CHENNAI: Sastra Robotics, a Kochi-based robotics company specialised in the manufacturing of industrial robotic manipulators, is on cloud nine. Reason: It has recently bagged the prestigious ‘TiE50 Awards’ — TiE Silicon Valley's annual awards programme keenly contested by thousands of early-stage technology startups worldwide.
Founded by three college mates — Aronin P (CEO), Achu Wilson (CTO) and Akhil A (COO) — the journey of this tech startup began in 2012 from the Startup Village in Kochi. With its vision to develop next generation robotic companion for human beings, Sastra Robotics is currently engaged in the development of robotic manipulators for device test automation deployed by Robert Bosch, HCL and Audience.
From the three-member core team, the company has grown and the staff strength now stands at 17. Recently, it has opened in Kochi a first-of-its-kind ‘Robotics R&D and testing facility’ in the country.
‘‘Over 100 companies in India have evinced interest in the solutions being provided by us. We are planning to launch the latest series of robotic arm by the third quarter of 2017 encapsulating some of the most unique capabilities. With this, Sastra aims to address the major market needs across the globe, including home automation using our robotic companion,’’ says Aronin P, CEO, Sastra Robotics India.
SR-SCARA-Pro, a lightweight SCARA robotic arm customised for automated real device testing, is the company's maiden product. It can be used to carry out rigorous test, functionality test and for manual testing on all sorts of capacitive touch screens and resistive touch panels. “These features make it suitable for automating touchscreen testing for devices that range from smartphones, tablets, and laptops to multi-touch TV screens, infotainment systems and touch-sensitive industrial control panels and other touch-enabled HMI panels. Also, by using the appropriate end effectors, it can test switches, keys, knobs and toggle switches,”says CTO Achu Wilson.
In 2014, the firm had got `18 lakh (interest and collateral free) loan from KFC under KSEDM (Kerala State Entrepreneur Development Mission) scheme in 2014. The company used that amount to set up a basic plant and machinery for its further activities.
“Last year, a sum of `25 lakh was allotted as seed fund by Kerala Industrial Development Corporation. We are using this amount for our R&D. Recently, we closed `1.1 crore angel investment from our advisors — Raveendranath Kamath (our financial advisor), and also the CFO of Next Education, and Amitava Roy (our mentor and strategic advisor), who was the former COO of Tech Mahindra,” says Aronin.
The USP of Sastra is the unique capability of its intelligent robotic arm. “There are no companies selling a single robotic arm solution capable of handling every human- machine interface testing, including hand gestures. We have identified over 20 companies around the globe which build touch-screen interface testing solutions. But ours is 10 times cheaper, at the same time 60% faster. Still we are not building cheaper robotic arm. But our geographical area and good business partnerships and optimised product design helped us achieve this. So international companies can’t compete with our product — in terms of technology and price,’’ says Aronin.
Apart from the in-house researches, the company has also established channel partners across the globe – Coroware Robots in the US, Dongbu Robots in South Korea and Cyberbotics in Switzerland to name a few. “We are in touch with Intel as it provides technical support to our core activities,” says COO Akhil A.
“Our goal is to build an ideal robotic companion for human beings in the future. The way humans interact with our robots will be one of our USPs,’’ says Aronin.
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