All Posts By

Marta Portales

Welcome Camp in Odense!

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During the 2nd and 3rd October 2019, RobotUnion has started the second acceleration round with the Welcome Camp event. Representatives of 20 startups , RobotUnion partners and technical mentors were present during these two days at the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) in Odense, Denmark. Companies presented their feasibility plans together with their technological and business challenges to the consortium. Ten startups with the best fit with the RobotUnion program were selected to continue to Stage 2 which includes 12 months of technical mentoring with the Technological Research centers involved in the consortium. On top of that, each startup will receive 120.00 EUR equity-free cash.

In Odense, the competing startups also had the chance to hear the Keynote Speaker Esben Østergaard, founder of REInvest Robotics and co-founder of Universal Robotics. His keynote speech The meaning of collaborative robots shared the insights on how the improvements in the robotics field have transformed the way we work, by developing robots that can be easily be programmed and used. His company opened a new innovative road to integrate robots into everyday activities, making the accomplishment of tasks easier and accessible to people working with them. Changing the paradigm from robots as machines to robots as tools to work with.

Below is the list of the 10 companies that were selected for the second phase of our acceleration program: 

  • Rigitech (Switzerland): Drone delivery to integrate supply chains through hybrid drone hardware and cloud-based logistics.
  • Aether Biomedical (Poland): Zeus is a low cost-high efficacy prosthesis. This bionic limb can multiarticulate 14 grip modes.
  • MX3D (Netherlands): Software development for large scale Robotic 3D metal printing.
  • Rebartek (Norway): Standardized robotic cell to assemble reinforcement bar (rebar) pieces into rebar cages.
  • Rovenso (Switzerland): Agile robots that perform security and safety monitoring of industrial sites.
  • Automato Robotics (Israel): Robot development that works in soil/greenhouses/high tunnels to detect ripe tomatoes and harvests them.
  • Cyber Surgery (Spain): Robotic assistant for spine surgery.
  • Proxima Centauri (Denmark): Automation of the picking and sorting of natural casings.
  • Infocode (Poland): Infocode has created Bin-e, an IoT device that sorts and compress the recyclables automatically.
  • Formhand(Germany): Granulate-based vacuum grippers that can adapt to and handle objects with different shapes.

On top of that, all startups had a chance to get to know the Odense Hub ecosystem and visit some of the successful Robotics companies and talk with them:Inwatec, UAS, and Quadsat.

Selected startups kick off his first face to face meetings with the future technical mentors from VTT, PIAP, Tecnalia, DTI, and TU Delft in order to start planning the next steps for the Research and Product Development phase. 

Watch what went on at the Welcome Camp in our resume video from the day here!

Under the sea: Submarine drones for ocean exploration

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Have you ever wondered how big is the ocean and how robots can help us explore it? According to the Smithsonian Institute, this massive body of water holds over 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water and covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. Although it’s been investigated since ancient times, the ocean is still a mystery to many researchers. Humans have been making efforts to gain knowledge about it all throughout history and robots could help us uncover its mysteries.

Ocean exploration started around 5000 B.C. with the firsts attempts in ocean diving, sailing vessels, diving bells, and coastal maps. As humanity gained knowledge and technology advanced, we explored further and farther from shores, discovering lands and connecting with cultures around the world.

After the invention of the first diving suit in the 18th century, deep-diving started to seem possible and expeditions to explore the Ocean continued underwater with the invention of the submarine. The 1900s became a turning point and humanity started to reach deep sea levels. The deep-sea is what scientists define as the part of the ocean below the thermocline, the layer where effects of sunlight cease, and above the seafloor. But there are only so many places we as a species can reach. And that’s where our robotic friends get into the game.

According to NOAA Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are unoccupied, highly maneuverable underwater robots that can be used to explore ocean depths while being operated by someone at the water surface. 

Most ROVs are equipped with at least a still camera, video camera, and lights, meaning that they can transmit images and video back to the ship. Additional equipment, such as a manipulator or cutting arm, water samplers, and instruments that measure parameters like water clarity and temperature, may also be added to vehicles to allow for sample collection. They were first developed for industrial uses but today are used for a wide range of applications, including scientific research. 

