Robot Block Party A Showcase of Local Bots in the Greater Boston Area

Humans and machines alike gathered Sunday afternoon on the HUB Week festival grounds in Government Center for a Robot Block Party. The Robot Block Party, held in a large dome on the HUB grounds, hosted over two dozen robotic organizations of the greater Boston area with over 100 people in attendance. The robotic groups spanned from high school teams, to university research initiatives, to full-scale companies.

The Robot Block Party-goers check out a warehouse robot simulation by Symbotic

Kasey Cummings was a part of Northeastern's Nutron's FIRST Robotics Team that consists of high schoolers from the surrounding area. Cummings and his team presented their FIRST Robotics Competition robot at the Block Party. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, had an annual competition theme. This year's theme, and the parameters the team built their bot around was "steamworks".

A member of Cummings's team fiddled with the robot's censor before a demonstration

The Nutron's robot in action.

The Nutron's Robot manipulated the spinning of the green balls in the holding chamber to shoot out of the front of the machine and land in the net. The robot self-detected with the green censor where the net was located.

Cummings said he loved robotics for it's usefulness in society and potential for humanity.

In addition to Robotics teams, university research groups turned out for the party. Scott Barton of the Music Perception and Robotics Lab at WPI brought with him musical robots. These bots used computer programing basics to compose entire songs, and even improvise.

"I’m really interested in putting humans and robots on stage and watching them interact with one another.” Barton (left), a musical composer and robotic engineer said.

Barton continued, stating that machines should not take over human tasks, rather find innovative tasks humans cannot do.

Barton showed the Bots in action, combining composed code with improvised rhythm.

The company Jibo was also in attendance. Jibo, a household companion and service robot was named after it's Japanese translation, "nurturing parent," though Software Architect Jonathan Ross admitted that the Urban Dictionary definition of Jibo was "really frickking cool". Jibo reacts to movement, has facial recognition skills, and can tell stories, Ross said.

Ross demonstrates Jibo's photo-taking response.

“What is anybody’s purpose? He’s supposed to make your life easier, hover the household.” Ross said, when asked Jibo's purpose. And according to Ross, he's also pretty cute.

Jibo swivels in the direction of his name being called .

From making competitive robots for fun, to creating a machine musician, to inventing man's new best friend, the Robot Block Party displayed Boston's best in automaton innovation. Though the bot's all have different functions, their creators' goal remained the same: to further humanity through technological advancement.

These are photos of additional robots on display and in action at the party.
Created By
Emily Zisko

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