Amazon.com Inc. is not only a major user and developer of robotics, but it is also now an investor. BionicHIVE, which has developed an autonomous robot that works with existing warehouse infrastructure, today said it has received unspecified funding from the new Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund.
“With Amazon’s funding and support, BionicHIVE is growing its team and operations, establishing [a] U.S. footprint to expand its customer base and scale go-to-market, as well as increasing R&D,” said Ilan Reingold, CEO of BionicHIVE. “We couldn’t have asked for a better company whose investment is a validation of the unique approach and capabilities of our platform and whose guidance is invaluable.”
Founded in 2014 by Liran Raizer and Tomer Amit, BionicHIVE said its SqUID robot uses artificial intelligence and is capable of floor-to-ceiling picking, replenishment, and putaway. The Mishmar HaNegev, Israel-based startup claimed that its system can adapt to customers' current operations, from distribution centers and warehouses to delivery trucks.
BionicHIVE applies AI for agile automation
“Warehouses are rarely static environments with the uniformity and predictability necessary for traditional solutions,” said BionicHIVE. The company added that its robotic fleet combines flexibility with safety and efficiency to solve operational challenges in warehouses.
SqUID works with a facility's existing shelving, racks, and boxes, according to the company. The robot can climb shelves as well as move on the warehouse floor to deliver boxes.
BionicHIVE said a key differentiator of its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) is that they can be strung together by its algorithmic engine to streamline multiple warehouse operations. This “eliminates the rigid operational and financial requirements of traditional automation and requires no start-up costs,” said the company.
Amazon to invest $1B in emerging tech
Amazon said the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF) is aimed at investing in emerging companies.
“The purpose of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund is to support emerging technologies through direct investments, designed to spur invention and solve for the world’s toughest challenges across customer fulfillment operations, logistics, and supply chain solutions,” stated Katherine Chen, head of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. “Amazon has recognized BionicHIVE for its differentiated solution capable of optimizing safety around repeated tasks, at any height, in the supply chain workplace, and this is the kind of technology that’s pulling innovation forward.”
In addition to BionicHIVE, Amazon has invested in the following startups:
- Agility Robotics, which has designed bipedal legged robots for warehouse tasks
- Mantis Robotics Inc., which is developing fast but safe collaborative robot arms for factories and warehouses
- Modjoul Inc., whose wearable Internet of Things (IoT) platform is intended to improve worker safety and inventory tracking
- Vimaan Robotics Inc., which is developing AI and computer vision for inventory tracking and management systems
“With our scale, Amazon is committed to investing in companies that will ignite innovation in emerging technologies that can help improve employee experiences and safety while seamlessly coexisting with workforces across the supply chain,” said Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon's vice president of worldwide corporate development.