Daniel Camilleri is the CEO and founder of Cyberselves, a company which develops software and apps that make it easier to control and program robots, including the Animus programming library and Teleport, an app that allows people to experience the world in a robot’s body. Cyberselves have been featured on the BBC and made it to the semi-final of the ANA Avatar Xprize, a four year a four-year global competition to develop a more connected world which has a $10m prize fund. Most recently, Cyberselves were awarded two contracts by the UK Ministry of Defence to deploy their teleoperation system and robot-agnostic platform for both on-land and underwater bomb disposal and nuclear decommissioning.
What is the elevator pitch for Cybersleves?
Cyberselves is making robotics accessible to everyone by creating the Android of robotics.
Ok, can you tell us a bit more?
Imagine you could only run Samsung apps on your Samsung phone. That phone is not nearly as useful as when you can run a wide selection of apps created by countless developers around the world and that creates an industry of its own. However today, robots will only run applications that have been specifically created for that robot meaning that the ecosystem cannot support itself because robot users are not able to find robot developers willing to spend their time to create applications for a very small population of users. The reason for this is because different robots have different body shapes and capabilities but the cutting-edge software created at Cyberselves allows anyone to control any robot, from anywhere in the world and with a learning curve that is 10x easier than other robotics software.
Did you have any previous experience with startups and what made you decide that this was a good idea to work on?
This is the first startup I am involved with and the idea originated from a PhD I was following at the University of Sheffield which focused on creating robotics learning systems that can learn as a baby can. My research led to a realisation that a common nervous system for robotics is required before a learning algorithm can be developed. Following this idea and after some preliminary work, our software, Animus, was born and I quit halfway through my PhD and started Cyberselves.
Which skill have you had to work on to meet the challenges of being a startup founder?
I am a very technically oriented person with no background in business whatsoever which has meant that every step along the way has required that I very quickly learn how things are done from accounting, to fundraising as well as business development and product positioning. I don’t know it all yet and I wonder if I ever will but the willingness to learn and the ability to learn quickly is the best asset a founder can have alongside extreme tenacity to never give up no matter what.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
For me, it’s the dream of robots becoming the next generation of personal device, as ubiquitous as smartphones and computers and as easy to use and program as today’s smartphones.
What keeps you up at night?
The feeling that we’re not doing nearly as much as we should be doing. Every action, decision, piece of development takes longer than anticipated to carry out and what keeps me up it the nagging feeling that all these delays, will allow competitors to appear on the scene and catch up to us.
Where do you see your Cyberselves in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years time I would like to see Cyberselves being the principal provider of robotics software and a one-stop-shop for robotics hardware and software providing novel services like remote tourism, telehealthcare and much more.