Numerous startups are tackling challenging robotics issues in industrial settings, but not many are focusing on introducing this technology into households. However, there is one exception: Matic.
Founded by Navneet Dalal, a former Google research scientist, Matic, formerly known as Matician, is working on creating robots capable of maneuvering through homes to clean in a more human-like manner, as described by Dalal.
Matic’s Robot Vacuum
Matic announced on friday that it secured $29.5 million in funding, which includes a $24 million Series A round led by prominent tech figures. This impressive list of investors includes Nat Friedman, co-founder of GitHub, John and Patrick Collison, co-founders of Stripe, Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Block.
Navneet Dalal co-founded Matic in 2017 alongside Mehul Nariyawala, who previously served as a lead product manager at Nest, where he managed Nest’s security camera portfolio.
Dalal and Nariyawala crossed paths while employed at Like.com, a computer vision startup that Google purchased in 2010. They later jointly launched the webcam-based gesture recognition platform called Flutter. Interestingly, Google also acquired Flutter at a later stage.
Recognizing a gap in the indoor robotics sector, Dalal and Nariyawala ventured into it. They observed that the industry lacked 3D mapping solutions for accurate navigation, at least from their perspective.
Navneet Dalal emphasized that just as autonomous vehicles rely on GPS and Google Street View Maps for navigation, fully autonomous indoor robots also need an accurate understanding of their location within high-fidelity 3D maps of the dynamic indoor environment. In an email interview with TechCrunch, he stated, “We determined that indoor robots must have on-device mapping capabilities to address concerns related to privacy, latency, and the ever-changing indoor surroundings.
Mapping the Path to Matic’s Autonomous Cleaning Robot Innovation
In the early stages, Matic’s primary focus was on developing robot vacuums. However, this choice was not driven by the intention to compete with established brands like iRobot and Ecovacs. Instead, Dalal, who serves as the company’s CEO, and Nariyawala believed that floor-cleaning robots offered a practical way to thoroughly map indoor spaces.
According to Dalal, “Robot vacuums became our initial focus because they are required to cover every part of indoor surfaces, making them well-suited for mapping. Furthermore, the market for floor-cleaning robots was ready for innovation.
Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot for $1.7 billion last year underscores the high value placed on indoor map data. iRobot, known for its robot vacuums that create detailed home layouts, had contemplated sharing this mapping data with tech firms to enhance context-aware smart home devices and AI assistants.
Matic set an ambitious goal to create a “fully autonomous” robot capable of autonomously navigating a home. This robot would adjust its cleaning method based on various floor types and stains while “remembering” the routes it took to continuously enhance its performance.
Years of research and development led to the creation of the Matic vacuum, which employs camera-based AI for mapping and navigating homes with a precision of approximately 1.5 centimeters. It can also recognize objects and switch between vacuuming and mopping based on visual observations.
While Matic is not yet available for purchase, Dalal and Nariyawala introduced it to friends and family starting in April. Subsequently, they initiated a limited number of customer field trials and beta testing.
Navneet Dalal explained that Matic was inspired by busy working parents who desire a clean home but don’t want to spend their limited free time on cleaning. He described it as the first fully autonomous floor cleaning robot that continually learns and adjusts to users’ cleaning preferences without compromising their privacy.
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