R. Craig Coulter is committed to 'improving the human condition' with commercial robotics. As the founder of Disruptive Robotics, he's already making strides.
Disruptive Robotics is a unique, socially-conscious venture. It aims to standardize the process of robotics entrepreneurship, launching companies quickly and for dramatically less money. The company recently introduced its first start-up, a healthcare logistics enterprise called BluPanda, in under a year's time. Its goal: to eliminate the time patients spend waiting for healthcare.
"In the 10 years that I spent at Carnegie Mellon as a student, you could see how rapidly robotics research was building up, yet none of it was really making it into the world," explained Coulter, who earned four Carnegie Mellon degrees — a doctorate in robotics, an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and two master's degrees.
Coulter saw a need for a trained roboticist who could serve as a bridge from the technology being developed at the university to those on the outside who needed these tools.
Coulter has always had an entrepreneurial bent. A few years after graduation, he co-founded Hyperactive Technologies, Inc. with fellow Carnegie Mellon graduates, Kerien Fitzpatrick and Henning Pangels.
Inspired by an all-too-familiar screw-up at a drive-through window, Hyperactive Technologies successfully applied robotics technology to detect restaurant traffic and efficiently direct food preparation.
He wanted to do more — eventually founding Disruptive Robotics with the goal of improving lives through robotics.
"It occurred to me that what I really wanted to do with my life was find ways in which robotics could help solve problems for ordinary people," explained the father of five. "I was involved in a lot of exciting technologies, but at the end of the day, I wasn't seeing something that could help my children or my mother. That became my test."
Raised in rural Pennsylvania coal country, Coulter considers his Carnegie Mellon experience a life-changing opportunity.
"I've spent my entire adult life at Carnegie Mellon and I still, to this day, think of it as my home," he said simply. "It is no exaggeration to say that everything that I've been able to accomplish in life comes from the fact that I was lucky enough to be able to attend this school."
Inspired by a memorable conversation with President Cohon, Coulter decided it was time to give back. He recently completed his second year teaching entrepreneurship to robotics students.
"I am so incredibly grateful that I got the opportunity to get this kind of education," he said. "I was able to graduate from the number one computer science school in the world."