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The Pransky interview: Dr. Tessa Lau, Founder and CEO of Dusty Robotics

Joanne Pransky (Robotic Psychiatrist, Sonoma County, California, USA)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 3 August 2020

Issue publication date: 18 August 2020




The purpose of this paper is to provide a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry PhD-turned successful business leader, regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing technological inventions to market. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The interviewee is Dr Tessa Lau, an experienced entrepreneur with expertise in AI, machine learning, and robotics, who thrives on the challenges of creating startups. She is currently Founder/CEO at Dusty Robotics, whose mission is to address construction industry productivity by introducing robotic automation on the jobsite. In this interview, Lau discusses her technical and business insights from the startups she built.


Dr Lau received her BA and BS from Cornell University in computer science and applied & engineering physics; and an MS and PhD degree in computer science from University of Washington. Prior to co-founding Dusty in April 2018, she was CTO/co-founder at Savioke, where she orchestrated the deployment of 75+ delivery robots into hotels and high-rises. Previously, Lau was a research scientist at Willow Garage, where she developed simple interfaces for personal robots. She also spent 11 years at IBM Research working in business process automation and knowledge capture.


Dr Lau, known as the Chief Robot Whisperer, is a robot industry disruptor who is passionate about pioneering technology that gives people super-powers. Lau has built two businesses, large, successful venture capital-funded companies. Lau was named 2017 Woman of Influence by The Silicon Valley Business Journal and one of the most creative business people by Fast Company in 2015. Over the years, Lau has served on program committees for various major HCI and AI conferences and on the board for the CRA-W – the committee for the status of women in computing research.



Pransky, J. (2020), "The Pransky interview: Dr. Tessa Lau, Founder and CEO of Dusty Robotics", Industrial Robot, Vol. 47 No. 5, pp. 643-646.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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