Robotics and automation were already on the uptick heading into 2020, but COVID-19 has spurred even more people to look into innovation.
Education is a big part of the job for Jeff Burnstein, President of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), who said the pandemic has made businesses get curious about what robots might be able to do for them.
“I think the why is pretty clear. The pandemic has revealed to us that there are some issues here we’re not prepared for,” he said. “The fact you can’t bring people into work, that’s a real problem for keeping the businesses up and running. Automation can help in that regard. Can automation reduce the number of touches on products so we don’t spread the virus? Can collaborative robots help separate people that are able to come to work? There’s a lot of eyes being opened here about how to keep your company up and running during a situation like this.”
Those topics and many more were discussed by the more than six dozen speakers who conducted events during A3’s ambitious Robotics Week, with Calvary Robotics Global Vice President Joe Gemma one of many distinguished guests taking part.
The organization will continue to host events to provide education to those in the industry for as long as it needs, Burnstein said, even when it’s able to return to traditional in-person events. That’s thanks to the increased number of voices from around the world the virtual format allowed.
“We had three or four live events that we had scheduled for this year that we canceled and replaced them all with virtual conferences. We actually, as of right now, are planning to do six more virtual conferences between now and the end of the year,” Burnstein said. “This is what’s required if we’re going to get enough awareness of what’s changing in not just robotics, but AI, machine vision and motion control. All these technologies we represent need to be exposed to potential users. And, as long as there’s no place to go to get the information, people are counting on A3 to provide it to them.”
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