[Arbe Robotics in Venture Beat] Qamcom will bring Arbe’s 4D imaging radar to trucks, mines, and farms

Just as 2D computer vision systems are helping factories to identify defective parts and webcams to blur out home office backgrounds, next-generation imaging radars will enable autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles to understand their environments for safer navigation.

Read more here.

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Thimble teaches kids STEM skills with robotics kits combined with live Zoom classes

Parents with kids stuck learning at home during the pandemic have had to look for alternative activities to promote the hands-on learning experiences kids are missing out on due to attending class virtually. The New York-based educational technology startup Thimble aims to help address this problem by offering a subscription service for STEM-based projects that allow kids to make robotics, electronics and other tech using a combination of kits shipped to the home and live online instruction.

Thimble began back in 2016 as Kickstarter project when it raised $ 300,000 in 45 days to develop its STEM-based robotics and programming kits. The next year, it then began selling its kits to schools, largely in New York, for use in the classroom or in after-school programs. Over the years that followed, Thimble scaled its customer base to include around 250 schools across New York, Pennsylvania, and California, who would buy the kits and gain access to teacher training.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of Thimble’s business.

“A lot of schools were in panic mode. They were not sure what was happening, and so their spending was frozen for some time,” explains Thimble co-founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso, whose background is in education. “Even our top customers that I would call, they would just give [say], ‘hey, this is not a good time. We think we’re going to be closing schools down.”

Pedroso realized that the company would have to quickly pivot to begin selling directly to parents instead.

Image Credits: Thimble

Around April, it made the shift — effectively entering the B2C market for the first time.

The company today offers parents a subscription that allows them to receive up to 15 different STEM-focused project kits and a curriculum that includes live instruction from an educator. One kit is shipped out over the course of three months, though an accelerated program is available that ships with more frequency.

The first kit is basic electronics where kids learn how to build simple circuits, like a doorbell, kitchen timer and a music composer, for example. The kit is designed so kids can experience “quick wins” to keep their attention and whet their appetite for more projects. This leads into future kits like those offering a Wi-Fi robot, a little drone, an LED compass that lights up, and a synthesizer that lets kids become their own D.J.

Image Credits: Thimble

While any family can use the kits to help kids experience hands-on electronics and robotics, Pedroso says that about 70% of subscribers are those where the child already has a knack for doing these sorts of projects. The remaining 30% are those where the parents are looking to introduce the concepts of robotics and programming, to see if the kids show an interest. Around 40% of the students are girls.

The subscription is more expensive than some DIY projects at $ 59.99/per month (or $ 47.99/mo if paid annually), but this is because it includes live instruction in the form of weekly 1-hour Zoom classes. Thimble has part-time employees who are not just able to understand teach the material, but can do so in a way that appeals to children — by being passionate, energetic and capable of jumping in to help if they sense a child is having an issue or getting frustrated. Two of the five teachers are women. One instructor is bilingual and teaches some classes in Spanish.

During class, one teacher instructs while a second helps moderate the chat room and answer the questions that kids ask in there.

The live classes will have around 15-20 students each, but Thimble additionally offers a package for small groups that reduces class size. These could be used by homeschool “pods” or other groups.

Image Credits: Thimble

“We started hearing from pods and then micro-schools,” notes Pedroso. “Those were parents who were connected to other parents, and wanted their kids to be part of the same class. They generally required a little bit more attention and wanted some things a little more customized,” he added.

These subscriptions are more expensive at $ 250/month, but the cost is shared among the group of parents, which brings the price down on per-household basis. Around 10% of the total customer base is on this plan, as most customers are individual families.

Thimble also works with several community programs and nonprofits in select markets that help to subsidize the cost of the kits to make the subscriptions more affordable. These are announced, as available, through schools, newsletters, and other marketing efforts.

Since pivoting to subscriptions, Thimble has re-established a customer base and now has 1,110 paid customers. Some, however, are grandfathered in to an earlier price point, so Thimble needs to scale the business further.

In addition to the Kickstarter, Thimble has raised funds and worked on the business over the year with the help of multiple accelerators, including LearnLaunch in Boston, Halcyon in D.C., and Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado.

The startup, co-founded by Joel Cilli in Pittsburgh, is now around 60% closed on its seed round of $ 1 million, but isn’t announcing details of that at this time.

 

 

 

Startups – TechCrunch

Darmstadt-based Energy Robotics nabs €2 million for its mobile inspection robots

The German company Energy Robotics, a developer of software solutions for mobile inspection robots, has received €2 million in seed funding round led by Earlybird, alongside other prominent business angels. Interestingly, one type of robots worked on by this startup, alongside company Boston Dynamics, were the inspiration for the robot dogs from the ‘dystopian future’…

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[Arbe Robotics in Times of Israel] Israeli radar revolution aims to fuel safer cars

Arbe Robotics says its high-resolution system, now being installed in vehicles worldwide, is 50 times better than standard radar

Read more here.

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[Diagnostic Robotics in The Jerusalem Post] During Covid-19, Diagnostic Robotics pivoted to aid Israel’s pandemic response

The virtual summit will be held in Partnership with the Jerusalem Post under the title – DiploTech Global Summit 2020: Israeli Innovation, Our Collective Future.

