Listing Details

Los Angeles, California 90013

Perception Robotics develops and commercializes novel tactile sensor technologies, giving robots an integrated sense of touch and vision, much like the hand-eye coordination of humans. The immediate applications are in industrial robotics; in the long term, the technology will be applied throughout personal, commercial, and military robotics. The company was co-founded by Nicholas Wettels (current CEO and CTO) and Helena Yli-Renko (CFO, business development) in 2011, with full-time effort started in 2014 after Dr. Wettels left his post-doctoral research position at NASA-JPL.

Capital invested in the company to date is $600,000 which includes a Phase 1/1b NSF SBIR grant, a Phase 1 NASA SBIR, a seed round of private financing, and two corporate contracts with customers. Perception Robotics is housed within the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator in downtown Los Angeles.

Perception Robotics has developed a rubber “skin” that can be molded into any form and is inherently inexpensive and durable. The sensor skin provides robots with the ability to “feel” what they are touching, thus enabling them to take on complex material handling tasks. When combined with a low-cost, basic vision system and our proprietary haptic algorithms, this sensing solution can be used for a range of applications in the industrial robotics market. Our first product is a bin-picking system; other products will include grippers equipped with our tactile sensor skin as well as “safety skin” for collaborative robots. We are also working with NASA-JPL on a gecko-inspired gripper that will enable us to expand into applications which require the gripper sticking to (rather than grasping) an object, e.g., glass manufacturing. We are building a rapidly-growing technology company that will over the next 5 years expand to 30 employees, reach revenues of $22.5 million, and be an attractive acquisition target for a major player in the robotics market.

Company Leadership

Dr. Nick Wettels
Dr. Helena Yli-Renko, Business Development Officer
Brian Hargrave
Melissa Rougeaux

Startup Information

# of Employees


Problem Your Company/Products Solve

Current industrial robots are restricted in their ability to handle small, irregularly shaped, soft, shiny, or fragile parts. Existing solutions on the market rely on expensive and complex 3D-vision systems and/or repetitive manual labor. The problems with relying solely on vision systems are their high cost, complexity, occlusion and droppage. The problems with the manual solution is that it leads to ergonomic injuries, human errors in the manufacturing process, and reduced output and efficiency. And because of the high cost of labor in developed economies such as the US, it has led to the increased outsourcing of manufacturing operations to countries with lower labor costs and a reduction in the domestic manufacturing sector. By increasing automation and cost-efficiency in manufacturing, we can contribute to keeping manufacturing activity in the US.


Industrial Automation

Company Needs

Investment Capital


Angel Investors