Building Affordable, Intelligent Robots — Welcome Elementary Robotics to the Toyota AI Ventures Portfolio!

When we announced our first “call for innovation” last summer, in partnership with the robotics group at Toyota Research Institute (TRI), we weren’t entirely sure what to expect — such is the agony and ecstasy of discovery. It was a tall order. We hoped to attract talented teams with the technical know-how to help address challenging problems that the robotics community is trying to solve. That is, making assistive robots safer, more useful, and more affordable to help people in and around the home with everyday tasks. But, beyond the tech, we knew that a successful early-stage startup would also need a stellar team, a viable first cut at a business model, and a scalable path to profitability.

Today, we are excited to announce that we found what we were looking for in Elementary Robotics, a Pasadena, California startup building a robotics platform to assist people with everyday tasks at home and at work. Toyota AI Ventures joined Elementary’s $3.6M seed round, co-led by Fika Ventures and Fathom Capital. Previous investors from their pre-seed financing include Idealab, Osage University Partners, and QVenture Partners.

Founded in 2017, Elementary Robotics is redefining the cost, interaction, and intelligence of robots with innovations in both hardware and software. The founding team includes CEO Arye Barnehama, who sold his last startup, Melon, to augmented reality (AR) firm DAQRI in 2015. Chairman Bill Gross is legendary for his work as founder and CEO of IdeaLab. Arye and Bill assembled an impressive team whose work spans Internet of Things, AR, computer vision, aerospace, and animation.

Since Elementary Robotics is in stealth mode for the time being, we can’t go into detail about the company’s technology. However, we can say that we love the team’s vision. They’re focused on creating robust, intelligent, affordable robot assistants using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision. Frankly, without a strategy focused on cost, robots just won’t make the leap into the home. It goes back to why we launched the call for innovation in the first place. Technology research and development is critical to blaze what’s possible, but startups must pave the path for what’s affordable.

For robots, we believe they’ll soon be joining our lives in a variety of ways, and we’re excited to be backing Elementary Robotics on that journey! If you’re based in Southern California and looking to join a disruptive team at the forefront of the robotics revolution, Elementary Robotics is hiring.

PS: Our team is still evaluating applications for the first call for innovation, and we’re hard at work planning the next call. Look for more details in early 2019.