January 4, 2022
Labrador Systems, which is developing a new generation of assistive robots to help individuals live more independently, has announced the Labrador Retriever, a personal robot that provides practical, physical assistance with everyday activities in the home. The mobile robot provides users with “an extra pair of hands” to help move large loads from place to place, as well as bring critical items within reach. The company also announced raising an additional $3.1 million in seed funding, led by Amazon’s Alexa Fund and iRobot Ventures.
The company said it plans to have the Retriever in full production by the second half of 2023, with beta units available earlier. The company opened early reservations for the Retriever on its website.
The Retriever pairs the size and capability of an advanced commercial robot with the simplicity and use and appealing design for the home, Labrador said. The robot is large enough to carry a laundry basket, and can handle payloads of up to 25 pounds, yet is nimble enough to navigate the tight spaces of a home. The robot can park itself within inches of an armchair, and automatically change its height to bring items easily within reach based on a user’s position. The Retriever includes places for charging a smartphone, along with a large storage area for other frequently needed items, such as water, medication and other personal items.
The robot also includes a retrieval system that can retrieve and deliver trays, each carrying up to 10 pounds of items. Trays can be stored on shelves, countertops or other surfaces in the home – as well as in a beverage-size refrigerator that the company plans to offer. This would let the Retriever deliver meals, fresh fruit and cold drinks.
“There’s a significant portion of our society that’s massively underserved,” said Mike Dooley, CEO of Labrador Systems. “When pain or other health issues start interfering with your ability to move yourself or other things, even short distances can have a major impact on your independence, quality of life and overall health. The Retriever is meant to help physically bridge some of that gap and empower individuals to be more active and do more on their own.”
Users can control the Retriever through different interfaces, including touchscreen, a mobile phone app, voice (such as an Alexa-enabled device), or by simply pressing a wireless button. The robot can operate on a pre-set schedule to provide physical reminders by automatically delivering items at a specific time and location.
The self-driving robot guides itself through homes using a proprietary navigation system that fuses algorithms from augmented reality and robotics to create 3D maps of the home. This allows the robot to operate in complex and dynamic settings while running on low-cost, consumer-grade electronics, the company said. IN addition, the system includes a dual layer of sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance.
The Labrador platform is designed to be a part of an expanding ecosystem of products and services. The company plans to offer a base model of the robot, called the Labrador Caddie, to provide different pricing and features based on a user’s needs. The company said it is working with care providers in senior living, physical therapy and home health to explore additional use cases for the Retriever.
“I am excited to see Labrador Systems addressing the growing global need to enable seniors and other individuals to live independently longer,” said Anders Bialek, vice president of strategy and corporate development at iRobot. “iRobot firmly believes that robotic technologies will play a key role in addressing this issue, and the Labrador Systems Retriever robot represents exciting progress on this front.”
Labrador said its subscription pricing for early reservation holders will include an upfront payment of $1,500, plus a monthly fee starting at $99 per month to $149 per month for 36 months, depending on the model and customer credit.
The additional seed funding included investments from new and returning investors, including SOSV and Grep VC. The new money will be used to expand Labrador’s consumer and commercial activities, grow its engineering team and accelerate efforts with manufacturing partners.
“This is the first time we’ve seen this class of robot developed for the home; until now this level of functionality has been confined to warehouses and other commercial environments,” said Paul Willard, partner at Grep VC. “We’re impressed with how the team is enabling robotics and navigation systems to run on low-cost consumer-grade electronics to provide more independence for millions of individuals.”
The company is demonstrating the Retriever at this week’s CES 2022 event in Las Vegas, at Booth #52049.
More details on the company and its technology can be found at the Labrador Systems website.