Pitney Bowes is increasing its investment in one of its robotics system vendors, the logistics tech startup Ambi Robotics, which provides artificial intelligence (AI) that trains robots for parcel sortation, the company said today.
The new funding is part of a $32 million venture capital round for Berkeley, California-based Ambi that includes backing from previous investors Tiger Global and Bow Capital, as well as the technology investment firm Ahren and Pitney Bowes. Details of each partner’s share in the round were not provided.
“Ambi Robotics is an important part of an innovation strategy that is helping Pitney Bowes improve service to our clients and efficiently grow our global e-commerce business,” Gregg Zegras, EVP and president for global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, said in a release.
The money follows news in March that Pitney Bowes had committed $23 million over four years in Robot as a Service (RaaS) fees for Ambi’s AmbiSort robotic sorting solution. And in 2021, Ambi had landed $26 million in a “series A” funding round.
Powered by those deals, Ambi is currently completing a total of more than 80 installations of its AmbiSort A-Series parcel sorting solutions across the U.S. to empower warehouse workers with automated sorting systems amid the rise of constant commerce demand, the firm said.
The company says its AmbiSort system is a sorting solution that combines robotic picking, item analysis, and quality control with a “soft-touch” end effector that handles boxes, flats, polybags, and other deformable or rigid items. That approach allows each warehouse associate to work alongside three to four AmbiSort A-Series systems, increasing the average throughput-per-employee compared to designs that assign each worker to a single put-wall.
“Consumer shopping behavior is demanding a more modern warehouse. The strains of surging parcel volume shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of the supply chains’ most valued asset—people,” Jim Liefer, CEO of Ambi Robotics, said in a release.
Pitney’s deal follows recent moves by several other large logistics players to invest in—or acquire outright—their warehouse tech vendors. In October, Walmart bought Alert Innovation, a provider of robotic shuttle-based automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). And in 2019, Shopify bought the autonomous mobile robot (AMR) maker 6 River Systems.