RISE Robotics, which has been developing electrical technology to replace hydraulic systems, last week said that it has raised $3 million in additional funding. The Somerville, Mass.-based company said it plans to use the funding to accelerate its work with a leading forklift manufacturer.
The majority of heavy machines today rely on hydraulic systems, powered by diesel, to enable motion, said RISE. It is the most essential, but also the most wasteful component in the overall motion system, producing an estimated 55 million tons of CO2 annually in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
While equipment suppliers have been forced to comply with emissions regulations, heavy machinery companies have struggled with the slow pace of innovation and high cost of electricity as a power source, RISE Robotics said.
“Hybrid and electric retrofits to existing hydraulic systems are more expensive than the existing diesel systems and are much harder to control,” stated Arron Acosta, co-founder and CEO of RISE Robotics. “Hydraulics are slowing and literally weighing down the adoption of electrically powered heavy machines,”
RISE Robotics aims to make heavy lifting more efficient
RISE Robotics’ co-founders Arron Acosta and Blake Sessions met while at studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They then joined Toomas Sepp and Kyle Dell’Aquila to form the company, which was part of the Techstars accelerator.
RISE Robotics claimed that its technology disrupts how linear actuators are engineered and makes the shift from diesel to electric systems possible, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible. Linear actuators are essential for the mechanisms in lifting and loading machines.
“The RISE platform offers a completely new mechanical motion technology that makes electric-powered motor-to-movement solutions possible,” Acosta said. “It’s a game changer for any manufacturer trying to electrify its heavy machinery.”
Linear actuators are important to industries including agriculture, construction, and waste management. The RISE Cylinder is designed for medium- and heavy-duty applications and can reduce emissions, improve productivity, and extend machine life, said the company.
The additional funding will support RISE Robotics’ work with a leading forklift manufacturer to accelerate the electrification of its machinery, increasing the performance of the manufacturer’s existing electric forklifts and enabling the electrification of its larger scale machinery, which is currently diesel-fueled.
Funding toward a zero-emissions future
The Engine led RISE Robotics’ latest funding round. It is a venture capital firm spun out of MIT to invest in early-stage companies trying to solve the world’s most urgent problems, such as climate change, through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership.
RISE Robotics said it has received angel funding from notable Boston investors and advisors including John P. Strauss, William J. Warner, and Walter A. Winshall. Reed Sturtevant, a general partner of The Engine, and Winshall will join RISE Robotics’ board of directors.
“It takes a lot to make a machine move,” said Sturtevant. “Displacing hydraulics is just the first application of RISE Robotics’ IP for improving motion and electrifying heavy machinery. Their research, approach and systems will be crucial in evolving how other key mechanical components work, but most importantly these innovations to the fundamentals of how machinery moves will lead the industry toward not just compliance with emissions standards, but helping heavy machinery become an oil-free, zero-emissions industry in the future.”
The startup has two commercial agreements: one with a major manufacturer of lifting machinery and another with the U.S. Air Force.