AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Diligent Robotics, an Austin-based robotics company, today announced that it has raised $2.1 million seed investment, led by Silicon-Valley-based True Ventures, and including investment from Pathbreaker Ventures, Boom Capital and Next Coast Ventures. The round follows early support by the National Science Foundation in the form of Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling $725,000. Diligent is developing an autonomous hospital service robot that is designed to take some of the busywork off the hands of clinical staff, so they can spend more time with patients.
“We envision a future powered by robots that work seamlessly with human teams,” said Dr. Andrea Thomaz, co-founder and chief executive officer of Diligent Robotics. “The average nurse spends up to 28% of their time performing non-value-added labor, per various studies. Our goal is to help nurses make full use of their specialized skills, letting robots handle tedious fetching tasks and other routine work.”
Patent-pending interactive machine learning algorithms will allow these robots to manipulate objects in their environments and quickly adapt to novel conditions.
When patients and their families enter hospitals, they expect to receive high-quality, patient-centric care. A landmark report by the Institute of Medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25009849) highlights the central role of nursing in patient safety and documents that nurses are increasingly spending more time on non-nursing activities that reduce their ability to provide direct care.
Founded by two scientists with extensive experience in robotics, machine learning, and human-robot interaction, the company is tackling the greatest obstacle to more service robots in everyday life: the social intelligence these machines need to operate safely and adaptively around people.
Existing technology in the hospital service robot market lacks the ability to adapt to different nursing care environments. While these robots can autonomously move around the hospital, they do not have arms that enable them to manipulate their environment.
“We build the artificial intelligence that enables service robots to collaborate with people and adapt to dynamic human environments,” said Dr. Vivian Chu, co-founder and chief technology officer of Diligent Robotics. “Diligent Robotics is delivering a new class of hospital service robots by building a solution with manipulation capabilities that can autonomously navigate a hospital to perform collaborative tasks with nursing staff.”
In early 2018, Diligent Robotics will kick off a pilot program focused on U.S. hospital care, a market estimated at $1 trillion in 2015. Specifically, the program will focus on what is referred to in the medical community as acute care facilities (as opposed to long-term care) where patients are being treated short-term for a severe injury or episode of illness, an urgent medical condition, or during recovery from surgery. The acute care market estimated at approximately $851.5 billion.
“The key long-term challenge here is creating robots that learn and adapt to the infinite variations of human interaction,” said Rohit Sharma, venture partner at True Ventures and board member for Diligent Robotics. “Andrea and Vivian are big thinkers who love tinkering and exploring the hardest challenges posed by learning machines. They have the right combination of expertise and drive to solve this problem.”
About Diligent Robotics
Diligent Robotics is a human-centered robotics company. Our mission is to make technical advances towards robots and humans working together side by side. Diligent Robotics is developing a suite of artificial intelligence that enables robots to collaborate with and adapt to humans in everyday environments. Our first product is a hospital service robot that can assist clinical staff with logistical tasks, allowing them to spend more of their time on direct patient care, improving patient satisfaction, quality of service, and safety. To learn more, visit www.diligentrobots.com.
About True Ventures
Founded in 2005, True Ventures is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage technology startups. With capital under management in excess of $1.4 billion, True provides seed and Series A funding to the most talented entrepreneurs in today’s fastest growing markets. The firm maintains a strong founder community and offers innovative educational opportunities to its portfolio, helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success and impact. With more than 200 companies funded and multiple companies acquired, the current True portfolio has helped create over 8,500 jobs. To learn more about True Ventures, visit www.trueventures.com.