Robots have always been the passion of ZOA Robotics founder Thiago Azevedo. After studying mechanical engineering and working in renewable energy, last year he helped close a $1 Billion renewable power plant project, but he never stopped reading and thinking about robotics and AI. Then he begun to realize that it is possible now to build great robots, and many teams have built great robots, but what is hard is to build robots at an affordable price point. Thiago then became very interested in this affordability problem. How can we engineer great performance at a commercially sensible price? ZOA Robotics which he founded seems to have the answer. Below is our interview with Thiago Azevedo, CEO & Founder of ZOA Robotics:
Q: You’ve recently announced your Seed funding round; tell us something more?
A: This summer we succeeded in designing and testing our first prototype. The next step was to raise funding in order to expand the team and dedicate ourselves full-time to ZOA. We met Dominic and Britbots around this time and the match was perfect. Dominic immediately understood what we were doing and the potential it had. With investment from Britbots we begun work on a full-size prototype and have grown the team.
It is very exciting to be at this point and feel our progress accelerating. We are following the Britbots investment with an angel round which is open now.
Q: Why is now the time for a technology solution like ZOA Robotics?
A: One of the major challenges with robots is control. More specifically, how do you tell the robot what you want it to do? Without great software, it is hard to instruct a robot to do what you would like it to do.
There has been incredible progress in software in the form of machine learning, and in computing power. We can now control and instruct our robots much more easily as a result. Sensors and hardware have also become cheaper, so now we can build a complete package: an easy to use robot, with great performance, at a lower cost.
Q: What kind of robots do you plan to make?
A: The essential problem we are solving are stairs, and uneven ground more broadly. In industrial settings, many commercial buildings, most homes, stairs and steps limit a robot’s mobility, making them less useful. We are focused on solving this mobility problem, enabling robots to move around and work with us in the same spaces we do.
Q: What are your plans?
A: We are well advanced and expect to be testing our prototypes with trial customers we have partnered with in the industrial inspection sector in around 6 months, and to move to full sales in 12 months. We are also very excited about the potential in the logistics market, both within commercial sites and outside, for example in last mile delivery/logistics. The aim for the ongoing seed round is to enable us to scale the team further and to help us capitalise on a number of exciting opportunities.