Ambi Robotics secures $32M infusion to deploy its item-sorting robots in warehouses • TechCrunch


Ambi RoboticsToday, a startup developing supply chain automation devices announced that it has raised $32 million in additional funding led by Tiger Global and Bow Capital, with participation from Ahren and logistics company Pitney Bowes. Pitney Bowes is a strategic investor in Ambi, having recently signed a $23 million deal with the company to deploy Ambi devices to Pitney Bowes fulfillment centers in the United States.

The new capital came in the form of a SAFE, or simple stock futures agreement, which gives investors the right to buy shares in the company at a future date, allowing Ambi to delay negotiations over valuation and investment terms. CEO Jim Lever says it will be positioned toward continued deployments and installations of Ambi’s technology, an expansion of the company’s product portfolio, and increased engineering, customer support and operations teams.

“This additional funding round met very quickly, and it resulted from a ‘normal’ update of the company to our existing investors and partners,” Lever told TechCrunch in an email interview. “It has sparked interest in increasing fuel manufacturing and deploying current and future categories of AI-powered parcel sorting systems… Just this year, our team has more than doubled and we will continue to add engineering talent, customer success and other areas to keep pace with customer demand for our robotic solutions across their operations.” “

Ambi’s founders — including Ken Goldberg, chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at UC Berkeley — discovered years ago clever techniques to train robots in simulation and transfer that knowledge to the real world. After hacking into a system called dex netGoldberg and Jeff Mahler, a former doctoral student, launched the company in 2019, along with other UC Berkeley scientists and engineers.

Dex-Net, short for Dexterity Network, is an artificial intelligence system that trains on thousands of images for 3D models of objects. With deep learning, the system scans data and uses algorithms to figure out the best way to capture things.

A row of Ambi’s robotic arms are deployed to sort independent items on the warehouse floor. Image credits: Ambi Robotics

The Ambi robotics platform builds on this to automate processes primarily in logistics and fulfillment. The company claims that its products, which include robotic arms and drivers, can be “taught” to pick and pack millions of unique items while adapting to different packaging (such as boxes and envelopes) on the fly.

Using “finishing effects” such as suction cups, Ambi machines pick, scan, insert, place and pack items that have been arranged in mail bags on the floors of the fulfillment center, along with workers. The software running in the background analyzes data on productivity, item dimensions, weights, usage, and more and identifies “picking points” on items in crowded environments such as conveyor belts, handbags, and boxes.

Customers pay up front for Ambi’s bot units and then pay a monthly subscription cost to use the software.

“The Ambi Robotics team brings a new way of thinking about traditional problems,” said Leifer. “With advanced technology that can solve a wide range of real-world problems, the team [has] They decided to use their expertise to drive the explosive e-commerce industry toward a sustainable supply chain, so the stress of sorting packages does not fall on the shoulders of our most valuable asset – people.”

Liefer says Ambi’s current focus is on deploying its latest generation of robotics technology, the AmbiSort A-Series v3, which features “soft-touch” end effectors that can handle both deforming and hard elements. Ambi claims warehouse partners can work in tandem with three to four of these systems to increase average productivity per employee to more than 1,200 sorted items per hour.

Compete with Ambe a variableAnd the NomagicAnd the soft robotsAnd the dilemmaAnd the Hi RoboticsAnd the XYZ Robotics And the right handamong other things, in an investment climate favorable to robotics. according to To Crunchbase, more than $17 billion was pumped into VC-backed robotic startups in 2021 — nearly three times the investment in 2020. In April, Amazon announce It will create a new $1 billion fund to support companies operating in the customer fulfillment, logistics and supply chain sectors. And in May, Wal-Mart expanded Its partnership with robotics startup Symbotic to install the latter’s machines at all Walmart distribution centers in the US

As of 2019, the global warehouse automation market was valued at approximately $15 billion, according to to Statista. This number is expected to double within the next four years, with supply chain executives at Accenture exploratory study Citing automation as one of the top three investment priorities – Regardless of workers’ concerns about technology.

Leifer says Ambi, for its part, began generating revenue through commercial deployments in October 2020, installing systems ahead of the holiday peak season. The company is currently installing 80 parcel sorting systems with support for more than 80 “full-stack” sorting systems across 15 sorting centers.

Greg Zegras, executive vice president and head of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, added in an emailed statement: “Ambi Robotics is an important part of the innovation strategy that helps Pitney Bowes improve service for our customers and efficiently grow our global e-commerce business. At Ambi Robotics, we see the same The commitment to customer-led innovation that has helped Pitney Bowes develop and win in the marketplace for over 100 years. We look forward to continuing to work together to drive innovation in global e-commerce hubs.”

Berkeley-based Ambi, which recently moved to a new headquarters, has raised $67 million to date and has more than 50 employees.

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