- Contactile announced it has raised $2.5 million in funding. These are the details.
Contactile, an Australia-based company that helps develop and pilot tactile sensors that give robots a human sense of touch and enable robotic dexterity, announced it has raised $2.5 million in funding. This round of funding was led by True Ventures with participation from Flying Fox Ventures, Radar Ventures, and UNSW Founders, the last of which is a program launched by the university where Contactile’s three co-founders developed the company’s core technology.
Dr. Heba Khamis co-founded Contactile with Benjamin Xia, CTO, and Associate Professor Stephen Redmond. The 3 co-founders have been developing tactile sensors together for eight years, beginning at UNSW Sydney, where they each studied or taught, and performed research in electrical, software and biomedical engineering. Together, they’ve developed deep expertise in human tactile physiology, artificial tactile sensing, signal processing and machine learning, and control.
While robots currently on the market can pick up and place items, they must be precisely programmed for every object they encounter. They cannot adapt to pick up new objects without new, more advanced programming. So their behavior is un-human-like and incapable of complex manipulation.
Opening jars, turning door handles, and even operating tools are major triumphs. And Contactile’s technology enables robotic grippers to autonomously handle objects never before encountered but also to perform more complex manipulation through touch sensor feedback, enabling robots to use their ‘hands’ in a more flexible, versatile way.
Contactile is looking to solve both short-term and long-term problems – from warehouse fulfillment (examples: autonomous gripping of thousands of unique products in a grocery store) to space applications (examples: versatile robots for building infrastructure on planets other than Earth).
Contactile plans to use this funding round to pursue further research and product development in addition to executing a number of pilots to demonstrate the value of tactile sensing.
“To hold an object without letting it slip from our grasp, we squeeze it with our fingers. When an object is heavier, we squeeze harder, and when an object is slippery, we squeeze harder. People know how hard to squeeze an object because they can feel the weight and the slipperiness by touching the object. But robots haven’t been able to feel these things before now.”
“We’re delighted to partner with True and this amazing group of investors, each of whom brings deep experience in different aspects of rapidly scaling businesses. They understand the massive opportunity in robotics and the need for smarter, more flexible and more reactive robots that can help do the jobs that are too dull, dirty and/or dangerous for people to do.”
– Dr. Heba Khamis, Conctactile co-founder and CEO
“We’re thrilled to partner with the Contactile team and join their bold vision to lead the tactile revolution in robotics. Their innovations in tactile-grip sensors have the potential to transform robots from single-task machines to multi-purpose handy helpers. Applications of Contactile’s technology span multiple industrial and consumer robotics scenarios and our investment will accelerate the development of their products and pilots worldwide.”
– Rohit Sharma, partner at True Ventures