Robotics Roundup: Happy National Robotics Week, Some Exoskeletons and Robot Storage Wars
Happy Robotics WeekTo those who celebrate. I know that many of us are unable to live with our loved ones this year, which means no robotics tree, robotics filled with robot eggs, and green robot beers. Nevertheless, the National Robotics Week organization continues to create a cluster of virtual events in 11 states as of April 11.
There have been some financial news in the last one week which is worth noting. Sarcos joined the rare air of robotic SPAC on Tuesday. While it is true that there has been a boom in activity on that front in the startup world, robotics companies have been slow to embrace the entire blank-check-reverse-merger deal. Berkshire-Gray is a company that immediately comes to mind.
Sarcos builds robotics and robot exoskeletons that look like they were designed for the James Cameron film. The company has already raised a set of funds, including a $ 40 million round back in September, but is perhaps most notable for mainstream readers for being at the center of Delta’s recent high-tech push. The airline plans to use some of the company’s tech to help employees lift larger payloads.
Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Rapid Robotics announced a $ 12 million Series A, bringing the company’s funding to $ 17.5 million to warm up on the heels of a decent-sized seed goal. The company’s objective is providing a type of plug and play solution for robotics manufacturing, and essentially reducing the barrier of entry for manufacturing automation across a range of industries.
SoftBank, which continues to grow rapidly in space, acquired Autostore for just $ 40 billion, valuing the Norwegian company at $ 7.7 billion. The company uses robotics to maximize warehouse storage, consolidating it into about a quarter of the space. It already has a large footprint, as well as 20,000 robots deployed at 600 locations. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son:
We see AutoStore as a fundamental technology that enables fast and cost-effective logistics for companies around the world. We look forward to working with Autostore to aggressively expand into end markets and geographies.
And because it may not be all investment news (I mean, it could be, but who wants that?), Some cool research out of MIT. Researchers at the school, along with people from Harvard and Georgia Tech, demonstrated a robot that uses radio waves to feel hidden objects. The technology allows RF-Grasp to pick up items that are covered or otherwise out of its line of sight. MIT Associate Professor Fadel Adeeb describes it as a “supernatural notion”.