Local start-up AMBOTS receives million dollar Small Business award
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – AMBOTS, a local start-up developing autonomous manufacturing technology, is having a fairly good year. Last summer the company was featured on Henry Ford’s Nation of Innovation with Mo Rocca. Most recently, he received a $ 1 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Award from the National Science Foundation.
AMBOT’s technology uses a “swarm” of autonomous robots that can work together to print and assemble a range of products on demand – potentially anything from a table to an airplane, provided it has a digital design to follow. AMBOTS stands for Autonomous Mobile roBOTS and Advanced Manufacturing roBOTS. The grant allows AMBOTS to invest in its workforce, both in salaries and additional staff, and to continue to develop and test its swarm 3D printing and assembly platform.
As part of the SBIR grant, University of Arkansas Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Wenchao Zhou will receive a sub-grant of $ 92,468. Zhou is co-founder of AMBOTS, its CTO and the main inventor of the underlying technology of AMBOTS.
Zhou and his team will work with researchers at the University of Texas-Austin on the computational framework and algorithm design for large print jobs involving multiple robots. Specifically, they will focus on full-scale multi-room models, some of which will involve different materials, including concrete and plastic. Finally, the two teams will determine the optimal post-processing procedure to achieve a 3D printed mold with a minimum of manual work.
“We are excited about the promise of swarm manufacturing to enable autonomous on-demand manufacturing,” Zhou said. He added that “we are also grateful for the support of the University of Arkansas, the State of Arkansas and the federal government to help us demonstrate this promise.”
The Federal Small Business Innovation and Research Fellowship program provides incentives for small businesses to pursue research and development with commercialization potential. The goal is for companies to reach their technological potential and create a path to profitability through commercialization.
So what’s the next step? “With SBIR Phase II funding,” said Chief Mechanical Engineer Zach Hyden, “we aim to advance the development of the AMBOTS platform and swarm printing technology until the release of a commercial product by the end of 2023. “
AMBOTS co-founders participated in the national NSF I-Corps program. The I-Corps program strives to “reduce the time and risk associated with translating promising ideas and technologies from the lab to the market.” One way the program does this is to help start-ups in the customer discovery process to ensure that there is a market for their products. In fact, Zhou estimated to have participated in 400 customer discovery interviews. Participation in the I-Corps program is often decisive for obtaining an SBIR grant.
Zhou’s research further received funding for gaps and commercialization from the university. Chancellor’s Fund.
The AMBOTS can be seen in action in this clip from Country of innovation.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers internationally competitive education in over 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes to more than $ 2.2 billion for the economy of Arkansas through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the top 3% of colleges and universities in the United States with the highest level of research activity. American News and World Report ranks the U of A among the best public universities in the country. Find out how the U of A is working to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.