PickNik Robotics today announced that it has raised $2 million in a pre-seed investment round. The Boulder, Colo.-based company said it plans to use the funding to further develop its MoveIt Studio platform, which is designed to enable developers to create robot applications.
“This investment marks a pivotal moment in our journey from a bootstrapped company that could only innovate incrementally,” stated Dave Coleman, CEO of PickNik. “We’re now committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with robot arms faster.”
PickNik Robotics described itself as “the unstructured robotics company,” solving complex challenges to bring robots out of factories and into daily lives. MoveIt Studio follows open-source principles to reduce research and development costs, collaborate with de facto standards, and make advanced robotics accessible to a wide range of industries, said the company.
PickNik builds robot-agnostic systems
Boulder, Colo.-based PickNik has created Robot Operating System (ROS) drivers for systems from Universal Robotics, Kinova, ABB, and Motiv Space Systems. The company said it is completely robot-agnostic, working with a wide range of robot types, from custom hardware to off-the-shelf solutions, catering to its customers' specific needs.
“We have a toolbox of reference applications,” Coleman told Robotics 24/7. “While manufacturers focus on the big robot providers, the robot arm market is more 'do it yourself' and is still designed for factory precision.”
“A lot of companies do mix and match to build robots for outer space, farms, or restaurants,” he added. “With our whole software stack and a teach pendant, developers can be up and running in a matter of weeks.”
“With MoveIt Studio, companies can quickly prototype new behaviors in a low-code environment,” Coleman said. “Developers can customize them to the environment for pick and place, opening doors, or pushing buttons.”
He noted that MoveIt Studio supports simulation, computer vision, and debugging. “Developers can build their own blocks or plugins to test different motion-planning approaches,” he explained. “We've worked on templates for machine tending and have seen months saved.”
PickNik claimed that it has earned the trust of companies including Google, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Hyundai, NASA, Sierra Space, and Blue Origin. It also works with partners including Formant,
“There are few others in the industry of robotics with the capability of PickNik, especially capabilities as expansive as their abilities with dexterous manipulator control,” stated a robotics engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center.
Investors see potential in solving complex problems
Stellar Ventures and Cypress Growth Capital led PickNik Robotics' pre-seed round. The investment joins the company's existing $5 million in non-dilutive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding contracts with NASA's Johnson Space Center and Ames Research Center, as well as the U.S. Space Force.
“The robotics industry is rapidly evolving, and PickNik is at the forefront of innovation,” said Matt Patterson, managing director of Stellar Ventures. “We see immense potential in their ability to develop advanced solutions that bridge the gap between terrestrial and space robotics.”
StellarVentures is a venture capital firm that launched SV Andromeda, a $23 million fund it said is “dedicated to supporting visionary entrepreneurs at the forefront of space technology.”
“As use cases for robotics applications become more complex, PickNik’s expertise and track record of solving the most difficult robotics problems is highly differentiated in this $230 billion market,” added Pat McCaffrey, partner at Cypress Growth Capital. “With MoveIt Studio, PickNik is able to leverage that experience and deliver it to an even broader customer base.”
Cypress Growth Capital said it has a 12-year track record provides guidance as well as investment to portfolio companies.
“Government has been a great source of deep tech, and we're working to make robots more fault-tolerant and recoverable,” said Coleman. “With Stellar Ventures and Cypress Growth Capital by our side, we have the resources and support to fully commercialize our powerful platform that enables developers everywhere to build advanced robot arm applications with less risk.”
MoveIt Studio allows users to accelerate the development and deployment of robot arms in structured and unstructured environments.
About the Author
Eugene DemaitreEugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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Stellar Ventures and Cypress Growth Capital said they have "committed to fueling the future of robotics software."