The seventh annual National Robotics Week, which kicks off this week, will see more than 250 events take place across all 50 states.
It's a pretty cool time to celebrate robots. A new generation of small, relatively inexpensive, and highly collaborative industrial robots brought new levels of automation to light industry last year. Home robots, in the form of vacuums and lawn mowers, continue to do well in sales, and drones--technically flying robots--are everywhere. I'm literally watching one fly over a park near my house as I write.
New kinds of bots are also making early strides. Companies like Savioke are bringing robots to hotels and others like Revolve Robotics and Double are connecting people via affordable embodied telepresence--especially people whose disabilities prevent them from traveling to school or work.
Established in 2010 by Congress and iRobot, which basically invented the consumer robotics category, National Robotics Week raises awareness around robots and particularly around the importance of education focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
The event always feels a little cheesy, but its in good fun and the robotics community rallies for the occasion. Once again this year organizers are releasing robot trading cards around some of 2015s biggest hits: a bionic ankle, an emergency evacuation robot, a surgical robotic worm. (Check out the cards here.)
There are also tons of events going on around the country. If you have kids, check out the schedule, which is broken out by state. In Southern California, where I live, USC's Viterbi School of Engineering and the Robotix Institute are both throwing open their doors and letting visitors get hands on with some experimental bots.