Mistakes Were Made (And That’s OK)

sorry for the scattered The nature of this week’s actuator. No big, sweeping monologues this week – just a few things I’ve been thinking about lately that I want to get down on paper. I think that’s one of the perks of doing a weekly newsletter—it forces you to flesh out some of the big ideas.

Point number one is failure. Ingrained in the American psyche (as I’m sure is the case with many other cultures around the world) is an inability to admit our mistakes. They fill us with a sense of shame that we weren’t right the first time. Our impulse (depending on how your brain is wired) is to either boil them down to unhealthy levels (hi, that’s me) or pretend they never happened.

I think there’s something embedded in the sense of rigid American individualism that doesn’t allow us to admit our mistakes. Mistakes are weaknesses, character defects. Mistakes mean we are lesser or bad people. A country that prides itself on the notion of a self-made man above all, finds it difficult to reconcile mistakes as part of that narrative.

i used to love this thread From Tessa Lau, co-founder/CEO of Dusty, late last year about the rigidity of the hardware. It ends like this, “when you realize that even the simplest robot has hundreds of components, and each can have unpredictable failure modes like this… so hardware is hard” and then a request for their job board Link. “If it sounds like fun, we’re hiring!”

The thing I appreciated most about the Tesla Optimus demo was the — perhaps unintended — consequence of showing the world just how long and arduous the road to product has been. And that assumes they’ll ever actually get there.

I recently cited the “bloopers” video that Boston Dynamics put out last year as a good example of something that more robotics companies could/should be doing. Those well-choreographed viral videos tell only a fraction of the story. I am making an open call on companies to be more transparent about the bumps in the roads. These videos should be considered as a point of pride. They help demonstrate how much work goes into making things work.

The people at Kiwibot were the first to react. Here’s a clip of their test:

Image Credits: Kiwibot

Think of it as a standing invitation. Send me your videos and stories. Pull back the curtain a little. Take some of that mystery away. Let’s see those mistakes.

See also  Now Is a Great Time to Buy Sale Bluetooth Speakers

Point number two is an observation. I’m not sure how much of the above Optimus demo played into this, but suddenly humanoid robots are in the air. I get the sense that Tesla announcing its intentions has either (a) forced a lot of people’s hands or (b) provided them with an opportunity to explain why their solutions are better.

It’s clear that a lot of people have been working on this stuff for a long time – many secretly. Lately I am getting information about many companies working in this field. No one has sold me on the idea of ​​a general-purpose humanoid yet. Which is to say, if it works, I’m all for it, obviously, but I’ve yet to see really compelling evidence that it will.

Point three is agtech and construction. This is where I was putting my VC money after the explosion of warehouse/fulfillment technology. These are two huge industries which are essential for human life. They are also having difficulty in staffing. In the same way that the race to the smartphone afforded us many of the components that drive modern robotics, the push for autonomous driving has prioritized these categories. And, of course, structured space is far easier to operate than the streets.

Point four is jobs. Now, granted, this is a point we discuss on these pages all the time, but a good thing happened on Tuesday. That morning, I put out a call on LinkedIn for robotics companies looking to hire. I was flooded. in a good way. I posted the story within a few hours and continued to update it for the rest of the day. The next morning I finally had to shut it down, lest I risk becoming a full-time job board operator. If your company hasn’t made it, don’t worry. I’ll do it again sometime.

To me, the very clear message here is that robotics companies are really hiring. Quoting myself (sorry):

Now for some good news: Companies are hiring. As an industry, robotics is somewhat uniquely positioned here, given the growth it has seen during the pandemic. It is true that some large companies (Alphabet, Amazon) have slowed down on robotics investment. It is also true that we will see more companies getting acquired or closing down.

But a lot of money was invested in automation, providing runways that would help many people get out on the other side in one piece. If anything, all this bad news will only serve to prop up the industry. Certainly, labor issues aren’t going away anytime soon, and neither is the drive to increasingly automate sectors like fulfillment, manufacturing, health care and agriculture.

