The Austrian robotics company Robart, headquartered in Linz, is drawing funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and is receiving a loan of nine million euros that will be invested in the research and development of household robots with artificial intelligence. […]
This togetherness is exactly what Robart focuses on. “We are investing the money in the next generation of intelligent household robots, with which you can communicate in a similar way to people,” explains Harold Artés, CEO of Robart. “We envision a future where every household has a practical and affordable robotic butler. The positive decision by the European Investment Bank confirms that we are on the right track. “
The Managing Director of the European Fund for Strategic Investments at the EIB has been the former Vice Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer since 2015.
Robart employs around 60 people, holds over a hundred patents and patent applications and has offices in China, Germany and the USA. The current focus is on mopping and vacuum robots with laser navigation, which can be controlled via an app or voice assistant. So far, Robart has mainly supplied large manufacturers of household appliances with technology or complete products, including BSH, Rowenta, Kärcher and Medion.
EIB builds technology forges
Start-ups and technology companies find it difficult to obtain conventional loans. You cannot offer the bank machines or real estate as security, and mere know-how cannot be pledged. This is where the European Investment Bank steps in. It grants loans to companies that have a clear and sustainable technological lead, also compared to Asia and the USA, and which are active in a growth market with great potential. This requires in-depth know-how, highly qualified employees and specific patents. Only a few companies manage to meet these criteria (less than five percent of all applicants across Europe) and to pass the extensive tests – also on site. “We worked for over a year to get a commitment from the EIB,” notes Artés.
From Silicon Valley to Linz
Robart was founded in 2009 by Artés and Michael Schahpar. “Michael and I both come from Linz, after my time in Silicon Valley I moved back home and we decided to build something new together,” says Artés. “Upper Austria is a really good location for high-tech companies and there are excellent universities. We are also attractive to top talents with a scientific background from abroad. Robart has already brought some to Linz, people from a dozen nations work for us. ”In 2015, Robart won an Upper Austrian innovation award. “The state of Upper Austria supports us, for example through the research promotion company FFG. This funding helped us a lot with the EIB, we had a better stand because we already had positive reviews. ”
The special thing about Robart technology is the artificial intelligence with which a home robot detects its surroundings. He scans the apartment with a laser, first creates a map, an apartment plan, and then chooses the best route. Unlike simpler models, such a robot vacuum develops a comprehensive understanding of its environment. As a result, he always knows where he is, recognizes changes and can flexibly adapt his behavior. For example, if you come home after shopping and put the bag on the kitchen floor, the robot will recognize the bag as a new obstacle, avoid it, but remember the spot and clean it the next time you drive by. You can control the high-tech vacuum cleaner via smartphone, but also naturally and intuitively with voice commands. He can be connected to Alexa from Amazon, then you can spontaneously call him that he should now wipe in the kitchen. To exclude the play area, for example, you simply mark the spot in the app and declare the area a restricted zone.
“In the future, robots will perform many more tasks in the household, not only cleaning, but also disinfecting, they will pick up or pick up objects, serve as alarm systems and help old people,” Artés plans. “The funding from the EIB helps us make this vision a reality.”