A pioneer in the exploding market for warehouse logistics automation is being acquired in a major deal. Fetch Robotics will join Zebra Technologies in a deal reportedly worth $290m USD. Zebra was previously an investor in Fetch and already owned 5% of the robotics firm. The announcement comes at a time of rapid growth in the automation market, particularly in the logistics sector. The surge of online shopping during the pandemic and the increasing demand for rapid shipping has caused a scramble as third-party logistics companies rethink their operations with efficiency in mind.
Two reputable research resources are reporting that the robotics industry is growing more rapidly than expected. BCG (Boston Consulting Group) is conservatively projecting that the market will reach $87 billion by 2025; Tractica, incorporating the robotic and AI elements of the emerging self-driving industry, is forecasting the market will reach $237 billion by 2022. Both research firms acknowledge that yesterday's robots -- which were blind, big, dangerous and difficult to program and maintain -- are being replaced and supplemented with newer, more capable ones. Today's new, and future robots, will have voice and language recognition, access to super-fast communications, data and libraries of algorithms, learning capability, mobility, portability and dexterity. These new precision robots can sort and fill prescriptions, pick and pack warehouse orders, sort, inspect, process and handle fruits and vegetables, plus a myriad of other industrial and non-industrial tasks, most faster than humans, yet all the while working safely along side them.
The Waku founders have built a mobile robotics consulting company that evolved to include software development. Germany robotics software company Waku Robotics closed a seed round of $1.64M (€1.5M). New investors include Schauenburg Ventures, Plug and Play, Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen (TGFS), Bito Campus and London-based proptech VC Pi Labs. Agilox founder Franz Humer and Hans-Jürgen Cramer are also participating in the round. The company was founded in late 2019, and currently has less than 20 employees.
If you want to start a robot company, plan to kick off by selling a service performed by robots, not the robots themselves. That was the message of robot startup founders and investors speaking at HAX demo day this week. HAX is a five-year-old hardware accelerator based in Shenzhen, China, and San Francisco. "I'm a big fan of going out and doing a service with a robot, competing with other businesses that provide that service, rather than trying to sell a $100,000 robot," said Nathan Harding, co-founder of Ekso Bionics and now co-founder and CEO of Wink Robotics, a still-mostly-stealthy company intending to bring robotics technology into the beauty salon industry. "So," Harding continued, "if you design a bricklaying robot, go out and bid on projects that involve laying bricks….