News Article

Cambridge startup Humatics to expand 'microlocation' tech after acquisition
Date: Feb 27, 2018
Author: Kelly J. O'Brien
Source: bizjournals ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: 5D Robotics Inc of Carlsbad, CA

Humatics Corp. uses sensors and advanced microwave technology to precisely locate humans and robots so they can interact safely.

Three-year-old Cambridge startup Humatics Corp. is acquiring San Diego-based 5D Robotics Inc. in hopes of eventually expanding its "microlocation technologies" to the world of smart cities and autonomous vehicles.

Humatics, co-founded by MIT engineering David Mindell, has so far been using its sensor technology to improve the way humans and robots interact on the factory floor. The company raised $18 million last year from Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit and Boston-based venture firm focused on the future of mobility.

Humatics isn't sharing financial terms of the deal, but Mindell says the acquisition will nearly double the startup's existing workforce of 25 people. 5D Robotics raised $5.5 million, according to Crunchbase.

Both companies rely on radio-frequency signals to measure the precise location of objects, though they've been focused on commercializing the technology for different uses.

"They were in some ways the only other company that was built on a similar vision of high-precision radio positioning," Mindell said.

The Humatics technology will allow robots to measure their precise location to within a few millimeters at a range of 10-30 meters. The 5D Robotics technology, on the other hand, can locate objects to within a few centimeters at a range of about 500 meters. That could be useful, for example, in helping self-driving cars navigate through cities by placing RF sensors on light-posts and other pieces of city infrastructure.

But first, Humatics plans to integrate the 5D Robotics technology into its factory-focused product.

"Sometimes you need centimeter scale over longer ranges. Sometimes you need millimeter scale closer in, in a manufacturing setting," Mindell said. "Where we're moving ... is toward really integrated products where you have millimeter scale and centimeter scale."

5D Robotics already has active customers, which the combined company will continue to support, and Humatics' millimeter-scale is in pilot testing and should be released as a full product later this year.