Roving robot Lucy doesn’t just zoom around your home vacuuming up dirt and bits of last night’s dinner. It also roams around each room to identify any unwanted visitors, with two cameras and built-in surveillance software.
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And sporting this spiffy and alert robot, startup Trifo has just raised $15 million Series B from investors that include Yidu Cloud, Tsinghua AI Fund and Matrix Partners. This brings the Santa Clara-based startup funding to $26 million, and the capital will be used for further product development and expansion into European and American markets.
What It Does
Founded in 2016, Trifo is working to make its mark in the smart home products industry, a sector CEO Zhe Zhang said in a statement, will be worth up to $28.4 billion this year. With Lucy, Trifo is betting that it can offer robots that do more than just vacuum, like Ironpie, its cleaning-only robot. The robots also can protect. To me, this reads that the startup wants to be a relied-upon and ingrained part of the family.
But, not so fast. A public, Bedford, Massachusetts-based competitor, iRobot, comes to mind. IRobot created the popular vacuum robot Roomba, which vacuums in homes. But, per its website, it also has a fleet of other service-specific robots: one to mop floors, one (coming soon) to mow lawns, and one to teach kids how to code. The last robot, its newest, is a nod to iRobot offering more content than cleaning, and giving its robots a home in not just homes, but K-12 classrooms.
While iRobot doesn’t yet combine the features into one mega-robot, it does offer “bundles” in which the mop robot and vacuum robot communicate with each other to get things clean. iRobot’s offerings range from $199 to $1,099, and Trifo’s Lucy hovers at around $799, according to TechCrunch.
Another startup working on these autonomous critters includes Pal Robotics. Except unlike Trifo, which focuses on home dynamics, Pal Robotics has created robots to help with logistics; catering from everything from industrial plants, to hospitals and offices, per its website. Its prices are not disclosed on the website.
In a release announcing the funding round, Trifo says that incoming innovation can include personal healthcare management and entertainment services. But, for the skeptical among us, no worries, robots can’t replace humans just yet. They have limits too: Trifo’s real-time objection detection lets it avoid obstacles, and that means, the company says, it skips the pet doo doo.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias