Credit: Diligent Robotics
Team: Diligent Robotics (Formerly: Diligent Droids) | Origin: Texas | Participation: NSF I-Corps, 2015
Diligent Robotics created “Moxi,” a robot that supports clinical staff teams in acute care hospitals by executing logistical tasks so staff can focus on direct human care. Moxi safely and autonomously navigates the hospital and has an arm and gripper hand that allows it to pick up things like supplies and deliver them to other places such as outside patient rooms, providing a variety of support tasks for the clinical staff. Diligent Robotics cites statistics that indicate that 30 percent of nurses’ time is spent on “non-value-added” logistical tasks like gathering supplies, resulting in burnout.
While at Georgia Tech in 2008, Diligent Robotics CEO Andrea Thomaz received an NSF research award to develop implementations and experiments on humanoid social robots. Two years later, Thomaz won an NSF CAREER award to research socially guided machine learning for robots. When her CAREER award finished, she signed up for the NSF I-Corps program in 2015.
After I-Corps, Diligent Robotics received an NSF SBIR Phase I award for $225,000 in 2016 and an NSF SBIR Phase II award for $500,000 in 2017. The company raised $2.1 million of seed funding in a round led by True Ventures in January 2018.
“We really have taken the NSF commercialization path, starting from being funded in the academic setting by NSF. We did the NSF I-Corps program, which really set up our commercialization plan for the NSF SBIR Phase I grant. Now we're in the SBIR Phase II and we spent six months working with three different hospitals in Austin and we built some of the core technology around the interactive machine learning that allows our robots to quickly be deployed to new settings and that led to some of our first patents and was really kind of the foundation of the company.”
Andrea Thomaz, CEO of Diligent Robotics and Professor, University of Texas at Austin