Mass. critical hub for autonomous systems

Mass. critical hub for autonomous systems

Could be key factor in landing Amazon headquarters

IT’S AN EXCITING TIME to be in the Commonwealth’s innovation sector. There’s a technological revolution taking place around the world and Massachusetts is ground zero as an emerging new industry sector takes shape. Rapid technological advances and a burgeoning commercial market for innovations such as unmanned systems and robotics are driving investment, creating quality jobs, stimulating STEM education, and building upon a vibrant sector in the Massachusetts economy. These factors will not go unnoticed as Amazon surveys the nation for another headquarters location.

Autonomous systems and platforms are transforming how we will travel, how patients will receive treatment, and how we will farm, manufacture products, fulfill transportation logistics, and help ensure public safety. Amazon is a pioneer in these technologies and knows that Massachusetts is a critical hub, having already based its robotics division in the Boston area. Still, internationally-known companies such as Amazon Robotics, iRobot, and Raytheon are only part of a much more comprehensive technology story that Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to tell.

The unmanned systems and robotics ecosystem includes small and large companies in Massachusetts that are developing technologies for autonomous vehicles, aerial drones, maritime vehicles, and ground robots as well as the artificial intelligence and collaborative systems that support them. As more of these advances come to market, new applications are not only changing the future of transportation with self-driving cars, but every aspect of our 2017 world.

Home automation today extends far beyond a robot vacuum and the internet of things is making everyday household amenities interactive and smart. The Commonwealth is at the heart of research in applications for aerial drones. Medical robots are already changing healthcare by making operating rooms and medical procedures safer and more efficient. Similarly, automated technologies are transforming logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing. The list goes on as does the growing number of Massachusetts companies and the high quality workforce behind these creative applications. Just like these innovators, Amazon would find similar satisfaction here.

This thriving new unmanned systems and robotics sector is a major reason why Massachusetts consistently ranks as the number one state in various technology economic impact indexes. According to the Massachusetts Robotics Cluster Report by ABI Research and commissioned by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, 33 new robotics companies formed here between 2011 and 2015. In 2015, the Massachusetts robotics sector experienced $190 million in private equity investment, second only to California. Robotics companies here generated $1.6 billion in revenue. Behind the impressive numbers is the Commonwealth’s bipartisan approach to policymaking, a globally competitive workforce, and an array of highly-respected colleges and major research universities. With every graduation ceremony, these higher education institutions produce a continual pipeline of high quality STEM degree holders to our innovation economy.

All of this is why, today, more than 350 industry leaders and businesses in the region are members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) New England, the largest trade group exclusively dedicated to the unmanned systems sector. The growth and strength of the sector is a major reason why Boston was selected to host the largest annual trade show for robotics and unmanned systems in 2020 – AUVSI’s Xponential. Massachusetts’ involvement was critical to the establishment of NUAIR, and the FAA’s regional UAS (drone) Test Center and its designated flight corridor from Cape Cod to upstate New York. Yet another reason we expect more companies to see Massachusetts as a good place to do business.

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Adams

President, AUVSI New England
Massachusetts has a lot to offer any new business, and in this case, we have what Amazon is looking for – robust public transportation, access to airports, exceptional colleges and universities, a diverse population, lawmakers at the ready, and an already strong economy. But it doesn’t end there. These reasons, in combination with the already-established robotics sector, the small business boom still on the rise, and the region’s expected continued growth, should give Amazon more than enough reason to choose Massachusetts as its next hub.

Jeffrey Adams is the President of AUVSI New England and co-Founder and president at Unmanned Aerial Systems Development, Inc. in Holliston, MA.