Themes in Robotics, AI and Automation in this year’s “Forbes 30 under 30″

Forbes has once again expanded their “30 under 30″ list this year to celebrate the achievements of the up and coming; the main list now covers 20 different sectors, and an inaugural European edition has also been released, with 10 sectors. While the expansion of the list dilutes the brand (it’s more like “900 under 30″), it does highlight some interesting trends in robotics, AI and automation. Advanced manufacturing, conversational systems and human-augmented AI are key themes on this year’s list.

Advanced manufacturing, 3D printing and rapid prototyping

  • Karishma Shah— Google[x] Rapid Evaluation Program Manager
     Google Alphabet’s youngest hire, Shah cofounded a natural language processing project at Google[x], led operations for the Project Wing drone delivery service, and now is program manager for Google’s rapid prototyping team.
  • Markus Giftthaler and Timothy Sandy, PhD candidates at ETH Zurich’s Digital Fabrication lab
     Giffthaler and Sandy are developing techniques and tools for robotically fabricating complex structures on building construction sites as part of the Swiss National Centre of Competence (NCCR) in Digital Fabrication. You may have read about their work on the In-situ Fabricator on Robohub.
  • Danny Cabrera and Ricky Solorzano, Cofounders BioBots
     This company makes 3D printers and inks that can print living tissues.
  • Phil DeSimone, Cofounder Carbon3D
     Carbon3D builds 3D printers for manufacturers that use a chemical process so that printing can be achieved 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing methods.
  • Ionut Budisteanu, Founder VisionBot
    VisionBot has developed an affordable pick-and-place machine for automatically assembling integrated circuits; the machine is aimed at makers, hobbyist and SMEs looking to turn their prototypes into products.
  • Max Friefeld, Cofounder Voodoo Manufacturing
     Voodoo Manufacturing offers scalable 3D printing services for single part prototyping up to high volume production.
  • Maxim Lobovsky, Cofounder Formlabs
     Formlabs makes desktop 3D printers.


  • Philipp Oettershagen, PhD Candidate ETH Zurich AtlantikSolar Project
     Oettershagen has been busy breaking solar powered UAV flight endurance records with the Atlantik Solar Project, which you may recall seeing on Robohub.
  • Tom Brady and Danny Ellis, Cofounders SkySpecs
     SkySpecs makes software for inspection drones, allowing end users to automate inspection and analyze inspection data.
  • Yash Mulgaonkar, PhD Candidate at U Penn
     Mulgaonkar’s research is focused on developing rapid fabrication methods for drones and other robots, and on training robots to coordinate together on tasks.
  • Alec Momont, Founder Drones For Good
     Drones for Good leverages open source drone technology to explore how drones can be used for social good, such as delivering emergency supplies and medication.
  • Sampriti Bhattacharyya, Founder Hydroswarm
     You may recall hearing from Bhattacharyya on Robohub — she’s made our Women in Robotics list in 2014, and also did an ICRACam pitch at IROS earlier that year. Her company, Hydroswarm, makes autonomous underwater drones for swarming applications.

Health and medicine

  • Harbaljit Sohal, Postdoc at MIT
     Sohal develops neural implants that can be more easily integrated by the human body.
  • John Barrett, PhD at Newcastle University
     Barret’s research focuses on neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces
  • Michal Mikulski, Founder EGZOTech
     EGZOTech is developing physical therapy robotics for automated diagnostics and treatment of neurological disorders.
  • Patrick Slade, Cofounder PSYONIC
     PSYONIC develops low cost artificial hands
  • Dhananha Jayalath and Chris Wiebe, Cofounders Athos
     Athos develops smart clothes that use sensors to help athletes understand which muscles they are engaging.
  • Ben Harvatine, Founder Jolt
     Jolt develops sensors for detecting sports concussions.

