Realtime Robotics, a Boston-based startup developing responsive motion planning for robots and autonomous vehicles, closed a $11.7 million Series A round. The round was led by SPARX Asset Management and included participation from Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Hyundai Motor Company, and OMRON Ventures. Existing investors Toyota AI Ventures, Scrum Ventures, and the Duke Angel Network also took part in the round, which was first announced in May 2019.
It will use the funding to accelerate the development of more commercial products and expand its team. The Robot Report named Realtime Robotics one of 10 startups to watch in 2019, as well as one of eight robotics startups to watch at Automate/ProMat.
At Automate 2019 in Chicago, Realtime Robotics started shipping its RapidPlan motion-planning processor. RapidPlan is designed to allow industrial and collaborative robots to operate safely around people and other robots in work cells. RapidPlan enables robots to recognize and respond to changing environments. It combines a hardware motion planning accelerator (MPA) with a software-based roadmap generation toolkit. It is robot-arm and sensor agnostic and can be integrated into new and existing workcells.
Realtime Robotics says users can load as many as 20 million motions into the MPA. Once stored, RapidPlan can evaluate up to 800,000 motions at 30 frames-per-second to ensure a robot continues to work regardless of interruption.
Realtime Robotics also recently introduced its RapidSense system, which uses 3-D sensors to calibrate cameras and enable robots to rapidly plan a path around obstacles. The company noted that its technology is hardware-agnostic and is not limited to industrial automation. The company said that when RapidSense and RapidPlan work together, “unmodeled obstacles can be avoided and goal-directed motions computed at runtime, allowing for process variation and environmental changes to be autonomously managed by the robot.”
Recent Robotics Funding Rounds
|Realtime Robotics||11.7||Series A||Motion Planning|
|OSARO||16||Series B||Machine Learning|
|Diligent Robotics||3||Seed||Healthcare Robotics|
|Embark Trucks||70||Series C||Self-Driving Trucks|
|Built Robotics||33||Series C||Autonomous Construction Vehicles|
|CMR Surgical||240||Series C||Surgical Robots|
|FarmWise||14.5||Series A||Agricultural Robots|
|Takeoff Technologies||25||Series C||e-grocery Automation|
Realtime Robotics moved out of MassRobotics’ space at the end of April 2019. At the time, it had grown to 30 employees, including about a half-dozen from Rethink Robotics. Realtime Robotics spun out of Duke University in 2016.
“Planning motion in real time is central to safe autonomy, but the algorithms were too slow,” George Konidaris, Founder and Chief Roboticist at Realtime, recently told The Robot Report. “The core breakthroughs in motion began in 1979 with an MIT paper, but industrial robotics hadn’t changed much in 40 years.”
“At Duke University, we figured out how to make time-consuming processes go faster. The motion-planning algorithms were good but sequential; we needed massive parallelism,” he added. “We’ve blown open what you can do with stupid robots, now that they can adapt to changing workspaces.”