Today (Tuesday), Israeli startup MOV.AI, which develops operating systems for collaborative robots, or better known as Co-Bots, announced a $4 million extension to the company’s 2018 Seed funding round. The investment was led by SOMV, with participation from existing investors Viola Ventures and NFX. To date, MOV.AI has raised $8 million.

Saving ROS manufacturers software development headaches

MOV.AI developed an operating system that enables hardware-software separation, which essentially simplifies the development and implementation processes of robotic operating systems (ROS). In doing so, the company claims that robot manufacturers need not focus on developing proprietary software or providing support and updates for each robot.

According to MOV.AI this leads to a drastic reduction in hardware costs and enables manufacturers and developers the ability to install in various kinds of robot key features like graphical interface for describing robotic behavior, autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance, and compliance with safety requirements. At the same time, the company intends to contribute to the ROS community, offering various open-source tools so that the entire ROS developer community can benefit from MOV.AI developments now and in the future.

In a conversation with Geektime, MOV.AI CEO Motti Kushnir explains that the open-source operating system is intended for academic researchers and doesn’t support the global automation industry’s compliance demands. “A robot manufacturer that wants to transform simple robots like AGVs into a sophisticated collaborative robot (Co-Bot) like AMRs, can simply install MOV.AI’s system, and after a few hours safely operate their robot around people with high efficiency,” claims Kushnir. According to the CEO, robots operated by MOV.AI have already been deployed in the logistics and manufacturing industries of fashion, food, hospitality, automation for postal services, automotive manufacturing, and more.

Usually, extending funding rounds are pretty common, when speaking about a couple of months difference. Although, in MOV.AI’s case, the company decided to complete its Seed round some two years after it was initiated. Kushnir notes that on one hand, the COVID-19 global crisis created major opportunities, especially in Europe, where the outbreak of the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technological solutions at scale. On the other hand, the company had many active projects that preceded the virus outbreak, which caused massive delays and setbacks.

MOV.AI CEO Motti Kushnir credit: Shachar Tamir

“The new funding round recognizes MOV.AI's vision for the collaborative robot industry. MOV.AI will continue to fortify its position as a leading company in the field of cobots. We are very excited to win our existing investors’ trust and for our new connection to SOMV that will allow us to develop our industrial automation market solution further. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated growth in e-commerce, while reducing workforce availability. This development has led to a massive increase in the demand for automation systems and collaborative robots, which can integrate into existing facilities and work collaboratively with humans,” explains Kushnir.