Well, now. The Robo Business 2008 conference and exposition is going on now, at the David Lawrence Convention Center here in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, there are people in California who care about this sort of thing, otherwise I probably never would have found out about it. As it is, I've found out too late to take advantage of the opportunity. It's a shame - I would have loved to take my oldest daughter down to see the robots.
In my mind, this is a typical problem of technology in Pittsburgh. Nobody takes us seriously. Why should they? We don't even take ourselves seriously. If it wasn't for CrunchGear, I wouldn't have known about this expo at all. In the local media, only the Tribute review bothered to cover the event, and even then, only in a mention in an article yesterday that focused primarily on CMU's Robot Hall of Fame. The Pittsburgh Technology Council doesn't even list Robo Business 2008 on their events calendar.
I mean, come on, people! We have a world-class technical university at CMU, complete with it's own Robotics Institute and the National Robotics Engineering Center. There's a Pittsburgh Area Robotics Society, and the Pittsburgh Robotics Initiative has 23 members with the goal of making Pittsburgh "the center of the world's robotics and automation industry." There are companies like McKesson, Redzone Robotics, HyperActive Technologies, and Applied Perception that are building a basis for a robotics industry in the area. A Google search for Pittsburgh robotics turns up over 800,000 results.
If you think about what's needed for robotics: hardware expertise, embedded systems expertise, networking and communications expertise - we've got that in spades. If there's any place where robotics should be cool, it's here. If there's any place where a conference like this should be a big thing, it's Pittsburgh.
So... where's the news coverage? Where's the attention? Take a look at the list of participating companies, and you'll see that there's literally hundreds of businesses represented. Hundreds of companies descend on Pittsburgh to discuss a growing high-tech industry, and the media coverage is indistinguishable from noise.
Maybe they should have had a robot throw out the first pitch of the season at PNC park yesterday.