Hagai Balshai of Robotican tells us about their intelligent systems based on advanced technologies to provide cutting-edge and cost-effective solutions.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hagai Balshai: My family and I are doing well. Covid-19 offered us some time to bond and reconnect as a family. Managing Robotican and working in High-Tech has left me with little time for family interaction, so the “new normal” was definitely appreciated, luckily we live in the countryside, so the pandemic restrictions were not as paralyzing as they were for most people.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Robotican.
Hagai Balshai: I have been in the robotics business for over 13 years. I started my career after finishing my BSc in Mechanical Engineering at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, where I met my business partner and CTO of Robotican, Dr. Yam Geva. We both worked at the mechanic’s laboratory in the university, and we were exposed to numerous exciting studies that we felt could be further developed to products that could help save lives and solve everyday complications. In 2013 we established our company, Robotican, and as the years progressed, the company has grown and matured, and today our company specializes in robotic and autonomous platforms for security and industry use.
Through the years, I have finished my MSc in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Around the same time, Dr. Yam Geva continued his studies and finished an MSc and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Robotican combines the passion drives Dr. Geva and I have for robotics and the use of cutting-edge technologies that together develop high-quality and robust products for our customers.
How does Robotican innovate?
Hagai Balshai: Robotican has multidisciplinary abilities due to our wide range of team members made up of software engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and UAS experts, allowing us to develop robust, cutting-edge technologies. With the help of our diverse multidisciplinary team, we have come up with several unique robotic developments. The Rooster is an outstanding hybrid robotic drone that can both fly and roll on the ground, and it can scan, inspect and map confined, indoor and subterranean environments with up to an hour of operation time. It offers a safe solution for industries that require inspections in small, hard-to-reach areas where human inspectors are in danger. Lastly, the Rooster system operates in swarm robotics using MESH communication enabling the system to operate past line of sight.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Hagai Balshai: Like many companies in the world, we have also been affected by Covid-19. Our work and cooperation with the civilian sector have been delayed and put on hold due to pandemic constraints. Luckily we have projects also in the industry and security sectors, and the activity with them has been consistent throughout this difficult time, and it even expanded over the year. The Rooster has had an outstanding year and has been at the forefront of our company activities in 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hagai Balshai: The Covid-19 pandemic has made decision-making harder than usual. The uncertainties that we are faced with due to the virus made it hard to predict the future. Therefore, despite the successful year that we have been blessed with, I was definitely more cautious when making big, long-term choices.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Hagai Balshai: Due to Robotican’s in-house abilities and with the use of ROS (Robot Operating System), we were able to quickly innovate, develop and convert an existing autonomous robotic platform of the company, the Komodo, into the Nurseebot. The Nurseebot is a robotic solution that had been implemented in Israeli hospitals early on in the pandemic, already by April 2020. The Nurseebot is a mobile platform for remote patient care and assistive logistics tool in virus-contaminated covid-19 hospital departments. The system offers face-to-face patients care through video while being controlled from a sterile location and the ability to carry up to 50 Kgs for transport inside contaminated areas.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hagai Balshai: We develop UAS and robotic solutions that are made for specific and niche end-use. We work according to our customer request and needs to offer them the ideal final product. Robotican develops high-quality, efficient, and dynamic products in reasonable and attractive pricing that reflects the hard work and attention to detail that has been implemented throughout the development process.
Your final thoughts?
Hagai Balshai: We are excited to continue developing innovative robotics and looking forward to expanding the Rooster activities to more industries and uses. I hope that in 2021 the pandemic will be behind us so that we can return to cooperation and projects that have been delayed due to the virus.
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