May 2, 2023

The Road to the Future is Paved with Viam

Written by
Eliot Horowitz
CEO & Founder

Today we’re announcing the general availability of Viam to the general public. 

Viam started nearly three years ago with a simple question: With all the promise of robotics, where are the robots? Why is it so hard to progress beyond vacuum cleaners (and why aren’t they better)?

After a little digging, hacking, and thinking, the questions became much more serious. How will the world address big issues like climate change if robotics and automation are so hard, accessible to so few, and progressing so slowly?

The more we looked, the more we felt we could, and needed to, do something to fundamentally change the game. Knowing the scope of what we needed to build, we dug in and began working in earnest.

What is Viam?

When I talk with roboticists about Viam, they quickly grasp what Viam is and what its potential might be. Most basically, Viam is for writing software that works with hardware, and has all the cloud services you need to build quickly and build a real business.

Programming robots, even simple ones, has been really hard even for really smart people, and Viam is a way past that bottleneck. So usually roboticists really quickly get why Viam is what people like to call ‘a big deal.’

However, for people who have never tried to design, program, configure, and operate a robot, it’s a little harder to describe why making a new paradigm for programming for automation rises to the level of the proverbial ‘big deal.’ So let me try an analogy for everyone else.

Imagine trying to build an e-commerce website in 2005. You need to buy servers, write large amounts of custom code, figure out how to provision for success but not over provision, etc. It’s doable, but it’s a heavy lift. Probably in the range of $2m and 2 years of work by a specialized team. These days you can build that same thing for $20 in about 20 minutes.

Today’s most advanced robotics and automation are fundamentally based on tools and architectures available at that time, before AWS even started. It’s remarkable how advanced some robots have become on that foundation, and it is a testament to the industry. At the same time, no one would reasonably start an e-commerce website today using the foundations available in 2005, and expect to move fast enough to survive.  

We want to change robotics and automation by empowering the next generation of startups, developers, and businesses to move quickly and build better. From climate change to agriculture to food service, Viam has incredible potential to accelerate the pace of many industries by breaking down barriers, significantly lowering costs, and moving to modern and accessible software stacks.

What can you do with Viam?

Viam is a flexible robotics software platform that supports development at every step. It can be used end-to-end, or in a pluggable fashion. We aim to empower a new era of robotics companies, help existing companies finally move with speed, and bring about meaningful improvements across the full range of human endeavors.

With Viam, you can: 

  • Move straight into production: Using the same platform to manage robot fleets and data makes development faster and more efficient.

The Viam platform comes with these features built in and maintained by our team:

The Viam platform is dedicated to being open source and flexible: 

  • Everything on robot, Viam’s RDK and SDKs, is open source.
  • Modular resources allow any developer to build a custom component or service which, once configured, behaves identically to built-in resources.
  • Our soon-to-be-released community registry will allow developers to create, program, co-develop, improve, and share components and services on a registry maintained by Viam.

Companies innovating with Viam

So what does this look like in the wild? As we share the GA today, I’m really pleased to be able to share some examples of companies who are already innovating using Viam: 

  • Bee-Ring is on a mission to make beekeeping more accessible and sustainable. The team is building smart beehives that provide vital real-time metrics to beekeepers and reduce the labor time necessary to care for hives. Using Viam’s integrated data management and fleet management has saved Bee-Ring over four months of development time.
  • Dexai is changing the food service industry with Alfred, a robot sous chef. The team is using Viam’s modular component architecture and built-in services to develop Alfred, accelerating development into a matter of days and building flexibility into their robotic system design.
  • Hop Robotics helps restaurants, arenas, and other venues run more efficiently with Walter, a robot that automatically dispenses beverages. The team has automated quality assurance imaging using Viam, so they’re well set up to ensure customer satisfaction at scale.

These customers are trusting us with their business and their future, and our commitment to them is to be there every step of the way as they innovate and grow. They have been with us through the beta and have helped us refine and guide the roadmap for Viam’s future. 

Get started with Viam

People are discovering Viam and taking their first steps with the platform in a lot of ways. Some people find that joining our Discord community is a logical place to begin learning. It’s a great way to get help from our team and discuss ideas with fellow builders.

You can also try Viam by remotely configuring and controlling one of our office's rovers, or consult our robotics experts on your robotics business idea.

The whole principle behind Viam is that we want it to be easy for you to get started, so now that Viam is in GA, we hope you’ll take some time to dive in and get to know the platform.

With this GA release, we are inviting you to discover the future of robotics. We can’t wait to find out what you will build with Viam.

May 2, 2023

Get started with Viam today!