Why we Invested in Collaborative Robotics: Building the Future of Human-Robot Collaboration

June 14, 2022 / Jason Schoettler

Investing in robotics startups requires considerable foresight and due diligence, but also a bit of luck and a lot of faith in the founding team. After all, robotics companies are building for tomorrow, envisioning how automation will shape our lives in the next 10 years and then designing machines that will take us into this future. That’s why Calibrate is thrilled to join the $10 million seed round for Collaborative Robotics, one of the most exciting, visionary, and promising automation companies we’ve ever encountered. 

Led by former VP and Distinguished Engineer of Amazon Robotics Brad Porter, Collaborative Robotics is the culmination of Brad’s 25+ year career building and deploying robots that drive productivity, accelerate automation, and deliver demonstrable ROI. When we met Brad through our founder network, he told us he wanted to build a new type of robotics company that would “redefine the future of human-robot interaction.” The details on how he’d deliver on this vision were still to be determined, but when Brad talks about robots, it’s a good idea to listen closely. After all, under Brad’s leadership, Amazon successfully deployed hundreds of thousands of robots across its entire logistics infrastructure, accelerating its global business exponentially. Brad is the type of industry veteran whose experience allows him to see around corners well into the future, but who also has the technical, business, and operational chops to deliver on a vision. 

And so we listened, and we learned about Collaborative’s plans to build cobots that are an extension of our surroundings – robots that work, adapt, and react around people, and not the other way around. While at Amazon, Brad and his teams mostly deployed robots inside warehouses to do specific tasks, often in fenced-off areas or in cages. 

But he saw a huge need that was going unfulfilled: robots that could do tasks for humans, working as their helpers, and that could move freely around in unstructured environments, both indoors and outdoors, going from one task to another. These robots would be trustworthy, flexible, and collaborative, since they’d be working alongside people. Brad envisions that not only would such cobots make human work safer and less taxing, but they’d help companies achieve faster return-on-investment on robotic deployments, since they could be simply “dropped into” unstructured environments to start working right away. In reviewing hundreds, if not thousands, of different commercial robots for Amazon, Brad never saw any that filled this unique niche – so he started Collaborative Robotics to build them.

Collaborative plans to build robots to serve industries such as manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, municipal services, healthcare, and hospitality. And while it’s still very early days, we’re convinced Brad has created the best early team possible to deliver on this vision, recruiting engineers and company builders from Scale AI, Meta, Waymo, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. Brad is clearly excited to get started on such a big mission, and we couldn’t be more excited to support him and his founding team as they build the future.

Welcome to the Calibrate family, Collaborative!