Prasad Akella

Dr. Prasad Akella is a serial entrepreneur who has envisioned, created, and commercialized deeply technical frontline technologies that empower people at work by augmenting people—not replacing them, which has been the most common orthodoxy for maximizing productivity since Frederick Taylor. In so doing, he has helped create three massive market categories—in fundamentally different areas in robotics, computer vision, and business social networks. 

First, in the 90s, he led the General Motors team that led the creation of intelligent assist devices including “cobots”—collaborative robots. Cobots, the fastest growing segment in robotics today are projected to be a $12+B business in a few years, marry the power of robots with the cognition of humans. Second, in the early 2000s, as cofounder of the social networking pioneer Spoke, he envisioned & built the first massive business social graph to programmatically determine “Who knows who?”—a category that is worth trillions today.

Today, as the founder of Drishti (, Prasad is targeting his third category creation. This time he’s asking “What happens if you combine the cognition of AI with the flexibility of humans?” There is $2.2T in US GDP alone that is interested in the answer.

Dr. Akella and his work have been recognized with a number of awards over the years including the IEEE/International Federation of Robotics’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation (IERA) Award, National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Leadership Award, CBInsights’ AI100 List, Forbes’s AI50 List, World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer, GM’s “Boss” Kettering Award, ASME’s Best Paper Award, IEEE’s Anton Philips Award, 4 National Science Foundation grants. He has 7 US patents issued, with several more under review.

Prasad is a Fellow of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and the SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers). He holds a PhD in Robotics from Stanford University (Edgar Meakin Fellow), an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School (High Distinction, Beta Gamma Sigma), and a BS from the Indian Institute of Technology (HAL Award).

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