Refraction AI, based in Ann Arbor, announced today that it has raised $4.2 million in a seed funding round. The company, that debuted on the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility stage in 2019, was created by two University of Michigan professors (Matthew Johnson-Roberson, now CTO, and Ram Vasudevan) who wanted to solve a range of issues that many delivery robots face.
The company's REV-1 robot, rather than being a traditional sidewalk robot, is designed to work in bike lanes and highways. The robot can run at higher speeds (up to 15 miles per hour) that eliminates some of the messy pedestrian-dodging issues that come with sidewalk use.
Another important distinction is - the use of cameras rather than LIDAR. The decision comes with some technical trade-offs, but the company would save money and be able to scale its fleet more rapidly as a result.
Weather conditions in the upper Midwest don't seem to affect the technology, but it does have its drawbacks.
“Our platform uses technology that exists today in an innovative way, to get people the things they need, when they need them, where they live,” said, CEO Luke Schneider
“And we’re doing so in a way that reduces business’ costs, makes roads less congested, and eliminates carbon emissions.” he further explained.