One year after launching out of stealth, Israeli robotics startup Intuition Robotics has announced a fresh tranche of funding and the launch of a beta program that will introduce its ElliQ robot to homes across California and Florida.

Founded in 2015, Intuition Robotics is creating what it calls “social companion technology” for the elderly. Its first product, ElliQ is a robotic companion that is less humanoid and more “funky lamp” and is capable of conversing with its owner. ElliQ uses “natural” communication methods to display emotion, including shifting its position, as well as using sound, light, and voice to express itself. As with most AI-infused technology, it promises to improve over time and adapt to its owner’s needs.

Above: ElliQ

The company said that ElliQ has already been “rigorously” tested with older adults over the past year, and it now hopes to gain deeper insights through a more prolonged beta phase in real-world settings involving “dozens of older adults.” As part of the trials, Intuition Robotics said that it plans to test how ElliQ integrates into the everyday lives of seniors and their families.

“Our mission with ElliQ is to harness the proactive power of cognitive computing to empower older adults to overcome the digital divide and pursue an active lifestyle,” said Dor Skuler, CEO and founder of Intuition Robotics. “We are fortunate to have been working with many older adults to develop ElliQ’s features and user experience to meet their needs. Now we are excited to begin the beta program as the next step on our way to a 2018 launch.”

Intuition Robotics had raised around $16 million in funding before now, including a $14 million round last July from Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and other big-name backers. Now, the company has revealed a further $6 million raise from Samsung Next, a Samsung investment fund aimed at early-stage tech startups, along with Sparx Group and Glory Ventures.

Intuition Robotics said that it expects a full commercial launch for ElliQ sometime in 2018.

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