AlleyCorp Robotics | June 2023 News Rollup
June 28, 2023
Hey friends - heard you were looking for some fun robotics GIFs! We may have snuck some valuable news in as well. 🤖
Check out the events list at the end for more ways to get connected… following us on social media and commenting on our posts works well too. 😅
Without further ado, welcome to the robot jungle! 🐍
From top to bottom: (a) A robotic gripper with reflexes (b) Sam’s Club will serve you burgers by robots (c) Robot helps astronauts transport objects on the moon
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Robotics News Rollup
There’s so much happening in the industry from caterpillar bots to robocops! Here's a curated list of recent funding rounds, exciting companies, and other noteworthy news.
State of Robotics
Industry insights and forecast - Bee Partners releases state of the art industry analysis spanning multitudes of verticals relevant to Robotics, such as Logistics, Healthcare, and demystifying the robotics market itself. Their most recent post featuring The Machine to Machine Learning Vector, and covers a case study on Rapid Robotics,
Europe's stepping up in the race! Despite a global dip in investments, Europe only saw a 5% drop in 2022, with Germany and France leading the surge. As US and China's robotic investments fall, Europe's flourishing growth hints at a potential new robotics superpower on the horizon.
Who are the investors? NFX publishes a database of all Pre-seed and Seed VCs, and Robotics is becoming increasingly hot. Here at AlleyCorp Robotics, we love to see the industry grow and have new friends!
Best place to build a robotics startup? Look no further. Among the top 21 companies that represent the key players in the robotics industry, Massachusetts takes 4 winners, comparable to Silicon Valley.
Interested in learning robotics? - Check out this list of resources!
Want more robot videos? - Check these out!
We believe in Robots + AI!
More effort to democratize robotics - Intrinsic, an Alphabet subsidiary, unveils Flowstate, a revolutionary platform for robotic app development. By combining deep learning and simulation, it empowers non-roboticists to design workflows for industrial robots. Alongside launching its beta version, the company plans to incorporate third-party developers' skills, democratizing the robot programming ecosystem.
ChatGPT's foray into robotics - While unlikely to replace human engineers, AI models like ChatGPT are showing potential in aiding the design process. A ChatGPT-assisted tomato-harvesting robot, for instance, proves AI can stimulate creativity and streamline high-level tasks. Still, concerns around AI misinformation and intellectual property remain high on the radar.
Robo-cartographers hit a home run - MIT’s multirobot mapping system, has clinched the 2022 IEEE Robotics Best Paper Award. This advanced system allows robots to share and improve mapping data collaboratively, establishing a new benchmark in simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology. Truly a game-changer for large-scale exploration.
Simulation, or is it real? Halo, the Las Vegas car-sharing start-up, is developing a fleet of remote-operated cars to deliver rentals. Tele-operated from a central office, the fleet will increase delivery rates and reduce costs. Unlike ride-hailing or autonomous cars, Halo's model bets on people still wanting to drive, providing a cost-effective rental service on-demand.
Welcome to the future of retail: Walmart's Alphabot. Speeding up grocery pick-ups and deliveries, this robotic helper fetches items from storage, creating jobs not killing them. By keeping aisles less cluttered with personal shoppers, Walmart's first Market Fulfillment Center in Arkansas is enhancing the customer experience and streamlining operations.
Say hello to your new delivery guy - an Uber Eats robot. With a deal to dispatch 2,000 Serve Robotics' bots, autonomous food delivery is set to take a leap forward. After successful pilot programs and a monthly growth rate of 30%, robo-deliveries will be rolling out across US markets. Meanwhile, its neighbor, Nuro, is in the midst of a restructuring and shifting focus back to advance autonomy R&D.
Robots are rescuing! - Zelim, a UK startup, partners with Sea Machines to develop an automated rescue craft. It integrates advanced technologies to conduct maritime search and rescue operations autonomously, potentially saving lives in dangerous conditions. Sea trials are scheduled to begin later this year.
Green and Self-Driven - Kodiak Robotics announces its plan to deploy an electric autonomous semi truck in 2024. Despite challenging regulatory conditions in California and the current limitations of electric vehicle range, the company maintains an ambitious vision to pioneer the confluence of electric and autonomous trucking.
Deals in this space:
Fernride, Munich-based autonomous truck startup, has raised $31M in Series A funding to enhance its unique approach to commercial vehicle automation. Specializing in yard trucks used in private sites, Fernride is pioneering Level 4 autonomy in logistics, intending to scale from six to 1,000 trucks, promising significant efficiency gains in the sector.
Robots in the Kitchen
Robo-chefs are the next super stars! Sam’s Club is testing an automated burger-slinger, turning raw beef into juicy delights in minutes. It's less about flipping burgers, more about flipping tech norms. Meanwhile, White Castle thinks Flippy flips fries better. Amid labor shortages, the chain is testing 'Flippy 2', a fry-cooking robot by Miso Robotics, as a consistency solution for their french fry dilemma.
