October 18, 2017      

Veo Robotics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup creating intelligent, human-aware systems for industrial robotics, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Lux Capital and GV, formerly Google Ventures, led the round, while previous investor Next47 also contributed to the funding.

Veo is essentially creating brains for industrial robots. The software uses artificial intelligence, computer vision, and distributed 3D sensing that it claims will allow humans and heavy-duty industrial robots to work closely together. Veo’s system tracks the robots and everything around them.

Veo Robotics said the funding will accelerate the hiring of computer vision, engineering, product management and systems engineering roles, while also supporting support product development.

“There is a significant market opportunity for intelligent software that enables safe interaction between humans and machines in industrial environments,” said Andy Wheeler, general partner at GV.

In a blog post on Medium announcing the funding, Lux Capital’s Bilal Zuberi, who is joining Veo Robotics’ board of directors, wrote that “past efforts to create collaborative robots rendered them weak and slow.” He added that Veo’s approach will “free the robots from their cages while making them extremely safe for humans at the same time” to bring more flexibility, productivity and precision to the manufacturing process.

The team behind Veo Robotics was a major reason for the funding. Veo’s founders have a combined 50 years of experience in robotics, AI, sensor perception and industrial automation. CEO Patrick Sobalvarro was previously the president of RBR50 company Rethink Robotics; VP of Engineering Clara Vu was a co-founder of Harvest Automation and a senior software engineer at RBR50 company iRobot; and Senior Director of Hardware Scott Denenberg was previously an executive at Jentek Sensors Inc.

“Patrick, Clara, Scott and the rest of the team have a counter-intuitive vision for the future: If you improve the robots, manufacturers will be able to hire more people for better jobs,” said Zuri. “Veo is giving industrial robots the gift of perception and intelligence so these helpful machines can still do the dangerous heavy lifting, yet safely work alongside humans.”

Veo Robotics’ product won’t be available until sometime in 2019, but it’s already working with customers in the automotive, consumer packaged goods, household appliance, and automated distribution markets. Veo said it is gearing up for 3-4 pilots in 2018.

Veo Robotics, which already raised a $1 million seed round from Next47, currently has 10 employees and plans to expand to about 25 in the next six months.