Robots and Humans: A Partnership that Can Save Lives

Dror Berman
Apr 19, 2018 · 3 min read

Announcing our Investment in Vicarious Surgical

By: Dror Berman and Caleb Appleton

The Vicarious Surgical Team

Dystopian futures have always captured our imagination: From Blade Runner and The Terminator to West World, we have indulged our private fears that one day, more-intelligent robots would destroy humanity. At a minimum, we told ourselves, robots will take all our jobs and render us obsolete. But what if we were wrong?

What would the future look like if robots were tasked with making our lives better?

It might look more like reality. It might look like Vicarious Surgical, a company that is using miniaturized robotics and virtual and augmented reality to help surgeons more effectively perform minimally invasive surgery to drive better patient outcomes. The Vicarious Surgical system virtually “beams” the surgeon inside the patient while she is operating, giving her a more complete, immersive and ultimately intuitive picture of the procedure and the surgical site.

We are excited to announce our investment in Vicarious Surgical. Innovation Endeavors co-led the round with Khosla Ventures which also included Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, Marc Benioff and Bill Gates. Vicarious Surgical is led by a team of top technologists from MIT that has delivered a stepwise change in the form and function of surgical robotics. They’ve designed an entirely new surgical approach by combining the latest advancements in control systems, imaging and miniaturized robotics.

We were impressed by the Vicarious Surgical team’s audacious vision to solve and transcend the problems with today’s surgical limitations. We are excited to partner with Vicarious for the next portion of their journey and look forward to helping them carry out their vision: A future in which doctors and robots work together to save lives.

At Innovation Endeavors, we have taken multiple steps toward a future in which robots and humans work together to solve problems. Until recently, robots were used as tools that would relieve humans from dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. Somewhat dangerous themselves, such robots were confined to structured environments, such as assembly lines and factories, making sure to not harm the people working around them. Such machines drove massive improvements in throughput while improving working conditions for humans.

Through advances in machine vision, computing and robotic form factors, the field of robotics is shifting toward a future in which we can effectively, safely assign robots jobs in less structured environments. Blue River Technology, an Innovation Endeavors company acquired by John Deere, brought to market the world’s first machine that leveraged robotics to allow farmers to optimize every plant in their field. CommonSense Robotics is deploying advanced robotics to build and run fully-autonomous, in-city fulfillment centers that turn unit economics right side up for on-demand retail supply chains. Plenty uses automated systems to drive a super evolution of agricultural production. The opportunity extends to all industries, particularly construction, space, defense and automotive.

Life sciences presents a similar opportunity. Robotics and automation present multiple opportunities to improve current processes, from providing scientists the opportunity to vastly increase experimental throughput, to allowing people with disabilities to regain use of their limbs.

At Innovation Endeavors, we believe the partnership between humans and robots is integral to our future. If you are a technologist working in automation and building a company that aims to deliver radical improvements to industry, we hope to hear from you.

Innovation Endeavors

Investing in visionary founders, transformational…

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