San Diego startup Brain Corp is in the business of building floor cleaning robots that are capable of navigating store aisles without bumping into anything or knocking things over. This product goes by the name EMMA, meaning Enabling Mobile Machine Automation. The company has made a step towards providing these for more people with an excellent $114 million Series C funding round.
The round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund but was also funded by Qualcomm Ventures. With this new round of funding, their total funding now hits $125 million.
About Brain Corp
Brain Corp makes it clear that they don’t consider themselves as a robotics company, but as an “autonomy as service” company. Their main product is called BrainOS and is an operating system that uses artificial intelligence and computer vision in tandem with off shelf sensors and hardware to allow existing machines to navigate the world around them and make smart decisions.
While floor cleaning robots are the first commercial use of BrainOS, the company has explained that the self-driving technology can be used to make robots capable of doing many tasks in cluttered environments. These autonomous robots can also safely operate near people, which is a new ability in the robotics world.
“At Brain, we believe tomorrow’s robots will be intelligent autonomous machines that take care of us,” Eugene Izhikevich, chief executive at Brain Corp, said in a statement. “Such robots will be as commonplace as computers and mobile phones are today.”
The startup has about 40 workers at this time, with 15 holding Ph.Ds.
The company explains that new funding will be used to further develop the AI and make it work for other commercial applications. It also plans to port BrainOS to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platform, making it easier to implement the technology to a broad span of machines.
“Brain is developing truly ground-breaking technology that transforms manually operated machines into autonomous robots,” said Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp. “Brain's team is at the forefront of creating the future and a more convenient way of life through technology. We are confident in their success and look forward to seeing them realize their vision.”
Floor Cleaning Robots
The EMMA product has been tested in grocery stores in the San Diego area and was introduced at the Industrial Sanitary Supply Trade Show in Chicago of last year. The machines look like industrial sized scooters, but are loaded with cameras, sensors, 4G LTE connectivity, and algorithms that allow the machine to learn a route around the store while avoiding obstacles that may come up in the process of doing so.
This company is in the process of partnering with those who make manual industrial floor cleaning machines to add BrainOS artificial intelligence to them. The technology is currently sold as a subscription service.
It may seem surprising that artificial intelligence is moving to the cleaning industry but it’s just another example of how modern technology is changing the world around us.