There are also Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), which are computer-controlled systems operating undersea. AUVs are unmanned underwater robots akin to the Curiosity rover NASA uses on Mars. 

As their name suggests, AUVs operate independently of humans. AUVs have no physical connection to their operator, who may be onshore or aboard a ship. Rather, AUVs are self-guiding and self-powered vehicles. AUVs may glide from the sea surface to ocean depths and back. Others can stop, hover, and move as blimps or helicopters do through the air.

Combining the advantages of ROVs and AUVs there are also Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicles (HROVs), the vehicles operate as a free-swimming autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), flying through the ocean like an aircraft to survey and map large areas with onboard sonar, sensors, and cameras. 

It can also be converted aboard ship into a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), connected to a surface ship via a lightweight, micro-thin fiber-optic tether that permits scientists and operators on the surface to control the vehicle and its manipulator arm to carry out targeted surveys and collections, and help carry out detailed experiments in the deep ocean.

These kinds of robots can reach places and depths that are not possible for humans, using underwater robots could decrease costs for many activities that are currently performed by Human Occupied Vehicles, improve safety in dangerous tasks and increase performance for underwater related activities.

“Underwater robots could decrease costs for many activities that are currently performed by Human Occupied Vehicles, improve safety in dangerous tasks and increase performance for underwater related activities”

If you want to know more about the current state of ocean exploration we recommend you to read the interview with Andy Bowen director of the National Deep Submergence Facility at The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Imagining new vehicles for exploration

  • Discover what lies beneath the surface

Among many applications, Underwater Robots have the potential to explore the oceans in numerous ways, for that purpose projects like Nido Robotics Sibiu Nano, the perfect tool to perform underwater inspections, efficiently and very profitably, as well as living a completely complete underwater experience. With this robot you can get live images through your 1080p camera, specifically optimized for the marine environment.

Or Nido Robotics Sibiu PRO, a bigger underwater drone that allows performing research, inspection, and maintenance of submerged facilities in an efficient and safe way. It comes with a 1080p camera, specifically optimized for the underwater environment, together with its 4 lights of 1500 lumens allowing to obtain a clear image in low light environments.

It incorporates eight thrusters, which gives it smoothness and stability in navigation. In addition, the latest generation engineering with which it has been built and its technological innovation allows it to reach depths of up to 300m.

A great example of a use for these underwater robots could is the vital role they could play in the research of ocean species and their behavior patterns by collecting images or samples. 

  • Solving challenges one AUV at the time 

Subsea Mechatronics is an R&D start-up SME focused on mechatronics developments and consultancy services. 

Their toolbot offers a solution for the last mile dredging operations where spots are hard to reach, where underneath infrastructures must be maintained or when conventional methods are oversized to actuate with precision.

RobotUnion is supporting important underwater solutions that bring an innovative way to the underwater and marine industry. The range of activities in underwater exploration could be greatly improved by using ROVs, AUVs, and HROVs, we are certain that as technology continues improving will be seeing a lot more of these robots diving into the depths of our big blue ocean.

Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

Master Training Camp in Madrid: one week of high level training with top international experts for 10 RobotUnion startups

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September 9th – 13th, 2019, 10 robotics startups selected for the 1st Batch were participating RobotUnion one-week business acceleration program organized by ISDI at their headquarters in Madrid. Founders and key members of the startups have gathered in ISDI, where they immersed themselves in trainings tailored to their business growth needs, covering fund raising, product management, B2B sells in hardware, how to work with corporates and how to impress acquirer. Moreover, they got the chance to hear real life perspectives from investors in different stages, from angel investor, vc all the way up to M&A; as well as to hear from their peers about experiences and best practices in similar business.

1st DAY - September 9th, 2019

Startups were Welcomed to the ISDI headquarters by Miguel Angel Ferreria (Director of IMPACT Accelerator). After that Izabela Zrazinska, the RobotUnion Project Coordinator did the short recap on the program and shared the information about next steps for challenges and expected milestones in the pre-seeding stage.

After this introduction, startups had the opportunity to sit in 1 to 1 sessions with RobotUnion corporate representatives and investors engaged in the program: FERROVIAL; FENIN, MADE and special guest BKI Food from Agri Food sector, Odense Invest and Chrysalix.

