Robotics startup Anki, company behind Vector and Cozmos, shuts down

Anki Vector

Not every company emerges to be a success, but not every company suck up $200 million of venture capital before failing as Anki did. As per the CEO Boris Sofman, 200 staffs constituting the company have been out of work from Wednesday this week, but the company has enough left in the coffers to provide for a week of severance pay. What will happen to the company’s robotics product is unclear as of now.

The mobile-oriented robotics company first garnered attention when it unveiled its technology on stage at a 2013 Apple event. The company debuted small AI-powered cars with its Anki Drive system. The cars raced around a mat with embedded lanes that the cars had the ability to track in real time. Players could connect to vehicles over Bluetooth to unlock its special abilities and weapons in order to beat other players. The demo did not go well, foreshadowing continued struggle for the company.

Later on, Anki introduced a newer version of Anki Drive called Overdrive, however, the expected business of selling extra AI cars did not materialize. The company then turned to smaller standalone devices like Cozmo and Vector robots. These devices were released with features like facial recognition and laser scanners to make it into little robotic companions. This move from the company made the views about it change. While earlier it was regarded as a tech startup, it was starting to be seen as a toy manufacturer. This reportedly made investors restive.

Last year, Anki was reported saying that the company reached almost $100 million in revenue for 2017 and it was expected to increase the amount in 2018. Nevertheless, the company did not have enough influx of cash to keep it on the surface. According to the company, a financial deal to deliver long-term funding fell through at the last minute resulting in the shutdown of the company. The inside story of the company suggests that Microsoft, Amazon, and others were sniffing around for potential acquisition. Now, since Anki has shut down, the companies can acquire the AI tech behind Anki’s products.

All of the companies products could be programmed and controlled through mobile apps. While the company has officially shut down now, nobody knows what will happen to the products that the company has made so far. The robots connect over Bluetooth, so local features should still work. However, they might be rendered obsolete as the apps slowly start to lose functionality as Android and iOS features and APIs change until the Anki robots stop working entirely.

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