FUTURE ORIENTATION. HOW WILL FLEXIV’S PRODUCT INNOVATIONS HELP CUSTOMERS IN THE FUTURE
Flexiv was founded in 2016 with the purpose of creating truly general-purpose adaptive robots that are both intelligent and easy to program.
Designed to be versatile and capable of handling a wide range of tasks, Flexiv’s adaptive robots can automate practically any manual labor job.
Their mission is to enhance all industries by developing and applying cutting-edge human-inspired robotics and AI technology. This empowers businesses to boost their operational efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness.
Interview with Yunfan Gao, Marketing Director at Flexiv.
Easy Engineering: Which are the most futuristic products / solutions from your portfolio?
Yunfan Gao: In my opinion, our most futuristic product isn’t our NOEMA AI system or our Grav Enhanced gripper, but our Rizon robot range. The Rizon 4, 4s, and 10 represent our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in robotics. Unique within the market, they use propriety force sensors, a whole-body control algorithm, artificial intelligence, and feature seven degrees of freedom. This makes the Rizon range not just a product but the manifestation of our future vision. In our vision, robots are not just tools but partners that can be utilized to solve complex tasks previously only possible with manual labor. Unlike the previous generation of collaborative and industrial robots, our robots are more intelligent, capable, and easier to program. I think Flexiv’s robots will be elemental in the future workspace, and I am excited to be at the forefront of this revolution.
E.E: What are the characteristics of these products / solutions?
Y.G: I’ve already mentioned our Rizon range, but it’s important to understand that nearly everything about a Rizon robot is unique within the market. For example, if we take its joints, they operate at a 5khz response rate and can measure force down to 0.03 newtons. Being so sensitive and fast to react, we can use the robot for ultra-precise, real-time force-guided manipulation. This enables the robot to complete pick-and-place tasks as easily as it can complete micro component insertion, massage, and material abrasion tasks like sanding.
This adaptability enables Rizon to handle tasks that might be challenging or downright impossible for traditional robots. These same features also make the Rizon range incredibly safe. As it can measure and react to changes in force so quickly, if a person bumped into it, the robot would cease all activity before the human realized what had happened. We could also make it react dynamically to the impact by compliantly moving with the applied force, but most end-users typically request a simple halt.
What can’t be underestimated when talking about robots is the importance of programming. You could have the most useful feature-packed robot in the world, but unless it can be controlled, it would be useless. That’s why we created two programming interfaces while developing the Rizon range. The Elements system was designed for newcomers and features a drag-and-drop interface. The second, the Flexiv RDK, was made with professionals in mind, so they could create custom robotic programs that are as complex as they need them to be.
These two programs allow our robots to be repurposed for different tasks, optimizing operational efficiency and maximizing their utility. Everything that goes into a Rizon robot and its associated hardware and software provides a level of adaptability, precision, and ease of use that is unmatched in the industry.
E.E: Tell us about the company’s long-term goals / prospects?
Y.G: Our long-term goals revolve around leading the charge in the evolution of robotics. We aim to continuously innovate and enhance our adaptive robotic solutions, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the field. It’s fair to say that we place enormous importance on our R&D team, and they are continually driving forward the technology that will become instrumental in shaping the future of Flexiv.
Flexiv’s founders are all researchers, and our tradition has been and always will be to innovate.
That’s not to say we neglect the business aspect of running a company. We are currently in the initial stages of expanding our global footprint from the US into Asia and from Asia into Europe. In growing, we hope to reach more industries and markets and play a pivotal role in the broader adoption of robotics.
In the long term, we aim to integrate adaptive robots into workplaces, homes, schools, hospitals, and every other area where humans need a helping hand with challenging or monotonous tasks. To make this a reality, we imagine a bipedal robot that can seamlessly integrate into spaces designed for humans will be necessary. This is still a long way off for us, but you have to start somewhere, and that’s why we are working on improvements to our AI system and cost-reduction strategies. With mass adoption, the need for a more simplified programming method will also arise. Although our Elements system is straightforward to use, we know it’s not something that all members of the general public would be comfortable with. That’s why we are also looking into a language-based programming interface. Again, this is a future long-term goal, but we have already made some very promising progress.
Our continuous efforts to innovate and enhance our products will ensure we can push the fusion of robotics and AI to the next level, keeping us at the forefront of the robotics industry.
E.E: Tell us about product innovation and how does it impact the future?
Y.G: Innovation is the lifeblood of Flexiv. I’ve previously mentioned the importance we place on our R&D team, but the reason it is so high on our list of priorities is for one very simple reason. We are creating unique robotic solutions. New developments require time and monetary investment, but if you want something better than is currently available, you have to invest in R&D. This enables us to develop more advanced adaptive robots, improving their sensitivity and intelligence and finding new applications for their technology. This continuous innovation cycle is crucial for staying ahead of the curve and shaping the industry’s future. Through product innovation, Flexiv can continue offering cutting-edge solutions that empower businesses to become more efficient and competitive.
E.E: How do employees shape your company’s future orientation?
Y.G: Employees are the foundational pillars of any company, and nowhere is this truer than at Flexiv. Their skills, creativity, and passion have been crucial to shaping Flexiv into the company it is today. The construction of a successful company requires a committed and proficient workforce, and I am genuinely proud to be part of a team that’s brimming with such talented individuals. Our inclusive company culture enables us to recruit from different industries and countries, and this diversity of thought, background, and experience drives us to be more innovative and dynamic.
From the engineers and developers who are pioneering the next wave of adaptive robots to our customer service representatives, who ensure our clients make the most of our robots, every single employee plays a pivotal role in defining the trajectory of Flexiv’s future.
We are always on the lookout for top talent, so wherever you are in the world, don’t hesitate to check out the Flexiv careers page!
E.E: How does the digital transformation affect your products / business?
Y.G: There is no doubt that industries across the globe are being reshaped by digital transformation. Being a relatively young company at just seven years old, Flexiv has embraced this digital metamorphosis. For us, digital transformation isn’t merely a buzzword but a tool that empowers us to implement more advanced and efficient design and manufacturing processes, enhance customer service through digital platforms, and explore new opportunities for product innovation.
What’s more, the solutions we provide our customers are part of the digital transformation. We can provide our customers with live or recorded data for every action the robot completes. This directly enables quality assurance and production optimization processes.
We leverage advanced software for robot programming, tap into AI and machine learning to augment robot intelligence, and use digital platforms for improved customer support and service. It’s fair to say that digital transformation is one of the propelling forces behind our success. Unlike legacy companies that might struggle with the digital pivot, we naturally harness digital tools, technologies, and data-driven insights to enhance our business processes, bolster efficiency, and improve our services.
E.E: Tell us about research and development in your company.
Y.G: Research and development (R&D) at Flexiv isn’t an afterthought but a crucial determinant of our success. As a full-stack developer creating hardware and software, we use research and development to stay ahead of the curve, continuously crafting new technologies and enhancing our existing products to cater to the evolving needs of our customers.
Put simply, R&D is at the heart of Flexiv, and it illustrates our determination to push the boundaries of robotics by constantly improving our products and exploring uncharted territories.
E.E: Tell us about the company’s future strategies and how will you adapt to the future.
Y.G: A well-known saying about the future goes, ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it’ I think this best encapsulates our future strategy. By investing in R&D today, we aim to continue crafting world-leading solutions and broadening the range of tasks our robots can accomplish while concurrently improving their existing capabilities. Our rapid growth has been fueled by being receptive to customer feedback, and we plan to keep listening so we can carry on creating the best robotic solutions in the world.
At the end of the day, our strategy has always been to solve our customers’ problems, and this is not going to change.
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