Conversational robots for customer service

  • Dmitry Aksenov and Mikhail Naumov, Cofounders DigitalGenius
     DigitalGenius provides natural language processing to provide big companies with conversational software robots for customer service that can answer questions in real time.
  • Oleg Kivokurstev, Cofounder Promobot
    Russia’s answer to retail robotics, Promobot is designed to answer customer queries, distinguish between repeat customers and new ones, and learn people’s shopping preferences.
  • Andrew Flachner, CEO and Cofounder RealScout
     RealScout is a service for realtors and their customers that uses machine learning to respond to natural language queries, to help home buyers to personalize their search criteria and find features that may not be included in a standard MLS listing.
  • Matthew Ramirez, Cofounder WriteLab
     Writelab uses algorithms to provide immediate feedback to students about the grammar, spelling and structure of their writing assignments.

Human assisted AI for augmenting and automating bespoke products and services

  • Navid Hadzaad — Go Bulter
     The concierge app GoButler launched in 2015 uses “human assisted AI’ to fulfill requests such as dinner or flight reservations via text messaging.
  • Marcela Sapone — Co-founder Hello Alfred
    Hello Alfred is another concierge service that combines ‘intuitive technology with human intuition’ to anticipate your needs. The service offers home cleaning, dry cleaning, errand delivery, grocery shopping and other services.
  • Maran Nelson, CEO and Cofounder Clara Labs
     Another example of “human assisted AI”, Clara Labs offers virtual administrative assistant services to executives and enterprises. NLP and AI are used to automate and streamline, while professional human assistants handle complex requests and do quality control.
  • Kieran O’Neill — CEO and Co-founder of Thread
     Thread combines the savvy of human stylists with algorithms that track your style preferences and can quickly search through millions of products to hone in on items that meet your personal taste.
  • Levi Young and Dana Zingher, Cofounders Enclothed
     Enclothed efficiently pairs personal stylists and customers by using algorithms to build a profile of your style preferences, size and budget, and searches for products to deliver to your door.
  • Miles Penn and Rafi Witten, Cofounders MTailor
     MTailor is an app that uses the camera on your smartphone to measure your size and use the data to create custom-fitted clothing. YCombinator startup
  • Caroline Walerud, Cofounder Volumental
     Volumental uses 3D scanning technology to find (or create) the perfect fitting pair of shoes, and they are looking to adapt the technology to eyewear next.
  • Ben Alun-Jones, Kirsty Emery and Hal Watts, Cofounders Unmade
     Unmade offers custom machine-made knitwear; users pick and upload designs, sizes, yarn-type and colours, and Unmade uses a combination of knitting machines and knitware experts to finish your garment for you.

Smart homes and connected devices

  • Will McLeod, Cofounder Keen Home
     Keen home makes smart vents to help you control the temperature of your home, room by room. McLeod is also cofounder of SmarterShade, a company that manufactures smart windows that respond to light and temperature by changing their tint.
  • Michael Wang, Cofounder FutureAir
     FutureAir makes connected fans and air conditioners for efficiently managing indoor air quality.
  • Kristjan Maruste, Founder CoModule
     CoModule offers a hardware/software package that bring connectivity to electric bikes and scooters, providing theft protection for users and vehicle diagnostics to manufacturers to help them improve their products.

Machine learning and algorithms

  • Scott Clark, Cofounder and CEO SigOpt
     SigOpt uses algorithms to optimize A/B testing for websites and applications.
  • Nicole Hu and Ahmad Wani, Cofounders One Concern
     One Concern uses machine learning and predictive analytics to asses damage after natural disasters in order to help emergency service workers.
  • Alexander Lavin, Research Engineer at Numenta
     Lavin is working to develop artificial intelligence by reverse-engineering the human cortex.
  • Rob Bishop, Founder Magic Pony
    Magic Pony develops machine learning approaches to video enhancement, prediction and compression.
  • Lucy Stonehill, Founder BridgeU
     BridgeU uses algorithms to match prospective students to the universities that best match their interests and career choices.
  • Steve Marsh, Founder Geospock
     Geospatial data in real time for autonomous vehicles and other applications.

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