Robot Makers … smart toys, intelligent homes, and delivery drones.

January 6, 2016

“Robot Makers” focus on the most exciting growth markets of robotics and drones.

Whilst it might seem a long time since the golden C-3PO and cute R2D2 appeared in the first Star Wars movie back in 1977, the technical capabilities, intelligence and applications of robotics are about to explode into every day life. These include the much-hyped role of drones, supporting everything from unmanned combat to Amazon parcel deliveries.

Like other “Market Makers” these Robot Makers create and shape markets in their own vision.

They are not content to play the game of marginal gains – competing on small differences or price discounts, in mature and stagnant markets. They see the future world, they look for the new growth markets, and in particular those which are still emerging, which they can shape to their own advantage. They are “gamechangers” in the biggest sense, in that they create new games (markets), with new audiences (customers and needs), new rules (process and behaviours), and new possibilities (perceived value and profit potential) for business success.

Here are some of the most phenomenal Robot Makers who are creating and shaping the fast-emerging robotics markets to their advantage. Whilst there are many others developing sophisticated AI and robotics, these are examples of companies who are already out there, making money and shaping the attitudes and behaviours of customers right now:

Anki

Smart toys are just the beginning

Anki Drive, debuted during an Apple press conference back in 2013, lives up to the hype. Rather than using a Scaletrix-type track, Anki embeds cameras and IR sensors into the toys, and lets them steer themselves. Even the human-controlled racers smooth out user input, turning commands into more precise on-track movements. Anki toys have clocked up more than 800,000 miles. If this sounds like a lot of tech just for a little racing game, Anki CEO and cofounder Boris Sofman says “We want to eventually leave entertainment, to go into other areas where these approaches would apply, like the home or sports or even transportation.”

Bossa Nova Robotics

Making home a better place

Bossa Nova is developing a fulling autonomous mobile robot that could transform everyday tasks in the home.  Their 2016 launch, developed at Carnegie Mellon University, seeks to create emotional connections so that tasks become intuitive and empathic- seeking to add value in new ways, rather than just automate the mundane.

Daewoo Shipbuilding

Exoskeletons as giant industrial workers

One of most promising players in the growing field of wearable robotics is also the most unexpected. DSME, the shipbuilding arm of the South Korean Daewoo Group is developing exoskeletons for use in its sprawling shipyards, to help workers carry heavy loads by hand. The hydraulic, battery-powered systems deployed in a successful pilot test could run for three hours at a time and lift 66 pounds on their own. The company’s current goal, however, is nothing short of superhuman—effortless handling of loads weighing roughly 220 pounds.

DJI

The world’s largest maker of consumer drones.

The Shenzhen-based company is opening a Silicon Valley research and development center in hopes of harnessing the wealth of robotics talent in the area, and identifying potential new partners and investment targets. The Phantom range of consumer drones have captured the world’s imagination – for everything from mapping landscapes to herding sheep. Phantoms are relatively inexpensive (about $1,300) remote-control quad-copters that are made for filming, some with stabilized HD cameras built in. The small and light drones are fairly user-friendly and extremely high-performance. They fly at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour and up to 400 feet. They also have GPS and stabilizing sensors to idiot-proof them as much as possible, with features that allow them to automatically return to where they launched should they lose contact with their remote. The company was founded in 2006, but in just the last three years, its sales have grown by a factor of 150, making it the fastest-growing drone manufacturer in the world.

Gamma 2 Robotics

Intelligent and autonomous security

G2R have developed the “Cybernetic Brain” – artificial intelligence that enables the robot to operate independently whilst detecting and making judgement relating to any “invaders” – fire, water,  or suspicious objects. The robots learns about its environment, becoming fast and accurate in diagnosis, and ultimately more reliable and lower risk than humans.

Matternet

Autonomous drone delivery

Matternet One is the first smart transport drone – in particularly focused on the challenge of “last mile” logistics to homes. The company is building an automated delivery network for goods based on a fleet of autonomous UAVs/drones. Initial tests with Swiss Post delivering parcels to areas which were difficult to reach by traditional methods (everything from mountain tops, to apartment blocks, and remote islands).

ReWalk Robotics

Exoskeletons that will replace expired limbs and wheelchairs.

The ReWalk Personal System is the first exoskeleton to be cleared by the FDA for use at home and in the community. No longer stuck in laboratories or rehab facilities, these robotic devices can now help users move about the world, restoring some of the lower-limb mobility lost to injury or disease. ReWalk Robotics’ model essentially walks for its wearer, balancing and adjusting its gait as it steps forward, and proving a first glimpse of a future where exoskeletons are as commonplace as wheelchairs

More ideas

I am currently working with Odense, Denmark which has become Europe’s “robot city” and seeks to change the game in the way in which it works with start-ups and corporates in accelerating the technical development and market growth of robotics and drones.

I am also currently researching my next book about Market Makers:

  • Gamechangers … introduction to my recent book on disruptive innovation
  • Market Makers … new strategies for creating and shaping markets
  • Innolab … fast and collaborative strategic innovation process

If you’d like to suggest ideas for inclusion in my next book, please email me at peterfisk@peterfisk.com

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