Realtime Robotics raises $31.4M.   

Realtime Robotics was founded in 2017 to transform how to choreograph robots’ movements and settled in Boston at MassRobotics. They soon outgrew the our shared office space and continue to transform smart automation with products that provide trailblazing features such as autonomous collision avoidance for multi-robot workcells and automated robot vision that continuously calibrates itself.

Congratulations to Realtime on completing their recent Series A round for $31.4M from investors including HAHN Automation and Toyota AI Ventures.   We got the chance to sit down with CEO Peter Howard for a Q&A session and asked:

1) What does this mean for the next stage of your company?

We have spent the past three years studying and developing various architectures to keep robots productively moving in real-world customer use cases. This stage of funding means we can accelerate product rollouts that we’ve been planning for while simultaneously continuing to refine our offering. 

2) Realtime can improve the speed of motion planning hundreds of times over traditional methods. Tell us what is so unique about your combination of custom silicon and software.

Our unique approach to motion planning comes from our hardware computing acceleration and AI-driven software, which empowers planning speeds that are orders of magnitude higher than conventional robot planning. Our hardware, known as the Realtime Controller, acts as a universal translator, which removes the need for robot brand-specific programming experts. This product is complemented by RapidPlan software, which allows manufacturers to optimize, simulate and deploy within the same interface. The result is being able to change cell specifications on-the-fly with only a few clicks while also empowering the robots to have optimal choreographed movements. What we have done and continue to strive for is removing the burdens for deploying automation so that manufacturers can automate a broader range of tasks more quickly and cost-effectively.  

3) Why is the improved speed in motion planning so important? What new applications does it open up?

Speed in motion planning is important because it gives robots the ability to adapt in real-time to their environmental changes. 

The most common robot is referred to as a six-degree-of-freedom robot arm. These have just as many billions of combinations to complete any task, similar to a person’s arm. Existing solutions require people to manually select which combination of movements to use for each task, which is very daunting and time-consuming, especially as these also require manually checking that it’s the optimal path or combinations to complete the task(s). This has made using two or more robots to complete tasks insurmountable to many companies as it requires months of a robotic specialist’s time to test and implement. 

Realtime’s solution automates the motion planning for industrial robot arms while taking their force and power limitations into account. By automating this process, now people can combine the use of multi-robots within a more confined space to complete tasks more efficiently. This gives companies the ability to automate without the need for specialists or months of manual processes. 

 Applications where we are seeing the most traction fall into three vertical segments:

  1. Automotive welding, where we decrease robotic system lifecycle costs by upwards of 50% while increasing throughput rates by 10 to 30% with our autonomous path-planning product RapidPlan.
  2. Mixed case palletizing, where we increase throughput rates by 20 to 40% through autonomous path planning for multiple robots, and massively decrease error-driven downtime through closed-loop monitoring of the actual build to prevent time-consuming crashes between robots and things that may have shifted on the pallet after placement.
  3. Digital twin simulation of the robotic component of automation systems, where we provide autonomous path planning for up to 16 simultaneous robots without a single line of manually written code to coordinate interlocks or create interference zones, saving 80 to 90% of the normal programming time. 

 Read more about Realtime Robotics in here

They were recently listed in CRN’s – The 10 Coolest Robotics Startups of 2021 (So Far) – in the June 21 2021 edition here