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Bountiful bots: National Robotics Week arrives this weekend

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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FIRST, National Robotics WeekThe inaugural National Robotics Week, which kicks off Saturday and lasts through April 18 (apparently, a robot’s week doesn’t start on Sunday like ours does), aims to recognize the role that robots play worldwide in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, national defense and security, and transportation.

A consortium of U.S. academics and business executives last year drafted a "national roadmap" (pdf) calling for an increase in funding for robotics research domestically as well as the designation of the second week of each April as National Robotics Week. This roadmap won support from the Congressional Bi-Partisan Robotics Caucus, chaired by Representative Mike Doyle (D–Pa.) and co-chaired by Representative Phil Gingery (R–Ga.). The caucus formed in 2007 to keep lawmakers abreast of robotics research and development (ostensibly to help them make informed policy decisions regarding the technology).

National Robotics Week features a full slate of robo-related activity. Below is a selection of just some of the events:

April 10:
  New England Botball Regional Tournament and New England Botfest, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  CSM VEX Robotics Challenge, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata
  Southern California Botball Regional Tournament at Cuyamaca College Gymnasium in El Cajon

April 11:

  Young Innovators Day at the Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif.
  New York–New Jersey Regional RoboCupJunior event at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, N.Y.
  Robotics for kids introductory course hosted by Infamous Robotics LLC at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. (through April 13)

April 12:
  Early Learning Robotics Activities open house hosted by Eletrak Inc. in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

April 13:
  Robotics open house at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory in Blacksburg, Va. (through April 14)
  Seminars in Cambridge, Mass., for those interested in starting and growing their own robotics companies in the state
  Robotic Industries Association Webinar, "How Robots Help American Companies Compete in the Global Marketplace"

April 14:
  Robot Block Party at Stanford University in California
  Idaho National Laboratory’s Robotic Systems and Education Programs open house in Idaho Falls
  Robotic Industries Association Webinar, "Career Opportunities in Robotics"

April 15:
  AUVSI Sponsored Unmanned Systems Day on Capitol Hill, Rayburn House Office Building
  Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute 30th-year anniversary open house (through April 16)
  FIRST Championship at The Georgia Dome (through April 17)
  National Robotics Challenge in Marion, Ohio (through April 17)
  Robotic Industries Association Webinar, "Food Robotics"

April 16:
  Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory open house at University of Wisconsin at Madison
  Robots in Action event at Adept Technology in Los Angeles

April 17:
  Rochester Institute of Technology robotics open house in Rochester, N.Y.
  Robot Block Party at the Museum of Science in Boston
  Sparkfun Electronics autonomous vehicle competition in Boulder, Colo.
  University of Denver (Colo.) robotics open house
  Greater D.C. Botball Regional Tournament at in Fairfax, Va.

April 18:
  Central Illinois Robotics Club Meeting in Peoria, Ill.

Robots will return to the limelight a week later with the seventh annual RoboGames, held April 23 to 25 at California’s San Mateo County Expo Center. RoboGames features more than 70 events, including Sumo wrestling bots and android kung-fu.

Image of the Techno Chix bot at the New York City FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) regional championship © Scientific American/Larry Greenemeier

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  1. 1. ERJoseph 8:55 am 04/18/2010

    Strangely coinciding with the start of the National Robotics Week, an excerpt from the upcoming Bot Colony novel was posted online this week by North Side Inc. Rooted in actual research and development experience, the novel describes the natural language communication abilities of next-generation robots, as well as their reasoning process. The novel served as a blueprint for the Bot Colony videogame, a major innovation in natural language dialog with machines. Bot Colony will be the first intelligent conversation game, where a player converses with robotic characters, who actually have many of the conversational abilities described in the book (see for more information).

    Link to this
  2. 2. Wayne Williamson 1:23 pm 04/18/2010

    ERJoseph…you posted 5 times…sometimes you have to give it a minute to show up;-)

    robotics is one area that the private sector and universities are starting to excel at …i really don’t think that the US Gov should have much input except for prizes for specific tasks completed…sort of an r-prize;-)

    Link to this

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