Soft Robotics is receiving $20 million in funding to expand into the logistics and e-commerce market. The company is known for its pliable grippers that is able to pick up objects ranging from pens to dough.
The $20 million funding round was led by Hyperplane Venture Capital and included new investors such as Scale Venture Partners and Honeywell International.
The company's technology takes robots in industrial settings beyond repetitive, programmed movements by giving them the ability to pick up and move various size and weighted goods. With the tight labor market that the warehouse industry is facing, companies are looking towards automation to pick, pack and ship e-commerce orders.
Robots have been utilized in the warehouse space for some time now. However, teaching machines to pick up a range of products can be complicated and expensive. While some companies are using artificial intelligence to speed up the learning curve, Soft Robotic's technology is able to combine automation and vision guided software with a gripper made of soft polymer that molds itself around an object. The fingers can pick up an item without having to determine its weight or center of gravity without causing damage.
The company is in the process of rolling out a new retail and logistics application that uses a mix of AI and human guidance to teach its robots to pick up a range of differently-sized objects. If the robot fails, it can ask a remote operator for help.
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