Israel’s robot friend nabs Toyota Research investment

Intuition Robotics, maker of the ElliQ social companion robot for the elderly, raises $14 million in funding round

Intuition Robotics' artificial intelligence based robot ElliQ (Courtesy)
Intuition Robotics' artificial intelligence based robot ElliQ (Courtesy)

Intuition Robotics, the developer of ElliQ, a social companion robot for elderly people, said it has raised $14 million in a series-A funding round led by Japan’s Toyota Research Institute (TRI). The investment round brings the total funds raised to date to $16 million, the Israeli startup said.

TRI joined investors OurCrowd and iRobot, as well as existing seed investors Maniv Mobility, Terra Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta, and other private investors, the startup said in a statement.

ElliQ is an artificial intelligence-based robot companion that aims to keep older adults active and engaged with family members by helping make technology use easier. The robot, named after a Norse goddess, is designed to learn an owner’s personality and preferences, and uses machine learning and natural language processing to suggest things like taking a walk or Skyping a grandchild.

The partnership is TRI’s first outside investment in robotic technology specifically for older adults, Intuition Robotics said.

Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI, said the company was impressed by Intuition Robotics’ multi-disciplinary approach that includes human-robot interaction, cloud robotics, machine learning and design.

“Specifically, we believe Intuition Robotics’ technology in the field of cognitive computing has strong potential to positively impact the world’s aging population with a proactive, truly autonomous agent that’s deployed in their social robot, ElliQ,” Pratt said in the statement.

“This strategic investment illustrates our joint beliefs in the potential of social robotics in keeping older adults connected and engaged and in overcoming the digital divide using cognitive computing and natural communications,” said Dor Skuler, CEO and co-founder of Intuition Robotics.

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