Engineering Update October 2021
by Tombot Robotics
Hello, I'm Tom Stevens, CEO and Co-Founder of Tombot.
We’ve created Jennie the dog. Jennie is a fully interactive robotic emotional support animal, and will be the first to be both an FDA-registered medical device and affordable.
I recently sat down in a fireside chat to discuss phase 1 of Jennie’s production, and am pleased to give you the Tombot engineering update for October, 2021.
Jennie is a Sophisticated Robotic Device
When you think about Jennie, there really are four key elements. One is that she's a consumer electronic device. Think smartphone! There is a similar processor, similar memory, and similar battery type.
All of the things that go into making a smartphone go into the making of Jennie as well. She's a realistic robot with motors, linkages, and sensors. These factors not only have to function in a basic way, but they have to function reliably and allow her to take in her environment. She needs to make decisions about what is happening around her, and then exhibit appropriate behavior.
Jennie will also be an FDA medical device, which means we have to pass all of the necessary safety certifications and have good manufacturing practices. She's also covered with fur, which makes her unlike any other medical device in the world. These things must all come together in order for her to successfully make it to market.
Phase 1 of Production Engineering
We are currently in phase 1 of production engineering, which consists of high-level architectures all for the purposes of making her more robust. Jennie needs to be able to survive everyday use and be capable of passing all of the safety certifications around the world.
She also needs to be efficiently manufacturable at a larger scale. It’s not enough that we are able to make 1, 2, or 3 puppies. We need to be able to make thousands to get our robots into all our customers’ hands. In terms of the status of phase 1, we're nearing the end. We began this phase in August of 2021, and it's scheduled for completion this month as an overall success.
4 Key Elements of Phase 1
There are 4 key elements to phase 1 that we've been working on. One is the mechanical engineering aspect. “Mechanical” means engineering for things that move inside of Jennie - specifically for her head, neck, and her tail.
Second, electrical engineering is needed for the microcontroller. Think of a computer - just like your smartphone or maybe your laptop. A desktop computer has a microcontroller inside of it, and so does Jennie. We are also working on her sensors, including her command recognition.
She needs to be able to understand commands. She needs to be able to feel how and where she's being touched. Her power systems need to be able to power her all day on a single charge under typical use, while being able to be recharged almost immediately.
The third element is Jennie’s fur. We need the fur structured and applied in such a way that it can be done over and over again with very little variation from one robot to the next.
The last major activity for phase 1 is our manufacturing strategy. We get a lot of questions about where Jennie will be made. There are a number of criteria that we're using in the selection of our contract manufacturer. The number one criterion is quality.
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