Robotics doesn’t get the attention and hype that artificial intelligence (AI) gets, which is somewhat ironic, as the two often go hand in hand. For instance, Roomba, one of the best known examples of a robot, is full of AI software to navigate the landscape of a residential home.
According to Statista, the global robotics industry reached a combined value of $43.8 billion in 2021. And according to the Boston Consulting Group, the robotics industry will hit $87 billion by the year 2025. Clearly this is a growth industry with many startups.
As AI has advanced, so has robotics. The robotics devices are adding machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence along with improved mechanics, navigations skills, advanced sensors, and better dexterity. This growth has expanded their use and rate of adoption.
Also see: What is Artificial Intelligence
30 Notable Robotics Startups
The following is a list of 30 notable robotics startups, in alphabetical order.
Curbside pickup and delivery is a new normal in retail, but for now, customer purchases require an employee to run around the store collecting the order. Alert Innovation’s Alphabot Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and Automated Each-Picking System (AEPS) creates a new kind of automated supermarket where goods the customer ordered are collected and delivered to a customer in the store, at curbside, or delivered to their home. Walmart is among the customers for Alphabot.
Virtually every city has a recycling effort, but sorting the trash remains a task where humans stand at a conveyor line and sort the trash into different containers and remove non-recyclables. AMP Robotics has developed AI-powered robots that are able to analyze waste material based on shape, color, and other criteria and automatically separate the different recyclable materials.
Existing commercial robots are designed to perform a single task, and they work individually. The AvaWatz platform of “Cobots” is designed to work in collaboration to tackle more complex, multistep assignments requiring detection, response, and real-time decision-making. For example, one drone will scan a runway for hazardous debris and dispatch a second set of drones to clean it up.
Bear Robotics develops the Servi line of intelligent robots designed to deliver food to diners in restaurants. It doesn’t completely eliminate the need for human delivery, but it does let servers spend more time with guests or tending to other duties. The robots have smart navigation to avoid objects and humans in the ever-chaotic restaurant setting.
Bedrock Ocean Exploration
Bedrock provides smart robots to map the ocean floor and to collect and manage seafloor data, which is important to shipping companies. Its portable autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) provide high-resolution marine surveys, which are shared in the cloud. The old way of gathering seafloor data required human involvement and shipping data to other companies on hard drives.
CleanRobotics makes TrashBot, a “smart” trash can that uses robotics and sensor technology to differentiate between recyclable materials and non-recyclable waste. After placing garbage in a TrashBot, it sorts recyclables, such as metals, plastics, and glass, from landfill waste, while simultaneously gathering information about the type of waste generated.
Company Six creates reconnaissance drones for first responders and other staff working in high-risk environments to thoroughly scan an emergency scene, terrain, or structure for potential dangers before they enter the area themselves. Its first product, ReadySight, is a “throwable” robot the size of a soda can filled with cameras and sensors that can be deployed in places humans can’t go, or act as an extra set of eyes in places they can go.
Cybernetics Laboratory — CynLr
Robots have been on many manufacturing and assembly lines for years, but their work is limited and often requires human presence. They can weld joints but lack the dexterity to place a screw. CynLr is working to make robotic arms object-aware so as to manipulate objects of varying shapes, orientations, and weights with superior agility.
Diligent Robotics manufactures collaborative robots designed to work together with humans to ease the workload of professionals in everyday environments. These technologically advanced robots come with social intelligence, mobile manipulation, and human-guided ML capabilities. The startup’s first product is a medical robot named Moxi that assists clinical staff in daily logical tasks, so the majority of work duties focus on giving quality care to patients.
Also see: The Future of Artificial Intelligence
Emancro is developing a general-purpose robotic system to address a range of logistics tasks in hospitals, such as restocking storage rooms, delivering supplies and lab samples, serving food, and more. This frees up a significant portion of nurses’ time, allowing them to focus on patient care.
Even robots suffer wear and tear. Energy Robotics provides robots to improve inspection of robot fleets. The robots are designed to offer predictive maintenance and are used primarily for remote inspection and monitoring, especially in industries with environments that are harsh and dangerous to humans, such as the oil and gas and petrochemical industries.
Exotec is a warehouse version of Alert Innovation, in that it performs automated order-picking through its Skypod robots. These mobile robots work in three dimensions, transporting and storing bins containing items in racks up to 12 meters high, and can autonomously navigate warehouses without guidance infrastructure. They can carry a standardized box weighing up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds).
