Sarcos merges with RE2, aims to have robots take on dangerous jobs

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This week Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation (“Sarcos”) (NASDAQ: STRC and STRCW) announced a merger with RE2 Robotics, forming a team dedicated to delivering robots that can solve difficult and dangerous problems for aviation, construction, defense, and energy. . Medical industries.

The market for robotic solutions is growing and diversifying. Some companies, such as Boenig or AeroVironment, are pursuing the military market by building drones and mobile platforms designed for the battlefield. iRobot and Samsung continue to target other customers who need domestic help with tasks such as vacuuming.

The industrial sector is also expanding rapidly and nuclearizing as companies work to support specific niches or industries. Some supply chains, such as Amazon (formerly Kiva), Dimetic and Syngn, focus on where humans operate in a controlled environment suitable for automation. Others are facing similar areas like agriculture and manufacturing, where labor costs are higher and work is repetitive enough to welcome basic automation.

Circus and RE2 grew up working on defense projects but now aim to take on expansion and industrial roles. They are particularly interested in supporting and perhaps changing men working in unsystematic spaces where full automation is difficult, if not effectively impractical today. They plan to build machines that act more as extensions to their human operators than freethinking and freemoving autonomous agents.

Circos is a nearly 40-year-old company in Salt Lake City that started as a budding startup from the University of Utah. It was purchased in 2007 by Raytheon, which began a period of tackling projects for government agencies. In 2015, a team from Raytheon shut it down again and continued to support government work, raising funds to tackle more commercial applications.

RE2 is a 21-year-old startup that was started to support some robotics research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Along the way, he focused on building agile unmanned robots to solve challenges in difficult environments for defense agencies to contract. Most recently, it has been expanding its use of robots in industries such as aviation, construction and energy.

The deal is designed as an acquisition that will fund Sarcos with $ 30 million in cash and $ 70 million in stock. Kiva Allgood, the current CEO and president of Sarcos, will be in that role. Jનrgen Pederson, founder and current president and CEO of RE2, will be the COO of Circus after the merger.

The product line will bring together two complementary approaches to target different markets. RE2, for example, makes lightweight, intelligent mobile robotic arms or terrestrial, altitude and subsystem applications. Circus offers full-body exoskeleton as well as robotic arms that can be mounted on platforms such as construction lifts and other mobile devices.

To understand their vision for the future and how they see the market evolving, VentureBeat spoke with Kiva Olgood, President and CEO of Sarcos, and Jગેrgen Pederson, President and CEO of RE2.

Venturebeat: Congratulations on finding a way to bring everyone together. What drew you together?

Kiva Allgood: There is really good, cultural chemistry. Circos is a 30+ year old robotics company. Our founders and Jજનrgen have known each other for a long time. It is a small ecosystem.

Jગેrgen Pederson: In my view, it has shared values ​​and a shared mission to improve workers’ safety and productivity. That’s classy, ​​right? If you have a company that is about people, and if you have the right chemistry and you have the right shared goal, you just sit back and watch the magic happen. And that’s exactly what attracted me to this opportunity – to be able to expand what we were doing and to accelerate what we were doing. We are stronger together.

VB: I noticed in the publication that this merger would almost double the size of the engineering team.

All good RE2 is located in a section in Pittsburgh known as the Robotics Row. In terms of production and commercialization, the merger gives us access to the many technicians and technical talents we need to be able to bring our products to market.

VB: What are some big synergies?

All good We are gaining access to markets in which we do not currently sell. Our roadmaps are very complementary. So if you think about the medical robots and the subsidiary robots that make RE2, we won’t play any of them anywhere. Those are multi-billion dollar markets]. So I think we are very excited about this approach so that we can align our roadmap and go to market with a stronger commercial roadmap.

VB: In the past, both RE2 and Sarcos have worked extensively with various government agencies and defense contractors. How do you see it changing now?

All good Well, I definitely think the appetite for business space has increased. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue the partnership and work on the defense side as well.

Between labor shortages, an aging population, and limitations on skilled and technical talent, there is certainly a lot more pull from the professional side for applications and robots to handle them. Consider an industrial site. Maybe they have only one person and their goal is to become a fleet operator for those people so that they can operate multiple robots that perform basically the same task, but usually in different environments.

VB: So humans are not changed, but only multiplied, right?

All good True. Say you are on a construction site. Each time you show up at a construction site, it looks a little different and the weather is a little different. You can’t just take the robot down and let it do the same thing over and over again. It should be able to perform multiple tasks. The human is the key. We’re definitely starting to see that kind of pull on the business side.

VB: Are there other industries where you are experiencing cramps?

Pederson: I can talk to Subsi. Currently the Navy is an early adopter of our specific technology and we are carrying out missions like autonomous mine deactivation. It’s about keeping divers out of the water and keeping people safe. That is the main mission we have been facing so far and it has been a great success so far. There are also clearly commercial analog applications that we are exploring in terms of observation type functions. We will investigate other types of work such as welding.

VB: And how do your robots deliver?

Pederson: The value that our system brings is that it is human performance on a human level. It’s really like keeping a diver there so we can go to places where only humans can go, which is an advantage over traditional big ROVs that can’t go to really tight places. So if you can provide the near-equivalent power and capability of those larger systems in a smaller package, you can also open up some new opportunities in commercial markets.

VB: What does scaling make your devices human-sized or small unlock for you?

Pederson: If we take a step back and look at this world, it was created for human beings by human beings. That is the human scale. So most jobs are centered around the human form factor. When you look at it from that perspective, you want to mimic human potential or remote human potential.

VB: And so robots that are a direct replacement or analogue for humans are an easy option to understand the market.

Pederson: While the question is whether the market is ready for technology, more and more markets are due to a shortage of skilled labor and older employees. These markets are really pulling. 20 years ago, that would be a push. Today it is a stretch as the world has changed and robotics is needed to help the world move forward.

VB: Your company has obviously had a lot of success on a human level. Your exoskeletons that essentially add robotic power to human workers are a perfect example. But are there opportunities in other sizes?

Pederson: Technology scales, however at a certain point, you begin to ignore the laws of physics. Because our beginnings were in defense, some of our early adopters were explosive ordnance disposal teams, so secure rendering of IEDs. One of the products we currently ship is our small lightweight manipulator for the Teledine Flare FLIR. They needed to be carried around robots with robotic weapons on them. So it should be really small, compact and lightweight. Because they also have to carry their food, their gear etc. We have a lot of experience in creating very light weight compact solutions that are also sealed and we are going to bring that skill,

For bigger jobs, scaling is always easier than down, but we’ve already started, you know, on a really small scale. So we have a good starting point for any application that needs that scale of robot.

VB: A number of other robotics companies are facing jobs in more structured environments such as warehouse floors or assembly lines. They can achieve high degree of automation because everything in the environment is controlled. Looks like you’re going in a different direction.

All good It really comes down to the unorganized environment where you look every day and it looks a little different. That’s where we perform. We bring human-like expertise that enhances a person who is professional in that task. They put their skills, knowledge and abilities into that work and we expand it with robots that go the way of damage. That’s the formula we really think will work right now for professional adoption. You are not taking away human beings, you are taking advantage of the benefits. It is machine plus human, taking advantage of both.

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