One of the first robots introduced to manufacturing and industry was Shakey, back in the 1960s. Capable of navigating autonomously and collecting data based on computer vision and natural language processing technologies, it gave rise to a boom in industrial automation and robotics over the next three decades.
As this boom continues into the future, startups and emerging companies develop solutions that address some of the key challenges faced by advanced robotics. Aging economies, countries with large populations, and rising demand for domestic manufacturing across developed nations all find advanced robotic solutions to be suitable for solving some of their issues. At the same time, how quickly economies develop or lure skilled talent will determine the future of robotics in that country.
Top 6 Global Advanced Robotics Startup Hubs
Using our Innovation Intelligence Platform, we analyzed the geographic distribution of global activity in advanced robotics technologies. We identified 24 regional hubs (a hub is defined as the regional geographic center of activity for this topic. It covers the center point with a radius of 100km (62mi)) that observe high activity in developing advanced robotics solutions across industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and construction. These hubs account for more than 40% of total activity.
According to our data, Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City, London, Delhi, and Singapore are home to 137 startups and emerging companies (we define startups and emerging companies as those founded after 2010) and account for 24% of global startup activity. Let us now have a look at some of the advanced robotics startups from these top 6 hubs.
According to our data, North America sees half of all advanced robotics solutions that are under development. 10% of global activity over the last ten years takes place in Silicon Valley, by far the biggest hub for this topic. European startups and emerging companies account for one-third of global activity with a focus on industrial automation solutions.
China and India lead the Asian development of advanced robotics. With large populations and higher resistance to robotics in general, Asian governments encourage advancements with tech-friendly policies and wider public awareness campaigns about integrating robots in the workforce. It will take a little longer for such countries to develop multi-disciplinary talent, required for managing advanced robotics.
#1 Silicon Valley | 57 Startups & Emerging Companies
The hub with the highest activity in advanced robotics, by a large distance, is Silicon Valley. The development of robotic arms and parts first began in earnest in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, the introduction of artificial intelligence and related technologies has given robotic applications a significant boost – as mechanical robots became intelligent to perform tasks with minimal supervision. Agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and construction robots are the most popular here.
Foresight AI is a robotics startup from San Jose that develops a scalable data and intelligence platform for autonomous vehicles and other mobile robots. They immerse mobile robots into a training academy, where they navigate in a semantic 3D environment and learn from real-world driving scenarios. Their training academy is a subscription-based data and software service.
#2 Boston | 19 Startups & Emerging Companies
Boston is home to Spot, the world’s first robotic dog that performs simple tasks like opening doors and carrying things. Commercially available from 2019, this advanced machine is capable of numerous applications across industries. Energy companies want to exploit it for inspecting their assets. Elsewhere, Cirque du Soleil wants to use it as an entertainer. With a high focus on areas of MedTech and FinTech, Boston startups develop innovative solutions that allow humans and machines to interact in better ways.
Activ Surgical is a MedTech startup from Boston. They build hardware-agnostic surgical software that allows minimally-invasive surgical systems like laparoscopes, arthroscopes, and robots, to autonomously collaborate with surgeons. Their product augments surgical vision equipment in real-time in order to provide surgeons with critical information that is not currently available. They have completed their first autonomous robotic suturing of soft tissue that outperforms methods in use today.
#3 New York City | 18 Startups & Emerging Companies
In 2017, the New York State government-funded and launched the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) in order to support the development of robotics applications in manufacturing. ARM enables collaborations among various disciplines – required for augmenting advanced robotics. It concentrates on moving away from expensive, single-purpose, and hard-to-program robots to collaborative robots that work with humans and have advanced sensing and navigating abilities.
Aersys is an early-stage tech startup that is building robotic parcel management solutions and micro-fulfillment centers to enable drone and rover delivery. Based out of New Jersey, they build the AerNode in modules, each with a particular function. Combining these modules in different ways makes the AerNode a powerful tool for any package management application. Use cases include parcel delivery management, inventory management, automated storage and retrieval systems, medical, and last-mile deliveries, among others.
#4 London | 16 Startups & Emerging Companies
According to the UK government, there are currently 4.000+ engineering companies with over 100 employees, all likely to invest in robotics. They have also set up the Center for Advanced Robotics to improve the collaboration between research and industry. British startups are encouraged to develop the widest possible solutions for solving the challenges of robotics. Some of the key focus areas include robotic navigation and controls, intelligent robots, biological robots, and robotics-related hardware, software, and integration.
Based in North London, HyBird Tech is a data analytics startup that uses computer vision to help drone operators and robotic inspection service providers to consistently capture and verify high-quality inspection data and deliver data-driven insights. They offer a prototyping platform for robotics, called Hector, a ground-based robot that captures the same data as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while maintaining a lower profile and much longer operational time. HyBird also offers UAV-based inspections services. Their data analytics platform Clarity consolidates, contextualizes, and classifies inspection and engineering data on a collaborative virtual 3D model of the asset.
#5 New Delhi | 13 Startups & Emerging Companies
In a country like India, where advanced manufacturing is very nascent, startups alone cannot push innovations. The All India Council for Robotics & Automation offers valuable resources for the industry to develop the underlying expertise involved in advanced robotics. In 2019, they set up the National Institute for Robotics & Artificial Intelligence (NIRA) with the aim of helping the robotics, IoT, and AI industry. In addition, they look to develop capacities across the key areas for the future requirements of human resources, multi-disciplinary learning management, and training delivery solutions.
Operating from New Delhi, Jetsons Robotics develops ZERO, an advanced solar panel cleaning robot. With an ambitious solar program laid out for India, maintaining solar facilities will be crucial to ensure optimum power generation. Moreover, their robots are fully autonomous, self-charging, portable, and completely water-free. They offer a single robot for a 1MW PV plant and fixed portable cleaning robots for bigger facilities.
#6 Singapore | 13 Startups & Emerging Companies
An early adopter of advanced technologies, Singapore is uniquely placed to rapidly expand the application areas for advanced robotics. An aging workforce and labor shortages have already forced the country to employ more than 400 robots for every 10,000 people. With homes, businesses, and industries adopting robots of different types, this is an important hub in terms of robotics research and development for the whole of Asia. Besides, the robotic workforce is expected to double here in the next few years.
Operating from just behind the National University of Singapore, Cognicept is a startup that provides human-in-the-loop (HITL) error handling by employing telerobotic networking technology and remote robot trainers. Their supervised autonomy products make unpredictable applications reliable and enable use cases that were previously impossible. With many robots in use across the country, human interventions become essential when robots get confused about situations facing them.
As intelligent robotics and automation improve industrial productivity, workers everywhere will come to realize significant gains from adopting such technologies. There has to be an increased awareness about the impact that robots will have on the labor market. Not all jobs will be replaced by robotics but rather only certain tasks that humans do not need to perform. At the same time, such technological advancements create new jobs for the market and encourage higher investments in their research and development.
Advanced robotic solutions are already being deployed across industries in agriculture, healthcare, shipbuilding, logistics, and supply chain, manufacturing, and industry 4.0. Get in touch with us to know more about the technologies and industries that interest you!