TC Sessions: Robotics to feature talks from Rod Brooks, DARPA and MIT CSAIL

The agenda for TC Sessions: Robotics just keeps getting more irresistible. We are happy to announce that Rod Brooks, co-founder of Rethink Robotics and iRobot, will join us on stage at TechCrunch’s first ever robotics show, July 17 at MIT’s Kresge auditorium.

Brooks is a former director of MIT’s CSAIL program as well as an author and prognosticator on the future of robots. At TechCrunch Disrupt NY in May, Brooks expressed contrarian views about the imminence of driverless cars, the capabilities of artificial intelligence, and rules of engagement for robots at war. We are looking forward to taking that conversation further and learning more about Rethink Robotics’ progress delivering their collaborative robots, Baxter and Sawyer, to work alongside humans in factory settings.

We’re also excited to announce two additional workshops for the event. Both will present attendees opportunities to get the inside track from leaders in the robotics field. The DARPA workshop will focus on the agencies’ aim and how to work with DARPA. It will be led by Dr. William Regli, Acting Director of the Defense Sciences Office. In the MIT CSAIL workshop attendees will get a look at some of the best projects inside MIT’s robotics lab.

These workshops join the agenda that also includes a workshop on educating future roboticists featuring educators from Olin College, Kettering University and Udacity.

General admission tickets are currently available, but seating in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium is limited. We hope to see you there.


The mission of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is “to prevent and create strategic surprise by developing breakthrough technologies for national security.” The agency’s project-oriented approach to science and engineering, however, is different both in approach and execution from other U.S. governmental funding agencies. In this workshop, DARPA leadership will discuss the Agency’s vision and goals, provide overviews of each of the organization’s technical offices, in addition to an explanation of the mechanics of working with DARPA. The objective of the workshop is to elicit help in fomenting institutional evolution in America’s broader science and technology ecosystem that is needed to better and more rapidly respond to future challenges.

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is tasked with researching activities around the bleeding edge of technology. Attendees of this workshop will get an insider’s look at some of the hottest projects being developed in CSAIL’s labs and engineering bays. Robert Katzschmann will present Soft Robotics and the team’s creative approach to allowing robots to manipulate objects. Claudia Perez D’Arpino’s presentation will demonstrate how robots can learn from a single demo and Andrew Spielberg will explain a novel process to create and fabricate robots.

Building Roboticists
David Barrett, a professor of mechanical engineering at Olin College, Ryan Keenan, curriculum lead for Udacity, and Dr. Robert McMahan, President of Kettering University will lead a workshop discussing their views on the best way to train the next generation of roboticists. Each of these educators leads vastly different programs, but the aim is universal: to train the next generation of globally competitive engineers. It’s important that these students learn through hands-on experience how to not only write code, but deploy code in a viable manner that results in a sustainable product.