Meet the 4 projects competing at TC Sessions: Robotics’ pitch-off

TechCrunch is pleased today to announce the companies and judges participating in the pitch-off at TC Sessions: Robotics. This is going to be great.

New life is important. And while TC Sessions: Robotics features the best engineers and companies in the robotics field, we’re excited to host a small pitch-off that will pit four budding companies against each other in a bid to exhibit their project at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. To help pick the winner we assembled a fantastic team of judges.

Pitch-off events have long been a staple of TechCrunch events. In this particular contest, the individuals behind these projects will have four minutes to present their ideas to the judges and audience and conduct a live demo of the robot. The judges will then have four minutes to ask questions. The winner of the contest will be given an exhibit table at TechCrunch Disrupt SF this September (a $1995 value).

General admission tickets are selling out quickly and seating is limited in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The event takes place in Boston on July 17 and features a day of speakers, robotic demos and networking. We hope to see you there.

Pitch-off Participants

CP Robotics is based on patented software that makes robots able to automatically plan processes, such as grinding, milling, welding, plasma-cutting etc., based on a quick initial 3D scanning.

Hand4help is developing low-cost, multi functional, 3D-printed robotic hand prosthesis for amputees.

Tangible Media Group
The Tangible Media Group in the MIT Media Lab has developed a robotic haptic interface to give physical form to virtual objects.

Franklin Robotics
Franklin Robotics has developed and will demonstrate Tertill, a robot that weeds personal gardens.


Jeremy Conrad is the co-founder and a partner at Lemnos Labs, a seed stage investment firm based out of San Francisco. Prior to Lemnos Mr. Conrad was an active duty United States Air Force officer working on the Airborne Laser Program. Mr. Conrad received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Helen Greiner cofounded iRobot in 1990 and served as president until 2004 and chairman until 2008. During her tenure, Helen Greiner guided iRobot into its position as a global leader with the release of the Roomba, the PackBot and SUGV military robots. In addition, Greiner headed up iRobot’s financing projects, raising $35M in venture capital for a $75M initial public offering. Greiner holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in computer science, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2008 she founded CyPhy Works where she served as the CEO until 2016 and is now the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

Daniel Theobald founded Vecna Technologies in 1999 with the mission to empower humanity through transformative technologies. With the guiding philosophy that automation is the key to developing a more sustainable and equitable future, Daniel has worked with several renowned institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to develop automation solutions across a number of industries.

Melonee Wise is the CEO of Fetch Robotics, which is delivering advanced robots for the logistics industry. The company introduced their robot system, including Fetch and Freight, in May of 2015. Prior to joining Fetch, Melonee was CEO and co-founder of Unbounded Robotics. Before then, Melonee was Manager of Robot Development at Willow Garage, where she led a team of engineers developing next-generation robot hardware, including the PR2 and TurtleBot from Willow Garage. Melonee also has extensive experience in the growth of ROS as a research and commercial platform. Melonee is currently a Mentor in the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator.


TC Sessions: Robotics

July 17, 2017 @ MIT’s Kresge Auditorium

9:00 AM – 9:05 AM
Opening Remarks from Matthew Panzarino

9:05 AM – 9:25 AM
What’s Next at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory with Daniela Rus (MIT CSAIL)

9:25 AM – 9:50 AM
Is Venture Ready for Robotics? with Manish Kothari (SRI), Josh Wolfe (Lux Capital) and Helen Zelman (Lemnos)

10:10 AM – 10:35 AM
Collaborative Robots At Work with Clara Vu (VEO),  Jerome Dubois (6 River Systems) and Holly Yanco (UMass Lowell)

10:35 AM – 10:55 AM
Coffee Break

10:55 AM – 11:20 AM
Building A Robotics Startup from Angel to Exit with Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works), Andy Wheeler (GV) and Elaine Chen (Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship)

11:20 AM – 11:30 AM
Soft Robotics (Carl Vause) Demo

11:30 AM – 11:55 AM
Imagineering Disney Robotics with Martin Buehler (Disney Imagineering)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Lunch and Workshops TBA

1:00 PM – 1:20 PM
Robots at Amazon with Tye Brady (Amazon Robotics)

1:20 PM – 1:55 PM
When Robots Fly with Buddy Michini (Airware), Andreas Raptopoulos (Matternet) and Anil Nanduri (Intel)

1:55 PM – 2:15 PM
Packbot, Roomba and Beyond with Colin Angle (iRobot)

2:15 PM – 2:35 PM
Building Better Bionics Samantha Payne (Open Bionics) and TBA

2:35 PM – 2:45 PM
Demo TBA

2:45 PM – 3:05 PM
The Future of Industrial Robotics with Sami Atiya (ABB)

3:05 PM – 3:25 PM
Coffee Break

3:25 – 3:35 PM
Demo TBA

3:35 PM – 4:15 PM
Robotics Startup Pitch-off (Judges and contestants TBA)

4:15 PM – 4:35 PM
The Age Of The Household Robot with Gill Pratt (Toyota Research Institute)

4:35 PM – 4:55 PM
Building The Robot Brain with Heather Ames (Neurala) and Brian Gerkey (Open Robotics) and TBA

4:55 PM – 5:20 PM
Robots, AI and Humanity with David Barrett (Olin), David Edelman (MIT) and Dr. Brian Pierce (DARPA) and TBA

5:20 PM – 5:25 PM
Wrap Up 

5:25 PM -7:00 PM