Roam Robotics, a company that’s setting out to “enhance” human capabilities through exoskeletons, has raised $12 million in a series A round of funding led by Yamaha Motor Ventures, with participation from Menlo Ventures, Boost VC, Heuristics Capital Partners, R7 Partners, Spero Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, and Venture Investment Associates.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2014, Roam Robotics said it’s leveraging “high-strength” fabrics and air power to bring down the overall cost and weight of exoskeleton technology.
Exoskeletons are exactly what the name suggests — durable structures humans can wear to give them extra strength. These reinforcements are often used to support recovery from injury or to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. A few years back, a Canadian company called Spring Loaded Technology launched what it touted as the world’s first bionic knee brace that harnesses kinetic energy so the wearer receives an extra boost when they straighten their leg after bending it.
Roam Robotics is still in its infancy from a product perspective, but the company’s already pitching its “Elevate Robotic Ski Xo,” which is designed to boosts skiers’ quad strength, support their knees, and ultimately help them stay on the slopes longer.
“Roam exists to change the boundaries of human mobility,” said Roam Robotics founder and CEO Tim Swift. “That boundary is different for every person, but they exist for everyone. Whether you are an Olympian, an everyday athlete, or looking to regain lost mobility, we want to power you beyond what your body currently makes possible.”
A number of other players are also pushing into the exoskeleton realm, though mostly in the industrial sphere. A couple of months back, Salt Lake City-based Sarcos Robotics raised $30 million to market its industrial Guardian Xo full-body exoskeleton suit that enhances human strength and endurance in the workplace.
Elsewhere, LG recently announced it was developing a connected robotic suit that gives warehouse workers superhuman strength for lifting things.
Roam Robotics had previously raised seed funding of around $2 million, in addition to federal grants to help develop the technology, and with its first sizable external equity investment the company is now gearing up to commercially launch Elevate for skiers this coming winter.
Indeed, Roam Robotics will make demo rentals available in Lake Tahoe, California and Park City, Utah and hinted it will have other exoskeleton products in the future.
“Roam is creating an exciting new category of products that enhance human capabilities,” added Yamaha Motor Ventures partner Amish Parashar. “By making these robotic exoskeletons affordable, scalable, and powerful, Roam has removed the biggest barriers to widespread adoption. We envision these products will one day be commonly used to create new thrilling experiences and support human mobility.”