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[Intuition Robotics in The Algemeiner] ‘The Flow of Japanese Companies and Investors to Israel Started Long Before We Established Ties With the Gulf States’

Since arriving in Israel in 2018, Sompo has invested more than $ 20 million into Israeli startups and established collaborations with companies like Intuition Robotics, Nexar, Guardian, Sensifree, and Binah.ai.

Read more here.

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Dry cleaning robotics startup Presso raises $1.6M as it shifts focus to Hollywood

Robotic dry cleaning startup Presso today announced that it has closed a $ 1.6 million pre-seed with investment from Pathbreaker, AME Cloud Ventures, SOSV, 1517 Fund and YETI Capital. The Atlanta-based startup has developed a kiosk capable of dry cleaning a garment in around five minutes.

Initially focused on business travelers, with plans to install machines in hotel hallways, the COVID-19 pandemic found the startup switching focus — a fairly common story in 2020. Instead, Presso has shifted much of its efforts to film and TV production. The company says the latest generation of its tech is capable of cleaning/disinfecting up to 150 costumes in a day — a key demand as many studios have begun to ramp up production, in spite of the continuing pandemic. Netflix, HBO, Apple TV, FOX, Disney and Hulu have all approached the company about its tech.

This latest round brings Presso’s full funding up to $ 2.2 million, money it plans to spend on scaling up manufacturing, while doubling its headcount over the course of the next six or so months. I’d expect the team will also refocus some of its efforts on earlier models — like hotel delivery — once travel ramps up again in the U.S.

Startups – TechCrunch

Food robotics startup Karakuri unveils automated canteen, plus $8.4M investment led by firstminute

Last week I witnessed for myself how a new kind of robot really could — as sci-fi has been telling us for many years — create and serve us food. Today, Karakuri, a food robotics startup, unveils its first automated canteen to make meals: the “DK-One” robot. It’s also revealing an $ 8.4 million (£6.3 million) investment, led by firstminute capital, which includes funding from Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers, Ocado Group and the U.K.’s government-backed Future Fund. It has now closed a total of £13.5 million in funding.

Karakuri’s robotic system has been initially designed to make breakfast bowls. But the technology will end up being employed in a large array of scenarios, including restaurants, canteens, buffets, hotels and supermarkets. Possibly even tending vertical farms. Its particular strength is in being able to create extremely tailor-made combinations of food, putting “personalized nutrition” within practical reach. Remember those movies where the food is tailored by a robot? That.

The post-COVID world is also highly likely to embrace this technology due to the robot’s inherent cleanliness and efficiency, compared to human-made food. That said, Karakuri is not positioned to replace humans but to augment them, taking on the boring and repetitive tasks which typically see kitchen staff have far more itinerant careers due to the sheer pressure of low-level jobs where a robot would be far more suitable.

The DK-One robot is Karakuri’s first pre-production machine, which uses the latest in robotics, sensing and control technologies. It’s capable of creating high-quality hot and cold meals, which maximize nutritional benefits, restaurant performance and minimize food waste.

Post COVID restrictions, further on-customer-site trials of the DK-One are expected to take place in the first half of 2021.

The DK-One robot zips around a circular enclosure at a rate of knots, each time measuring accurate portion sizes as determined by an app, where the customer can tailor to their tastes. It means anyone ordering something would be able to track the ingredients, nutrients, calories and quantity of literally every meal.

Up to 18 ingredients can be dispensed per installation, with each ingredient temperature controlled. It will dispense of any ingredient type, including wet, dry, soft or hard food onto plates, bowls or a range of meal containers.

Because it’s so accurate it therefore reduces food waste around portions and allows for real-time data on ingredients. The thin margins restaurateurs typically have could be improved by using such a robot in repetitive tasks, and means employees can be tasked with more complex and fruitful and fulfilling work. It’s also easily integrated into existing commercial kitchens.

Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri, said in a statement: “This will be the first time we can use a pre-production machine to demonstrate the DK-One’s commercial and nutritional benefits in the real world and thus demonstrate our vision for the future of food.”

Karakuri was founded by Simon Watt and Wragg, two longtime friends and colleagues who previously worked together at ARM. In April 2018 the Founders Factory venture studio invested in Karakuri and Brent Hoberman joined the board as chairman (and is also listed as a co-founder).

Startups – TechCrunch

[Diagnostic Robotics in EKMH Innovators] Interview: Diagnostic Robotics Founders Dr. Kira Radinsky and Yonatan Amir on AI, Machine Learning, Digital Health Innovation, Data Mining and More

It’s been an exciting year for Diagnostic Robotics ChairWoman & CTO Kira Radinsky, PhD and Diagnostic Robotics CEO Yonathan Amir. Diagnostic Robotics has brought together the leading artificial intelligence researchers in Israel and the United States to create a powerful AI solution trained on data from more than 27 million patient visits and currently in use at more than 75% of HMOs in Israel. The system seeks to seamlessly integrate into the major touch points along the patient journey, providing high-value decision support while slashing administrative burdens, massively reducing the cost of care, and improving patient experiences, and already counts Anthem, Brown University, Salesforce, Deloitte and the Mayo Clinic among its clients and partners.

Read more here.

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