Meet Humatics, the startup helping humans and robots play nice

by Justine Hofherr
March 12, 2018
humatics
Humatics is revolutionizing how people and machines locate, navigate and collaborate with its high-precision micro-location system and analytics software,”Photo via Humatics

Some of the tasks robots can now manage include sorting and delivering packages, completing household chores, performing medical operations and driving cars.

Humatics, a Cambridge-based startup, is one company working to ensure robots are safe as they go about these tasks — and the company recently acquired 5D Robotics and its subsidiary, Time Domain, to get even better at doing so.

For the unfamiliar, Humatics makes radio-frequency (RF) sensors that measure the positions of objects in three-dimensional space with “unprecedented,” millimeter-scale precision at up to 30-meter ranges. 5D Robotics and Time Domain make RF systems that locate objects with centimeter-scale precision at up to 500-meter ranges.

Together, the newly combined company will offer products that measure position with precisions that could transform industries like autonomous vehicles, smart cities, next-generation construction and more.

The company will look to work with leading auto manufacturers and municipalities to explore the impact of this technology for autonomous vehicles and smart cities."

“In a year from now, we expect to have had our centimeter-scale sensors and software solutions being used in the market and will have just started shipping our millimeter-scale capabilities,” said David Mindell, Humatics CEO and founder. “The company will look to work with leading auto manufacturers and municipalities to explore the impact of this technology for autonomous vehicles and smart cities in addition to helping robots and humans more safely interact in a factory setting.”

Founded in 2015 by Mindell, an MIT professor, and Gary Cohen, a technology industry veteran, Humatics was created to “locate people, places and things in an increasingly connected world,” Mindell said.

Today’s GPS satellites and radio-based local area positioning technologies have limited precision, with uncertainties ranging from many centimeters to several meters, Mindell explained. And camera-based systems are expensive and often sensitive to lighting conditions.

But a single Humatics system uses radio-frequency technology to pinpoint multiple, moving transponder targets at ranges up to thirty meters, outperforming existing systems at a fraction of the cost.

Using multiple Humatics products allows the systems to network together to provide broader positioning coverage — from factory work cells, to entire distribution centers.

Humatics is revolutionizing how people and machines locate, navigate and collaborate.”

“Humatics is revolutionizing how people and machines locate, navigate and collaborate with its high-precision micro-location system and analytics software,” Mindell said. “We envision a world full of highly precise, local, navigational interactions that open a host of new applications and data related to people, places and things.”

In 2018, Mindell said his biggest goal for the company is to establish Humatics as the foundational leader in positioning technology, specifically micro-location, to increase collaboration between humans and robots.

Currently, the company is piloting its Spatial Intelligence Platform with industrial automation and manufacturing partners where millimeter-scale precision can improve safety, efficiency and productivity.

“We are also in discussions with leading auto manufacturers and municipalities to explore the impact of this technology for autonomous vehicles and smart cities,” Mindell said. “Our plan is to continue to expand our customer and product base throughout the rest of 2018.”

After the acquisition, Humatics employs a total of 48 employees. They are hiring for a senior electrical engineer, senior manufacturing engineer, senior product manager, machine learning engineer and other hardware and software system engineers.

 

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