Rockwell Automation Discusses OTTO Motors Acquisition

Rockwell Automation said it expects to quickly integrate Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors into its offerings.

OTTO Motors

An OTTO Motors 600 AMR operates in a factory.
Rockwell Automation said it plans to retain the Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors brands for industrial and mobile robot markets.

Last month, Rockwell Automation Inc. announced that it planned to acquire Clearpath Robotics Inc., the parent company of OTTO Motors. The companies claimed that the transaction demonstrated the strength of demand for robots for materials handling.

Earlier this month, Rockwell completed its acquisition of Kitchener, Ontario-based Clearpath, which makes development platforms, and OTTO. The Milwaukee-based company is adding OTTO Motors' autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and navigation and fleet management software to its existing industrial automation offerings.

It stated that the brands will give it “end-to-end autonomous production logistics solutions.” Matt Rendall, co-founder of Clearpath and OTTO, replied to the following questions from Robotics 24/7 about the acquisition:

OTTO and Clearpath brands to continue

How exactly will your brands complement each other? Will you be consolidating any product lines?

Rendall: No, we will not be consolidating any product lines at this time. Both offerings have a strong brand and industry presence that we mutually want to keep intact. Combining OTTO Motors and Clearpath Robotics with Rockwell Automation will amplify each brand even further.

Moving forward, the two offerings will be “OTTO Motors by Rockwell Automation” and “Clearpath Robotics by Rockwell Automation.” There are no anticipated changes to the product branding or names. Refer to other acquisitions, such as Fiix, to see examples of how this was handled recently.

Rockwell expects integration

Will you be integrating OTTO Motors' AMRs to operate with Rockwell's systems?

Rendall: Users of other Rockwell solutions can expect deeper integration options and streamlined end-to-end experiences.

However, we do not anticipate making any changes to our general philosophy towards open architecture. Users who do not use Rockwell products will still be able to easily integrate, commission, and use our systems as they have since the founding of OTTO Motors.

Do you anticipate new software to coordinate systems?

Rendall: Rockwell is a global leader in device interoperability, production optimization, and factory analytics. We are excited about the potential to bring the power of these software offerings to our AMRs in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.

Transaction and trade show details

According to reports, Rockwell paid about $600 million for Clearpath, pending certain financial conditions. Can you comment on the amount?

Rendall: We cannot comment on the terms of the transaction, but we are excited to begin the next chapter with Rockwell.

Do you have a timeline or milestones for the merger in addition to joint displays at trade shows?

Rendall: We are currently assessing our commitments to trade shows to see where it is possible to merge the experiences for next year. This year, OTTO Motors is looking forward to exhibiting at Automation Fair in Boston from Nov. 6 to 9, which is organized by Rockwell Automation.

AMR market on the rise

While some mobile robot providers have struggled this past year, why are you bullish on the prospects for your brands?

Rendall: According to Interact Analysis, the market for AMRs in manufacturing is expected to grow about 30% per year over the next five years, with an estimated market size of $6.2 billion by 2027.

With mobile robots on the rise, and now having access to Rockwell’s extensive network and resources, OTTO Motors and Clearpath Robotics can accelerate product development roadmaps, investigate ways to expand global support, and grow our organization in a manner that continues to support new and existing customers more comprehensively.

Rockwell also has substantial economies of scale; economies of scale which have until now never been available to commercially available mobile robot companies. Through this combination, we are confident in the continued success of our brands.

Clearpath Robotics recently introduced Husky Observer, a fully integrated system to accelerate the development of inspection robots.

About the Author

Eugene Demaitre's avatar
Eugene Demaitre
Eugene Demaitre was editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
Follow Eugene:    
Follow Robotics 24/7 on Facebook
Follow Robotics 24/7 on Linkedin

Email Sign Up

Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job. Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7. Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.

OTTO Motors

An OTTO Motors 600 AMR operates in a factory.

Robot Technologies