By Bob Gourley
One of the biggest problems in robotics deals with how a mobile device can know, with precision, where it is. This might sound easy to do but it is complicated by the fact that autonomous robots can move all over the place including over and through a variety of changing environments. The longer a robot is moving from a known place the more uncertain it becomes over where it is.
The problem is complicated more when multiple moving robots seek to know where they are in relation to each other. And when you see clips of robots walking around and avoiding each other while they do, note that they are always walking really slowly. That is because they are computing some really advanced stuff.
These are just a couple examples of challenges that modern robotics must address before these technologies can really start making a big difference in our lives.
With that as context, here is more about the new a16z funded startup Anki:
First, from a 10 June 2013 YouTube entry:
Anki Drive will bring video games into the real world. To get a sneak peek before its available later this fall, check out this video. Each car will be powered by artificial intelligence — they always know where they are, they know where you are, and they analyze the best action to take given the situation. Learn more about Anki technology at www.anki.com and stay tuned for more Anki Drive content at: www.facebook.com/Anki and www.twitter.com/anki.
And from a YouTube clip done in the highly professional style a16z is making famous:
Anki brings artificial intelligence and robotics into everyday life. We are excited about taking technology previously restricted to science labs and research institutes, and making it accessible to everyone. Here’s the tale of how we got started.
Now here is what a16z’s Marc Andreessen wrote about the capability on his blog:
Today I am delighted to help unveil the best robotics startup I have ever seen — Anki.
Andreessen Horowitz has been the main venture investor in Anki, which has been operating in stealth mode until today, since February 2012. Keeping my mouth shut about this company for 16 months has been one of the hardest things I have had to do since we started our firm!
Anki is one of those companies that has an exciting story on top and then a profound story underneath.
The exciting story is melding robotics, AI, hardware, and software into a new kind of entertainment experience. Playing Anki Drive, their first product, is a delight for people of any age — it’s amazing to see fully autonomous robot cars in high-speed races, making thousands of independent decisions per second, maneuvering and competing, in ways never before possible. Your jaw drops.
The profound story is that it is finally time to bring robotics and AI out of the lab and into everyday life. The Anki team brings the kind of engineering and science normally focused on multi-million-dollar industrial and military robots into the home — controlled by your iPhone. There is no limit to the kind of real-world robots and AI that the Anki platform will enable in the years to come.
We are thrilled to work with Boris, Hanns, Mark, and Patrick to help them realize their vision of ubiquitous robotics and AI. This is why we became venture capitalists.
- Anki Debuts ‘Anki Drive’ Intelligent Robotic Car Game [iOS Blog] (macrumors.com)
- Anki Intelligent Flash Cards let you learn and remember easily! (crunchedd.com)
- Is Developing Artificial Intelligence Ethical? What Relationship does AI Have with Jobs? (ieet.org)
- Thought-powered helicopter takes off (bbc.co.uk)
- Meet the Man Behind the Push to Ban Killer Robots (motherboard.vice.com)