SAN FRANCISCO — Consumer robotics maker Vincross today announced raising $10 million in new funding along with the launch of its MIND Kit, a robotics kit aimed at makers, developers, robotics enthusiasts, and first-time students of robotic development.
Led by Lenovo, the $10 million in Series A+ funding includes participation from previous investors, including GGV Capital and Seek Dource. The latest investment follows the company’s $6 million Series A round, led by GGV, with participation by Zhenfund.
The MIND Kit, which is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, is aimed at providing users with a robotics kit that isn’t part of a laboratory or children’s robotics development kit, the company said. The basic kit is now available on Kickstarter for $89, and will later sell for $150. The core kit, which includes additional components, is available for $249, with a planned retail price of $454.
Making robotics more accessible
“In fact, 90% of Americans believe learning about robotics will ‘future-proof’ their professions, but just 5% of Americans have attempted to develop a robotics program,” the company said about a Harris Poll commissioned by Vincross. “The crux of the problem lies in 62% of Americans today feeling that robotics hardware is inaccessible, according to the poll.” Robotics kits with drag-and-drop programming cater to children, “but offer nothing modular and sophisticated enough to build practical, complex robots.”
Vincross said its vision is to make robotics accessible, which started with HEXA, the company’s six-legged, all-terrain robot. The MIND Kit now takes Vincross’ vision a step further, “as the first and only robotics-optimized makers kit that’s highly customizable.” Featuring 54 programmable pins and six USB-C ports, the kit is designed for building experimental IoT devices and robots to the same level as building a mobile application, Vincross said.
The three hardware modules that make up the base of the kit include the Cerebrum, a central processing unit that enables complex AI computations, including computer vision AI and Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM); a Servo Controller that powers as many as 20 servo motors simultaneously; and Energon, a battery optimized unit that runs both servo motors and AI algorithms with a 480-watt output rate.
“HEXA was the most sophisticated all-purpose consumer robot that empowered even software developers to manipulate HEXA, but we saw a demand to make robotics development just as easy for both developing hardware and software,” said Tianqi Sun, CEO and founder of Vincross. “MIND Kit was a natural evolution from HEXA and we hope to inspire more aspiring roboticists out of the classroom and building real world use cases for robotics.”
Varied applications, developer support
Powering the MIND Kit is MIND OS 2.0, Vincross’ updated robotics-specific operating system, which can be accessed through a simple software development kit (SDK). The MIND OS is supported by the Vincross Forum, a community of robotics developers sharing knowledge and skills to support other developers in their builds.
Additional plug-and-play modular hardware accessories include lidar, mountable sensors, microphone arrays, “or even a tank base that allows your robotics build to drive over uneven terrain,” the company said.
“In fact, early beta testers have transformed MIND Kit into lifestyle accompaniments, including a voice-controlled IoT device with motorized arms that act on command to pass the salt and pepper at your dinner table, or to assist with infant feeding; a consumer robotics product like a vacuum cleaner that uses SLAM and computer vision to navigate around your floor while brushing up dust autonomously; or even an eight-legged, all-terrain robot akin to HEXA,” the company said.