Will a robot ever be our friend and equal? That day may come, but until then human interaction with robots will be mainly at an operational level. Today, robots step in where humans fall short, helping to enhance efficiency and productivity or completing tasks that are more difficult for humans.
HKSTP Incu-Tech incubatee August Robotics was set up by Australian Alex Wyatt in 2017 to build a suite of specialised service robots to automate work processes for businesses. It is helping companies to automate their workflows and improve work safety, giving their staff more time and space to focus on innovation and value-adding tasks.
Mastering exhibition floor marking at 10 times human speed
August Robotics’ first robot, Lionel, is designed for the conference and exhibition industry. Powered by artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things technologies, it can automatically and efficiently carry out floor marking based on an inputted floor plan, to facilitate booth decoration work by contractors. Lionel works up to 10 times faster than a human worker. For example, where it currently takes more than 30 man hours to mark out all the booths in a 10,000 square metre exhibition hall, a single Lionel robot can complete the same task in 3-4 hours virtually mistake-free. Multiple robots can be used simultaneously to speed the process up even further.
August Robotics’ Business Strategy Manager Andrew Wang says that the company focuses on the B2B market, specifically on applications where robotic automation can be seamlessly integrated into operational processes and generate immense quantifiable benefits.
Using Hong Kong as a global launchpad
Hong Kong has been chosen as the headquarters for August Robotics, to steer research and development (R&D) of hardware, software and artificial intelligence managed by the company’s Shenzhen R&D centre. As neighbouring Guangdong and Taiwan are the global design and production hubs of electronic parts, having a Hong Kong base offers synergies with supply partners and a competitive advantage in the supply chain. Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the world’s business centres is helpful when dealing with clients around the world, and thus serves as the company’s commercial headquarters.
HKSTP support to accelerate development and source talent
HKSTP has played a vital role in the development of the startup, helping source and provide funding for interns from local universities to work at the company. The co-working space Lion Rock 72 at InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong serves as a handy downtown work space for the August Robotics team.
Tapping the convention and exhibition market
August Robotics’ Lionel is targeted specifically to the convention and exhibition market. The company made in-roads into Germany and the US, two popular destinations for trade fairs. Working with some of the bigger players in these markets offers great opportunities to accelerate growth.
For the German market, the company has also established a partnership with international exhibition logistics supplier DB Schenker for logistics assistance and industry advice.
August Robotics completed its seed round of funding in 2018 and netted US$3.7 million. The proceeds are being used to build out its R&D and manufacturing team, as well as the company’s global operational capabilities. After Lionel, August Robotics will look to build on its success in the convention and exhibition industry to expand to other sectors that could use similar technologies.