Amazon.com Inc. has continued its robotics expansion. Last week, the mega e-commerce retailer announced that it was purchasing Cloostermans-Huwaert, a mechatronics provider out of Hamme, Belgium, for an undisclosed amount.
Cloostermans' 200 employees will become part of Amazon’s global robotics division. Amazon has been working with the company since 2019.
Cloostermans makes mechatronic systems that Amazon uses to move and stack heavy pallets, totes, and packaged products. Amazon said it is purchasing the 138-year-old company to take advantage of its engineering, machinery, and robotics chops.
“We’re thrilled to be joining the Amazon family and extending the impact we can have at a global scale,” said Frederik Berckmoes-Joos, CEO of Cloostermans, in a statement. “Amazon has raised the bar for how supply chain technologies can benefit employees and customers, and we’re looking forward to be part of the next chapter of this innovation.”
Cloostermans joins a growing list of Amazon robotics purchases
Amazon has been in the robotics game since it bought Kiva Systems in 2012. To date, Amazon said it has deployed more than 520,000 robotics drive units worldwide.
In 2019, Amazon acquired autonomous cart firm Canvas Technology and delivery robot developer Dispatch.
The Cloostermans purchase also comes a month after Amazon said it plans to purchase iRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba robot vacuum cleaner.
During its re:MARS event in June, the company announced that it was building its first autonomous mobile robot (AMR), Proteus. It claimed the new robot uses “advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology to maneuver around employees without being confined to restricted areas.”
Amazon continues to invest in innovation
In May 2021, the company opened its European Innovation Lab in Italy. It said it was “designed to enhance the employee experience through the development of advanced technologies that support safer ways of working.” Robotics is a big part of the innovation lab's mission, according to Amazon.
Not only does Amazon use mobile robots in its warehouses, but it also develops and tests numerous types of robots and delivery drones. In addition, AWS RoboMaker offers support for robotics programmers. Last September, the company launched its household robot, Astro.
In April, the $1 billion Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund invested in five startups working on supply chain automation.
“Amazon’s investments in robotics and technology are supporting how we build a better and safer workplace for our employees and deliver for our customers,” stated Ian Simpson, vice president of global robotics at Amazon.
“As we continue to broaden and accelerate the robotics and technology we design, engineer and deploy across our operations, we look forward to welcoming Cloostermans to Amazon and are excited to see what we can build together,” he added.