It’s going to be a long time before robots replace sports mascots, but it might be better for one of our GeekWire colleagues when they do.
That’s one of the more lighthearted takeaways from our return trip to Pittsburgh, where GeekWire co-founder John Cook somehow managed to make enemies with yet another pro sports mascot. But we also came away with some more fundamental insights into the state of robots, automation and artificial intelligence:
- Supply chain challenges and labor shortages are changing the national conversation about automation, and accelerating adoption of robotics especially in manufacturing and distribution.
- Amazon’s ambitions for rapid delivery are boosting robotics and automation across the e-commerce industry by prompting competitors to follow suit with their own solutions to increase logistics efficiencies.
- Robotics startups and autonomous driving companies are finding success in business and enterprise markets, as evidenced by Aurora Innovation’s work with Paccar and FedEx on a self-driving truck.
- Many consumer robotics companies are still trying to do too much in making multi-purpose robots, rather than focusing on doing one thing well, as illustrated by the initial reception to Amazon’s Astro home robot.
In the realm of robotics, our trip was a visit to the future. But in looking at the Pittsburgh tech community, it was also a reminder of the past, with a similar size and potential that Seattle had 20 years ago as a tech industry.
“Seattle in 2000 was much like Pittsburgh — a wonderful city, great people, very collaborative, a lot of smart technology folks, but the critical mass hadn’t been built, it didn’t exist,” said Michael Butler, chairman and CEO of Cascadia Capital, in his opening remarks at the Cascadia Connect Robotics, Automation & AI conference.
Butler said they see in robotics, AI and automation what they saw in Internet 2.0, with even more potential.
We discuss all of these trends, and the Pirate Parrot Incident, on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, recapping our return to Pittsburgh. We’ll also have more from our reporting over the next week as part of our special coverage. Cascadia is underwriting GeekWire’s independent reporting on this topic from Pittsburgh.
Listen above, or subscribe to GeekWire in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.
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