The 1-1 sessions tailored to startups business needs were followed by a Master Class delivered by Ignasi Vilajosana from Worldsensing who shared with the participants the insights, experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in growing his own hardware based company, which currently has more than 100 employees and has raised 20 million euros funding. The day was concluded with a cocktail networking on the rooftop of a hotel lounge located in Gran Via, Madrid´s landmark street.

2nd DAY - September 10th

Alberto Díaz, Founding Partner of MIGRATION was in charge of showing how startups should prepare a process of negotiating with a big companies. In addition, he reminded participants of the importance of managment over technology. That is, it is important to have current technology and appropriate resources, however, activity management is essential. Similarly, having a corporation as a partner can be a good strategy for the growth of a startup. Afterwards, Francsico Servia, Product Manager of Alexa, Amazon,introduced the essence of how to create and manage a product. The main take-away forstartups is that instead of getting obsessed with launching a product that they presume the market needs, they should concentrate on figuring out what the customer wants from the backwards and tailor the product to the exact needs of their target customers. They were shown examples of Amazon and some practical tricks to put into practise, like product backlog. 

In the afternoon, deep tech roundtable with investors was organised to showcase different perspectives from investors in different stages, moderated by IMPACT Accelerator Director, Miguel Angel Ferreria. There are Angel Investor Peder Nedergaard from startups: Yago Montenegro Mendez, Pablo Ayala and Eric Truebenbach.

3rd DAY - September 11th

On a third day Eric Truebenbach, who was in charge of the acquisition of Universal Robots and Energid shared with startups how to impress investors. Later, Nacho de Pinedo taught the main keys to digital marketing. Afterwards, Rodrigo Martínez continued with his “B2B SaaS & Hardware-as-a-Service” masterclass. After the meal, the startups attended a Pitch Workshop by Pilar Gil where each of the startups pitch was performed and then analyzed in order to improve some details for the future.

4th DAY - September 12th

5th DAY - September 13th

The last was focused on general (but still important! topics for startups. First class about Internationalization was held by Miguel A. Díez Ferreria. After that the last class about Talent Scouting, Culture, Teambuilding was performed by David Tomas

RobotUnioin has finalized a great week of intensive training of relevant entrepreneurial topics will help startups to deal with potential strategic situations related to scaling and growing. Special thanks to experts & speakers and to ISDI team for organizing the event.

Master Training Camp

Watch the full video of the Robot Union Master Training Camp!

28 startups, 130 investors and 300 DKK million at the Odense Investor summit

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The Odense Investor Summit, the biggest event in Europe for direct investments in robotics, took place in Denmark on the 26th of June. The summit is bridging the gap between startups/SMEs and investors within robotics, drones and health-tech.  

SmoothRobotics and Tendo accelerated by RobotUnion were present there. Other Startups which previously participated in the RobotUnion Open Calls participated as well. From 1st OC: Accrea, Alias Robotics, Proxima Centauri and from 2nd OC: Rebartek, RoboFit, Robobend. Some of them were selected among 28 companies who were pitching in front of 130 investors (business angels and venture capital funds from Europe, USA and Asia), ready to place millions of euros in to robotic, drone and health-tech ventures.  The Investor Summit, hosted by Investment Manager Michael Hansen, was held in Odense for 4th year in a row – Robotunion partnering for the first time.

Joost Nijhoff, Director at Invest in Odense (partner of RobotUnion), explained during the  Summit the growth of the robotics industry in the City of Odense during the last years. The ambition of the local politicians is nothing less than becoming the world’s leading city for robotics. 

Rob Desborough, director at Seraphim Capital was one of the keynote speakers. Seraphim, a VC specialized in space technologies, presented last year’s investment in Odense-based QuadSAT, a drone-enabled satellite antenna testing company. 

QuadSAT spent a year based at the Odense Robotics StartUp Hub, a world-class robotics incubator which helped QuadSAT, along with many other robotics startups, with securing investors and gaining industry traction.

3 needs that the RobotUnion Marketplace can help you meet

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The best robots in town, your life is about to change forever, make your choice!

Well, that’s more or less in essence what the newly-launched RobotUnion MarketPlace is about.

