Sphero spinout Company Six launches throwable, video-streaming wheeled drone for first responders
In May, Sphero, the decade-old Colorado-based company best known for its programmable robots, announced Company Six (CO6), a spinoff focused on commercializing intelligence robots and AI-based apps for military, EMT, and fire personnel and others who work in challenging situations. Mum’s been the word since on what exactly that might entail, but today, CO6 took the wraps off of its ReadySight, a one-pound, throwable robot built for “dangerous and difficult” jobs.
Robots are ripe for first responder scenarios, as novel research and commercial products continue to demonstrate. Machines like those from RedZone can autonomously inspect sewage pipes for corrosion, deformation, and debris in order to prevent leaks that could pose health hazards. And drones like the newly unveiled DJI M300 RTK and Parrot Anafi Thermal have been tapped by companies like AT&T and government agencies for maintenance inspections and assistance in disaster zones. CO6 appears poised to carve out a niche in this market, which was estimated to be worth in excess of $3.7 billion.
According to CO6, ReadySight streams video over both dedicated first responder and commercial LTE networks. Controlled by a smartphone, technologies integrated into the robot allow for “day and zero light usage” as well as autonomous and semi-autonomous driving and patrolling modes, two-way audio communication, and unlimited range and usage over cellular. In addition to a speaker and a microphone, white light headset and infrared illuminator, a foldable “tail,” and a time-of-flight distance sensor, ReadySight sports a Sony camera sensor with a 120-degree wide-angle lens and lens shield and a motion sensor paired with a front indicator LED.
ReadySight can stream to viewers on the web, with streaming plans starting at $99 per month and first responder plans starting at $149 per month. Both subscriptions include unlimited streaming via priority networks and a free replacement robot if ReadySight is lost in the line of duty.
CO6 envisions ReadySight being deployed in the course of accident investigation, exploring tight or unknown spaces before someone enters, and acting as a sentry to keep eyes on a critical area such as a crime scene. It’s expected to ship in Q3 2021, the company says.
CO6 began as Sphero’s Public Safety Division, the brainchild of former Sphero CEO Paul Berberian and Booth, both of whom have backgrounds in military service. The products and services it hopes to deliver — which will include a cloud-based analytics and monitoring platform — will be designed to maintain safety and situational awareness and improve decision-making in the field for critical incidents and everyday operating environments.
To fund the productization and market entry of its initial products, CO6 raised a $3 million seed investment from investors including Spider Capital, with participation from existing Sphero investors, including Foundry Group, Techstars, and GAN Ventures.
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