Touchlab raises $ 4.8 million in Seed Round led by Octopus Ventures to give robots the power of the human touch
23 February 2022 – Touchlaba deep tech company based in The Higgs Center for Innovation in Edinburgh, Scotland, which develops electronic skins (e-skins) for robots, announced today that it has raised an additional $ 4.8 million in initial funding. The investment was led by Octopus adventuresone of Europe’s largest and most active early stage investors, with participation from existing investors including Creator Fund and Techstart Ventures.
While skin allows people to make sense of the world around them, there has been little progress in giving robots a sense of touch similar to that of human skin.
Touchlab is solving this problem by developing a low-profile tactile sensing skin, which can be wrapped around robots like an “electronic skin” or an electronic skin. The company was born from the challenges that the founder, Dr. Zaki Hussein, encountered in the context of investigations on the e-skin. His PhD scholarship alone wasn’t enough to finance the production of a real solution for robots, so he started a company that could – and continued to work with suppliers and manufacturers such as Quantum Technology Supersensors. Two colleagues of the founder also joined the team; Laura Garcia Caberol, who carried out the Master’s project in product design on the integration of electronic skin in wearable devices, and Dr. Vasilis Mitrakos.
Touchlab’s electronic skin is thinner than human skin, making it easily retractable without reducing the degrees of freedom (DoF) of the robot or gripper. Machines equipped with Touchlab’s e-skin can now roll up pens, grab soft objects, and even detect slippage (and compensate for it). Unlike older sensor technologies, the TouchLab e-skin is also capable of withstanding a high load, detecting direction in 3D, the “holy grail” of the e-skin is important for detecting slippage. It can also withstand extreme environments such as acids, high and low temperatures, and even radioactive environments, giving it unique “superhuman” capabilities. Touchlabs’ advancements have attracted the attention of several large companies, including customer Sellafield Ltd. in the notoriously difficult-to-penetrate nuclear industry, a great achievement for such a young company.
Touchlab intends to spend the funds to further strengthen its commercial and technology teams. In doing so, it intends to meet the growing demand for large-scale e-skin implementations in gripping and positioning automation, while continuing to develop and commercialize its telerobot technology to enable emerging high-impact robotics applications.
Commented Dr. Zaki Hussein, founder and CEO of Touchlab:
“Touch is the last frontier for robot interaction and entry into physical environments, allowing for true dexterity and safety. We have taken up this challenge by developing a “full-stack” solution; Adaptable e-skin that collects data, software to make sense of it, and integration to ensure it works in demanding applications, from taking groceries to telerobotics in extreme environments. The Octopus experience pushes us to reach the full potential of the e-skin and create a radical change in robotics. “
Mason Sinclair, investor at Octopus Ventures, adds:
“Touchlab has made truly pioneering advancements with its tactile sensing technology. The electronic skin will open up a world of new opportunities and applications in robotics, making it an extremely exciting time for the industry. Zaki and the Touchlab team have a great vision of the business and we couldn’t be more excited to support them on this journey. “
The e-skin also serves as a platform for the tele-operated Avatar technology, which Touchlab is currently developing in collaboration with Prof Vijayakumar and Dr Ivan of the Edinburgh Center for Robotics and Dr Navaraj of Nottingham Trent University. The ambition of the teams here is to enable true immersion in a foreign environment, where an operator can hear, see, speak and touch through the Avatar. This technology is enabled by the sense of touch (traditionally missing) and has been demonstrated over a distance of over 600 kilometers. While not advertised as such, it could easily become part of a future metaverse to enable teleworking, especially in hazardous environments.
Telerobot is also seeing traction in the medical sector, where Touchlab has scheduled a pilot with a Finnish hospital (to take place later this year). When using Telerobot, a proxy will be installed between a healthcare professional and a patient, which should reduce the transmission of healthcare acquired infections (HAI). According to the World Health Organization, HAIs are “the most frequent adverse event in healthcare worldwide” (1). COVID-19 and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are just two examples. The e-skin will allow the robot to be truly safe in this high-risk environment: both the robot and its operator will hear and react to everything they touch or encounter.
Contact details for Touchlab
Contact details for Octopus Ventures
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Touchlab secures £ 3.5m seed investment led by Octopus Ventures – UK technology investment news
Source link Touchlab secures £ 3.5m seed investment led by Octopus Ventures – UK technology investment news