Granted, selling robots or more precisely robotics-related services is not exactly the same as selling freshly-made hamburgers on the Camden Market (that we do advise you to check out if you ever pass by London). We’re for instance afraid that there won’t be as many bargaining possibilities as with a bunch of bananas. Robots generally have fixed prices and if ever C3-PO is for sale for £1,000, there won’t be any discount.

Nevertheless, the spirit is the same. That is to say that this virtual marketplace is indeed about making various stakeholders in the world of robotics meet and interact so that they can promote and buy each others’ services.

So, in a few lines, why should you join the RobotUnion Marketplace?

1. You want to promote a robotics-related service

Say you travel a lot. And when we say a lot, we mean A LOT. So much that carrying your luggage from the hotel to the metro station, from the check-in counter to Terminal D12 has become a real pain for your shoulder.

Enough is enough and you start thinking of a solution to this problem. We’ll overlook the details but the main idea is that you start a business and finally come up with this…:

Credits: Analytics Insights
This autonomous suitcase named Ovis was showcased during the CES2018

…A robotic suitcase with various sensors and facial recognition that can follow you everywhere!

But here’s the thing. How to produce on a large scale? How to reach a network of travellers?

You post your concept and a picture of your prototype in RobotUnion Marketplace…which draws the attention of a representative of Samsonite one of the biggest luggage manufacturers in the world! She gets in touch with you and…

…Right, we get it, this startup fairy tale would not happen systematically. But you’ve got the idea: the more marketplace members we are, the more business opportunities there will be, whether you are willing to showcase your product or seeking an innovative solution.

2. You need robotics skills

However, needs can be met in other ways.

The robotics field may be gaining pace, related skills are not that widespread.

Say your dairy company is looking for a way to automate yoghurt packaging in your factory. You found that several technologies can enable such a process improvement.

Nevertheless, there is something or more precisely someone missing in the equation: a qualified robotics engineer who understands the technology, is able to implement it, maintain it…and repair it if needed!

Credits: Quora – What is robotics engineering?

Again, we are keen on encouraging matchmaking. This time, the idea is to welcome among our marketplace a number of robotics experts as well as companies eager to bring new skills to its workforce.

3. You can provide some mentoring to RobotUnion community

Are you from a research organisation, the academic community or a private entity and do you work on robotics-related topics? Can you provide useful funding connections to robotics start-ups? Help them build more efficient prototypes? Advise them on a go-to-market strategy?

Mentoring is crucial in fields that are relatively new such as robotics, for instance, in order to determine from a technical perspective what is feasible and what is not

These are some of the questions we have been asking throughout our network to gather a community of mentors within the Marketplace. Whether you are an early-stage robotics company or a more advanced SME in the field, you’ll be able to request some guidance with respect to the concept(s) you are working on.

To wrap it up

If you recognise yourself in one of the situations we described above, go ahead and introduce your product or your needs!

Join the RobotUnion Marketplace!

Robot Union Master Training Camp in Madrid

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The RobotUnion Master Training Camp for the Startups from the 1st Batch is coming! The 5 days of face-to-face intensive training of relevant entrepreneurial topics will help Startups to deal with potential strategic situations related to scaling and growing. It will take place on 9th-13th September in ISDI Campus in Madrid. 

At this 4-day training camp influencing entrepreneurs in robotics will share with us their expertise in internationalisation, marketing, sales, metrics, fundraising, company culture, talent scouting… And of course, a nice reunion always ends up with unforgettable night-outs. All participants will be invited to networking social events where partnership, collaborations, peer learning and camaraderie are fostered and reinforced. 

More detailed agenda with keynote speaker, teachers and experts will come out very soon.

Stay tuned! 

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane, It’s a Drone!

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Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are robots that can fly controlled or autonomously through software flight plans with the help of sensors or/and GPS. They’ve seen a huge rise given the conditions we’ve developed technologically and became very popular in the last years because they can complete tasks that used to be performed by helicopters and airplanes. 

These tasks used to be expensive to hire and they were not always available on-demand. Drones came up to the scene presenting themselves as a good solution for a variety of challenges. They can be equipped with distant sensors, time-of-flight sensors, chemical sensors, stabilization and orientation sensors, visualization sensors, and the list just goes on. Other common features of drones are accelerometers, barometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and GPS. 

