XTEND extends funding for drone, robot ‘common sense’ with $40M

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Robots and drones need “common sense” to navigate dynamic environments, according to XTEND. The company this month said it has raised $40 million in Series B funding to further develop its proprietary XOS operating system. It also plans to increase global sales of its own drones and robots.

“Robots and drones promise to transform everything from factories to our homes,” stated Aviv Shapira, co-founder and CEO of XTEND. “However, a significant hurdle remains — equipping them with the common-sense abilities to deal with the unpredictable nature of real-world situations, understand their surroundings, and make decisions based on that information.”

“XOS uses AI to enable robots to learn from data and experience, training them to identify objects, navigate complex environments, and interact with humans safely,” he explained. “We are unlocking the true potential of robotics in complex scenarios, including first response, search and rescue, logistics, critical infrastructure inspection, defense, and security.”

XTEND, which has offices in Washington, D.C.; Crestview, Fla.; and Singapore, said mission is to deliver a unified operating system for applications that include both ground-based mobile robots and aerial drones.  The company claimed that its systems can enhance operator abilities, reduce the need for physical confrontation, and minimize casualties and injuries.

XOS combines human, AI strengths

XOS combines human guidance and autonomous machines to allow operators to perform complex remote missions in any environment with minimal training, according to XTEND. The company asserted that it is developing seamless collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence, playing to the strengths of each.

“Our XOS operating system is based on ‘practical human-supervised autonomy,’ which empowers drones and robots to handle specific tasks autonomously – entering buildings, scanning floors, or even pursuing suspects,” explained Shapira. “However, crucially, it allows the common-sense decisions – like judging situations or adapting to unforeseen circumstances – to remain in the hands of human supervisors.”

“This human-machine teaming allows our robots to work alongside supervisors, who can manage dozens of robots simultaneously, and learn from that experience,” he added. “That is why we believe that XOS will become the operating system of choice for anyone looking to maximize their robotic systems’ potential while decreasing the risks posed to their teams’ lives or concerns around lack of human oversight.”

XTEND last year acquired drone inspection company Performance Rotors to boost its ability to offer human-guided, remote interactive operations in a range of inspection scenarios and grow its global business. It noted that its product line includes a variety of drones to support varied use cases.

For commercial applications, XTEND drones can perform inspection tasks with human supervision. For defense-related applications, drones and quadrupeds can work alongside people to support missions in the field and help to extend the senses of troops in tactical situations.

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XTEND works with third-party devices, in unexpected scenarios

There are hundreds of operational deployments of XTEND’s drone and robotics systems around the world, according to the company. XOS can control a wide range of platforms, including third-party systems, it said.

The operating system can complement existing technology, or it can be part of new systems built from the ground up, said XTEND. In addition, XOS’s open architecture allows for the hosting of applications developed by third parties.

“Unlike self-driving cars, which operate in a world with mostly known rules and scenarios, XTEND specializes in enabling operations in ‘hypervariable’ environments,” said Matteo Shapira, co-founder and CXO of XTEND. “Take a last-mile delivery robot. It can navigate autonomously indoors and outdoors but might need human help finding an office building entrance or understanding floor layouts to reach the elevator or stairway.”

“These environments present limitless situations with the potential for the unexpected, requiring human-level decision-making skills specific to each profession,” he said. “XTEND’s core technology, XOS, is built around this human-machine partnership. We are continually adding new ‘AI skills’ to our system, and those skills will allow robots to handle a growing portion of missions and tasks, freeing up human supervisors to manage more missions simultaneously, at scale.”

Investors, users look to the future of autonomy

Chartered Group led XTEND’s Series B round, with additional investors including Clal-Tech. Chartered Group said it is a global private equity firm supporting “a greener and more digitalized world.”

“We believe that the companies bringing the value of AI to massive and complex industries, such as robotics and drone operations, will be the tech giants of the 21st century,” said Eyal Agmoni, founder and chairman of Chartered Group. “Having observed XTEND’s remarkable achievements thus far, we truly believe in the company’s potential to become the world leader in robotics and drone operations, and AI.”

The U.S. Department of Defense Special Forces and Israel’s Ministry of Defense Tier-1 units have chosen XTEND for multiple multi-million-dollar programs. The company said it is already developing and delivering systems for operational evaluation.

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