Robust.AI Raises $22.5 Million to Build the World’s First Industrial-Grade Cognitive Engine for Robotics

·5 min read

New Financing led by JAZZ Venture Partners and joined by Previous Investor Playground Global will Enable Expansion for Platform Development and Early Partnerships

Robust.AI, the company pioneering an industrial grade cognitive engine for robots, announced today the close of a $15 million Series A investment round, taking the company’s total funding to-date to $22.5 million. JAZZ Venture Partners led the Series A round and was joined by previous investors Playground Global, Liquid2, Fontinalis, Jaan Tallin and Mark Leslie. Angel investors include Esther Dyson, Steve Blank and Tim O’Reilly.

Historically, robots have largely been confined to highly predictable environments; Robust aims to change that by creating a new cognitively-driven AI platform that gives robots the problem-solving capabilities they need to work alongside humans in dynamic, open-ended environments, vastly increasing their potential in complex public spaces.

Robust.AI was founded by a team of serial entrepreneurs and leaders in robotics and artificial intelligence:

  • CEO Gary Marcus, Ph.D., previously CEO/co-founder of Geometric Intelligence, which was acquired by Uber. He is also the bestselling author of five books including Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust, and is professor emeritus of psychology and neural science at NYU

  • CTO Rodney Brooks, Ph.D., previously co-founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics, co-inventor of Roomba, the best-selling consumer robot of all time, and former director of the MIT Computer Science and AI lab (CSAIL)

  • Chief Science Officer Mohamed Amer, Ph.D., former Senior Technical Manager at the Center for Vision Technologies, SRI International where he led AI and ML projects in machine common sense, communicating with computers, and explainable artificial intelligence.

  • COO Anthony Jules, former CTO of Formant.io, an intelligence platform for robot fleets, Senior Product Manager at GoogleX, and COO & VP of Product at Redwood Robotics (acquired by Google)

  • Co-Founder Henrik Christensen is the Qualcomm Chancellor's Chair of Robot Systems and a Professor of Computer Science at UCSD. He is the Director of UCSD’s Contextual Robotics Institute and is also Co-Founder of ROBO-Global ETF with $3.5B in investments in robotics

The team’s extensive experience in robotics and AI has led them to build a solution that could transform the nascent robotics industry into a more robust ecosystem of solutions. Robust.AI is pioneering a powerful software stack for building and rapidly deploying semantically aware robots that will widen the variety of tasks they can do. This will help companies launch more robust robots faster, with more layers of safety, in the real world, across a wide range of industries.

"The deep-learning, heavy AI approach that many favor today often fails in the real world; in dynamic environments that change rapidly, current-generation robots can easily get confused, which is why we are still a long way from Rosie the Robot ," said co-founder and CEO Gary Marcus, who announced the funding while speaking at today’s WSJ Pro Artificial Intelligence Executive Forum. "At Robust, we want to grow the entire robotics industry, by overhauling the software stack for robotics, injecting cognition and common sense into the pipeline, allowing robots to operate in complex environments that were previously out of reach.

"Finding market fit is as important in robots and AI systems as any other product," said co-founder and CTO Rodney Brooks. "We are building something we believe most robotics companies will find irresistible, taking solutions from single-purpose tools that today function in defined environments, to highly useful systems that can work within our world and all its intricacies."

"The remarkable advancements in robotics hardware will be further advanced with our software.," said Anthony Jules, co-founder and COO. " Through deep partnerships with industry leaders, Robust.AI will build a transformative business where robots will work more successfully in more applications than ever before."

John Spinale, Managing Partner at JAZZ Venture Partners will join Robust.AI’s board of directors. "It’s refreshing to be working with such a stellar team who are taking a first principles approach to solving the key obstacles to automation and scalability in some of our most important industries," said Spinale.

"As an investor with a focus on deep technology, I firmly believe in building toward a future where robots can think and reason autonomously in dynamic and unstructured environments," said Peter Barrett, partner at Playground Global. "There is no better team in the world to solve this challenging problem than the one assembled by Robust.AI."

About Robust.AI

Founded in 2019 by leading scientists and technologists Gary Marcus, Rodney Brooks, Mohamed Amer, Anthony Jules and Henrik Christiansen, Robust.AI is building the world’s first industrial grade cognitive engine for robots. Visit Robust.AI for more information.

About JAZZ Venture Partners

JAZZ Venture Partners invests in companies that extend the boundaries of human performance — improving how we live, learn, work, play, and experience the world. JAZZ seeks breakthroughs at the intersection of digital technology and neuroscience that are influencing the human experience, such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, immersive gaming, robotics, and closed-loop human-computer systems. JAZZ portfolio companies are unlocking human potential in health, mind-body wellness, accelerated learning and training, sports, entertainment, and the enterprise. JAZZ Venture Partners website: www.jazzvp.com.

About Playground Global

Playground Global invests in companies using novel technical approaches to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Playground looks for exceptional founding teams creating radical solutions in artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, next-gen compute, life sciences, aerospace, mobility, logistics and more. Leveraging decades of experience in deep technology, Playground helps build companies that will have a multi-generational impact. Learn more at our website: www.playground.global

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