How 19 companies are using artificial intelligence to make smarter robots

March 10, 2019
Updated: August 27, 2019
Written by Alyssa Schroer

It's a scenario movies and sci-fi stories have predicted for years: an intelligent fleet of human-serving robots become too smart and take over the world. The common storyline is also one some people worry will come to real-world fruition thanks to technological developments in artificial intelligence and robotics. For many others, though, applying intelligence to robotics is all about furthering innovation.

From making smart consumer products to creating the first human-like artificial brain, the following companies are doing dazzling things with AI in robotics.

boston dynamics artificial intelligence robotics
Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts

How it’s using AI: Boston Dynamics is a robotics company creating dynamic, intelligent and adaptive robots. With nine different models, the company develops sensor-based controls that prepare robots for a variety of environments and terrains.

Industry impact: If you’re a fan of Netflix’s “Black Mirror,” then you’ve seen Boston Dynamics’ concepts in action. A season four episode entitled, “Metalhead” took inspiration for it’s four-legged killer robot from Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini model.

 

canvas technology artificial intelligence applications robotics
Canvas Technology

Canvas Technology

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How it's using AI: Canvas Technology builds autonomous and intelligent technology that streamlines warehouse processes. The company’s main product, an industrial autonomous cart, works in unstructured warehouse and factory environments — indoors or outdoors. Designed for quick change, the cart is easily adaptable and implemented.

Industry impact: New Jersey-based International Flavors and Fragrances found that just one Canvas autonomous cart reduced 10 hours of wasted time per week within its facility.

 

dronesense artificial intelligence applications robotics
DroneSense

DroneSense

Location: Austin, Texas

How it's using AI: DroneSense's drone software platform is used for public safety. Drones can be operated manually or autonomously to aid fire services, emergency response teams, law enforcement and search- and-rescue operations. A drone’s unique vantage point enables it to gather and report a wide array of information and data — like the source of a wildfire, the location of stolen property or missing people or the extent of disaster damage in a certain area.

Industry impact: Drones were used by a Texas power line company to assess tornado damage, saving time and keeping people off damaged towers.

 

irobot artificial intelligence applications robotics
iRobot

iRobot

Location: Bedford, Massachusetts

How it's using AI: iRobot is a consumer robot company that creates home-cleaning and lifestyle devices. Its most prominent product, Roomba is a robot vacuum that maps and adapts to its environment as it clears dirt and small debris from floors.

Industry impact: Compared to the original model, the most recent Roomba is extremely smart and can determine room sizes, adjust to carpet or hardwood, choose optimal routes and remember where objects are in a room. The robots are steadily improving at learning and adapting to their surroundings.  

 

miso robotics artificial intelligence applications robotics
Miso Robotics

Miso Robotics

Location: Los Angeles, California

How it's using AI: Miso Robotics creates autonomous robots for use in commercial kitchens. Its cooking robot, Flippy, boasts 3D and thermal vision that enables it to learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills. Robot use in kitchens reportedly decreases food waste  and frees up time for human workers to prepare food or help customers.  

Industry impact: The Los Angeles Dodgers use Flippy in their stadium kitchens to help cook and serve chicken tenders.

 

neurala artificial intelligence applications robotics
Neurala

Neurala

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it's using AI: Neurala created “The Neurala Brain,” AI software that makes an array of devices more intelligent. Already integrated in more than nine million devices, the technology boosts intelligence in cars, phones, drones and cameras. It's also used by major organizations like NASA, DARPA, Motorola and NVIDIA.

Industry impact: Neurala solutions are designed to make drones smarter. Future uses include identifying early signs of corrosion in large equipment like wind turbines and curbing elephant poaching by deciphering between hunter and hunted.

 

rethink robotics artificial intelligence applications robotics
Rethink Robotics

Rethink Robotics

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it's using AI: Rethink Robotics makes collaborative robots that can work in the same environment as humans. Simplified training consists of moving the robot’s arms to demonstrate the action it need to perform. Additionally, Rethink's robots automatically adjust the amount of force needed for a given task, creating safer environments and widening work capabilities.   

Industry impact: Rethink’s Sawyer model was used by a furniture company to keep up with increased production needs throughout busy months. Sawyer prepped materials for assembly, completed inspections and adapted to human workflow changes.

 

sea machines artificial intelligence applications robotics
Sea Machines

Sea Machines

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it's using AI: Sea Machines creates autonomous technology for the marine and maritime industry. The company’s technology connects a vessel’s machinery with navigation sensors for autonomous or remote control. The system acts as a data recorder while enabling remote missions or typical workboat routing tasks.

Industry impact: Currently testing off the coast of Massachusetts, Sea Machines offers a product for retrofitting vessels and continues to develop its advanced driver assistance system.

 

veo robotics artificial intelligence applications robotics
Veo Robotics

Veo Robotics

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts

How it's using AI: Veo Robotics creates industrial robots with 3D sensing, AI and computer vision capabilities that enhance manufacturing operations. Robots work alongside humans to make workplaces more flexible and efficient.

