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By Anne O’Connor


DEVENS — Movers and shakers in the robotics industry met in Devens the first week in June.

“There’s a lot going on,” said Waseem Naqvi, president of AUVSI New England. The volunteer organization behind Robotica 2016 is dedicated to advancing unmanned and robotic systems.

Robots, unmanned vehicles, are at work on land, in the air and on water, he said. Now, they are moving into other fields.

Over 90 speakers participated in break-out sessions and speeches.

Exhibitors from across the industry had their wares or services on display. Some like Lampin, with offices in Uxbridge, make components for other companies. “We’re a machine-shop,” said Jay Milander, director of sales. The company also provides engineering and sub-assembly of plastic and metal parts.

Flying drones, robotic arms and wheeled platforms that could use those arms were on display in separate booths. NASA was there.

The focus was on business-related topics, Naqvi said. It was a chance for industry folk to network.

“We have some very, very good keynote speakers,” he said. The agenda included the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss what is going on in the air right now.

Toyota, with a new research institute, planned to talk about the future of robotics in unmanned vehicles and for assisting senior citizens. Robotics for the elderly is an up-and-coming market, Naqvi said.

Devens is right at the center of many of industries using and making robots, Naqvi said.

The Raytheon employee developed a test site in 2014 for unmanned vehicles on the former airfield. “It’s not a lab; it’s a real place,” he said.

For a couple of years, there has been talk about a larger site in Devens for driverless vehicle testing, he said.

“It is not a city. It is not a town. It is a state-owned municipality,” he said. “They have different rules.”

“You want to be able to test autonomous vehicles,” said Vijay Somandepalli, managing engineer at Exponent of Natick.

If a course is developed in Devens, it will be much easier for the company to test how their products will work in the real world and in different vehicles, he said. Devens is much closer than the other test site in Michigan.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.