Published: Feb. 26, 2020 By

Co-founder and CEO of Artimus Robotics, Timothy Morrissey, graduated from CU Boulder in 2019 with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. After years of research and dedication, Timothy and his team launched Artimus Robotics in 2018.

“When you think of a robot, you probably think of something like C-3PO made out of metal and gears. But we think of something much more like you and I.”

timothy morrissey artimus roboticsTaking a new approach to robotics, Artimus Robotics pulls inspiration from nature to make soft and compliant products. A real problem in the robotics space is the hardware - what makes them move - and that’s why they introduced HASEL, artificial muscles for robots. Developed inside the University of Colorado Boulder, this technology is key to Artimus and their movement into the robotics industry.

Robots in every home

With the growing popularity of robotics, many questions have risen around which areas of our lives are going to be disrupted first. Everyone has been talking about the robot for the home for a while now, but Artimus isn’t talking vacuums…

They envision healthcare robots, robots to help the elderly maintain their autonomy, robots that can do something greater. But, it is a long and hard journey to get to that consumer robot model. Artimus is thus positioning themself by having applications in industrial robotics; making warehouses and manufacturing plants run more efficiently. They have also found themselves in defense applications with the Navy as one of their customers as well as haptics such as human robotic interfaces. The ultimate vision for Artimus is to have the consumer robot in every home, but in order to get there, they must build one bit at a time.

Entrepreneurial beginnings

Timothy’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2013, after moving to Boulder. In an attempt to get some more money in his pockets, he started flipping and selling skis. Additionally, all through grad school, he ran a wedding videography side-hustle. But, things really started to kick off after the idea for HASEL actuators came about.

Although the idea of soft robotics and compliant structures has been around in academia for a while, Christoph Keplinger, CU professor and co-founder of Artimus, was to thank for kicking off the team’s research. He was responsible for the pinnacle idea of the HASEL actuators that has been their core platform. 

Knowing that the technology they were working on would have commercial application, Timothy and his team conducted massive amounts of research from 2015 to 2018. After publishing their academic work to a higher impact academic journey, Science and Science Robotics, a lot of press coverage came and Artimus began getting featured in National Geographic, WIRED, and NPR, ultimately drawing in commercial interest. 

Not long after, they got a team together and started what they call, Artimus Robotics. At first, Timothy recalled being somewhat naive to the great entrepreneurial resources that Boulder has to offer.

“There’s just a massive ecosystem in the area and that allowed me to go from just a dude flipping skis to buy an engagement ring for his wife to a business owner driving this venture backed company.”

Timothy acknowledged that pretty much any pitch competition you can think of in the area, they have been to. To highlight a few that helped them accelerate their business, Artimus participated in Techstars, the New Venture Challenge, and the Lab Venture Challenge. Once they started to look around for this educational network, more doors began to open. 

artimus robotics development kitFirst year of operations

In their first year of operations, Artimus focused on product market fit. Winning the Lab Venture Challenge - an entrepreneurial competition run by Venture Partners at CU Boulder that funds commercially-viable university innovations - helped Artimus launch their Development Kit. This kit contains an early test product suited for engineers at other big corporations to get hands-on experience with their technology. By focusing on shipping products as early as possible, they have been able to get critical feedback on how their product might fit into different applications and how they can better tweak their product to fit customers needs. 

Advice for students

“Just go for it, but don’t go in alone.”

Timothy stressed the importance of putting the right team around you and gave praise to his team of co-founder (and CU Alums), Eric Acome, Nick Kellaris, Shane Mitchell, and Christoph Keplinger.  Being able to build off each other and take action has been the biggest driver in the success of his company.

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