A new collaborative working space for fledgling robotics startups officially opened in Massachusetts today.
Located in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District, MassRobotics is a nonprofit organization that promises to “inspire and bring robotics startups, initiatives and investments to life.” It has some notable partners and sponsors on board, too, including Amazon Robotics, Autodesk, Arrow Electronics, iRobot, and Panasonic, among others.
The building consists of offices, a laboratory, and a testing facility, as well as equipment to aid robotics startups develop their concepts, such as 3D printers and an electronics lab. For launch, MassRobotics is offering around 15,000 sq. ft. of space, expected to rise by an additional 25,000 sq. ft. pending the outcome of a fundraising campaign. Among the five resident organizations housed within MassRobotics at launch is the Human Machine Social Systems (HMSS) Program from the U.S. Air Force Research Lab.
From self-driving cars and drones to food-delivery bots, 2016 may be remembered as the year robots moved from science fiction and into the real world. Back in August, the world’s first public self-driving taxi service hit Singapore roads courtesy of NuTonomy — a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup.
Elsewhere, 7-Eleven partnered with drone delivery service Flirtey to complete what was touted as “the first fully autonomous drone delivery to a customer’s residence,” while over in the U.K. Amazon delivered its first package by drone.
We’ve seen an upsurge in VC investments across the robotics realm too — Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova Robotics raised $14 million to bring its robotic technology to retailers. The company develops robots that serve retailers by analyzing stock and collecting data to optimize inventory. Drone delivery startup Zipline closed a $25 million round to help deliver vaccines, blood, and medical supplies to health workers in hard-to-reach areas, while French startup Exotec raised $3.5 million to build a fleet of mobile robots that help warehouses prepare orders for delivery.
That MassRobotics has opened in Boston is indicative of the burgeoning robotics industry that’s sprung up around MIT. The robotics cluster across the state is thought to be home to around 150 companies, and you may remember that the mighty Google acquired Massachusetts-based robotics company Boston Dynamics back in 2013.
“We are excited to now offer shared workspace designed to support companies, robotics technologies, and the robots they are developing,” said MassRobotics executive director Thomas Ryden. “The building, which can host everything from drones to self-driving cars, is a perfect location to help build the premier hub of robotics development in the country.”