Category Archives: Robotics

Ex-Googlers meld humans & machines at new cobotics startup Formant

Our distinct skill sets and shortcomings mean people and robots will join forces for the next few decades. Robots are tireless, efficient and reliable, but in a millisecond through intuition and situational awareness, humans can make decisions machine can’t. Until workplace robots are truly autonomous and don’t require any human thinking, we’ll need software to supervise them at scale. Formant comes out of stealth today to “help people speak robot,” says co-founder and CEO Jeff Linnell. “What’s really going to move the needle in the innovation economy is using […]

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Sphero is finished making Star Wars products

Sphero’s on-going deals are about more than just priming the pump for the holidays. The Colorado robotic toy startup is also in the process of cleaning out inventory of what are now be marked “legacy” products on its site. All of the Disney licensed products now carry a “THIS IS A LEGACY PRODUCT AND NO LONGER IN PRODUCTION” tag, and in many cases are no longer available through Sphero’s site. The move is no surprise, of course. The company announced nearly a year ago amid layoffs that […]

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RightHand Robotics grabs $23 million in funding

RightHand Robotics announced a $23 million Series B this week. That brings the pick and place robotic arm manufacturer’s total funding up to around $34 million, including last year’s $8 million Series A. The robotics startup has impressed investors with the dexterity and speed of its robotic picking system, having recruited some big VC names along the way. This latest round is led by Menlo Ventures, along with investments from GV (nee Google Ventures) joining the likes of existing investors, Playground Global, Dream Incubator and Matrix partners. […]

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Lift Aircraft’s Hexa may be your first multirotor drone ride

We were promised jetpacks, but let’s be honest, they’re just plain unsafe. So a nice drone ride is probably all we should reasonably expect. Lift Aircraft is the latest to make a play for the passenger multirotor market, theoretical as it is, and its craft is a sleek little thing with some interesting design choices to make it suitable for laypeople to “pilot.” The Austin-based company just took the wraps off the Hexa, the 18-rotor craft it intends to make available for short recreational flights. It just […]

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That night, a forest flew: DroneSeed is planting trees from the air

Wildfires are consuming our forests and grasslands faster than we can replace them. It’s a vicious cycle of destruction and inadequate restoration rooted, so to speak, in decades of neglect of the institutions and technologies needed to keep these environments healthy. DroneSeed is a Seattle-based startup that aims to combat this growing problem with a modern toolkit that scales: drones, artificial intelligence and biological engineering. And it’s even more complicated than it sounds. Trees in decline A bit of background first. The problem of disappearing forests is […]

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Burgerbot startup Creator hires inventor of Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog

Disney Imagineering animatronics wizard Dr. Martin Buehler is a legend in the robotics world. His work leading development of the galloping Big Dog quadruped at Boston Dynamics both inspired and terrified a new generation of makers. But after playing in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction that consumers can’t buy, Buehler has been poached to work on something much more tangible. In fact, it’s edible. He’s joining burger-making robot startup Creator as VP of engineering. “It was a great experience working on experimental validation [at Boston Dynamics]” […]

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Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep

Seemingly every industry is finding ways to use drones in some way or another, but deep underground it’s a different story. In the confines of a mine or pipeline, with no GPS and little or no light, off-the-shelf drones are helpless — but an Australian startup called Emesent is giving them the spatial awareness and intelligence to navigate and map those spaces autonomously. Drones that work underground or in areas otherwise inaccessible by GPS and other common navigation techniques are being made possible by a confluence of […]

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Failed drone startup Airware auctions assets, Delair buys teammates

Airware desperately sought cash for 18 months before running out of money and shutting down last month, leaving about 120 employees without jobs after the startup had burned $118 million in funding. Bandaid strategic investments from construction company Caterpillar and others kept Airware alive as it looked for a $15 million round, according to a former employee. A late pivot from hardware to drone software sales through Caterpillar’s dealers went sour, as Airware lacked the features found in competitors and suffered from slow engineering cycles. “So Caterpillar told […]

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Bright Machines lands $179M to bring smarter robotics to manufacturing

Robotics has had a role in manufacturing since the 1970s, but even today they are aren’t often driven by the latest software. Bright Machines, a San Francisco startup wants to change that and it got a whopping $179 million Series A today to get this thing going. While it was at it, it also officially launched the company. The startup wants to bring a software-driven approach to robotics, one that would let you take dumb robotics and program it in a more automated fashion to perform a […]

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This robot uses lasers to ‘listen’ to its environment

A new technology from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University will add sound and vibration awareness to create truly context-aware computing. The system, called Ubicoustics, adds additional bits of context to smart device interaction, allowing a smart speaker to know it’s in a kitchen or a smart sensor to know you’re in a tunnel versus on the open road. “A smart speaker sitting on a kitchen countertop cannot figure out if it is in a kitchen, let alone know what a person is doing in a kitchen,” said […]

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