Notes on ERF17 from the programme Chair (Rich Walker)

Notes on ERF17 from the programme Chair
(Rich Walker)

We sat down with our extremely busy Managing Director, Rich Walker, to quiz him on his thoughts about the European Robotics Forum, which this year will be held in Edinburgh from 22nd – 24th March.

Rich, we’re going to ERF! Road trip to Edinburgh! But what are we doing there?

Ah, we’ve got a busy few days up there! You’ll see a few of the Shadow team in the exhibition hall demoing our new Smart Grasping System. It’s a brand new demo which we’re really excited to share with everyone. Our Chief Technical Architect, Ugo Cupcic, will also be delivering two talks as part of the programme. It’ll be a busy few days but we’re really eager to bump into a few old faces whilst making the acquaintance of new ones.  I’ll actually be there under few different guises – obviously as the MD of Shadow, but I also sit on the board of directors for euRobotics, and I chaired the programme at ERF this year too (thankfully the uniform for each of the roles is the same, which saves time on rapid costume changes in phone booths).

What’s your highlight of ERF?

The thing with ERF is that although it has an excellent programme, it’s so much more than that. It’s not just about intellectual activities, the roadmap of European robotics and exploring current challenges and trends, but for me the highlight is making connections, networking, encountering someone over coffee and realising ‘Oh, you’re doing that! Well, we’re doing this!’. It really goes towards building our network of contacts and potential partners.

You’ve chaired the programme for this year – how was that for you?

It was a great privilege to put together the programme of events. We were really keen to make it as interactive as possible; It’s been tailored to stimulate dynamic discussion between delegates, to encourage people to come together and discuss what’s important to them. I think we’ve got the workshops and events just right, and hopefully it all goes towards building a strong robotics community in Europe.

So, what’s good about European robotics?

Europe has such a revered standing when it comes to robotics R&D (such as the Horizon 2020 programme) which has been well established a number of years. ERF is really an evolution of that rich history and leads on to exploring cross collaboration and the development of relationships and ideas.

I go to a lot of events. A lot. Some conferences seem to suck life out of people and leave you wondering why you attended. But I know with ERF it really is the best event to reach the wider robotics community, to plan for future developments, to share expertise. I can’t wait ;)

Thanks Rich!

For more information about ERF 2017, visit their website. If you’re heading to Edinburgh, make sure you come and say hi to us at Stand 13. We see you there!