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What big & small business developers need: A simple, inexpensive way to experiment with robots.

Part one in a four-part series on who Misty robots are made for and why.

We’ve heard the pent-up demand from enterprises that want to start exploring how robots fit into their business, while having almost no viable options for experimentation:

  • We’ve had energy companies tell us how they’d love to have robots onsite to regularly inspect indoor pumping stations for leaks and other maintenance items — especially when they’re in the middle of the wilderness.
  • There are the folks in retail who’ve told us they have >40% turnover in many of their positions. It’s becoming incredibly hard to keep people who can count inventory or even “guide customers to the right aisle”.
  • Even a computer company called us to inquire whether an autonomous robot could carry around a prototype device to test WiFi reception variability in larger environments.

We’re making Misty robots with enterprise experimentation in mind.

What enterprise-strength means

Misty robots are built to:

  • Autonomously explore and navigate without human assistance.
  • Recognize objects and faces and capture video or still images.
  • Capture audio of the environment.
  • Communicate outwardly to humans either local or remote.
  • Use machine learning for improved processing and intelligence.
  • Independently charge when needed.
  • Be easily programmed with REST, JavaScript, and Python APIs
  • Make it easy to perform hardware customizations, for everything from alternative arms to powered backpacks to natural gas sensors.

In the following video, Misty Robotics Founder and Head of Product, Ian Bernstein gives a quick but detailed walkthrough of the features that allow Misty to do this:

To sum up Ian’s walkthrough, we’ve configured the Misty II with:

  • two powerful cell phone processors, one running Windows IoT Core and one running Android 7
  • both processors capable of locally running deep, neural network machine learning, such as Microsoft Windows ML or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine
  • advanced navigation sensors that enable independent mobility
  • high definition cameras and highly capable microphones
  • screens and speakers for local output and communication
  • onboard Bluetooth and WiFi for remote communications

Misty robots also come with an attractive industrial design and some basic “personality”. You could argue that enterprises don’t need a robot that looks or feels appealing — that “just the bare metal” is sufficient. But, if robots are to help enterprises solve problems, they’ll be deployed among the humans in the enterprise. We’re confident robots with a hint of humanity will be far more accepted on the job than those without.

Enterprise-strength options have been scarce

Sure, many enterprises these days use single-purpose or task-specific robots. Those robots aren’t built for experimentation; they’re built for a clear ROI. And, as these robots are so highly specialized, they also tend to come with enterprise-strength prices.

Meanwhile, robots that offer some flexibility have also been unsuited for enterprise experimentation. Products like Turtlebot use the Robot Operating System. ROS’ beauty is that it’s extensible, robust, complete, and free. On the downside, ROS was built and fostered largely within academic environments. It’s neither high-performing nor easily understood by the average developer.

The iRobot Create uses Open Interface opcode commands and is an affordable autonomous vehicle, but lacks other capabilities, such as advanced processing for machine learning or AI, as well as basic hardware such as cameras, microphones, and speakers. This greatly limits the number of use cases it can perform — forcing enterprise developers to literally strap a laptop on top and attempt to perform software integration manually.

That said, even Misty robots clearly won’t solve all enterprise problems, at least not right away. Many enterprise tasks require grasping/manipulation, as well as a large variability in the amount of weight being handled. Both of those requirements inject a considerable amount of “enterprise scale price” into the equation. A completely flexible, open robot capable of manipulating anything from eggs to an 80-lb box to a doorknob is likely still in the million-dollar price range.

How Misty robots fit your business

Right now at Misty Robotics, we’re tackling a subset of enterprise problems — the ones that don’t require physical manipulation. And we know one of three things will happen for our enterprise customers:

  1. They’ll be pleasantly surprised that they can truly solve some meaningful problems for the price of a laptop.
  2. They’ll explore certain use cases where 80%, say, of the use case is covered by a robot, and that’ll be sufficient enough to add value.
  3. They’ll identify the exact nature of specific problems that require different robotic answers (e.g. a taller robot, an outdoor robot, a robot capable of pulling 40 pounds instead of a few), and they’ll be glad they only spent a small amount to learn a great deal of specificity.

The conventional robot marketplace assumes enterprises must have a specific ROI for a specific problem set. But they’re missing how one flexible, advanced, yet very affordable robot can enable their enterprise’s evolution into their robotics future.

We’re confident that there are many indoor environments where businesses are eager to understand the scope of how robots and artificial intelligence can improve efficiency, reduce error, and handle rote or routine tasks that currently consume highly paid people.

Let the experimentation begin.



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Tim Enwall

Tim Enwall

Visionary leader with passion and skill in building startup teams who perform in the Top 10th percentile.