Andra Keay joins CITRIS “People and Robots” Initiative

The Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, Andra Keay, joins the CITRIS People and Robots initiative as a Visiting Scholar, to extend connections between CITRIS and the Bay Area robotics community. 

The Greater Bay Area, from Santa Cruz and Monterey to Merced and Davis, is the world’s largest cluster of robotics innovation with more than 50 robotics research labs, 500 robotics startups or companies and $10bn in venture capital funding for robotics in 2018 alone. That’s more than 50% of the $18.37bn total global venture funding in 2018. Silicon Valley Robotics is a non-profit industry association, formed in 2010 by a coalition of innovative robotics companies, who provide support for startups commercializing research in real-world applications. 

As Keay describes it, “In 2010, venture funding for robotics in the Bay Area totalled $177 million and now is $10 billion.  Our first 5 year plan was to raise the profile of robotics in the region, and then, globally, and also to increase the amount of investment.”

“The CITRIS People and Robots Initiative is advancing robotics research, focusing on Deep Learning, Cloud Robotics, Human-Centric Automation, Precision Agriculture, and Bio-Inspired Robotics, developing socially responsible technology, which is critical as robotics is deployed widely in the world.”

CPAR, the CITRIS People and Robots initiative has 75 affiliated faculty from the four northern UC Campuses:  UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz, and over 1000 faculty research papers published in the past year. Please click join our mailing list:

Robotics and automation are advancing rapidly due to innovations in sensors, devices, UAVs, networks, optimization, and machine learning, accelerated by corporate and private investment.  These systems have enormous potential to reduce drudgery and improve human experience in healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, safety, and a broad range of other applications in the interests of society. Achieving this will require sensitivity to human issues, rigorous theory evaluated on standard benchmarks, and modular systems built on shared software toolkits.

“Our first initiative together will be a celebration of women in robotics on October 8th for Ada Lovelace Day.”  “We want to make sure that the contributions of women to robotics are not overlooked, so every year we publish a list of “25 women in robotics you need to know about” on This year, I’ll also be working with CPAR and WITI to organize a half-day event with community workshops in robotics, a robotics startup competition, and forums in the ‘hottest’ emerging commercial applications of robotics, space, construction, agriculture, retail and health.”

“I’m also looking forward to promoting this year’s ATC series, “Robo-Exoticism”, which will start on Sep 9 with a performance by world-renowned artist Madeline Gannon.” The ATC, or Art Technology Colloquium, directed by CPAR Director Ken Goldberg and hosted by the Berkeley Center for New Media, are free, open to the public, and feature artists, technologists and critical thinkers who push forward the frontiers of our interactions with technology. Some of the previous speakers include Miranda July, David Byrne, Bruno Latour and Laurie Anderson. 

“At the same time,” says Keay, “I’ll be working closely with robot startups both on and off campus, via the Robot Launch Startup Competition, which connects startups to investment, mentors and advisors. I look forward to showcasing the research being done at CPAR and the CITRIS organization as a template for innovation connecting with social cohesion.” Andra Keay can be contacted on or on twitter @robotlaunch or @svrobo