What Can Philly Do to Make a Home For Robotics to Flourish? Scenes From ICRA 2022’s Mad Dash

On the third day of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, I found myself zipping between drones, autonomous robots and a Tesla Model S to keep up with Vijay Kumar, the University of Pennsylvania’s dean of engineering.

The university had put together a tour of sorts for Anne Nadol, the City of Philadelphia’s new commerce director who’d come to the department in March after leaving a top position at Temple University last summer. Her goal, she told me, was to meet as many Philly-based companies and do anything — really, anything — to get them to stay.

Case in point: During a quick stop at Ghost Robotics’ exhibit booth, we heard from cofounder Avik De that the city’s been good to the team so far, but that they’re currently splitting offices between the Pennovation Center and the Navy Yard because they need unique space to develop and test products. Nadol and fellow commerce department staffer Sam Woods Thomas began whipping out business cards.

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