When we hear about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing, we think of automation and robotics. But the reality is that discrete manufacturing is still heavily manual.
In fact, automation in some cases leads to more issues than it actually solves. Companies like Boeing, Tesla and Apple have tried, but have come to the realization that some tasks are still better done by people. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, “General assembly is well suited for people as you have to put a lot of weird things together and it is very hard for a robot to do it.”
AI manufacturing startup Drishti has a solution: a product that helps drive a better experience for the line associate while also effectively improving productivity and quality.
When I first connected with Dr. Prasad Akella, the CEO and co-founder of Drishti, he said, “Think of us as the spell check for the assembly line.” The ability of a solution to non-intrusively guide you in your day-to-day task and, as an outcome, improve productivity is a strong value proposition for user adoption.
So why did we, Micron, invest in Drishti? Three reasons really: the team, the technology and the customer interest.
Drishti is our first post-COVID-19 investment, and we had met the team members virtually. Venture is a people business and venture capitalists have always relied on in-person meetings to gauge the management and other key members of the team.
What impressed us with Drishti was the quality and experience of the team. From Akella, the CEO, to Dr. Krishnendu Chaudhury, the CTO, and other key members in engineering and product management, the passion and commitment in their mission to drive a better human experience on the manufacturing floor was evident — even in a virtual setting. Solving a 100-year-old manufacturing problem may not be cool, but it is something worth solving for this team!
True to the meaning of the name, Drishti, a Sanskrit word that means “vision” or “insight,” the team has focused on building access to a data set that has not been historically available. Drishti’s deep learning solution uses real-time video data from an assembly line to drive meaningful insights — training, alerting and guiding the line associate on the various steps in the assembly process, providing better visibility to a line manager, or driving improved throughput through optimizing cycle time for the operations executive.
The Customer Interest
As a semiconductor player, Micron understands that manufacturing is the heart and soul of our business. And I was lucky enough to leverage the expertise of our manufacturing team to truly grasp the scale of the problem that Drishti can address. We, the investment team and the smart manufacturing team, believe in the scope and value of the solution.
And finally, when your customers are willing to be a true partner and express strong interest in participating in your success, you know you have a great company on your hands.
We are excited to invest in and partner with Drishti, along with new investors Sozo Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, HELLA Ventures, Alpha Intelligence Capital and Presidio Ventures, as well as existing investors such as Emergence Capital, Benhamou Global Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
We look forward to a future with Drishti that empowers manufacturing, a discipline that is at the core of so many industries, including ours! Check out Drishti’s website to learn more.