Life expectancy around the world has climbed from about 52 years of age in 1960 to 72 in 2017, according to the World Health Organisation. Since the beginning of the millennium, it has increased an average of 5.5 years, with an average of 10 years in several African nations. However, an increase in life expectancy—particularly combined with a decreasing birth rate—means that there is an increasing population with age-related diseases, disabilities and health conditions who may not have access to adequate care.
The company has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding led by SOSV’s hardware accelerator HAX, in partnership with Centrica Hive, with participation from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, iRobot Ventures and iD Ventures America.
“We’re seeing an increase in life expectancy while the number of individuals age 65 and older in the US alone is projected to reach 98 million by 2060,” Cyril Ebersweiler, general partner at SOSV, one of the company’s investors, said in a statement. “Elder care robots will become commonplace in society thanks to the simplicity and versatility of the Labrador platform.”
Co-founders Mike Dooley and Nikolai Romanov have ample experience in the robotics sector, having introduced millions of robots into households worldwide. Through Labrador Systems, the duo is planning to offer assistive robots at a fraction of the cost of commercial robots currently on the market.
“Mike and Nikolai are two of the most well respected leaders in advanced consumer-grade robotics, and we were impressed by their utilitarian vision for how assistive robots can improve quality of life for people aging in place,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund.
The company will be launching a series of assistive robots to help seniors and others to live more independently. By offering assistance in areas such as medication adherence, fall prevention, disability support, caregiver assistance and social connection, Labrador Systems will help seniors, disabled individuals, and their caregivers and families to live more fulfilling lives. Amazon’s Alexa Fund will also offer a voice system to work in conjunction with the robots.
“We’ve heard so many stories about how Alexa helps aging customers feel more independent or more connected with friends and family, and voice becomes even more useful when combined with new categories of devices and other forms of ambient computing,” Bernard said. “We’re excited to work with them on making Alexa part of that experience.”
The seed funding will be used to expand development of the robotics platform and conduct pilot studies with individuals and organisations in 2020.