Robo-salads are super stars too! Corewell Health is using Dexai Robotics’ solution to improve kitchen operations across their health system. Dexai’s product delivers healthy and freshly made salads at scale for Corewell’s staff and patients. (Dexai is an AlleyCorp Robotics portfolio company).
Karakuri's brave journey - The Ocado-backed kitchen robotics star, famed for sushi-slinging bots and chip-frying gizmos, is bidding adieu, after an inspiring hustle for funding. But don't worry, its talent-laden team of 30 is now set to sprinkle their genius elsewhere. Keep an eye out on LinkedIn!
…and Construction, Ag
Big print, big building - A monster bot is cooking up Europe's largest 3D-printed building in just 140 hours. Set in Heidelberg, this curvy data center boasts an eco-friendly menu of recycled concrete, resulting in 55% less CO2 emissions. Stay tuned for the July reveal. It's not just 3D, it's 3D done right!
Farming goes futuristic - High-tech titans use cameras and AI to identify and eliminate unwanted weeds, leaving crops untouched. Though not quite up for delicate fruit-picking tasks, their efficient weed zapping abilities are revolutionizing the agricultural sector, easing manual labor, and potentially making organic produce cheaper.
Farming meets Silicon Valley - high-tech farm startups, once hailed as the future of agriculture, are hitting a rough patch. The challenges? Old-school pests, lofty costs, and a stingy funding scene. But don't hang your hat yet - resilient green-thumbs insist, with a bit more wit and wisdom, the seeds of innovation will flourish again!
New robo-mowers shaking up the market - Mammotion's Luba is ditching the tedious perimeter wire setup, it uses an iPhone app and GPS for mowing boundaries. Harness the power of software for lawn maintenance with the EcoFlow Blade, GPS-guided, transforming hours of strenuous manual labor into seamless, efficient grass grooming.
Deals in this space:
Nigerian cold-chain startup Figorr secures $1.5M seed funding to scale its IoT solutions. The round was led by Atlantica Ventures, including VestedWorld, Jaza Rift Ventures, and Katapult VC. Figorr uses IoT devices to track perishables, aiding the healthcare and agricultural sectors. Now operational in seven African nations, it's planning to introduce a data-driven insurance product for perishables, leveraging its existing data to create risk profiles.
AI-based robotic systems for sorting recyclable material, AMP Robotics, extended its Series C round to $99 million after an investment from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund. The capital, which takes AMP's total funding to $178 million, will support operational scaling and technology deployment for recycling infrastructure. The company, which has identified over 75 billion objects to date, also plans to expand its secondary sortation business across the U.S.
Robotics in health
Mini-robots heat things up in medicine - a centimeter-sized, shape-shifting robot with pangolin-like metallic scales, developed by the Max Planck Institute, can generate heat to stop internal bleeding or destroy cancer cells. It could also facilitate targeted drug delivery, potentially revolutionizing minimally invasive treatments and precision medicine.
Save the day in the world of research - Opentrons is democratizing laboratory access with Flex, a new robot system that enhances the reproducibility and repeatability of research. Resembling a desktop printer, Flex can execute programmed research parameters and is available at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems. Backed by Vinod Khosla, Flex will start shipping in August 2023.
Watch out, brain! A soft robot inserted through a hole in the skull deploys sensor-filled legs on the brain's surface to monitor electrical activity. Successfully tested in miniature pigs, it offers a less invasive method for placing electrodes and could aid those with epileptic seizures.
Future of robotics is bright!
Never too early to join the fun - The Port Authority challenges high school engineers to create traffic-busting, chatterbox robots for tunnel patrols. Winner gets a cool $750 and some seriously shiny resume bling. Talk about 'byte'-sized heroes in our congested commutes!
From pandemic pinch-hitters to permanent players: Post-pandemic, robots like Moxi and Jesper are not just hospital helpers and waitstaff, they're here to stay! Delivering meds or meals, they're giving humans a break from menial tasks. Despite fears, they're serving as more helpful sidekicks than job snatchers!
Let the robot fun continue…
The return of humanoid robots - with advancements in machine learning and funding boosts, future warehouses might star graceful, task-completing humanoids. And hey, don't leave your stuff around, there's a robot hand now that can feel things, even in the dark! Silicon Valley's Sanctuary and Tesla invests in humanoids capable of diverse niche tasks, while Apptronik in Texas is crafting adaptable, general-purpose machines, capable of new behaviors with just a software update - shaping the future of interactive technology.