Industry impact: Industrial robots typically are separated from human workers for safety reasons, but Veo's robots use 3D sensors to detect  objects or people nearby and, if necessary, slow or stop. The robots are used on car assembly lines to handle heavy-lifting while human coworkers perform more delicate tasks.

 

perceptive automata artificial intelligence applications robotics
Perceptive Automata

Perceptive Automata

Location: Somerville, Mass.

How it's using AI: Perceptive Automata uses machine learning to help autonomous vehicles with one of the most important parts of their jobs- predicting human behavior. Most autonomous vehicles are currently rigid in their driving capabilities, meaning that they drive conservatively and sometimes counterintuitively to human behavior. Perceptive Automata’s AI is constantly teaching autonomous vehicles about human behavior and showing cars how to operate safely in a human driver-dominated world.

 

piaggio fast forward artificial intelligence applications robotics
Piaggio Fast Forward

Piaggio Fast Forward

Location: Boston

How it's using AI: Piaggio Fast Forward’s AI-enabled robots act as an extra set of hands. Are your groceries too heavy? Maybe you just can’t carry all your workout gear? Piaggio’s Gita robot uses AI to follow its owner close behind, acting as a versatile, hands-free carrier. Check out Gita in action here.

 

uipath artificial intelligence applications robotics
UiPath

UiPath

Location: New York

How it's using AI: UiPath’s Robotic Process Automation software instills AI into robots that help them perform repetitive tasks more efficiently and learn while they go. The unicorn’s AI software is helping robots- from retail to manufacturing- speed up tasks in an environment where they no longer have to be supervised by humans.

 

engineered arts artificial intelligence robotics
Engineered Arts 

Engineered Arts

Location: Cornwall, England 

How it’s using AI: Engineered Arts creates humanoid, semi-humanoid robots and a software suite that makes customizable and engaging robots. The company utilizes multiple forms of artificial intelligence within its hardware including automated speech recognition and computer vision for tasks like facial and object recognition.

Industry impact: Engineered Arts partnered with researchers and experts at Leeds and Oxford Universities to create Ai-Da, a robotic artist who utilizes computer vision and AI algorithms to produce drawings and paintings. 

 

cruise artificial intelligence applications robotics
Cruise

Cruise

Location: San Francisco

How it's using AI: Cruise combines AI with machine learning and robotics to create their line of self-driving, autonomous cars. The company uses AI throughout the planning, simulation and infrastructure of the car in order to ensure that the robots can see the world around them in real-time and react safely.

 

hanson robotics artificial intelligence robotics
Hanson Robotics

Hanson Robotics

Location: Hong Kong, China

How it’s using AI: Hanson Robotics is an AI and robotics company creating human-like robots that not only have human appearances but also characteristics like eye contact, facial recognition, speech and the ability to hold natural conversations. Using a proprietary nanotechnology skin called Frubber, the robots can produce high-quality expressions that offers a less mechanical robotic experience. 

Industry impact: Hanson is probably most well-known for its highly conversational humanoid robot, Sophia, featured in countless news segments, discussion panels and technology conferences.

 

brain corp artificial intelligence applications robotics
Brain Corp

Brain Corp

Location: San Diego, California

How it's using AI: Brain Corp’s proprietary technology makes robots adaptable and flexible so they can navigate unstructured environments like warehouses and store floors. The robots also have mapping, routing, surface anomaly detection, object avoidance and cloud-based data capture capabilities.

Industry impact: EMMA (Enabling Mobile Machine Automation), a Brain Corp robot was tested in Walmart stores for after-hour floor cleaning. 

 

starship artificial intelligence applications robotics
Starship

Starship

Location: San Francisco

How it's using AI: Starship creates autonomous robots that help to deliver items within a four-mile radius. These robots are able to take items like groceries, food delivery orders or even retail store orders and deliver them to customers using AI to navigate their route along the way.

 

cloudminds artificial intelligence applications robotics
Cloudminds

CloudMinds

Location: Santa Clara, California

How it's using AI: Because a humanoid robot brain would require enormous physical dimensions — much larger than those of an actual human brain — CloudMinds enables users to operate robots from the cloud, with mobile phones acting as cloud robot control units (RCU) and operating on secure networks.

Industry impact: CloudMinds provides robotic services like airport patrol robots (with vision and navigation capabilities) as well as AI technology for single-task manufacturing robots.

 

vicarious artificial intelligence applications robotics
Vicarious

Vicarious

Location: San Francisco, California

How it's using AI: Vicarious develops intelligent robots with architecture that more quickly trains and adapts. Through algorithms that learn abstract concepts through sensorimotor experiences, the company aims to develop human-level intelligence.

Industry impact: Vicarious’s first breakthrough came when its AI began passing CAPTCHA response tests, which are designed to determine and verify human vs. machine users. 

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