Warehouse automation vendor IAM Robotics has raised $20 million in funding to expand the deployment of its autonomous, mobile picking robots for logistics operations, the firm said today.
Pittsburgh-based IAM Robotics said the funding comes from KCK Ltd., a family firm with offices in New York and San Francisco that invests in startups in the industrial, scientific, financial services, and medical technologies sectors. IAM will use the new funding to accelerate production of its "Swift" robot and to boost hiring in software engineering, high volume manufacturing, mechanical engineering, product management, sales, marketing, and field support.
IAM's material handling robots cruise through DCs, picking inventory in e-commerce fulfillment operations by combining its Swift mobile manipulation robot with a three-dimensional item scanner called IAM Flash and a fleet management software platform called SwiftLink. The combined platform picks at or above human-level speeds, allowing companies to keep up with e-commerce demands, the firm says.
One customer is global logistics provider DB Schenker, which announced in October that it would collaborate with IAM to operate flexible, autonomous robotics solutions that allow it to work faster and more efficiently.
"Distributors and retailers need more workers to meet the demands of e-commerce," IAM Robotics CEO & President Joel Reed said in a statement. "As we buy more items online, that work moves to the warehouse. Currently, there are not enough people in the workforce to do this for us. The answer is to give organizations a tool that increases existing worker productivity, fosters greater job satisfaction, and maintains operational flexibility."
Founded by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center, IAM applies techniques from autonomous navigation, perception, and robotic manipulation to build products designed to help logistics providers handle global labor shortages and changes in consumer habits, the company says.
"There is a great deal of buzz around autonomous cars, but we see shorter term opportunities to put autonomous robots to work performing tasks that will have a huge impact on global logistics operations," IAM Robotics Founder & CTO Tom Galluzzo said in a release. "This funding will help us to recruit the talent needed to make autonomous robots an immediate reality."