Eugene Dematire
The Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University demonstrated wearable devices for assistive and therapeutic use.
“The goal is to design clothing that can aid people,” said James Arnold, a graduate student at Harvard. He showed a vest with inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors and pneumatics that can help the wearer lift an arm for everyday tasks such as brushing teeth.
Editor's note: Cesareo Contreras contributed to this article.
More than 40 Massachusetts companies and universities gathered together to showcase cutting-edge robotics and technology in a series of professional and STEM-related events.
About the Author
Eugene DemaitreEugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
Follow Robotics 24/7 on Facebook
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.
MassRobotics expected thousands of attendees at its fifth Annual Robot Block Party in Boston.
Agility Robotics was founded in 2015 to enter markets newly enabled by recent scientific and technical breakthroughs in robotic legged mobility. Agility’s roots stretch back to co-founder Jonathan Hurst’s PhD research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the early 2000’s (where he and Damion Shelton,...
Festo is a leading global manufacturer of pneumatic and electromechanical systems, components and controls for process control and factory automation solutions, with more than 55 national headquarters serving more than 180 countries.
Boston Dynamics began as a spin-off from MIT, where National Academy of Engineering member Marc Raibert and his colleagues first developed robots that ran and maneuvered like animals. They founded Boston Dynamics in 1992, and their research continues to inspire much of the company's work. Boston Dynamics has�...
Combine the mobility and dexterity of Boston Dynamics' Spot with Formant's command center software to enable you to centralize and scale your operations and allow experts to monitor many remote sites effectively.