Palo Alto-based Vayu Robotics recently announced it has raised $12.7 million in seed financing to bring to market new robotics technology aimed at increasing accessibility and sustainability. The round was led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures, ReMY Investors and others.
The seed funding comes as Vayu emerges from stealth mode, revealing plans to disrupt the robotics industry by lowering costs and simplifying deployment. The company aims to achieve this through two key innovations: a universal "foundation model" for mobility and novel low-cost sensors that could potentially replace lidar for some applications.
"Vayu is poised to disrupt the market by creating the lowest cost ownership for robots with the best operational economics," said CEO Anand Gopalan in the funding announcement.
Vayu's founders bring experience from automotive leaders including Lyft, Apple and Velodyne Lidar. Their goal is to leverage advances in AI to enable the next generation of intelligent robots capable of performing a wider range of tasks. This has promising implications across domains including manufacturing, last-mile delivery, and transportation.
The company's technology sits at the intersection of two crucial trends - the rise of AI and automation solutions as well as the push to reshore manufacturing. This positions Vayu to enable sustainable, accessible robotic systems to expand domestic production capabilities.
Vayu plans to utilize the seed funding to further product development and scale across key markets. Its first target application is last-mile delivery, where its autonomous robots could provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation solution.
Beyond mobility, Vayu aims to develop a universal robotic "nervous system" and sensing suite that can be adapted to diverse applications from manufacturing to field robotics. Its advisors include leading researchers from MIT and UCLA.
"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," said Kanu Gulati, Partner at lead investor Khosla Ventures.
By pursuing principles of sustainable design and leveraging breakthroughs in AI and perception, Vayu hopes to spearhead the next wave of intelligent autonomous systems. Its progress will be closely watched by those invested in the future of industrial automation.