Vayu Robotics Emerges From Stealth, Promises Low Cost Sensing, Mobility

Vayu Robotics said it will help serve increasing demand for automation amid reshoring of production.

Vayu Robotics

Vayu plans to offer last-mile delivery robots as a service.
Vayu Robotics is applying experience in AI and mobile robots to develop a "foundation model for mobility" and low-cost sensing technology.

Vayu Robotics Inc. yesterday emerged from “stealth mode” and announced the closure of $12.7 million in seed financing. The startup claimed that it is a “non-traditional robotics company taking a principles-first approach to solve for cost and ease of deployment.”

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Vayu said its principles include “a foundation model for mobility and a disruptive low-cost sensing technology that could replace lidar in many midrange applications.” The company said it will use the funding to scale product development for artificial intelligence and robotics across markets, including last-mile delivery, factory automation, and automotive.

“Vayu is poised to disrupt the market by creating the lowest-cost ownership for robots with the best operational economics,” said Anand Gopalan, CEO of Vayu Robotics, in a statement.

“We have built an incredibly strong team of engineers with expertise in hardware and software,” he added. “With this latest round of investment, our team is positioned to bring Vayu’s novel technology to the market through our first customers.”

Vayu building AI for mobile robots

The rise of new AI technologies has enabled robots to perform more general tasks in a way that was not previously possible, said Vayu Robotics. In addition, as companies in the U.S. seek to rely less on overseas production by revitalizing domestic manufacturing, the demand for robotics and automation will continue to grow, it said.

Vayu Sense plenoptic camera

The Vayu Sense plenoptic camera. Source: Vayu Robotics

Vayu claimed that its technology is at the convergence of these two trends, enabling the next wave of sustainable, safe, and accessible robotics, most immediately for last-mile delivery.

“The Sanskrit word 'vayu' signifies the intelligence that enables all motion in the universe and all movement of energy,” said the company. “Inspired by this concept, Vayu strives to be the intelligence that will enable autonomous mobile robots [AMRs] to move through the world – the nova system for every moving machine.”

Vayu added that it is “driven by the belief that the next wave of robotics solutions can be low-cost, environmentally sustainable, and inherently scalable.” The company said Vayu Drive is its foundational model for mobility, Vayu Sense will provide robust and cost-effective sensing, and Vayu One will be its full-scale delivery system offered in a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model.

Vayu noted that its team of engineers, technologists, and business leaders have decades of experience in machine learning, sensing, and production. Its co-founders include Anand Gopalan, former CEO of Velodyne Lidar; Mahesh Krishnamurthi, formerly of Lyft and Apple; and Nitish Srivastava, formerly of Apple and the University of Toronto.

They are developing technologies to democratize robotics for widespread adoption, Vayu asserted.

Vayu Drive

Vayu Drive will be a foundational model for mobility. Source: Vayu Robotics

Investors share vision of the future

Khosla Ventures led Vayu Robotics' seed round, with participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures, ReMY Investors, and others.

“At Khosla Ventures, we bet early on bold ideas that could be impactful to society,” said Kanu Gulati, a partner at Khosla Ventures. “In Vayu, we see a team that is one of the first to leverage advanced sensing technology for machines to be able to navigate the world in a way they could not previously, taking robotics to a new place.”

​​“Vayu is leveraging modern technology in creative ways that fits with Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security vision,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Ventures. “Vayu Robotics has a viable avenue to provide our customers with cutting-edge and cost-effective robotic systems that can introduce a new wave of intelligent, autonomous solutions across multiple domains.”

Vayu Robotics claimed that its novel sensor technology is groundbreaking.

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Vayu Robotics

Vayu plans to offer last-mile delivery robots as a service.

Robot Technologies