Category: playground global

June 11, 2019 Off

Relativity is building a 3D-printing rocket manufacturing hub in Mississippi

By Jill T Frey

The future of rocket manufacturing has touched down in Mississippi.

At NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, nestled in Hancock County, Miss., right on the border of Louisiana, the Los Angeles-based 3D-printed spacecraft manufacturer, Relativity Space, is planning a massive $59 million expansion to make a permanent manufacturing hub in this bucolic corner of the southeast.

“This agreement demonstrates again NASA’s commitment to work with our industry partners to expand commercial access to low Earth orbit,” said Dr. Rick Gilbrech, director, Stennis Space Center. “This helps NASA maintain focus on the ambitious Artemis program that will land the first female and the next male on the south pole of the Moon by 2024.”

Relativity already has four of its proprietary 3D printers running in its Los Angeles headquarters and plans to build out 12 larger units in its new Mississippi digs. The company ultimately expects to get 24 … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Robust.AI launches to build an industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots

By Jill T Frey

Despite the seemingly fantastical demonstration of walking and jumping robots, today’s robots are often stupid, brittle and inflexible, only capable of working in carefully engineered environments, and unable to respond dynamically and sensibly in unexpected circumstances.

Deep learning has been spectacularly successful in certain problems (facial recognition, object recognition, etc.) but the “smart robots” that we have promised still haven’t arrived. The promised robotic future is still a long way off.

New Silicon Valley robotics startup Robust.AI aims, firstly, to build the world’s first industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots. Secondly, it will aim to help companies in a wide range of areas, from construction to eldercare and domestic robots, toward the goal of making robots that are smarter, safer, more robust, more context-aware and more collaborative.

Initially located in Palo Alto, Calif., Robust.AI has secured a “substantial” undisclosed seed round from Playground Global, among other undisclosed investors.

The market … Read the rest

April 27, 2019 Off

Bad PR ideas, esports, and the Valley’s talent poaching war

By Jill T Frey

Sending severed heads, and even more PR DON’Ts

I wrote a “master list” of PR DON’Ts earlier this week, and now that list has nearly doubled as my fellow TechCrunch writers continued to experience even more bad behavior around pitches. So, here are another 12 things of what not to do when pitching a startup:

DON’T send severed heads of the writer you want to cover your story

Heads up! It’s weird to send someone’s cranium to them.

This is an odd one, but believe it or not, severed heads seem to roll into our office every couple of months thanks to the advent of 3D printing. Several of us in the New York TechCrunch office received these “gifts” in the past few days (see gifts next), and apparently, I now have a severed head resting on my desk that I get to dispose of on Monday.

Read the rest
April 24, 2019 Off

Robotics VCs on what’s real, what’s coming, and what to keep in mind

By Jill T Frey

Last week, at TechCrunch’s robotics event at UC Berkeley, we sat down with four VCs who are making a range of bets on robotics companies, from drone technologies to robots whose immediate applications aren’t yet clear. Featuring Peter Barrett of Playground Global, Helen Liang of FoundersX Ventures, Eric Migicovsky of Y Combinator and Andy Wheeler of GV (pictured above), we covered a lot of terrain (no pun intended), including whether last-mile delivery robots make sense and how much robots should be expected to do without human intervention.

We also discussed climate change and how it factors into their bets, and why the many private enterprises focused on creating fully automated vehicles may need to do much more to empower the cities in which they plan to operate. You can find excerpts of our talk below. And for access to the full transcript, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more Read the rest