Aug 6 2014
Roambotics is the latest recipient of the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, a program that helps turn promising concepts into market-ready products with quick-turn manufactured parts for prototyping, design iterations, testing or pilot production. The three-man team at Roambotics was recognized for its design of an autonomous personal robot named Jr.
Jr. is a freestanding wheel that moves independently through a home or workplace environment while audio sensors and four onboard cameras capture high-quality video and still images. Its initial capabilities — which include nearly 360 degrees of vision — will focus on security. If an intruder enters a home, for example, a Roambot can send a text or email notification to the homeowner alerting them of a break-in. "Our primary advantage over existing security systems is that there is no invasive installation, our software uses machine learning to get smarter over time, and the device does not remain in a static, predictable position," says Roambotics CEO and co-founder Scott Menor.
The first wave of roambots will be Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled with an optional cellular data plan that users can purchase. Connectivity allows all of the data gathered by Jr. to stream through the cloud directly to the Roambotics network and smartphone app. Content can then be securely pushed to or pulled by users.
“Our goal is to make a personal robot that is an integrated part of your household,” says Menor. "We want Jr. to look and feel robust — like an appliance that belongs in your home — and to be intuitive and useful." As the Roambotics continues to develop Jr., new abilities will be integrated such as three-dimensional mapping of spaces, capturing spontaneous moments at social gatherings and health care monitoring of senior citizens.
"The robotics market is dominated by expensive, special-purpose, industrial robots, and inexpensive toys," explains Menor. Jr. is the first step towards Roambotics’ long-term objective of designing an affordable human-scale personal robot.
“We were attracted by the friendly, non-threatening unicycle form factor of the Roambotics Jr.,” says Proto Labs’ founder, Larry Lukis. “The intriguing design is both aesthetic and functional, and we're excited that the Cool Idea! Award can help advance the Jr. toward commercial reality."
Launched in 2011, the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award gives a total of $250,000 in services each year to entrepreneurs developing new products in the United States and Europe. Unlike other product awards that recognize products after they’re in mass production and on store shelves, the Cool Idea! Award is meant to help innovative ideas come to life. For more information about the Cool Idea! Award and to apply, visit www.protolabs.com/coolidea.
About Proto Labs
Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB) is a leading online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and low- to mid-volume production. Proto Labs provides “Real Parts, Really Fast” by utilizing injection molding, computer numerical control (CNC) machining and additive manufacturing to produce parts for product designers and engineers worldwide. Go to www.protolabs.com for more information about Proto Labs and its service.
Roambotics is based in Arizona where they are developing the hardware and mobility platform to launch Jr. to market, but also more advanced versions of Jr. in the future. Learn more about them at www.roambotics.com.