May 26, 2022

good average The result of writing this newsletter is that I get a flood of responses when I write on a particular topic. Last week it was agtech. I expressed a slight disappointment in the category. So many robotics companies have failed or been taken over. Robotics startups in the country are similar, but there is a lot of potential for development in this category. The seeds have been sown, it’s time to harvest.

John Deere is well positioned to conquer the market through its own footprint/brand, internal research and numerous acquisitions. But come on guys, it’s food. I eat, you eat. Farmers grow it, our body breaks it down and turns it into energy. The building blocks of life, people. Do you know about the food pyramid? Everyone talks about the grain, about that fat. The thing is, all is well.

There is a lot of room for innovation, and many or most of the core pieces are already in place: autonomous driving (in a much less risky environment than a city street), computer vision, machine learning, soft robotic grippers. Labor is in short supply, and the average age of an American farmer is about 58. Got a few offers after Actuator last week and it’s great to see this stuff being rolled out in test areas.

image credit: iron bull

One piece of the puzzle that I probably didn’t allocate enough column space for is the greenhouse. A 2019 report estimated the total acres of greenhouse gardens in the US at 1,228,000 acres. And it’s clear that when it comes to greenhouse horticulture, the US is lagging behind other markets, including the Netherlands, which has been in the lead for decades. As with vertical farming, greenhouses have many reasons to be excited about the future of greenhouses, including sustainability and food security. And unlike many vertical farms, greenhouses get direct energy from the sun.

While it’s true that this category is a drop in the bucket compared to more traditional farming, if I were a roboticist, I’d keep a close eye on things. Remember when I talked about the less potential risk of deploying Autonomy on a farm compared to a city road? Well, greenhouses are a highly controlled environment – sort of a warehouse management category, in many cases with even fewer people to navigate.

Iron Ox got the most column ink (and made a ton of money) in this category. The company’s wheeled robots lift and carry trays of vegetables to meet their needs, while the robotic arm harvests. Other names include Metomotion, which developed the picking robot. At the end of last year, an Israeli company closed a $5 round.

image credit: UNPF

Earlier this week I wrote about IUNU. It’s not a very good name – or even a particularly cool name. It’s kind of like “you knew,” and the startup’s former stylization of “IUNU” is now called “IUNU,” which isn’t exactly helped by the fact that it has a robot named “Luna.” However, the LUNA is quite neat and efficient in moving along a track on the roof of the greenhouse to track how the plants are growing, saving farmers a lot of extra steps in the process. With some of these robots to choose from, a picture is being painted of a more fully autonomous greenhouse in the future if the owner wants to go that route.

Meanwhile, IUNU has just raised $24 million. “This investment round reflects the confidence of institutional investors,” CEO Adam Greenberg said in a press release. “The conversation about autonomous development has gained momentum over the past year, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this process.”

This week, the Stanford Human Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) Institute released its annual AI Index report. Here are some facts relevant to our interests. I’ll quote a few points straight from the HAI blog post:

  • Private investment in AI has more than doubled since 2020, due in part to a massive funding round. In 2020, there were four funding rounds of $500 million or more; In 2021 there were 15 of them.
  • AI has become more accessible and more efficient. The cost of image rating training has decreased by 63.6% since 2018, and training time has decreased by 94.4% since 2018. The average price of robotic arms has also quadrupled in the past six years.
  • The United States and China are dominating international cooperation in AI research as the total number of AI publications continues to grow. AI Papers had the highest international collaboration between the two countries in a decade, producing 2.7 times more paper by 2021 than between the UK and China – the second highest on the list.
  • The number of AI patents filed has increased – 30 times more than in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 76.9%.

Interest rates or money aren’t really shocking, but after looking closely at the whole Huawei situation over the past few years, it’s good to see US and Chinese research centers working together.

image credit: Miso Robotics

Meanwhile, at Miso Robotics, Flippy and Sippy meet Chippy. rip me off

Bear Robotics is benefiting from higher funding rates amid continued staff shortages. Restaurant Robotics just raised $81 million.

Founder and CEO John Ha said, “I opened my own restaurant many years ago and already knew how difficult it could be.” “I thought there must be a way to automate some of these repetitive tasks without getting lost. That’s why we created Servi. It’s a solution that aims to improve the experience for customers, employees, and while others are trying to fully automate work, we’re trying to improve the future of work for the stakeholders in this industry who do it every day. ,

image credit: Bear Robotics

Bear says his Servi robot has already delivered 28 million meals, covering a total of 335,000 miles.

Last year we covered Third Wave Automation’s $40 million Series D. The Bay Area Company announced the new TWA Reach autonomous forklift this week. This is the first product in collaboration with forklift manufacturer Clark. According to the companies, “The automated forklift is best suited for warehouses and distribution centers who want to improve overall pallet handling productivity and operator efficiency in and around existing racks.”

If you haven’t spent much time in warehouses, you might be shocked at how common forklift accidents are. OSHA estimates that there are 34,900 serious accidents, 61,800 minor accidents, and 85 deaths annually in the US alone.

image credit: Intuition Robotics

Finally, the ElliQ Elder Care Robot is finally available from Intuition Robotics. It’s been years of beta testing and multiple rounds of funding since we first saw the tiny robot in action, and now it’s finally available. The product is intended for older users who can still live on their own but may need some assistance. It costs $250 upfront and $30 per month.

In Auto Land, Ford wins a hardware bingo with a robotic arm designed to work with a carbon 3D printer. As mentioned in our article, robots have been helping build Ford vehicles for a long time. This latest application uses a KUKA robot to print small batches of custom parts, including things like brake line brackets for the Mustang Shelby GT500. They hope to speed up the process, as does everyone involved in 3D printing.

house building robot

image credit: diamond age

I think you can say that the Diamond Age aggravated the situation in a more literal sense. The company uses a combination of robotic arms and additive manufacturing in a 3D print shop. After a recent increase of $8 million, he added another $50 to his coffers.

“Affordable housing affects people all over the world. As the average age of first-time homebuyers has changed from twenty to thirty-five, the demand for rental property has increased, making the entire tenant hierarchy a more competitive “quality home” market. m coercion. “By helping the next generation of homebuyers get to their first home faster, we are helping the entire housing ecosystem,” said co-founder and CEO Jack Oslan.

image credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology CSAL

We have an old friend who is coming back to close us this week. Mini Cheetah from MIT CSAIL recently learned to run very fast. The team says:

The essence of research in the field of artificial intelligence is the search for a compromise between what people have to create (in nature) and what machines themselves can learn (nurture). The traditional paradigm of robotics is that humans tell robots what to do and how to do it. The problem is that such a structure is not scalable, since it would take a huge amount of human effort to manually program a robot with skills in a wide variety of environments. A more practical way to create robots with many different skills is to tell the robot what to do and how to understand it. Our system is an example. In our lab, we have begun to apply this paradigm to other robotic systems, including hands that can pick up and manipulate many different objects.

image credit: Bryce Durbin / gaming-updates

Run, don’t go to the Actuator membership page. or walk. It doesn’t matter to me. You have a whole week to get there.

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