Exyn Technologies is developing software for aerial and ground-based robots to autonomously navigate and collect data from dangerous and inaccessible places and environments to humans where there are no maps or GPS coverage. The platform doesn’t need human control, prior information, or knowledge of the infrastructure. The drones are guided by the company’s software and rely on multiple redundant sensors, mapping, and independent autonomy.
FarmWise is building adaptive robots for agriculture to give farmers greater yield, more profits, and a healthier environment. The company is starting with an autonomous weeding robot that can cleanly pick weeds from fields, reducing or eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. It also recognizes and differentiates between vegetables, giving farmers projection on crop yields.
Flexiv is the creator of Rizon, the world’s first adaptive robotic arm, that integrates force control, computer vision, and AI technologies for industries such as automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace, agriculture, logistics, health care, and retailing. The AI enables the robot to adapt to the complicated environments, and accomplish better hand-eye coordination similar to humans.
FlytBase helps enterprises automate and scale drone operations to help firms deploy a fleet of drones, not just a few, through what it calls the Internet of Drones. It is platform-agnostic, working with all of the major drone vendors. Its software development kit (SDK) handles remote drone operations, emergency response, automated inspections, security and surveillance, and more.
Harvest Automation builds robots to serve the material-handling challenges in the agricultural industry. Its robots are used in nurseries and greenhouses and for various e-commerce fulfillment applications. The company’s robots are designed to automate labor-intensive and physically demanding tasks, with little need for human input.
HEBI Robotics creates hardware and software tools designed to make it easier to develop customized robots faster. HEBI Robotics’ X-Series Actuators come with sensors and other features, like a brushless motor, gear train, spring, encoders, and control electronics.
iUNU is an agriculture technology company designed to make indoor farming and commercial greenhouses more efficient, autonomous, and scalable. It manages crop pests and pathogens, monitors crops, and sends reports to a mobile device, and it has harvesting robots.
Knightscope builds Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs), which utilize a combination of self-driving technology, robotics, AI, and electric vehicles to patrol facilities or help officers and security guards. It can patrol multiple locations at the same time, gathering audio and video data and even speak to people.
Magazino develops autonomous mobile robots (AMR) logistics, which enable companies to improve the supply chain, from procurement to returns. In addition, the company provides autonomous picking robots for e-commerce fulfillment companies. The robots adapt and learn from their environment and are networked, so as one learns, it shares what it learns with others.
Miko is a robot designed to talk to and interact with kids. It has a personality and tells jokes if it detects the child’s mood is down. Its maker claims it understands and responds to a kid’s world, instilling feelings of companionship to help build confidence and encourage creative interactions that are individual to every kid.
Refraction’s robots serve the last mile of delivery, putting them in competition with the likes of DoorDash and Postmates. Its robots cost less than delivery vehicles used by the likes of DoorDash; can operate on streets, in bike lanes, and sidewalks; and are weather durable, operating in rain and snow.
Robust.AI is a robotics technology designed to reduce the time it takes to set up robotics systems. It uses a cognitive engine, along with AI, to develop robot software more efficiently. This helps the robotic systems become more reliable and robust in unpredictable environments.
Most if not all drones require human guidance, but Skydio is looking to change that by utilizing AI software to give its drones the “skills of an expert pilot.” The software makes drones more intelligent and cognizant of their surroundings.
Simbe Robotics is another robot vendor using automation of mundane, repetitive tasks in the retail industry. Simbe’s Tally robot performs common tasks such as shelf auditing for misplaced items, out-of-stock items, and pricing errors. Although it looks like an ironing board, Tally is a humanoid robot, interacting with employees and shoppers.
Southie Autonomy is developing intelligent assembly robot arms that can be reconfigured quickly with AI software and a device called “the Wand,” which lets users tell robots what to do by using gestures and voice commands. The Wand is a handheld pointer that uses AI and augmented reality to retrain an arm for things like packaging and assembly, with no computer skills required.
ViaBot makes RUNO, an autonomous mobile robot for property maintenance designed to perform outdoor commercial tasks, such as sweeping and grass cutting, without requiring human intervention. RUNO has the ability to swap its own tools and charge itself when not in use.
Voliro produces autonomous flying drones for the construction industry. These drones are designed to access dangerous or hard-to-reach locations within a construction site to perform safety and integrity inspections.
Zipline is aiming to deliver global shipments of medical supplies using drones. The company provides inventory management, fulfillment, and customer management services and has a fleet of autonomous vehicles that deliver blood and other medical supplies to needy patients. It’s also moving into the retail and e-commerce space, thanks to a partnership with Walmart.