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Robo-dragonfly (almost) steals the MARS show

Jeff Bezos and robo-dragonfly
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos prepares to unleash the robo-dragonfly. (Jeff Bezos via Instagram)

Find someone who looks at you the way Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos looks at the robotic dragonfly that’s buzzing around his head at this week’s MARS conference.

MARS is Amazon’s annual invitation-only event focusing on Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. This year’s attendees range from researchers and entrepreneurs in all those fields to celebrities like “Star Wars” legend Mark Hamill and veteran astronauts including Mike Massimino and Story Musgrave. (Astronauts attend for free.)

This week marks the fourth annual MARS gathering, which has now given rise to an open-to-the-public spinoff called “re:MARS.” The first re:MARS conference is planned for June 4-7 in Las Vegas, with a $1,999 admission charge.

Lots of weighty subjects are addressed at MARS, but Bezos says the most important metric for judging success is to “have some fun.”

He certainly seems to follow that precept in the clip from last night that he shared on Twitter and Instagram.

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Jeff Bezos generates buzz at MARS fest

Lindy Elkins-Tanton and Dava Newman
Arizona State University’s Lindy Elkins-Tanton and MIT’s Dava Newman face the camera during Amazon’s MARS conference. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is in the giant drone behind them. (Lindy Elkins-Tanton via Twitter)

Which is more viral, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos getting buzzed by a robotic dragonfly, or Bezos buzzing in Lift Aircraft’s Hexa passenger drone?

Those are just a couple of today’s highlights from Amazon’s annual invitation-only festival in Palm Springs, Calif., celebrating Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. As usual, we’re on the outside looking in, based on tweets with the #MARS2019 hashtag and reports from those on the scene at The Parker Resort.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, has emerged as the most reliable tweeter about the MARS goings-on. She’s the one who tweeted out a video clip of Bezos keeping watch amid a crowd of attendees as a robo-dragonfly flitted around the conference grounds. She also shared imagery showing Bezos in the driver’s seat of Lift’s ultralight aircraft at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

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Jeff Bezos and Robert Downey Jr. to star at re:MARS

Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin capsule
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shows off a mockup of Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule during a 2017 space conference. Blue Origin will be represented at Amazon’s re:Mars conference. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon didn’t have to look very far for one of the biggest headliners due to appear at re:MARS, the Seattle-based company’s open-to-the-public event focusing on artificial intelligence and other tech frontiers.

Billionaire founder Jeff Bezos will share the stage with actor/producer Robert Downey Jr. and a cavalcade of CEOs, researchers and Amazon executives.

Today Amazon is taking the wraps off the starting lineup for the first re:MARS conference, set to take place June 4-7 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas — and is letting the world know that registration will open at 6 a.m. PT March 28.

Re:MARS is modeled after the company’s invitation-only MARS conference, which has focused annually on Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space since 2016. In 2017, Bezos stole the show by stomping onstage in a giant robot, and in 2018, MARS photos of Bezos and Boston Dynamics’ robot dog went viral.

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Amazon launches AI event called re:MARS

Jeff Bezos and robot dog
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos takes a stroll with a SpotMini robot dog. (Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

Amazon’s annual invitation-only event on machine learning, automation, robotics and space — known as Mars — has become a high-tech highlight for insiders, featuring billionaire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos riding a giant robot or walking a robot dog.

Now a wider circle of tech leaders can get in on a spin-off experience called re:MARS, which is due to make its debut June 4-7 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The event will shine a spotlight on the leading lights and cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Amazon said today in a blog posting.

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Buff Bezos and robot dog kick off MARS fest

Jeff Bezos and robot dog
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos takes a stroll with a SpotMini robot dog. (Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

Amazon’s invitation-only conference on machine learning, automation, robotics and space exploration, also known as MARS, has become an annual tradition marked by billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos’ high-tech high jinks.

Last year, Bezos kicked off the Palm Springs meet-up by taking the controls of a giant robot. Today, he showed up as “Buff Bezos,” accompanied by Boston Dynamics’ four-legged, anxiety-inducing SpotMini robot.

