CO-FOUNDER GRACE BROWN AND THE LARGER TEAM OF ANDROMEDA ROBOTICS WITH ABI. SOURCE: SUPPLIED
Twenty-three-year-old Grace Brown has an impressive resume.
She’s a robotics engineer, a Mechatronics Engineering graduate from The University of Melbourne, and the founder of robotics and AI startup Andromeda Robotics, who is using her AI-powered robot Abi to combat loneliness and isolation for the elderly and children in hospitals and care centres.
Brown is on a mission to revolutionise human-robot interactions with a small, but mighty, team of 10 based in Melbourne and Boston, with the AI robotics startup completing a $1 million funding round in November.
At 120 cm tall, Abi is not just a robot that is breaking new ground in healthcare, she is also a companion, confidant, and friend who uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to learn from her interactions with humans.
Abi is able to recognise faces, has a memory, can respond to and ask meaningful questions and express emotions in a way that is designed to make people feel comfortable and at ease.
Brown told SmartCompany that the Andromeda Robotics team has built and assembled four Abi robots so far, with the parts having just arrived for the fifth and sixth Abi robots on Wednesday.
Building an Abi costs the team nearly $10,000 in hardware and consumables.
“We’re building our next two over the rest of this week, so there’ll be at least six very, very soon which is very exciting,” Brown said.
“Once we have all the parts, all the electronics, the hardware and everything, it only takes us about a day. So it’s a very, very quick assembly process.
“The thing that takes the longest is the shipping time for all the hardware.”
Andromeda Robotics has also recently announced the commencement of its initial trials with Bolton Clarke’s Allity residential aged care, with plans in motion to expand even further in 2024.
For Brown, her journey to founding Andromeda Robotics and creating Abi started in her final year of university.
“At the beginning, I had fairly modest ambitions for what I was trying to achieve,” she said.
“I was basically just trying to build a robot that could give me a hug during a time, like the pandemic, where I was completely isolated from the rest of the world.
“Abi is a solution and a tool that is specifically designed to provide that social interaction for people who don’t have that opportunity anymore.
“She genuinely has built some pretty phenomenal connections with people.”
Brown said Abi is fully voice-interactive.
“So you can talk to her just like you would talk to a friend or a person,” she said.
“You can ask her how she’s going and she will ask you how you’re going.
“She’ll usually prompt you along with lots of questions and you can even ask her as well. Like what can you do Abi? That’s often one of the first questions she gets asked and she’ll answer usually with ‘I can play games and I can tell stories. I’m all ears here’.”
Brown said Andromeda Robotics has big expansion plans to reach wider facilities across Australia to address the growing loneliness epidemic facing one in five older Aussies.
“We’re already partnering with fairly large aged care providers like Bolton Clarke’s Allity residential aged care and Baptcare, but in 2024 she will be deployed across children’s hospitals and aged care homes in Melbourne and Sydney.
“I would like to see her deployed in 50 homes by 2024. I think that would be a fairly significant milestone for us.”
Stone & Chalk group chief executive officer Chris Kirk said they offer access to an ecosystem of knowledge, capital, infrastructure and industry connections to foster the next generation of innovators and leaders.
“Grace and the Andromeda team are integral members of our Melbourne community,” he said.
“We’re excited to support Andromeda’s growth as they revolutionise human-robot interactions and reimagine the future of robotics for a new, more empathetic age.”
Source: Smart Company