BCN Robotics Meeting, quick and intense trip to Barna for the day

World Mobile Center, Barcelona
LOCOCEEZBOTS Tue, 25/03/2014 - 16:29

Saturday 22nd of march: I spent the day in Barcelona, attending the 2014 Barcelona Robotics Meeting. So a bit early for saturday...I rode the train in the morning from Valencia (6:40 am) to Barcelona:

Train..199 km/h

Nice speed.

10:00 → I arrived to Estació de França:

Train Station


There was even a flee market:

Flee market

The event was held from 9:45 to 18:00 (though I had to leave at 17:00), located at the very core of Barcelona, just by the Catalunya Square, touching “Las Ramblas”. I went for a stroke at lunch break and it was so crowded. Full of life, small and big stores, nice streets, lots of tourists, great spring day. Nice.

Las ramblas

Las ramblas

Arriving: the building seems to be multi functionally shared by different entities. The base level was a Movistar store. The robotics stuff was in the upper two levels. First floor was were you could find some interesting promotion booths to the left of the stairs besides a Barcelona Tourist Info office. And to the right there was a small area well suited for conferences. On the second floor you could check a VEX bot competition for schools. I spent just ten minutes there cause I was interested mainly in the conferences, but the coolness, great mood and franticness was just as amazing as in any robots competition. Some of the bots were teleoperated and had to manipulate balls picking them up and placing them in tubes. I'm not elaborating anymore because as I said before, I was not educated in the subject (competition, rules...).

VEX competition bot

One of the competing bots.


Lets go fist for the promotional stuff:

Well basically, there were just five of them, and a little Hexbug selling point.





Adele Robots


IRI (Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial)




Aisoy Robotics


SPECS (Synthetic Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems)


The Hexbug selling point showed very cool little robots, though -as usual- I'm in a budget and my saturday present was the train ticket from Valencia to Barna and back, so I managed myself not to buy a OLLO Spider that would increase spending by 40 euros. Darn, I might get it one of these days.

Hexbot Spider

Another was from Aisoy, with three of the cute emotional bots in expo.


The third one was a terrestrial ;) rover from IRII and CSIC which had a nice LIDAR dome with which it 3D scanned all environment for autonomous navigation. This is a college bound institute so the purpose of this robot was research mainly.

Lidar bot

Lidar bot

Fourth was held by Ro-botica, a well known physical store from Barcelona with a wide offer in robots and humanoids as the Darwin in the pictures.

Darwin connections


The last one was from a company called SPEC with a business card stating they were iCub specialists. The show the put with their iCub implementation was very impressive, he would obbey voice commands move around with a kinect and camera for sensing people and obstacle and could even play pong in a screened table. He was lagging a lot (due to huge ping in the wifi connection as usual :D...), but technically there was a huge amount of work behind that display. The iCub looks pretty impressive itself.





Latest expo point was for a therapeutical emotional robot, known in Japan as PARO, and in Spain as Nüka. In the conferences, Celestino Alvarez, Adele Robots CEO would show some touching videos of PARO with elderly.

PARO or Nüka in Spain





So far, so good. Let's go now for the conferences.

I could attend only from 10:30 to 14.00 and from 16:00 to 17:00. My train left at 17:34 and I was a good 20 minutes walk to the station, so I couldn't leave later. I missed some conferences.

I arrived a bit late. Missed the conf. About educational....I'm sorry, though I'm a teacher myself I wanted to check the competition and the little expo area. I missed latest conferences about Robots and mobile phones by Jordi Albó (La Salle URL) and PAL Robotics about service robots (oouch dropping that one really hurt), no time for more. Also missed Robots and creativity by Diego García (Aisoy Robotics) which for sure was also quite good.

Sorry for the names and maybe some more stuff I may have missed to comment. They were all very worth it!



CATUAV is a cartographic mapping company. Jordi Santacana was the speaker. They use different spectrum cameras to really grasp every possible information inferable from aerial images. Very useful civil application as damage measurement after floods or earth quakes, environmental assessment, agricultural analysis of fertilizers effectiveness, light points inventory for old towns, energy efficiency analysis, night fire call it. Very interesting.



Pere Ridau (CIRS - Centre d'Investigació en Robòtica Submarina) explained how we are in the verge of achieving affordable submarine autonomous bots. The technical proceedings for this were very interesting but something that cached my attention was how PERE worked in research, but (probably obligued by Minister and European Union funds) was market driven. He was focused on when and how a successful spin could come out of their hard work. Nice job.



These were also interesting conferences, but in some way were less centered in innovation and to be honest little of what was said was new for me, specially in the ABB delivery by Cristóbal Vela  . Sergio Gómez (Artisteril) showed practical implementations of autonomous transportation in the field. A full robotic reality growing as business. Two interesting notes: how human driven vehicles are “automated” and not design from zero, and new ABB developments in BIG 3D printing. There was a video of an ABB robot literally drawing in the air leaving a steel welding wire.



Fernando Vilariño (Centre de Visió per Computador from UAB). There was not a lot of technical info given in his conference, it was more of a broad approach to what vision means to robotics and specially what needs to be achieved by it in order to fulfill the needed interaction with humans, expected from future advanced robots. Very interesting.



Guillem Alenyà (IRI - Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial). No too much of a technical approach here neither. Historical review of humanoid robots and an analysis of that obsession we have with legged bots in contrast to the huge complexity of implementing two legged walking bots when compared to wheeled humanoids. I like techy stuff, but still very interesting.



An economical analysis that is no secret to anyone, neither to Pere Homs (Robotics Venture Consulting). Surely 30 years ago many people predicted a computer revolution with a PC in every home. Well, we've gone well beyond a PC, we've got one or more PCs and computers in our pockets, purses and even wrists, and the economic weight of this is as great as any. Same is said about robotics, though it's not clear when it's going to happen. Robots are nowadays far from the dumbest human capabilities, and advancements required in AI field are not just incremental in a complex state of the art area. We will see.



This was a very emotional conf. Indeed by Celestino Álvarez (Adele Robots), no cheap pun here. Videos were shown where the huge potential of emotional interaction between likable robots and handicapped humans (autistic and elderly) was demonstrated. How much good and added value can this be? Enormous. Linking this with the humanoid service bots, one question was raised “How much are we willing to pay for such a robot?”. It depends on its performance. Though the scaling effect on price drop won't be as great as with computers (due to the fact that mechanically a humanoid will always be expensive), they will be somehow affordable, not as cheap as a laptop, but probably cheaper than a car.



To be honest, since I didn't know how the “mobile world center” was, I thought it would be a greater expo. Anyway, to me, getting up on Saturday at 5:35 to catch the train from Valencia and come back in the afternoon was VERY well worth it. Some years ago there was the Campus Party held yearly in Valencia, with lots of robotics activities, but I was still in the dark and no bot bug had bitten me yet. There's no more CP in Valencia and Robotics (out of industrial) is still somewhat exotic, even more in Spain. So any chance I have to be involved, listen, see and meet and learn about people in the business means a lot to me. For a single day Barcelona Robotics Meeting 2014 couldn't be so much of a big deal but even if it was a modest expo, there seem to be a good organizational and promotional efford behind (thumbs up Fundación educaBOT !) and some of the conferences were pretty awesome, specially the ones by real businesses and some from research orgs too.