DELFT, the Netherlands — Innovative Mechatronic Systems B.V., or IMSystems, yesterday announced that it has received an unspecified investment from ABB Technology Ventures and InnovationQuarter. The Dutch company said it plans to use the funding to accelerate the development and production of its patented Archimedes Drive.
IMSystems claimed that the drive is a “leap forward in transmission systems,” which have held back broader deployment of industrial automation. Unlike conventional gears, which rely on cogs with fragile teeth to produce torque, IMSystems’ design uses traction, the company said.
Developing the Archimedes Drive
In 2016, Jack Schorsch, then a Ph.D. student at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), grew frustrated with the inadequacy of off-the-shelf transmission systems available for the robot he was designing, stated IMSystems.
The gears that enable most robotic arms to swing, pick, lift, and place are bulky and heavy, according to the company. This can cause backlash, an undesirable staccato jolt caused by the small clearance between the teeth in conventional gears.
These limitations in accuracy affect safety, which is why industrial robots are usually consigned to cages and why humans are involved in smartphone manufacturing, said IMSystems.
Schorsch designed the Archimedes Drive as a stronger, lighter, more accurate alternative. IMSystems said its drive can thus enable applications such as robot-assisted surgery or collaborative robots or cobots.
IMSystems has described the drive as “the first breakthrough in transmission systems in 60 years.” The company won the RoboBusiness Europe startup pitch in 2017, as well as the Launch Pad Startup Competition at Automate 2019. In addition, Schorsch spoke at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston.
IMSystems gets funding
InnovationQuarter contributed to the initial seed investment in IMSystems in 2018. It is the regional economic development agency for Zuid-Holland or West Holland. IQ said it finances innovative and fast-growing companies; assists international businesses in establishing their businesses in the region; and facilitates international collaboration between innovative entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes, and government.
Last year, IMSystems received €600,000 ($665.7 million) from Lucros Group and Innovation Quarter and started its first pilot project.
“The previous investment round has shown that we were able to increase the lifetime of the drive from just a few minutes to a few weeks,” stated Schorsch, founder and CEO of IMSystems. “With this round, we will be able to go from weeks to years, and prepare the Archimedes Drive for commercial use.”
ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), the venture capital arm of industrial automation provider ABB Group, will be joining this round to provide funding and expertise.
“I am delighted to have next to InnovationQuarter and ATV on board,” Schorsch said. “The investment will allow IMSystems to grow and move to the next stage of development.”
“The Archimedes Drive was invented at Delft University of Technology, commercialized at startup incubator Yes!Delft, and is now being developed for the international robotics market at RoboValley,” said Rinke Zonneveld, director of InnovationQuarter. “We are proud to be working with Jack and his team in realizing their goal of smaller, lighter, and more accurate industrial robotics.”