Robadis Perfect – Forbes

Devandro, a Munich-based deep technology company founded by Alona Garchenko and Rafael Hostetler, develops humanoid robots called Roboties. Vision: A world of “telepresence” where people can be in two places at once. The start-up received more than €800,000 in funding and has generated over €600,000 in revenue so far – with the product expected to go into mass production by the end of 2026.

He's standing in the middle of tech start-up Devandro's lab at Munich Urban Collab: Roboty, a humanoid robot controlled remotely through a virtual reality headset. “You can get into your robot and perform various tasks and functions remotely,” explains Alona Karchenko, co-founder and CTO of Devandro and a 2023 Forbes “30 Under 30” listmaker.

Devandro stands for “Developing Anthropomimetic Robodies”. That is, robots are created to have a human-like body structure. There are two reasons for this feature: first, it facilitates intuitive control; This ensures that the operator's movements are transferred seamlessly to the robot body through the VR set. Second, it solves a common problem with commonly used industrial weapons: their unpredictability. “An industrial arm can only move very eccentrically. It's difficult to control and anticipate because the mechanics work differently,” Garchenko explains. Roboti's human-like morphology, on the other hand, is intended to create a sense of security.

One area of ​​application for robotics is elderly care. Robots titled “Robody Cares” are already being used there today. It's also Devandro's business model: the company offers its customers a subscription service that allows caregivers to work remotely with robots. The robot stays in the customer's home and performs emergency tasks such as dressing, feeding or emergency identification; For more complex tasks, nurses are still needed on site.

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To assess and manage both market and implementation risks, the current focus is on showing that “robody cares” are not only possible, but necessary. To achieve this, one-month pilot programs will be launched in a total of five private households.

Devandro's team also conducted daylight experiments using the robot. The nine participants were divided into three groups, with Robadi physically present in the room with the elderly. Co-founder Rafael Hostetler controlled the robot through VR goggles from an adjacent room. Nursing facility management was cautiously optimistic, unsure how nursing home residents would react. To their surprise, the elderly residents showed not only enthusiasm but also a desire for tactile interaction.

At the Hannover Messe in April, the team hugged 2,300 people over five days with Roboti.

Native Ukrainian Garchenko began her journey into the world of technology at a young age – chemistry, mathematics and computer science fascinated her from an early age. He studied applied mathematics in Kiev and later received a master's degree in “Robotics, Cognition, Intelligence” from the Technical University of Munich. Although he feels at home in Munich today, he remains connected to his homeland and is actively involved in helping victims of war – he is a board member of the non-profit organization Munich Helps Ukraine E. V. who has already provided 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

In 2015, during Karchenko's sophomore year of college, she met Rafael Hostetler. A doctoral student at the time, Hostetler's goal was to create robots that could interact with the human body. He knew this was not a one-man job, so he put together a team in which Garchenko played an increasingly important role. His company Devandro was later founded in 2018.

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Roboti's first progenitor, Roboboy, was created in 2013 under the guidance of Rolf Pfeifer, a professor at the University of Zurich. “This is the final match of his career,” Karchenko said. “After that he retired.” This first version was not yet fully developed, especially when artificial muscles arrived. So Devandro had to adapt to the changing technological landscape. They integrated the robot operating system, which required significant hardware and software improvements. In 2018, Devandro presented Roboy 2.0 at Hannover Messe. It was already an entirely indigenous development.

Robots became robots The first robot in 2021. It is the size of an adult human, has a white “dress” and a head with a customizable digital avatar as a face. The avatar mimics the user's facial movements, captured by four cameras in the VR goggles, and translates 62 facial features in real time. The robot uses two cameras for stereo vision, simulating human-like depth perception. A neck with three degrees of freedom (the number of independent movements a given joint can perform) and similarly designed arms enable human-like head and arm movements. Below the avatar head are microphones and speakers to display the operator's voice. The lower half of the robot is supported by a mobile platform that ensures adequate mobility. Connected via a VR interface, the operator remotely controls the robot's actions using a hand controller.

At the Hannover Messe in April, the team hugged 2,300 people with the robot over five days – an average of one per minute. “After I got back from the fair, I dreamed about hugging people!” Karchenko laughs. Frequent interaction with people sets the company and its robots apart from the competition: Devandro constantly confronts his creation with the real world.

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The schedule calls for Devandro to complete five “pilots” by 2025; A “minimum viable product” phase with 50 active pilots is expected to be completed by 2026. At this point, the robotic design is said to be ready for mass production. The group intends to grow significantly by 2032. “Robots are thought of as the distant future, but they're not anymore,” Karchenko says.

Ekin Denis Dere,
Teacher

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