According to The Drone Market Report, this industry will grow to $43 Billion USD by 2024. If you follow the UAV world you’ll notice that every day some new use comes up and they’re certainly disrupting the robotics market. From agriculture uses to surveillance, healthcare, construction, films, journalism and more, here are some of the best use cases of Drones.  

  • More efficient pesticide spraying 

The agricultural industry has faced many challenges over the last few years, from climate change to automatization, technology will drive the farming revolution for the future. The use of agricultural drones will allow users to gain insights in data from crops and plan accordingly to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.

A very good example of drones working to make agricultural work more productive is the DJI MG-1P Drone, made for spraying crop fields. The aircraft increases work efficiency and have the ability to pre-plan routes and control up to five of them at the same time, with a range of 3 kilometers. It also comes with an FPV camera to improve security, eight rotors with advanced propulsion and control algorithms to ensure safety -even if one rotor breaks-, and a high precision radar for positioning and navigation. 

  • Healthcare from a distance 

In the case of healthcare, drones can support the rapid and efficient delivery of vaccines, medication supplies, support, rescue and decrease the mortality of life-threatening communicable diseases. With the support of this technology, the medical field can improve its communications and mobile technology. It can reach dangerous areas where human access is compromised. 

At TU-Delft the Ambulance Drone project is looking to tackle the first critical minutes of life-threatening diseases by speeding the time of response, the technology embedded in the drone includes an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), medication and CPR. It also includes personalized instructions for people at the place where the emergency is presented, making it easier to extend the reach for the cases. 

  • Building inspections made easy 

For construction and civil engineering, drones can be used as tools to improve communication and safety at the field. As drones capture real-time images from the construction sites, the UAV can be used to track progress, monitor security patrols, improve technical inspection, deliver key items, among other uses. The use of sensors and cameras improve and contributes to developing the projects in less time and with less human labor. 

The AEROARMS project aimed to develop the first aerial robotics system with multiple arms and advanced manipulation capabilities applied in industrial inspection and maintenance.  “It uses ultrasonic sensors for characterizing cracks on concrete bridges, a different type of ultrasonic transducer for thickness and corrosion measurements of metallic materials, and eddy current sensors for crack detection”. 

  • Improving manufacturing and supply chains

By improving their features, drones have become more specialized and sophisticated since their prime days, these developments allow to reduce costs in their manufacturing, therefore, making them easier to access by users. In the manufacturing industry drones can be used for all sorts of activities, from the discovery of source materials to handling and transporting products inside and outside the factory. They can also be used for inspection and monitoring depending on the features of the craft or could be used to perform dangerous or difficult tasks thus improving plant safety. 

Flirtey is the startup that got the first license for drone delivery in the United States, beating Amazon and Google. As they state in the website “Flirtey helps businesses to unlock new markets, drive sales, pioneer instant delivery, and replace a costly and cumbersome logistics network”. Making them a good example of a drone used to improve efficiency in a supply chain. 

  • When reliability is the most important feature

With the market presenting a large number of options for drones, they are becoming more accessible to small and medium logistics operators. Thye can run from deliveries to in-house tasks improving efficiency in ways you can’t even imagine. You can get drones with different features and nowadays you can get top-quality ones with very good deals.

This drone is designed for durability. The RigiDrone One is inspired by cargo planes and optimized for logistics. Among its many features, we can highlight the hybrid architecture, which combines vertical take-off and landing with fixed-wing range capabilities. It also lands to deliver a package and pick-up another one or it can do a low-altitude precision drop-off at the destination. This drone can travel up to 80 kilometers with one charge and it can fly under rain, snow or winds up to 12 m/s.

  • And as a bonus: A drone programmed for painting 

A team of McGill Computer Science researchers published in an article called Stippling with Aerial Robot, the researchers created prints using a quadrotor flying robot. Using motion capture to measure the position of the drone and the canvas and then using programming algorithms to put in contact an inked-soaked sponge attached to the robot. 

There’s no creative limit for the amazing things we can do with drones, the mentioned examples are just some of the initiatives looking to disrupt and innovate the market of UAVs. Who knows what the future will bring us with drones? Probably, a great Amazon deal. 


Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

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