Leading researchers in AI, Deep Learning, and Reinforcement Learning from OpenAI and UC Berkeley assemble to launch an ambitious new project.  

EMERYVILLE, CA - November 7, 2017 -- Embodied Intelligence (https://embody.ai), a company striving to democratize robotics by enabling anyone to teach a robot new skills, today announced that it has raised $7 million in Seed funding. The round was led by Amplify Partners with participation from Lux Capital, SV Angels, FreeS, 11.2 Capital and A.Capital.  The capital will be used to develop AI software that makes it easy to teach robots new, complex skills.

Building on the founders’ pioneering research in deep imitation learning, deep reinforcement learning and meta-learning, Embodied Intelligence is developing AI software (aka robot brains) that can be loaded onto any existing robots. While traditional programming of robots requires writing code, a time-consuming endeavor even for robotics experts, Embodied Intelligence software will empower anyone to program a robot by simply donning a VR headset and guiding a robot through a task. These human demonstrations train deep neural nets, which are further tuned through the use of reinforcement learning, resulting in robots that can be easily taught a wide range of skills in areas where existing solutions break down. Complicated tasks like the  manipulation of deformable objects such as wires, fabrics, linens, apparel, fluid-bags, and food; picking parts and order items out of cluttered, unstructured bins; completing assemblies where hard automation struggles due to variability in parts, configurations, and individualization of orders, are all candidates to benefit from Embodied Intelligence’s work.

Recent breakthroughs in AI have enabled robots to learn locomotion, develop manipulation skills from trial and error, and to learn from VR demonstrations.  However, all of these advances have been in simulation or laboratory environments,” says Sunil Dhaliwal, General Partner at Amplify Partners. “The Embodied Intelligence team that led much of this work will now bring these cutting-edge AI and robotics advances into the real world.”

"Traditional robot programming requires substantial time and expertise," says Pieter Abbeel, President and Chief Scientist of Embodied Intelligence. "What we will provide is an AI layer that can be added to any existing robot, enabling robots to learn new skills rather than requiring explicit programming."

"Commodity VR devices provide an easy way to control and teach physical robots. Since the robot simply mimics the hand motion that's tracked by VR, a person without any special training can make the robot do the right thing right from the beginning." says Peter Chen, CEO of Embodied Intelligence. "The robot will keep learning and after a while the robot says, 'I got this, I can do this task on my own now.'"

"Despite remarkable advances, robots continue to require armies of PhDs to make them perform human-like tasks,”
says Shahin Farshchi, partner at Lux Capital. “Embodied Intelligence advances the state of the art in reinforcement and imitation learning, yielding robots that can be trained to do complicated tasks, quickly.”

"Advanced robotic capabilities have been confined to established players that can afford costly R&D efforts,” says Rocky Duan, CTO of Embodied Intelligence. “Our teachable robots will empower any size businesses to incorporate robotics into their manufacturing processes and keep up with the competition."

The founding team behind Embodied Intelligence has a combined 30 years of experience in artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics. Abbeel’s lab at UC Berkeley has pioneered many recent breakthroughs in robot learning, including a robot that organizes laundry, robots that learn (simulated) locomotion, robots that learns vision-based manipulation from their own trial and error and from human VR teleop. Founders Pieter Abbeel, Peter Chen and Rocky Duan recently spent over a year at OpenAI, pushing the frontier in deep imitation learning,  reinforcement learning, unsupervised learning, and learning-to-learn.  

About Embodied Intelligence

Embodied Intelligence was founded by Pieter Abbeel, Peter Chen, Rocky Duan and Tianhao Zhang to bring modern deep learning and AI technology to robotics. The company is headquartered in Emeryville, CA.  Please visit http://embody.ai to learn more.

Additional Photographs

All hi-res photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2w62qzbha45ibgf/AAD6bKEdfd4VUrtJBFdbDB7Ia?dl=0

Feel free to use the following photos for any articles covering Embodied Intelligence

Photos with captions:

Pieter Abbeel (President and Chief Scientist), Peter Chen (CEO), Rocky Duan (CTO), Tianhao Zhang (Research Scientist) (left-to-right) collaborating on teaching a robot to manipulate wires


Pieter Abbeel (President and Chief Scientist), Peter Chen (CEO), Rocky Duan (CTO), Tianhao Zhang (Research Scientist) (left-to-right) collaborating on teaching a robot to manipulate wires.

The Embodied Intelligence Founding Team: Peter Chen (CEO), Pieter Abbeel (President and Chief Scientist), Rocky Duan (CTO), Tianhao Zhang (Research Scientist) (left-to-right)

Tianhao Zhang (sitting, Research Scientist), Pieter Abbeel (standing, President and Chief Scientist), Rocky Duan (sitting, CTO), Peter Chen (standing CEO) (left-to-right) working out some of the mathematical formalisms underlying Embodied Intelligence learning algorithms.


Tianhao Zhang (Research Scientist) shows how through VR tele-operation human operators can intuitively teach robots new skills.

Pieter Abbeel (Founder, President and Chief Scientist of Embodied Intelligence)

Peter Chen (Founder and CEO of Embodied Intelligence)

Rocky Duan (Founder and CTO of Embodied Intelligence)

Tianhao Zhang (Founder and Research Scientist at Embodied Intelligence)