April 10, 2014
Silicon Valley-Based Robot Maker Secures Investment From Google
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Silicon Valley-based robotics company Savioke (pronounced ‘savvy oak’), which is developing a medical assistance robot that could work in nursing homes and hospitals, announced on Wednesday that Google Ventures, the search giant’s funding arm, had invested an undisclosed sum that makes up part of a $2 million seed financing package. This funding was led by Morado Venture Partners, with AME Cloud Ventures and other individuals also joining in.
Cousins, who helped establish Savioke in 2013, was the former CEO of Willow Garage, where he oversaw the creation of the robot operating system (ROS), the PR2 robot, and the open source TurtleBot. In his last three years of his tenure at Willow Garage, he further managed the spin-off of eight different robotics companies.
Google’s investment in Savioke comes as no real surprise. The tech giant has been on a bit of a robot buying spree and has acquired eight other robotics firms outright in the past year.
In March a team competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) began to move to a self-funded part of the program after receiving funding from Google, and last October Google Ventures backed San Francisco-based startup Play-I, which creates robots that teach children computer coding skills.
Last December Google confirmed that it had also purchased Boston Dynamics, which had built mobile robots for the Pentagon, while also gaining a reputation for constructing highly-agile robots with a reported “uncanny sense of balance.”
Google clearly is interested in the potential of robotics and how these automatons can help serve people.
“As the lines continue to blur between industrial and personal robotics industries, Google Ventures is thrilled to be working with an exceptional group of people at Savioke,” said Andy Wheeler, general partner at Google Ventures in a statement. “Steve and his team already have had a lot to do with moving the robotics industry forward. The next act promises to be even more revolutionary.”
Google is not alone in believing that robots have a place in the future. The BBC reported that web retail giant Amazon also paid $775 million to buy Kiva Systems, a company specializing in robots that are used to move goods in a warehouse – clearly something useful to a company that ships millions of products each day.
Google’s investment of Savioke also sends a signal that it believes in Cousins and his team. As noted, Willow Garage successfully spun off eight startups, which include Suitable Technologies (maker of the Beam remote presence system); Industrial Perception, Inc.; Redwood Robotics; HiDOF (ROS and robotics consulting); Unbounded Robotics; the Open Source Robotics Foundation; the OpenCV Foundation; and the Open Perception Foundation, according to a TechCrunch report.
Two of those spinoffs, Industrial Perception, Inc. and Redwood Robotics, were also acquired by Google in 2013.
Image Below: The crew of Silicon Valley-based Savioke. Credit: Savioke