Association for Advancing Automation celebrates 50th anniversary 

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The first president of what was to become known as the Association for Advancing Automation, Don Vincent, and Jeff Burnstein, who took over the role in 2007 and still lead A3 today, discuss robot sales in 1987. PHOTO courtesy A3.

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the world’s largest robotics and automation trade group, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024.

The global advocate for the benefits of automation now represents more than 1280 member companies as it promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform and redefine the business environment.

“The success of A3 for the past five decades is directly attributable to the unflagging support of our members, the incredible advances in automation technology, and the resilience and talent of the team we’ve assembled,” said Jeff Burnstein, who joined A3 in 1983 and has served as president of the association since 2007. “The last few years have been an especially exciting time as the use of robotics and other forms of automation has hit record levels. We expect the next 50 years to be even busier for our organization as we support our member companies and users as they continue to embrace automation. We look forward to commemorating a legacy of innovation and progress all year, but especially as the industry gathers in Chicago this May for the Automate Show.”

The Association for Advancing Automation began in 1974 originally as the Robot Institute of America (RIA), initially founded by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (now SME) and headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan. The first Robots Show, now known as Automate, took place in 1976, co-located with the Assemblex III show. In 1982, RIA separated from SME, changing its name to the Robotic Industries Association. In 1984, RIA began publishing the first industrial robot sales statistics, solidifying RIA as a trusted resource on market trends for the robotic industry. In 1986, RIA published the first Robot Safety Standard (R15.06), putting RIA on the map for its global leadership in safety and standards. 

Headquarters then moved to Ann Arbor in 1986, and over the years, began adding support for other automation technologies with the AIA-Advancing Vision + Imaging and Motion Control and Motors Association (MCMA). Those separate associations remained until 2021, when A3 merged RIA, AIA, MCMA and A3 Mexico into one association while adding a new Artificial Intelligence group to help industrial automation companies navigate the AI landscape. That year, became the official home of the unified A3 and a hub for all automation industry resources. 

To see the full timeline of events spanning 50 years as an association, visit

“While the name of our association has changed over the years, what has never wavered is our mission of bringing vendors and users together to take advantage of the productivity and efficiency benefits robotics and automation enable,” Burnstein said. “I’ve had a front row seat to the growth of the industry for more than 40 years and expect even greater growth as more industries facing labor shortage and efficiency issues recognize what robotics and automation can do to help them succeed.”  

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