When Pablo Molina (BASc ’11), chairman, CTO, VP of Product and co-founder of Avidbots, went searching for additional talent to improve his company's flagship autonomous floor-scrubbing robot, he turned to his former University of Waterloo professor and mentor, William Melek, for help.

“When I attended Waterloo, I co-founded a robotics team and Professor Melek was instrumental in helping us all the way through,” Molina says. “We now have a global company and have to solve really hard problems. I reached out and asked if we could collaborate on research because Waterloo talent is truly among the brightest in the country.”

Avidbots designs, manufactures, sells, services, and supports a fully autonomous floor scrubbing robot called Neo. Its autonomy, called “Avidbots Autonomy”, makes Neo unique in the global marketplace and enables it to clean dynamic indoor commercial spaces like warehouses, box stores, malls, airports, hospitals, and schools without human intervention. Cleaning can be a dirty and dangerous task, and especially in the wake of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever.

Watch the collaboration with Avidbots in action

Tapping into research for a competitive advantage

The University of Waterloo has the largest and most active robotics and automation research group in Canada, and Waterloo RoboHub brings together all the related technical, educational, research, and service support into one central group.

“Partnering with Waterloo gives a company access to a world-class facility where they will be able to work closely with researchers and students who are very motivated to translate this into commercial technology they can put into their products,” says Melek, director of Waterloo RoboHub.

Melek explains that the robotics expertise within RoboHub allows them to dive deeper into some of the problems industry is grappling with and find research solutions that a company would not otherwise have access to on their own.

“Avidbots had the opportunity to get access to some of our brightest minds working in advanced robotics, artificial intelligence. The intellectual property generated from the research partnership will make them competitive in the marketplace and will put the products at the leading edge of the technology in their industry sector. This is something that is very unique to Waterloo and unlikely found anywhere else,” Melek says.

Powering Canadian robotics innovation

Academic and industry partnerships like Avidbots can infuse research solutions into sectors critical for innovation and economic growth in Canada.

When Molina and his co-founder Faizan Sheikh (BASc ’11) created Avidbots in 2014 they chose to move back to the Waterloo region to scale their business and be close to the University. He says that having access to the startup ecosystem, and research and engineering talent available in the region has been critical to their success.

“Waterloo is an epicentre for robotics, not just in Canada, but globally because we have the talent and the institutions like the University of Waterloo,” Molina says. He is excited about the improvements to Neo and its commercial potential in the long term.

“The collaboration has been helpful in expanding the research capability of Avidbots,” Molina says. “Working with the University of Waterloo will have a positive impact on our growth because we’ve been able to solve very hard problems that would have otherwise taken a very long time with a significant financial cost.”

Talent done differently

A talent evolution is underway, and the effects are being felt in every sector. Waterloo’s robust talent ecosystem is equipped to respondfrom world-leading co-operative education programs to research and innovations that drive real-world change. Learn how your organization can benefit.