Mentee Robotics de-cloaks to launch new AI-driven humanoid robot

Mentee Robotics co-founders include Lior Wolf, CEO (left); Amnon Shashua, chairman (middle); Shai Shalev-Shwartz, chief scientist (right). | Credit: Mentee Robotics

Mentee Robotics came out of stealth today and unveiled its first bipedal humanoid robot prototype. An experienced team founded the Herzliya, Israel company in 2022. It includes Prof. Amnon Shashua, the chairman of Mentee Robotics, an expert in AI, computer vision, natural language processing and other related fields.

The company‘s founders also include Prof. Lior Wolf, the CEO of Mentee Robotics and formerly a research scientist and director at Facebook AI Research, and Prof. Shai Shalev-Shwartz, a computer scientist and machine learning researcher. 

Prof. Shashua is also the founder and current CEO of Mobileye, a public company that is developing autonomous-driving and driver-assist technologies and harnessing advancements in computer vision, machine learning, mapping, and data analysis.

The company joins a growing list of robotics developers that have launched competing humanoids in the past year, including Figure AI, Sanctuary AI, Apptronik, Tesla, 1X, and others.

The Menteebot humanoid can take verbal instructions and then execute a mission. | Credit: Mentee Robotics

Leveraging Sim2Real training data

Mentee Robotics is developing a humanoid robot that it said will be capable of understanding natural-language commands by using artificial intelligence. The growth and evolution of large language models (LLM) over the past year is the foundation for this capability.

The prototype of Menteebot that was unveiled today incorporates AI at every level of its operations. The motion of the robot is based on a new machine-learning method called simulation to reality (Sim2Real). In this method, reinforcement learning happens on a virtual version of the robot, which means that it can use as much data as it needs to learn and then respond to the real world with very little data. 

NeRF-based methods, which are the newest neural network-based technologies for representing 3D scenes, map the world on the fly. The semantic knowledge is stored in these cognitive maps, which the computer can query to find things and places.

Mentee’s robot can then figure out where it is on the 3D map and then automatically plan dynamic paths to avoid obstacles.

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Mentee Robotics has more work to do

The prototype that was unveiled today demonstrated an end-to-end cycle from complex task completion, including navigation, locomotion, scene understanding, object detection and localization, grasping, and natural language understanding.

However, Mentee Robotics noted that this is not the final version that is ready for deployment.

The company also told The Robot Report that is it targets two primary market initially with the Mentee humanoid. One of these markets is household, with a domestic assistant adept at maneuvering within households, capable of executing a range of tasks including table setting, table cleanup, laundry handling, and the ability to learn new tasks on the fly through verbal instructions and visual imitation. The second industrial market is in the warehouse, with a warehouse automation robot designed to efficiently locate, retrieve, and transport items, and a capacity to handle loads weighing up to 25 kg (55 lbs).

The robot includes custom-engineered motors to deliver torque, design life, and efficiency. | Credit: Mentee Robotics

Production units to come in 2025

Mentee Robotics said it is planning to release a production-ready prototype by Q1 2025. The system uses only vision-based cameras for sensing the world around it.

In addition, the company’s engineering team developed proprietary electric motors to support the robot’s dexterity requirements.

“We are on the cusp of a convergence of computer vision, natural language understanding, strong and detailed simulators, and methodologies on and for transferring from simulation to the real world,” said Prof. Amnon Shashua, chairman of Mentee Robotics. “At Mentee Robotics, we see this convergence as the starting point for designing the future general-purpose bipedal robot that can move everywhere — as a human — with the brains to perform household tasks and learn through imitation tasks it was not previously trained for.”

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