Acutronic Robotics fails to find funding for H-ROS for robot hardware

Acutronic Robotics H-ROS

Acutronic Robotics today announced on its blog that it is shutting down on July 31. The company, which has offices in Switzerland and Spain, offered communication tools based on the Robot Operating System for modular robot design.

The company, which was founded in 2016 after Acutronic Link Robotics AG’s acquisition of Erle Robotics, said it had been waiting on financing. Acutronic Robotics was developing the Hardware Robot Operating System or H-ROS, a communication bus to enable robot hardware to interoperate smoothly, securely, and safely.

Components of Acutronic’s technology included the H-ROS System on Module (SoM) device for the bus, ROS2 as the “universal robot language” and application programming interface, and the Hardware Robot Information Model (HRIM) as a common ROS dialect.

Acutronic was involved in the development of the open-source ROS2 and was recently named a “Top 10 ROS-based robotics company” for 2019. The company built MARA, the first robot natively running on ROS2.

In January, Acutronic Robotics said that it had made grippers from Robotiq “seamlessly interoperable with all other ROS2-speaking robotic components, regardless of their original manufacturer.”

H-ROS was intended to make robot hardware work together more easily. Source: Acutronic Robotics

Funding challenges

HRIM was funded through the EU’s ROS-Industrial (ROSIN) project, and the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) had invested in H-ROS.

In September 2017, Acutronic raised an unspecified amount of Series A funding led by the Sony Innovation Fund. More recently, however, the company had difficulty finding venture capital.

“We continue to believe that our robot modularity technology and vision are relevant strategically speaking, both product and positioning wise,” stated Victor Mayoral, CEO of Acutronic Robotics. however we probably hit the market too early and fell short of resources.”

According to Acutronic’s blog post, the company received acquisition proposals but was unable to agree to any of them.

The global robot operating system market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% between 2018 and 2026, predicts Transparency Market Research. However, that forecast includes proprietary industrial software and customized robots.

Other ROS-related news today included Freedom Robotics’ seed funding and Fetch Robotics’ Series C. As The Robot Report previously reported, AWS RoboMaker works with ROS Industrial, and Microsoft recently announced support for ROS in Windows 10.

Uncertain future for Acutronic team

Mayoral didn’t specify what would happen to Acutronic Robotics’ approximately 30 staffers or its intellectual property, but he tried to end on an optimistic note.

“We are absolutely convinced that ROS is a key blueprint for the future of robotics,” Mayoral said. “The ROS robotics community has been a constant inspiration for all of us over these past years, and I’m sure that with the new ROS 2, many more companies will be inspired in the same way. Our team members are excited about their next professional steps, and I’m sure many of us will stay very close to the ROS community.”

Acutronic Robotics staff

The Acutronic Robotics team. Source: Acutronic

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