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Vayu Robotics, an AI company that aims to provide high-quality, low-cost robotic systems, has emerged from stealth with $12.7 million in seed funding. The company plans to use the funding to scale product development for AI robotics across different markets, including last-mile delivery, factory automation, and automotive.
The round was led by Khosla Ventures and included participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures, ReMY Investors, and others.
Vayu is a non-traditional robotics company that is taking a principles-first approach to automation. It prioritizes cost and ease of deployment with two key technologies: a foundation model for mobility, and a disruptive, low-cost sensing technology that could replace LiDAR in many mid-range applications.
The company’s technology sits in the convergence of two major trends in the industry right now. The first is the rise of new AI technologies that have enabled robots to perform more general tasks in a way that they couldn’t before. The second is that US companies are seeking to become less reliant on overseas production by revitalizing domestic manufacturing capacity and competitiveness. With this change, the demand for robotics and automation continues to grow.
Vayu’s technology aims to enable the next wave of sustainable and accessible robots, most immediately for last-mile delivery.
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“Vayu is poised to disrupt the market by creating the lowest cost ownership for robots with the best operational economics,” Anand Gopalan, CEO of Vayu Robotics, said. “We have built an incredibly strong team of engineers with expertise in hardware and software. With this latest round of investment, our team is positioned to bring Vayu’s novel technology to the market through our first customers.”
Vayu’s technology is based on three pillars: biology-inspired sensors, scalable machine learning, and purposeful design. These informed the creation of the company’s first products, which include Vayu Drive, a foundation model for mobility, Vayu Sense, a robust and cost-efficient sensor, and Vayu One, a full-scale delivery robot as-a-service.
The company’s founding team includes Gopalan, the former CEO of Velodyne Lidar, Mahesh Krishnamurthi, who has experience at Lyft and Apple, and Nitish Srivastava, who has experience at Apple and the University of Toronto.
“At Khosla Ventures, we bet early on bold ideas that could be impactful to society,” said Kanu Gulati, partner at Khosla Ventures. “In Vayu, we see a team that is one of the first to leverage advanced sensing technology for machines to be able to navigate the world in a way they could not previously, taking robotics to a new place.”