Elon Musk says we should fear artificial intelligence and robots. If so, here are 11 startups to be very afraid of.
Elon Musk has been fairly outspoken about the rise of AI and robots, and their potential negative impact on humans. Last year he said:
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence.”
AI takes many shapes, and often is only embodied in lines of code running complex machine- and deep-learning software. But in the popular imagination, the threat from AI comes from humanoid machines, i.e. robots, which use their machine strength (and software-powered artificial intelligence) to subjugate their former overlords.
With this in mind we looked at robotics startups that are either replacing humans, or utilizing emerging technologies to interact and increasingly learn from humans.
- Many of these companies — Fetch Robotics, Gamma 2 Robotics, and GreyOrange Robotics — are currently focused on industrial process automation.
- There are also those like Bossa Nova Robotics, which develops “personal robots” that are able to “physically interact with people, objects, and the environment.” In addition to the Bossa Nova robots’ patented movement system, they also have a series of spring-loaded legs that can deploy instantly to mitigate a fall, something that could come in handy during a war on humans.
- There’s also Jibo, a social robot that learns from its users over time in order to better serve their needs and evokes images of the evil robot HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
In all seriousness, below is the full list of 11 robotics startups that are utilizing technology to replace, aid, or interact with humans.
|Company||Description||Last Equity Funding||Total Funding ($M)||Select Investors|
|Rethink Robotics||Manufactures robots focused on industrial, manufacturing, and research as well as the Intera Platform, an operating system for robotic performance.||Series D-II // $13.4M
|$113.53||Bezos Expeditions, CRV, GE Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Two Sigma Ventures, Wellington Management|
|GreyOrange Robotics||Maker of “The Butler” an automated warehouse storage and picking robot||Series B // $30M
|$39||BITS Spark Angels, Blume Ventures, Hatch Group, Tiger Global Management|
|Jibo||A consumer-focused social robot that sees, hears, and assists users.||Series A // $11M
|$38.58||CRV, Formation 8, RRE Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures|
|Harvest Automation||Mobile and autonomous robots that can work in teams for use-cases ranging from material handling to agriculture.||Series C // $11.8M
|$33.51||Cultivation Capital, Entree Capital, Founder Collective, Life Sciences Partners|
|Fetch Robotics||Autonomous warehouse management and fulfillment robots.||Series A // $20M
|$23||O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Softbank Capital|
|Bossa Nova Robotics||Creator of the mObi Ballbot platform, a personal robot with a patented spherical movement system.||Series A // $9.11M
|$9.11||Innovation Works, Riverwood Capital|
|Gamma 2 Robotics||Develops G2R Cybernetic Brain which powers autonomous security robots that are able to make decisions based on changing situations including intrusion and fire detection.||Series A // $3.55M
|RoboCV||Develops auto-pilot systems for vehicles that includes machine vision technology. Currently focused on electric warehouse vehicles.||Seed VC // $3M
|$3||Almaz Capital Partners, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, I2BF Global Ventures|
|Savioke||Maker of the Relay robot, which relays items between people and is currently focused on the hospitality industry.||Seed VC // $2M
|$2||AME Cloud Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Google Ventures, Morado Venture Partners|
|Empire Robotics||Maker of the Versaball system, a tool that enables gripping/grabbing technology within robotics currently targeted at automotive component manufacturers.||Convertible Note // $0.46M
|$0.99||Buffalo Angel Network, SoundBoard Angel Fund|
|Capsen Robotics||Develops a 3D computer vision system for robotics||Seed VC // $0.03M
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