Ava Robotics Inc. has raised $2.9 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company is a spinoff of iRobot Corp. and has developed telepresence robots.
As reported in SEC Form D, Ava Robotics has sold $2.9 million out of a total $4 million securities and equity sale. Thus, $1.1 million remains to be raised. Ava Robotics emerged from “stealth mode” last spring.
Unlike other telepresence providers, which rely on remote operation, Ava Robotics has been working to add autonomous navigation to its robots. This would enable users to simply direct the Ava robot where to go, and it could find its own way to a destination.
The Ava robot builds on the iRobot experiences of some of its engineers by mapping its surroundings for easier autonomous movement. iRobot’s Roomba i7+ robotic vacuum includes the Imprint smart maps function for directed or scheduled cleaning that works with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Ava enables ‘teleportation’
The company claims that Ava “enables teleporting, allowing users to freely move around a remote location while having a physical presence and a high-definition video collaboration session.”
The telepresence robot is intended to facilitate remote communications in offices, conference halls, and manufacturing floors. In addition, Ava has multiple HD cameras and works with Web browsers and iOS devices.
Ava is integrated with the Cisco Spark cloud-based app for videoconferencing and file sharing. It can also “sit,” lowering its monitor and cameras to the height of people around a conference room table, and it can autonomously return to a charging dock.
The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) in February named Ava Robotics as one of five winners of the 5G Robotics Challenge, sponsored by Veirizon and Ericsson. Each winner received $30,000 to develop products and use cases for 5G networks in industrial automation, collaborative robots, and warehouse automation.
Telepresence demand to grow
The telepresence robot market will grow, but different analyst firms disagree on how fast it will grow. The market could experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7%, growing from about $150 million in 2018 to $481 million in 2026, predicted Data Bridge Market Research. It attributed this growth to rising demand in healthcare and home care and improving capabilities.
Research and Markets estimated that the global market will grow from $341 million in 2018 to $856 million in 2024, at a CAGR of 16.58%. Ava Robotics was one of 10 companies that it listed as telepresence robot makers.
However, Data Bridge also noted that the high unit price for telepresence robots could slow adoption. Developers and users should also be aware of instances where such mobile robots are not appropriate, such as informing a patient that he is dying.
Telepresence robots can and should expand opportunities for people to participate in activities, such as helping Levi Suttles, a 6-year-old student with leukemia, to attend classes with a robot supplied by Ohio State University.
In the meantime, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and startup GITAI are working on tele-operated robots for Earth orbit.
Learn more about Ava
Marcio Macedo, co-founder and vice president of product and marketing at Ava Robotics, will be speaking at the Robotics Summit & Expo 2019. He was previously director of product management for commercial robots at iRobot.
Macedo’s session in the “Manufacturability, Production, and Distribution” track will describe how artificial intelligence and the cloud are helping service robots more intelligently perform tasks, expand beyond factories and warehouses, and gain acceptance from human co-workers.
The Robotics Summit & Expo will be on June 4-6 at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. Register now to attend.
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