See also  Implementing the Biden-Harris Administration's National Cyber ​​Security Strategy in Five Steps to Your Organization

Here is the list of 45 companies that are recruiting:

Adverbs (6 roles)

Escape (21 roles)

Alert Innovations (14 roles)

Anybotics (6 roles)

AWL Automation (3 Roles)

automated architecture (4 roles)

Bear Flag Robotics (6 Roles)

Boston Dynamics (45 roles)

Boston Dynamics AI Institute (11 roles)

Brooks Automation (50 roles)

Chef Robotics (13 roles)

ClearPath Robotics (3 roles)

Cobalt Robotics (3 roles)

Dexri (5 roles)

Hardworking Robotics (9 Roles)

Chitra (15 roles)

Greymatter Robotics (9 roles)

Honest Agtech (10 roles)

impossible metals (2 roles)

ISEE AI (20 roles)

Cavazo (10 roles)

Kiwibot (30 roles)

Kodiak Robotics (20 roles)

Machine Labs (18 roles)

Mighty Fly (2 roles)

Miso (9 roles)

Monarch Tractor (15 roles)

Nidec Motor Corporation (3 roles)

Mujin Robotics (108 roles)

Otto Motors (18 roles)

Path Robotics (3 open roles)

Rapid Robotics (6 Roles)

righthand robotics (7 roles)

Rigid Technology (3 Roles)

Roboco (10 roles)

Sanctuary AI (18 roles)

Scythe Robotics (10 Roles)

symbolic (93 roles)

Telos Health (10 roles)

Toyota Research Institute (2 roles)

Urban Machine (5 roles)

Sabz Robotics (7 roles)

Viam Robotics (10 roles)

Mustache (10 roles)

Zipline (50 roles)

robot picker

Image Credits: plus one robotics

This week we had the opportunity to raise $50 million from Plus One Robotics. The Series C brings the San Antonio startup’s total funding to $94 million. CEO Eric Nieves told me, “The world needs what we do, and our financial performance supported that premise.” “Once Scale Ventures hooked up, the round came together quickly and we went from term sheet to wires to close in six weeks.”

Image Credits: wing

This week, the Alphabet X graduate wing highlighted plans to build a drone “delivery network.” The company likened the idea to car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft for the way it determines drone delivery paths based on their surroundings. CEO Adam Woodworth says:

Up to this point, the industry has been fixated on the drones themselves – designing, testing and iterating on the aircraft, rather than finding the best way to use the entire fleet for efficient delivery. Wing’s approach to delivery is different. We see drone delivery on a large scale that looks more like an efficient data network than a traditional transportation system. Like many other areas of technology, from data centers to smartphones, physical hardware is only as useful as the software and logistics networks that make it meaningful to organizations and their customers.

Boston-based SparkAI has been acquired by John Deere, as the farm equipment giant continues to build out its massive AgTech robotics portfolio. Michael Cohen, the startup’s founder and CEO, confirmed the news in a LinkedIn post this week, noting the longstanding collaboration between the two. Cohen says:

Nowhere is this more important than on the farm, where the pressures of climate change and a growing population demand that producers produce more with less. And nowhere is this felt more deeply than at Deere, where the call for solutions is being answered forcefully by the transformation of a generational company at the epicenter of the AI ​​and robotics revolution. We are inspired by the magnitude of Deere’s mission, the scale of its ambition and its potential to impact billions.

A spokesperson for John Deere told TechCrunch,

The SparkAI team will be integrated into John Deere’s Blue River Technology organization. SparkAI will continue to collaborate with Blue River Technology to innovate in this capability and bring new features.

Image Credits: boston dynamics

Los Angeles is facing its own questions about police robots, following clashes between city councils and citizens to the north in San Francisco and Oakland. These haven’t quite reached the killer robot level, but enough residents are concerned about the LAPD’s potential adoption of the Boston Dynamics spot that the City Council has decided to delay the vote for two months.

See also  Best Shave Clubs for 2023: Dollar Shave Club, Harry's and Others

Critics are concerned about its potential impact on disadvantaged communities. “It’s a product, and the product will meet the needs of the future,” council member Eunice Hernandez said during the hearing. “Why does our police department need equipment that can still have those capabilities in the future? We know that our Black, Brown, immigrant communities and our low-resource communities are often the places where these new technologies are deployed.

Image Credits: agility robotics

Oh, and here’s a sneak peak of the Digit Head that Agility teased at last year’s TechCrunch Robotics event. The company has promised to roll out an improved version of the Promat later this month.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Want actuators in your inbox? Subscribe here.