One of the biggest challenges in supply chain automation is fast, accurate, and reliable manipulation of variable objects. RightHand Robotics Inc. has raised $66 million to continue developing its piece-picking technology and expanding its partner network and presence worldwide.
“This Series C funding round attracted top-tier investors who know the space and share our vision that piece-picking automation enables predictable throughput with lights-out item handling, while meeting customer needs for scalable fulfillment services,” stated Yaro Tenzer, co-founder and CEO of RightHand. “We are eager to continue expanding our solution set and global presence to meet the needs of warehouse operators worldwide.”
Harvard Biorobotics Lab, Yale GRAB Lab, and MIT researchers Tenzer, Leif Jentoft, and Lael Odhner founded RightHand Robotics in 2015 after winning a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) manipulation challenge. They focused on solving the “holy grail” of warehouse automation—piece picking for supply chain and e-commerce fulfillment, said the Somerville, Mass.-based company.
RightPick deals with complex picking
RightHand Robotics launched its autonomous piece-picking product in 2017. The modular, data-driven RightPick platform uses artificial intelligence, edge computing, machine vision, grippers, and collaborative robot arms. Its workflows can quickly adapt to new SKUs for streamlined and scalable order fulfillment in industries such as electronics, apparel, grocery, and pharmaceuticals, said the company.
The company also offers fleet management software for human supervision, reporting dashboards, and application programming interfaces (APIs). RightHand cited integration partners including Element Logic, an AutoStore partner and a leading European intralogistics company, and Okamura, which provides products and services for offices, education, commercial facilities, and distribution centers.
Last year, the company opened its RightPick Center Europe in Nurenburg, Germany, and integrated its RightPick 3 system with SVT Robotics Inc.'s SOFTBOT platform. With its collaborators, RightHand serves customers such as PALTAC Corp., Japan’s largest wholesaler of consumer packaged goods, and apo.com Group, a European online pharmacy.
RightPick 3 is available for about $150,000, including hardware and recurring software fees, according to Forbes.
RightHand investors follow growing market
Safar Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL), and the SoftBank Vision Fund led RightHand's latest funding, which brings its valuation to $240 million. Tenzer said he expects the company make $10 million in revenue this year.
Zebra Technologies, Epson, and Global Brain also join the Series C round, along with previous investors GV (Google Ventures), F-Prime Capital, Menlo Ventures, Matrix Partners and Future Shape. Menlo Ventures and Playground Global led previous rounds.
“The RightHand Robotics piece-picking solution has demonstrated year after year that autonomous robots are vital to solving the challenges of organizations from retail to pharmacy,” said Arunas Chesonis, managing partner at Safar Partners. “The surge in e-commerce will continue even when the pandemic subsides, and we are eager to witness the continued maturation of the robotics industry in response to this global demand.”
“RightHand Robotics identified a challenge in the marketplace and responded with a solution that is intelligent, adaptable, and easy to integrate with adjacent software and automation solutions,” said Mike Kaczmarek, managing director at THL. The global market for pick-and-place robots is worth about $3 billion, he said.
That market could grow from $148.1 million in 2020 to $2.8 billion in 2026, experiencing a compound annual growth rate of $62.5%, said Mordor Intelligence. Similarly, Research and Markets noted that labor shortages, development in technologies including collaborative robots, and the growth of e-commerce, particularly in North America, account for a possible 62.5% CAGR, from $95.3 million in 2019 to $1.6 billion by 2025.
“Labor shortages are stretching global fulfillment to breaking point, prompting companies to invest more in automation to help improve efficiency and reliability,” said Ram Trichur, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We believe that RightHand Robotics is a leader in supply chain logistics with a flexible, full-stack platform that can be integrated directly into customers’ existing systems to improve throughput while decreasing fulfillment costs.”
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