All about our Boston roots
Here at Piaggio Fast Forward, we are so proud to be built in Boston. We chose Boston as our home base because this city is the cornerstone of robotics, the most fertile ground to grow our innovative ideas. We sat down with our CEO, Greg Lynn, to talk all about our Boston roots. Here’s what he had to say:
Why did PFF choose Boston as home base?
The company was formed during several days in Monterey, California. This was at a time when Google and Apple were in the early stages of their self-driving car programs and ride hailing and scooter sharing was first launching in San Francisco and Los Angeles. We discussed where PFF should be located and decided that it was important to be in Boston because of three factors: the research and social intelligence concentrated in the region’s Universities and Colleges; the cultural and political concerns for innovation associated with the city and the State Capital in comparison with the prevalent ethos of ‘move fast and break things’ and ‘ask for forgiveness and not permission’; and finally the talent pool in what is the global epicenter for robotics.
What excites you about Boston and what it has to offer to PFF?
The city cares about the impact of technology and innovation on the future. From legislators to everyday citizens, Bostonians are concerned with the ability of innovation to make their city and the world around it a better place. We are energized by the critical optimism of people in the city when it comes to new technology and robotics. Disruption is the term you hear in other places and in Boston you hear the term innovation far more frequently. We feel part of a community that is committed to inventing products that improve the quality of how people live and work. We are inspired by the city and its commitment to innovation in the service of a better future. Boston should never take this for granted as it is an important difference from other cities focused on technology and robotics. It isn’t cynical or dystopian when it comes to technology.
How has Boston influenced our products or our company?
There is a unique ecosystem in Boston that incubates robotics companies that focus on larger missions and visions and not small problems. PFF began with a group of researchers, urbanists and designers in Allston at Harvard’s “i-lab” and soon moved to Greentown Labs and Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville. In these spaces we were surrounded by climate, nutrition, sustainable energy, mobility, and health technology start-ups focusing on solving large urban, environmental, and quality of life problems. In most other places, the mantra is to identify “pain points” of consumers and solve discrete small problems. We were surrounded by start-ups who were trying to solve big problems. This context of our colleagues was inspiring and influential in our focus on augmenting rather than replacing people with robots.
How are we (PFF) making ourselves known in the Boston area?
We made a decision to build where we sell, and since we are selling our robots and navigation systems in the United States, we have a factory here in Boston right next to our offices and labs. With close to one-hundred people working at PFF we are well known in the robotics community. We also are very active working with State and Municipal entities on topics ranging from mobility, to robotics, to supporting people with disabilities. We also are recognized around the city because of our local “paid user testing” where Boston residents walk and work with our robots all over the city and its environs.
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