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Bountiful bots: National Robotics Week arrives this weekend


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

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

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