10. 17. 2022
15 min read

A Q&A with the CEO of PFF

At PFF, we take pride in the innovative mobility solutions we create and are passionate about working towards a more walkable future. Our mission is to build robots and other tech products that move the way that humans do and help people move further, faster and more often - and have fun while doing it. Our consumer robots, gitamini and gitaplus, are cargo-carrying, following robots that allow people to unlock the walkability of their neighborhoods. These robots carry all of your gear - up to 20lb and 40lb respectively - and allow users to walk further and more often without being limited by what they can carry. 

We asked our CEO, Greg Lynn, a few questions about PFF, the future of human/robot relationships, and the future he envisions for more walkable cities. Here’s what he had to say: 

What about the mission of PFF is most meaningful to you?

Our mission begins with a very different mandate than other robotics companies. We design and build all of our products from a first principle that they ‘move the way people move’. We observe and measure how people move and then design products from the ground up, to perceive and predict how people move and to navigate with people in the built environment. We also design them to be intuitive so that users can operate them easily and so that bystanders understand and accept them in pedestrian environments. This is a fundamental commitment to integrating robots into workplaces and daily life. During the last decade, we have benefitted from and been entertained by vacuum cleaners that bounce around our homes oblivious to the difference between obstacles, from people, to pets, to toys or furniture. These and other robots before us have been designed for either universal or specific tasks, and people are secondary.

 

What type of robotics innovations will become mainstream in 2022? How does gitamini fit in? 

There are many innovations where robots will perform specific labor tasks from watching and flipping hamburger patties, to picking and packaging goods or groceries in a warehouse. PFF products, like gitamini, also are innovative in the combination of robotics and perception. Like many robots, our products use multiple visual sensors from depth cameras, to radar, to RGB cameras. We use machine learning and training to fuse these data streams into a safe and reliable view of the world. What is unique to gitamini is that we focus on identifying people and then understanding and predicting their movements and intent. We know if a person opens a door as well as if they are holding it open for our robots to pass through. We know if they are about to turn a corner and we know the difference between a person to pair with and other people nearby. So like many robotics innovations, our progress is associated with advances in machine vision.

What excites you most about the work we do at PFF? 

Of course, seeing smiles on faces when people experience our technology is always great. It is exciting to deliver on the promise of an R2D2 type robot moving along with a human that we first watched in 1977. A world with robots augmenting people with streets, sidewalks and building interiors full of humans and machines is exciting to bring to life. But this isn’t what is most exciting for me. What I enjoy is that we alone are currently pioneering in the field of human mobility as a robotics company. Being at PFF, I realize that I never knew how much I didn’t know. For example, the ballet of two people traveling through a  door together I never imagined was so complex; and also so predictable. Because of the way we observe, collect, analyze and quantify human movement we are learning new things all the time. What is exciting is converting this data and knowledge into algorithms that are used by robots to navigate.

What kind of future do you see for walkable cities/human-robot mobility?

Predicting the future is always difficult. The future we are designing for and advocating for is based on walking superhuman distances. Our machines travel at walking speeds for more than 20 miles on a charge, and walking even just a few miles a day is very pleasant, as well as being a positive indicator of mental and physical health. Walkability is a key quality for where we choose to live; we want to live close to shopping, entertainment, parks and schools. Looking at the present, most of us are driving or ride hailing for shorter and shorter trips meaning we are walking less.

What other things do you see PFF accomplishing in the future? 

We are developing new robotic platforms for businesses as well as new features for the management of robot fleets. We already have the ability to have machines follow machines as well as people. We are developing tools that will coordinate fleets of our machines in human environments for businesses who desire to integrate robotics that augment their workforce.

We have a lot of exciting plans for our future so be sure to follow us on social media to keep tabs on our journey to a more walkable, more fun, and more sustainable future!

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