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Akasha Imaging, which has been developing “deep imaging” for industrial automation, announced today that it has closed a $10.5 million Series A round. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said the funding will enable it to hire more engineers and support go-to-market activities as it commercializes its proprietary technology based on artificial intelligence.
Akasha’s founding team includes some of the world’s top computational imaging scientists, including co-founder and Chief Scientist Achuta Kadambi, Ph.D., who has done extensive work developing the technology that came out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Kadambi is currently an assistant professor at UCLA and was named to the 2019 Forbes “30 Under 30 in Science” list.
Founding scientist Ramesh Raskar, Ph.D., is an MIT professor and serial entrepreneur who previously worked at Google X and Facebook. Rounding out the founders is CEO Kartik Venkataraman, Ph.D., who was the chief technology officer and founder of Pelican Imaging (acquired by Xperi) and who holds more than 100 imaging patents.
Akasha delivers deep imaging
Akasha Imaging said it combines computational imaging, polarization techniques, and deep learning in a way that delivers high-resolution 3D images. The deep imaging technology is being applied in manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics markets to improve robotic vision, which Akasha said can drive greater efficiency, enhance worker safety, and reduce worker fatigue.
The company has developed the Akasha ClearSight Deep Imaging System, which it said produces extreme 3D images in unstructured environments. Akasha claimed that its technology can result in a 10x improvement in robotic vision on assembly lines by enabling robots to handle a variety of items with extreme accuracy, irrespective of size, material, or illumination condition.
ClearSight will make it possible to automate even more tasks in manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics that are monotonous, dangerous, and expensive, said Akasha. By enabling robots to handle precision work efficiently and accurately, the company said its deep imaging system can improve product quality by reducing errors and assembly-line downtime.
“In these uncertain economic times, when many manufacturing facilities are faced with scaling back because of safety rules and social distancing guidelines, Akasha is well positioned to help keep assembly lines running and producing high-quality products,” said Venkataraman. “We look forward to working with our investors, who have a strong focus on AI and robotics, to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing, supply chain and logistics sectors today.”
Investors support efforts to improve robot vision
Since its founding in 2019, Akasha has raised more than more than $12 million from Khosla Ventures, Sierra Ventures, Orbital Ventures and individual investors. Khosla Ventures led the Series A round.
“Akasha Imaging has a unique DNA, with founders who have shaped the field of computational imaging and are now bringing that technology to market to address real-world challenges,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “We believe there is much untapped potential for use of Akasha’s deep imaging techniques and completely new sensor technology in robotic automation to improve manufacturing processes and enhance worker safety, a market need further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain. This is the team qualified to take deep imaging-enhanced robotic vision to market.”