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8 November 2017

Embodied Intelligence studies $7m seed round

The cash will help the company develop technology that allows machines to learn new tasks after they have received instructions through a virtual reality headset.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

Embodied Intelligence, a US-based robotics developer co-founded by researchers from University of California (UC), Berkeley, raised $7m in a seed round yesterday led by venture capital firm Amplify Partners.

VC firm Lux Capital also supplied capital alongside SV Angels, FreeS, 11.2 Capital and A.Capital.

Embodied Intelligence is building artificial intelligence (AI) software to enable robots to learn tasks performed by the user via a virtual reality headset. It claims existing robots will be compatible with the “robot brain”, which would supplant coding scripts tailored to each task.

The platform might, for example, allow robots to sort items from diversified loads or handle deformable objects such as fabrics and food. It will use reinforcement learning, a technique whereby incentives are written into the robotic software to help teach problem solving.

Embodied will use the seed capital to write its first robotics applications. It was co-founded by Pieter Abbeel, a professor of AI, machine learning and control, intelligence systems and robotics in Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department.

Rocky Duan, Tianhao Zhang and Peter Chen, all PhD candidates at UC Berkeley under Abbeel’s supervision, co-founded the business.

Abeel took a leave of absence from Berkeley in April 2016 to work at non-profit AI research institute OpenAI, from where Embodied Intelligence was launched.

Chen said: “Commodity VR devices provide an easy way to control and teach physical robots.

“Since the robot simply mimics the hand motion that is tracked by VR, a person without any special training can make the robot do the right thing right from the beginning.”

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