Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do at Visevi Robotics? Please introduce yourselves!
Visevi Robotics: We are Nicolas Alt (37) and Stefan Lochbrunner (31) and we’re working on the revolution of robots. We’re convinced that robots should help us, especially with monotone or dangerous jobs, to increase our quality of work and living. Our goal is to teach robots smart and sensitive grasping using camera-based software. With our patented “camera-based sensor technology,” we simplify the hardware and mechanics of robots, which also makes them available to small companies and private households.
Nicolas completed his doctorate in electrical engineering with a focus on robotic perception and Stefan Lochbrunner has a master’s degree in electrical engineering. We met at the department of Media Technology, which is chaired by Prof. Steinbach at TUM.
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Visevi Robotics: To intelligently grasp fragile objects, a robot has to collect and process a great deal of information: The kind of object, its exact position, geometry, hardness and weight as well as obstacles all play a role. We develop software to collect and process this information with cameras (computer vision). Yet seeing on its own is not enough. Robots also have to collect data about forces and tactile profiles, which ultimately leads to complex sensor technology and hardware. That is why we’re working on making this invisible information visible through the camera – with “camera-based sensor technology.”
Arms and grippers have enormous potential
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Visevi Robotics: It’s true that smart service robots, controlled by cameras, have experienced a boom in recent years. Just think about vacuum robots at home or mobile delivery robots in logistics operations. Yet you rarely see arms or grippers on these systems – the technology is simply still too complex and expensive. Its potential, however, is huge: With delivery tasks alone, service robots could help in every large office building, restaurant, hotel or factory site.
Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?
Visevi Robotics: For one thing, we had to invest a lot of energy in finding a product-market fit. We rely on being a “lean startup” and try to find customers and understand their problems with a minimum amount of prototypes. That gives rise to the next challenge, which is finding customers who are excited about innovation. Usually in robotics, a lot of effort is invested in prototypes and trade show demos.
A very different kind of challenge has to do with us being a spin-off from TUM and transferring the IP that we developed there. It is a very drawn-out process and TUM is also obviously keeping an eye on their own “entrepreneurial” success in negotiations.
And finally, we were affected – like many others – by the corona crisis: Firstly, because it has delayed projects and therefore turnover, and secondly, because we no longer have trade shows as an important channel. But we also think it offers new opportunities, such as increased interest in automation and improved acceptance of video calls, even for live demos.
Munich Startup: How is business going?
Visevi Robotics: We were able to acquire three well-known industrial companies in robotics as customers, where we’ve implemented our technology as innovation projects. Thanks to these projects, we’ve been bootstrapped the whole time. But we do also plan to look for investors so we can ultimately address a broader clientele.
Munich has become a robotics hub
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Visevi Robotics: Fantastic offers have developed in recent years, and we’ve met lots of founders at all sorts of networking events. This kind of communication in particular is important for spreading information about founding while people are still studying. That’s the only way to make sure that promising startups will continue to be founded here in the future.
What’s also particularly important for us is that Munich has turned into a hub for startups in the field of robotics and its related technologies. Compared to larger cities, however, you notice that just a few suppliers and investors dominate here.
Munich Startup: Bike or e-scooter?
Visevi Robotics: It’s clear that e-scooters are particularly convenient in cities at the moment. But for getting to the lake or mountains? Bikes are a whole lot more fun!