Artificial Intelligence startup Drishti raises $10 million in Series A funding to extend factory workers’ capabilities using action recognition and AI
Do you know that people still perform up to 90% of factory tasks? Even after decades of advancement in robotics and automation, humans are still the biggest contributors to value creation in manufacturing. Yet, the techniques to measure human activities in the factory are 100 years old—dating back to the time of Henry Ford—and impossible to perform at scale. Humans in the plant are effectively invisible to analytics. Major manufacturing business decisions are based on incomplete and unreliable data.
Manufacturing is a $12 trillion global industry that is still using 100-year-old techniques to gather data on human actions inside factories. This creates a massive blind spot for Industry4.0, because people perform up to 90% of factory activities.
Even after decades of advancement in robotics and automation, humans are still the biggest contributors to value creation in manufacturing. Yet, the techniques to measure human activities in the factory are 100 years old—dating back to the time of Henry Ford—and impossible to perform at scale. Humans in the plant are effectively invisible to analytics. Major manufacturing business decisions are based on incomplete and unreliable data.
To address this challenge in the $12 trillion global manufacturing industry, Drishti, a startup that makes human beings visible to analytics, announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding, with Emergence Capital leading the round. Andreessen Horowitz and Benhamou Global Ventures, which invested in Drishti’s 2017 seed round, also participated.
Drishti (Sanskrit for “vision”) uses what may be the world’s first commercial application of action recognition to digitize human activities—continuously, non-intrusively and at scale. Drishti creates a massive new dataset that enables true digital transformation for manufacturers while simultaneously making line workers more competitive against automation.
Drishti was founded in 2016 by CEO Dr. Prasad Akella, who transformed manufacturing in the 1990s as the leader of the General Motors (GM) team that created the world’s first collaborative robots (cobots), projected to be a $12 billion market by 2025. Cobots advanced robotics to safely amplify workers’ physical capabilities. With Drishti, Akella returns to the factory to again amplify workers’ capabilities—this time, by driving advances in computer vision and AI.
Joining Dr. Akella in this endeavor are co-founders Dr. Krishnendu Chaudhury, a computer vision and machine learning pioneer who previously worked at FlipKart, Google and Adobe; and Dr. Ashish Gupta, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Junglee (AMZN), Tavant, and Helion Ventures.
“People are Industry 4.0’s biggest blind spot,” said Dr. Akella. “Drishti, in contrast, puts people at the center of the next industrial revolution. Our mission is to extend human capabilities in an increasingly automated world.”
“Drishti has an opportunity to build a transformational human-centric AI business in manufacturing, one of the world’s largest and most important industries,” said Jason Green, General Partner, Emergence Capital. “Their solution augments human agility and judgment with cognitive assistance from AI, merging them into what we at Emergence call an ‘industrial coaching network’.”
Green adds, “Iconic companies are built when there’s a combination of ambition, domain knowledge, technical skills, and raw talent. We expect great things from Drishti.”
Drishti is a spin-out from SRI International and is supported by a Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the US National Science Foundation.