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Amazon looks to accelerate emergence of innovative robotics startups

By Grace Reed, product marketing manager for AWS RoboMaker, and Pulkit Kapur, business development manager for robotics and autonomous systems at AWS

Helping startups succeed, from inception to IPO, has been an integral part of Amazon Web Services since its beginning. Today, more startups build on AWS than any other cloud provider, and many of its customers started using AWS at an early stage to help scale their business and drive innovation.

For example, Lunar Outpost, a pioneer in lunar surface robotics, uses AWS RoboMaker to test and validate robotics software in a simulated lunar environment, enabling them to speed up robot delivery and reduce software bugs in deployment.

In this blog post, we discuss how AWS Robotics is helping robotics startups use cloud technology to establish a scalable infrastructure for building, testing, and managing robots.

Robots are being used for increasingly advanced use cases, equipped with artificial intelligence to navigate and perform tasks autonomously in industries such as manufacturing and logistics, consumer, healthcare, agriculture, and others.

These advanced use cases require innovative robotics solutions, and robotics startups equipped with the right set of tool can drive fast paced innovation and improve the breadth and depth of available robotics solutions.

AWS robotics startup acceleration program

To support the robotics start-up community, AWS invited early-stage robotics startups for a three-day program to learn and build with AWS Robotics business and technical experts. The AWS Robotics Startup Acceleration program was held virtually, August 17-19, 2021 with founders and technical executives from robotics startups.

Eric Anderson, GM of AWS Robotics, says: “Start-ups are the driving force of innovation in Robotics. We designed this program to provide start-up founders resources to scale their business and remove costly and time consuming undifferentiated heavy lifting.”

The program was announced in June 2021, and received interest from more than 250 startups for an information session held on June 25. The program was open to early-stage robotics hardware and software startups with less than $1 million in revenue and fewer than 25 employees.

In early August, AWS Robotics selected nine robotics startups, which represented a variety of applications and geographical locations (5 North America, 2 LATAM, 1 EMEA, and 1 India) around the world.

The startups selected include:

These start-ups were selected based on their potential to benefit from cloud services and technical readiness to implement AWS.

Knocking down customer barriers

AWS Robotics designed the program’s content to help start-ups solve common technical and business challenges to scaling robotics fleets.

To address customers’ pain points and barriers to growth, a team of AWS Robotics Solutions Architects developed technical content on a range of topics to help customers remove undifferentiated heavy lifting including how to connect robots to the cloud, provision software over-the-air, simulate robots, and train ML models in the cloud.

Prior to the program, Suma Reddy, CEO of Future Acres, was looking for the best solutions to help scale from a prototype to a fleet of robots.

Reddy says: “Our mission at Future Acres is to develop sustainable, advanced, and intelligent robotics tools for farms. As we think about how to scale, we are excited to increase our usage of AWS RoboMaker Simulation for quicker testing and scaling and to facilitate sales motions through simulated demonstrations.

“For our ambitious roadmap, we’re excited to explore how to leverage the open-source tools, cloud services, and network of technology partners that AWS can provide.”

The program also provided guidance to address common business problems, topics ranged from building an innovation culture to thinking about go-to-market channels for startups and lessons in fundraising and VC relationships.

David Bensoussan, founder and CIO of Brisa Robotics, says: “I found the session about Amazon’s Unique Innovation Culture to be the most valuable and gave our teams a lot to think about.

“As we are technical founders, mostly focused on trying to solve technical challenges, we don’t often take the time to think deeply about those subjects, so it gave us an excellent starting point.”

The program also featured robotics experts such as AWS distinguished engineer James Gosling and Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh, who shared their years of experience building their robotics business.

Parikh says: “It’s been a 5 year journey to take a robotics innovation and transform it into a product that meets our customer needs. At first, we wanted our robot to do everything but we learned to recognize where the demand was coming from and tailor our product accordingly.”

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