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Veo Robotics, which is building a smarter, more intuitive robotics system for industrial applications, announced today that it has secured $12 million in funding. Lux Capital and GV co-led this round, with participation from existing investor Next 47 — a venture firm created by Siemens.
Founded in 2016, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup provides AI-powered software that tells machines how to act and respond to humans in a manual labor setting. The system is paired with hardware, which includes a GPU compute engine and distributed 3D sensors.
“Our system builds a unified, semantic representation of what is happening in the workcell — where the robots are, where the people are, where the workpieces are,” wrote Veo Robotics cofounder and CEO Patrick Sobalvarro, in an email to VentureBeat. “It then projects into the future where those elements could move in the next 100 milliseconds and uses intelligent controls to override the robot programming and make it responsive to the human worker’s presence.”
Sobalvarro and his team are trying to reduce the manual labor humans shoulder in industrial work settings, leaving the heavy lifting to the robots. One solution that has emerged over the past few years is exoskeleton suits, manufactured by startups like Ekso Bionics and suitX.
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But Veo Robotics is taking a different approach as it seeks to best exploit the respective qualities of humans and machines.
“The intelligent work that humans do often requires a lot of human dexterity and ease of motion,” wrote Sobalvarro. “You don’t use exoskeletons for that. And if a human in an exoskeleton is just doing the heavy lifting, they will be just as bored and unhappy making repetitive motions. We want people to do the things only people can do, using their judgement and dexterity, and robots doing the brute force, repetitive things that machines should do.”
Although the product won’t be commercially available until 2019, the startup is already working closely with customers in several verticals, including automotive, consumer-packaged goods, and household appliance manufacturers, according to Sobalvarro. The chief executive declined to name customers at this stage but said that the system will be tested in controlled pilots next year.
Veo Robotics will use the fresh injection of capital to further develop the product and hire experts in computer vision, engineering, and product management. The startup has raised a total of $13 million, to date, and currently has nine employees.
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