Our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail, but based on the tweetstream, the highlights so far include an Intel indoor drone formation fly-in, emceed by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich … a ping-pong-playing robot … a show-and-tell by Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck, featuring his company’s 3-D-printed Rutherford rocket engine and Humanity Star disco-ball satellite … a sound-converting vest … and an inspirational talk by actor Michael J. Fox.

Check out the gallery on GeekWire.

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Another look at Jeff Bezos’ gee-whiz frontier

New Shepard and drone
An Amazon delivery drone hovers with Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship in the background. (Amazon via Ben Fox Rubin / YouTube)

We already knew that Amazon provided a rare public demonstration of its delivery drone dropping off some sunscreen at this week’s MARS 2017 conference in Palm Springs, Calif. We also knew that Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket ship, which went to space and back five times, was on display at the invitation-only event, organized by Amazon to show off frontier technologies in Machine learning, home Automation, Robotics and Space exploration. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a fresh video showing the drone at work with the spaceship in the background.

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Drone show wows Amazon’s MARS attendees

Drone display
Intel’s swarm of light-equipped drones arrange themselves to create an American flag in the sky above Amazon’s MARS conference. (Caleb Harper via Twitter)

The synchronized drone display that accompanied Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show may have been recorded in advance, but a similar “droneworks” show wowed a crowd in real time at Amazon’s MARS 2017 conference in Palm Springs, Calif.

“If you thought the Super Bowl drone light show was cool, this tops it,” Sasha Hoffman wrote in a tweet.

Like the Super Bowl’s display, March 20’s evening show was presented by Intel. The company’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, reportedly played a personal part in “bringing out the drones.”

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Amazon delivery drone goes public in U.S.

Amazon delivery drone
An Amazon delivery drone flies around the MARS conference. (Jason Johnson via Periscope

Amazon’s Prime Air drone made its first package delivery in December, in England, but regular folks haven’t seen it in action out in the open here in the States. Until today.

The drone demonstrated its delivery technique during Amazon’s MARS 2017 conference at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif. The merchandise? A box containing sunscreen for the sunny California weather, of course.

Amazon has been providing glimpses of its prototype drones for well more than a year, and the testing continues in the U.S. and Britain as well as other countries. However, the previous peeks we’ve gotten have been professionally packaged videos, created by Amazon.

In contrast, today’s video was basically a smartphone clip shot by Jason Johnson, who’s the founder and CEO of August Home (and an attendee at MARS 2017).

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What’s big at Amazon’s hush-hush meet-up?

Cassie the robot
Oregon State University’s Mikhail Jones takes a walk with Cassie the robot. (OSU Photo)

Walking robots that could potentially delivery your Amazon Prime package … robotic bees and robo-farms … a cheetah robot controlled by Amazon’s Alexa AI assistant: These are just a few of the gee-whiz concepts being discussed at Amazon’s secret MARS conference in Southern California.

MARS 2017 is designed to preview technologies in Machine learning, home Automation, Robotics and Space exploration.for a select audience. The festivities got under way on March 19 with a giant-robot demonstration starring Amazon’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos.

Sessions are continuing this week, and although there’s no published agenda, the tweets from participants are dropping big hints about what’s going on.

Check out five of the highlights on GeekWire.

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Jeff Bezos pilots a giant robot at MARS 2017

Jeff Bezos in robot
Robotic arms stretch wide with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the controls. (Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

If you’re one of Amazon’s competitors, be afraid. Be very afraid. Jeff Bezos, the Seattle-based online giant’s billionaire founder, has tweeted a picture of himself at the controls of a giant robot. And he’s smiling.

“Why do I feel so much like Sigourney Weaver?” Bezos can be heard saying in a video clip from the demonstration, which took place at a hush-hush conference organized by Amazon in Southern California.

This robot isn’t meant to fight off scary xenomorphs like the one that menaced Weaver’s character in the movie “Aliens.” And it’s not designed to deliver packages, either. It’s the 14-foot-tall Method-2 robot, developed at Hankook Mirae Technology’s lab near Seoul in South Korea.

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