Toyota’s $14 million bet on Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot (JP/IL/US)

Social companion robots for older adults and the disabled are hot again. Tel Aviv and now San Francisco-based Intuition Robotics is enjoying a $14 million second Series A investment from Toyota Research Institute (TRI) for the ElliQ ‘active aging companion’. The ElliQ desktop robot is tethered to a proprietary tablet to connect an older adult with the outside world via video chat, using machine learning about the person to recommend activities, and assist with appointments, medication reminders, music, wellness, and environmental monitoring. ElliQ is still in pre-release. The $14 million is being put to immediate use in initial testing with users in the Bay Area, and Intuition is ramping up with a team there. 

TRI is based in Los Altos CA and is wholly owned by Toyota North America. Earlier seed and Series A investments totaling $8 million were made by iRobot, Terra Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta and ManivMobility. This is the second older adult-targeted robotics news in as many weeks, with the more fully-featured and ‘humanoid’ KOMPAÏ in France going the crowdfunding route (as Intuition did early on) for €250,000 to fund the next generation [TTA 5 July]. After viewing the video below, it seems to this Editor that a lot of the interactive voice command technology has been overtaken by assistants already in market like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. TechCrunch, Home Health Care News


Robots with your face

Better than ‘Eyes Without A Face’ though… The RP-VITA robot developed by iRobot (the Roomba company) is moving beyond telepresence robots which have to be actively directed or pushed, to individually and automatically self-navigate via a combination of embedded hospital maps and simple iPad instructions to go to a particular department or room. The face is the doctor’s and less work for him directing the robot. Robots with your face want to invade workplaces and hospitals (Fortune) Hat tip to Toni Bunting, reader and TANN Ireland editor.

Earlier in TTA on RP-VITA: One big step for iRobot, one small step for doctorkindYour robot news for an Olympics weekend