Whether it's sophisticated drones that save humans or robots that take care of the elderly, the women behind these projects are doing more than advancing AI. They are building companies that could shape our future relationships with robots.
Here are a few of the female innovators to keep an eye on.
Google Cloud's Fei-Fei Li
As the Chief Scientist of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning at Google Cloud, Li has a mission to democratizing AI. She believes that "we all have a responsibility to make sure everyone--including companies, governments and researchers--develop AI with diversity in mind."
Li leads the AI/ML research and development efforts at Google Cloud. Her responsibilities includes overseeing basic science AI research, all Google Cloud's AI/ML products and engineering efforts, university relations, and Google AI's China Center.
Li is the leading expert in AI machine learning, having published over 150 scientific papers on the topic. She also built ImageNet--a 15 million image dataset that focuses on the latest developments in visual object recognition software research.
In the nonprofit sector, she created AI4ALL, a group that supports AI education programs for underrepresented groups attending grade school through high school.
Jibo's Cynthia Breazeal
As the founder & Chief Scientist at Jibo (a personal robotics company with over $85 million in funding), Breazeal's focus is on intelligent personal robots that interact with people to help them succeed in their personal goals and adding to their quality of life.
"I wanted to create robots with social and emotional intelligence that could work in collaborative partnership with people. In two to five years, I see social robots helping families with things that really matter, like education, health, eldercare, entertainment, and companionship," Breazeal said in 2017.
Considered the "world's first family robot," Jibo helps busy families coordinate and connect with each other easier. Jibo is powered by voice recognition technology so that it can remember which family members are speaking so it can better assist in their daily needs. The robot also has educational programs that teach kids how to code.
Helen Greiner, Co-Founder of iRobot and Founder of CyPhy
Greiner is best known as the co-founder of iRobot, the company that created the vacuum robot Roomba. Currently, Greiner is the founder and CTO of CyPhy Works, which makes advanced drones for retail, commercial and military use. CyPhy also works with the UPS Foundation and the American Red Cross to test the use of drones in disaster relief efforts.
Her company has also shown us the future of high-powered commercial drones that use Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications platform (PARC). This breakthrough drone technology provides stable, secure, autonomous flight, that allows you to focus on the mission instead of stressing about controlling the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
LittleBits Electronics' Ayah Bdeir
While Bdeir isn't producing ready-made robots to sell, her company LittleBits Electronics does something much more important--teach us how to build our own. She has raised $60 million for her award-winning kits of pre-assembled electronics components that are incredibly fun and easy to make.
The robot kits are color-coded and snap together with tiny magnets. The kits are used by everyone from teachers to companies prototyping new products.
Robot whisperer Tessa Lau
As the former CTO and Chief Robot Whisperer at the company Savioke -- best known for making the first autonomous delivery robot for homes and the service industry -- Lau led the early software team to develop the first generation Relay system. This included designing many of Relay's behaviors such as the delivery flow and elevator interactions.
She also ran a field operations group from the ground up, to scale robot installation, service, and support. She often found herself managing the operations of more than 75 robots in the field including at hotels. Lau's expertise is in interfaces that combine artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.
While Lau is no longer whispering in the ears of robots at Savioke as of March, she does says that she's "starting a new venture," which I hope includes building plenty of helpful robots.