May 22, 2018

Plus One Robotics launches piece-picking robot for package sortation

Startup lands $2.35 million investment led by Schematic Ventures, plans to hire 20 employees within a year.

By DC Velocity Staff

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Robotic automation startup Plus One Robotics Inc. said today it has released its first commercial product, a software and hardware combination designed for logistics piece-picking applications.

San Antonio-based Plus One also said it has raised $2.35 million in venture funding from a funding round led by Schematic Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau, ff Ventures, First Star, and Dynamo. Plus One, which currently has 11 employees, said it plans to use the proceeds to hire about 20 more people within a year.

The firm's product, called "PickOne Perception," combines 2-D and 3-D computer vision systems with machine learning software to create a picking system that can be matched with robotic hands and arms from any major robot manufacturer, the firm said.

Plus One said it will target the order fulfillment and parcel shipping markets to help users improve processes such as package induction and singulation, the latter defined as picking up single pieces from a box, crate, or tote of multiple goods. Robotics manufacturers claim their products can help logistics providers meet rising consumer demand for shorter delivery times. They can also free workers to perform more value-added work rather than repetitive, high-volume, package sortation tasks, robotics vendors said.

PlusOne will market its technology through partnerships with robot manufacturers and system integrators, and will provide a package of cameras, mounts, and software that will integrate with any style of automated gripper, Plus One CEO Erik Nieves said in an interview.

"3-D vision is the prime mover in this space," Nieves said. "If you have good vision but a limited hand, you can still do some meaningful work. But if you have a great hand and no vision, you're doing next to nothing."

That flexibility allows the firm's cameras and software to interface with whatever type of robot is most useful for a warehouse's operations, whether it is a sophisticated, six-axis picking arm, a four-axis de-palletizer, or a three-axis gantry crane, Nieves said. The PickOne technology enables any of those robots to perform more efficiently, which frees managers to reassign employees to higher-value work, he said.


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