Home help redefined - Prosper Robotics is masterminding a robotic butler, capable of doing your dishes, tackling your laundry, and even rustling up simple meals. Zooming around on wheels with dexterous dual arms, this futuristic aide-de-camp is poised to revolutionize domestic duties, all for a moderate £5k-10k!
Look out Michelangelo! Italian startup Robotor combines robotics and AI to simplify and accelerate the sculpting process, making it more sustainable. Their proprietary software, OR-OS, generates optimized workflows and tool paths autonomously, enabling the robotic arm to create intricate sculptures.
Like something out of Black Mirror - Singapore Police Force deploys 7-foot-tall robots at Changi Airport to augment officers. Equipped with 360-degree vision, speakers, and cameras, they enforce cordons, warn bystanders, and allow public communication while waiting for human officers. More robots will be progressively deployed across the city-state.
Robotics in VR - A mechanical backpack called JumpMod enhances the sensation of jumping and falling in virtual reality. By moving a 2-kilogram weight up or down, it creates the perception of increased vertical momentum. This lightweight solution allows for immersive experiences without bulky infrastructure.
Finally, clean stairs! - Migo Robotics introduces the Ascender, a robot vacuum that can climb and clean stairs, addressing a significant limitation of robovacs. Equipped with articulated legs, it hoists itself onto steps and uses omni-directional wheels to clean. The Ascender relies on LiDAR scanners for mapping and offers a crowdfunding campaign with a discounted price of $999.
Deals in this space:
Figure secures $70M for its humanoid robots. This Sunnyvale-based startup, less than a year old, has raised a Series A led by Parkway Venture Capital, alongside Aliya Capital, Bold Ventures, Tamarack Global, FJ Labs, and Kuka Robotics' CEO, Till Reuter. This follows a $100M self-financed seed from Figure's CEO, Brett Adcock, aiming to revolutionize the labor economy with AI technology.
⛏️ Picks & Shovels
The state-backed Japan Investment Corp. is acquiring chipmaking firm JSR for $6.3 billion, in line with global efforts to secure semiconductor supply chains. This strategic acquisition, offering a 35% premium per share, notably strengthens Japan's position in AI development by ensuring a reliable supply of key materials essential for advanced chip production.
👩🏽🔬 Researchers gonna research
Scientists have developed microscopic, magnetically-controlled robots that can self-organize into patterns on water. This breakthrough could aid in constructing microscopic structures and advance our understanding of self-organization principles, prevalent in processes like molecular interactions and animal behaviors.
Berkeley Lab researchers establish the A-Lab, a robotic material research laboratory that employs AI to make routine decisions. With three robotic arms and AI control, the A-Lab can synthesize materials for clean energy technologies up to 100 times faster than human researchers. The facility allows continuous research and is funded by the Department of Energy.
MIT students create the 'Homie Stool', a two-legged piece blending woodworking and robotics that stands independently due to precise coding and calibration. Meant for two people sitting back-to-back, the stool promotes human interaction, offering a balance against the isolation of our tech-dominated era, and celebrating our interconnectedness.
MIT engineers develop a robotic gripper with reflexive control, enabling robots to adapt to uncertainties in environments. The gripper uses fast actuators and high-speed sensors to react in real-time, increasing successful grasps by over 55%. "Now with reflexes, we think we can one day pick and place in every possible way, so that a robot could potentially clean up the house."
MIT's FluidLab introduces a groundbreaking simulation tool enabling robots to master complex fluid manipulation tasks. By calculating intricate material interactions in a virtual environment, the tool facilitates the development of robotic skills like making latte art, shaping ice cream, or manipulating air, marking a step towards more versatile household and workplace robots.
Creepy Crawly: Worms, Centipede and Caterpillar robots. Georgia Tech researchers create a 16-legged robotic centipede that successfully navigates uneven terrain without sensors or adaptive programming, inspired by Claude Shannon's communication theory. The technology is set to be integrated into an agricultural weed-pulling robot. Georgia Tech and MIT researchers have developed a mathematical model of the tangling and untangling behaviors of California blackworms, potentially inspiring advanced, shapeshifting robotics and multifunctional materials designs. North Carolina State University scientists developed a caterpillar-inspired soft robot that moves forward, backward, and fits in tight spaces. Controlled by silver nanowire patterns, the robot's movement can be directed by adjusting the applied heat.
📅 Upcoming robotics events
ROBOCUP 2023: 4–10 JULY 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 JULY 2023, DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 AUGUST 2023, BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 OCTOBER 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
HUMANOIDS 2023: 12–14 DECEMBER 2023, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Robotics companies are hiring
Come build the future!
Four Growers is looking for a Director of Hardware!
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2 Still love these ASCII old-school emoji… this here is apparently known as a “robot party”. Alternate ASCII robomoji include this happy fellow - d[o_0]b - and this friendly robot - └|▽▽|┐