First of all, we’ve obtained a elaborate new title. While “Robotics Roundup” was nothing if not very technically correct, it lacked the type of panache one must try for when rounding up robotics. Actuator, then again — that’s a mover and shaker.
It’s a reputation you’ll be able to take to the financial institution (or at the very least run by the authorized division for clearance). To mark this momentous event, we employed our resident graphic design genius Bryce to sketch up one thing befitting our rebrand.
We’re additionally utilizing the chance to announce that Actuator will probably be coming quickly to an inbox close to you as a free TechCrunch e-newsletter. All of this enjoyable change appears additional becoming, provided that this occurs to be the twenty fifth version of the roundup. You can discover the entire older updates under our Actuator tag if you wish to catch up.
If you’ve been following for some time, you’ve obtained the gist of what the e-newsletter is about: a digestible look into the week’s robotics information. We cowl the entire startups making waves and the massive corporations impacting the trade, together with essentially the most fascinating updates on this planet of robotic analysis, in addition to dives into labor issues and numerous moral points stemming from automation and AI.
If all of that sounds good, you can sign up here to get Actuator in your inbox as quickly as the primary problem hits. I’m informed you could have to show you’re not a robotic, so apologies prematurely to the entire robots studying this. But hey, for those who’ve gotten this far, you’ll determine it out.
Following an earlier report from CRN, Intel has since confirmed with TechCrunch that it is going to be winding down its 3D imaging platform, RealSense. It’s all the time a disgrace to see these types of forward-looking initiatives go away. And actually Intel has been leaning fairly closely on the division as a number one indicator of its efforts to stay related because the trade evolves.
Over the years, we’ve coated RealSense’s involvement in drones, robotics and AR/VR. In June of final yr, we coated the platform’s embrace of 5G connectivity.
“We are winding down our RealSense business and transitioning our computer vision talent, technology and products to focus on advancing innovative technologies that better support our core businesses and IDM 2.0 strategy,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement supplied to TechCrunch. “We will proceed to fulfill our commitments to our present prospects and are working with our workers and prospects to make sure a easy transition.
Translation: The firm is selecting to focus its core competency. IDM 2.0 refers particularly to the brand new chipmaking technique into which the corporate is pumping $20 billion. Understandable, nevertheless it’s all the time hopeful to see large corporations like Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm actually go all in on such forward-facing applied sciences.
Boston Dynamics, in the meantime, made news this week, ostensibly for an additional slick viral video, this one that includes the Hyundai-owned firm’s humanoid Atlas robotic. By now we’re all effectively conscious of the truth that the corporate makes spectacular robots and extremely efficient YouTube movies that launch one million Black Mirror and Terminator jokes on Twitter.
I’ve seen Atlas do some actually spectacular stuff in individual at BD’s headquarters, and I’ve obtained a reasonably good concept of what it’s at the moment able to. So, whereas Atlas is extraordinarily cool, I didn’t discover the latest parkour video particularly surprising. What did catch me off guard, nevertheless, was the truth that the corporate additionally used the chance to primarily publish some outtakes from the movie.
A six-minute, behind-the-scenes video featured a montage of Atlas falling on its face. Like any nice skateboarding video, there are a number of gratuitous photographs included that exhibit that, no matter how superior the system is, there are nonetheless going to be some face-planting, gasket-blowing falls that depart its chest scuffed in a pool of its personal fluid. The firm notes:
During filming, Atlas will get the vault proper about half of the time. On the opposite runs, Atlas makes it over the barrier, however loses its steadiness and falls backward, and the engineers look to the logs to see if they’ll discover alternatives for on-the-fly changes.
That’s in all probability sufficient information of shuttered divisions and bodily robotic hurt for this week. A few fundraising rounds are price noting.
First is Rapid Robotics, which has been on a fundraising tear of late. The new $36.7 million Series B values the manufacturing robotics firm at $192.5 million and marks its third(!) fundraising spherical in a yr that began with a seed increase.
CEO Jordan Kretchmer cites pandemic-fueled manufacturing bottlenecks as a giant supply of curiosity within the firm:
We hear loads in regards to the semiconductor scarcity, however that’s simply the tip of the iceberg. Contract producers can’t produce gaskets, vials, labels — you title it. I’ve seen circumstances the place the shortcoming to provide a single piece of U-shaped black plastic introduced a whole auto line to a halt
Rapid will probably be making its robotic methods accessible by way of the more and more widespread RaaS (robotics as a service) mannequin additionally being employed by Diamond Age. The fellow Bay Area-based agency introduced its personal $8 million seed spherical this morning for an intriguing mixture of robotics and 3D printing designed at dashing up home building. The firm continues to be in its early levels, nevertheless it claims its expertise can dramatically scale back the necessity for guide labor and shrink home building time from 9 months to 30 days.
Following its personal latest funding again in May, Picnic this week announced that it’s finally selling its modular robotic pizza maker. Pizza is, after all, a preferred goal for meals robotics corporations, as a result of Americans eat a ton of it — reportedly 100 acres a day, as of 2015. It’s additionally comparatively uniformly constructed so far as self-contained meals go, and is due to this fact simpler to automate.
And talking of pizza robots, earlier than we depart you this week, a observe to take a look at the EC-1 on Nuro. Here’s a enjoyable anecdote from Domino’s chief innovation officer that appears to ring true throughout the robotic spectrum:
One of the issues we chortle about is how prospects continuously discuss to the bot. It’s virtually like they assume it’s ‘Knight Rider.’ It’s quite common for purchasers to thank it or say goodbye, which is nice as a result of that signifies we’re creating a fascinating expertise that they’re not annoyed by.