New York Tech Journal
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#RoboUniverse: startup competition

Posted on May 12th, 2015

05/11/2015 @ Javits Center, NY

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Nine presentations were judged by a panel giving equal weight to each of the following:

  1. their solution – market opportunity
  2. technical readiness
  3. differentiators
  4. leadership & resources
  5. judge’s discretion

The presentations showed the wide range of #robotics from #robots to create and manipulate items, to parts of robots, to robot-based services, to education, etc.

The presentations were by

  1. Soft Roboticsgripper – 40 patents (foundation + company owned). Soft robotic hands. Exploring two auto manufacturers. Sell direct to customer, but also do integrations. Differentiate versus other methods such as vacuum or electro-static as they can move up to 3G’s at a rate of 100m up to 120 Hz. The currently have 3 vendors that create the elastimers. They do all mechanical design in-house. They plan to OEM the mechanical components eventually. Currently funded by 6 angels < 1mm USD. Look for series A funding this fall. 2 interns this summer. Current products are sold at 75% gross margin, so they have a cushion against competitor price pressures.
  2. LocoRobo – kids education on robotics. Created a freshman program at Drexel which gave him the ideas for this company. The kit starts with touchpad controls + graphical programming. For more flexibility the robot can be programmed in C, python, JS, or Matlab. They plan to sell retail robots with separately sold sensor kits. They also will curate programs. He is currently working with teachers for students age 8 to 14. The target cost is <$50 so the kits are in the mid-range below Mindstorms and above the most basic robots. Markets are parents & schools. Robot features – multi-sensors. Blue tooth LE to smartphone and can be controlled from the browser. Initial run of 5000 for Christmas 2015. 4 engineers + him + marketing professor at Wharton
  3. Rotacaster – current designs omni-wheels, now designing a wheel so robots can move in any direction without changing the orientation of the wheel. They currently have a dozen employees. Most commercially available robots on perform a single-task. Some of this is do to their use of fixed drive wheels with swivel casters. By contrast, the omni-wheels can be driven in any direction without pivoting the axel. They have patents. The wheels can work outdoors since steel can be replaced with polymer. They can take a large load. The wheels can work as a drive wheel. Currently producing and selling products for materials handling. Privately funded.
  4. Voxel8 – multi-material 3-d printing to create electronics. Their current printer can produce 3-d antennae, flexible electronics, and customized electronics. The printer deposits conductive ink. They have 19 patents and a decade of research. They have a partnership with Autodesk. The first product is an integrated printing system, but eventually would like to sell know-how and leave the production to others. The current printer has a resolution of 150 microns trace width. However In the lab, they can print to single micro trace widths. They electronic paths have lower conductivity than silver, but do not require a high heat cure which allows them to print conductor and thermo-plastic in a single run (note that more complicated electronic devices need to be manually placed in the substrate as they cannot be printed). They have two VC investors. They current concentrate of the prototyping market but eventually see the process becoming a mass-manufacturing tool
  5. Aerocine – heavy lift rotors (drones) to lift professional cameras for aerial cinematography. They provide pilots and drones for aerial pictures. They are the only company in the NY area that is approved by the FAA for commercial drone work. They currently have 3 teams of pilots and drones . They design the aircraft which can weigh up to 85 pound including the camera. They want to continue to be a service company.
  6. Rise Robotics – actuate with smaller motors – invented a light-weight actuator. They have a patent. These linear actuators replace larger, heavier, more expensive ones which mean that products that we lighter. Applications are a nail gun with a wearable air compressor or actuators to move the cockpit in flight simulators or cheaper seats for home theaters. They plan to bring a product to market themselves this summer.
  7. nLink – subsidiary of rocket farms. Mobile drilling robot for drilling holes in ceilings for construction industry. It’s 5x to 10x faster than a person. Patent pending. The tool is made from off-the-shelf products. Their business model is to sell a service, not equipment. They estimate a price of $2700/day. The platform knows where it is in the room to nearest millimeter. Eventually the rig could do things other than drilling. Their main advantage is the method to locate the tool within the room, so the tool knows where to drill the holes. The current version does not move itself, but the next version will be able to move the apparatus around the room. The tools does not require contractors to change their method of placing the holes since one uses a laser cross to tell the robot where to drill.
  8. Roboneer – bionic gripper. Type of a delta robot– with a configurable design for industrial applications. The basic setup is flexible so it is easy to change the arm length to optimize the design. The idea is to create a robot with a Lego Mindstorm philosophy for low cost mechanics. They will also use database of movements to determine the optimal way to configure the arms.
  9. Autonomous – their company makes daily items smarter. One example is a desk that has been funded via Kickstarter ($100k). It learns your behavior and will automatically convert from a sitting to standing desk. The desk also has an embedded microphone for speech recognition to take requests or control devices. This is their second product. The team consists of 15 people. They consider themselves primarily a software company and created their own voice recognition system. The desk costs $299 and is currently sold near cost with a 3 year warranty.

Voxel8 won the competition.

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