Freedom Robotics’ chief technology officer Hans Lee, CEO Joshua Wilson, head of robotic applications Alex Cutting, co-founder Dimitri Onistsuk, and Jonathan Tran. Photo credit: Garry Tan.

Why Initialized led a $6.6M seed round in robotics management software

When you walk the streets of the Bay Area, you get the sense that robotics are gradually, and yet noticeably, starting to affect the physical lived experience of city sidewalks and roads. Autonomous vehicles navigate our streets while delivery robots pass by pedestrians on our sidewalks. The advances in practical machine learning and computer vision that have happened in just the past few years will ultimately drive real robotic applications in just about every market. But before that happens, robotics teams will have to solve a myriad of technical problems across a broad range of disciplines.

Robotics engineers didn’t have the same tools most developers expect, until now

Unlike pure software engineers, who have access to a plethora of developer and enterprise tools, robotics engineers have to reinvent the wheel for many basic tasks. The lack of tools geared towards robotics slows progress and needlessly expands the cost of bringing a product to market. Even on relatively standardized platforms like the Robot Operating System (ROS), engineers find themselves hacking together Python scripts or C++ infrastructure to do almost everything a modern software team finds easy: logging, metrics, analytics, and debugging.

Operations teams handling deployments are quickly overwhelmed without software tooling

These problems become more acute as robots move into the field. As the number of deployed robots rises, the scripts and infrastructure that support prototyping can no longer deal with the deluge of data produced by a growing fleet. Operations teams that face the burden of customer support and tele-operations find that they have no good ways of managing and controlling their devices. As edge cases are encountered in the field, engineers find themselves blind — imagine debugging without the benefit of logs or basic metrics!

That’s why we’re investing in Freedom Robotics. They’re building advanced tooling for robotics teams. Their tools give engineers the ability to monitor every single data stream produced by their robots in real time, record that data, and replay it to help understand and debug their systems. Video, LIDAR, odometry, pose, and other complex data types are automatically handled, stored, indexed, and displayed out of the box.

For operations teams, Freedom provides powerful tools for fleet management and analytics, enabling them to manage large numbers of deployed robots and detect emerging problems. Teams can use Freedom’s tools to securely operate and communicate with their robots. Their tools even integrate with Pagerduty and Slack so teams are notified proactively when things go wrong.

Freedom Robotics is making something that every robotics product team will need, and they’ve already built a platform that allows a team to massively fast-forward their development by focusing on things that are unique to them. We believe that the coming wave of robotics won’t happen without good tooling, and we’re excited that Freedom Robotics will play a role in that future.

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Freedom provides powerful tools for fleet management and analytics, enabling them to manage large numbers of deployed robots and detect problems.

Kiwi Robotics: A Case Study

If you’ve walked the streets around UC Berkeley, you might have seen a Kiwibot zipping around, delivering food to hungry students on the Berkeley campus. Using Freedom Robotics tools, Kiwi Robotics was able to significantly accelerate their development cycle and launch. Felipe Chávez, CEO & Co-founder, elaborates:

Using Freedom Robotics lets us speed up development dramatically. We would have had to build this ourselves so having them is immensely helpful. We can now deploy our robots to new markets much faster because our operators can be alerted right away if there’s a failure or if someone pushes one of our robots over. Then they can tele-op in to address the issue or send service staff immediately to fix it. We have changed from multiple days to understand what went wrong to being able to diagnose problems in minutes or seconds.

The basic problems that Kiwi Robotics faced around deployment, management, and debugging aren’t unique— they’re faced by every single robotics company hoping to build and deploy a product at scale, and the solutions for these basic tasks are repeatedly reinvented. Freedom Robotics gives these companies the tools they need to focus on what really matters: the next generation of transformative robotics.

Are you a robotics founder, developer or team-lead? We think you deserve the best tools. Try out their advanced tooling at Freedom Robotics.