Southie Autonomy Picks Up $2.5M in Seed Funding, Plus $5M in Robot Lease Financing

Southie Autonomy says its no-code software enables any industrial robot arm to be easily and quickly repurposed.

Southie Autonomy

Southie Autonomy variety packing robot in production.
Southie Autonomy, a resident startup at MassRobotics, has obtained seed funding, as well as financing for its robotics-as-a-service offering, which promises "no-code" robot operations.

As companies turn to automation to solve supply chain problems, many are finding robots difficult to program and use. Southie Autonomy, which has developed “no-code” methods of teaching robots to pick up objects of varying shapes and sizes, today announced that it has raised $2.5 million in seed funding. The Boston-based company will also receive $5 million in venture leasing.

“We are thrilled to have investors that are pioneers in understanding how AI is changing our world, and their support will enable Southie Autonomy to scale rapidly,” stated Rahul Chipalkatty, co-founder and CEO of Southie Autonomy. “Our mission is to unlock the potential of robotic automation, removing the long-established barriers to adoption, cost, and complexity. Supply chain providers and manufacturers now have a turnkey solution to help overcome labor challenges.”

Draper Laboratory alumni Chipalkatty and Jay M. Wong founded Southie Autonomy in 2017. The company is a resident startup at MassRobotics' co-working space in Boston's Seaport District, and Robotics 24/7 recently named it one of 10 to watch in that space.

How to run a robot without coding expertise

Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages have spotlighted the need for increased automation, said Southie Autonomy. However, many existing solutions are too costly, complex, and time-consuming to change over within dynamic manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution environments, it noted.

The company has developed software to make robot arms easy to use for automating packaging assembly, palletization, and kitting. Its platform uses artficial intelligence and augmented reality to create a program for the robot to follow.

As a result, no additional coding, engineering, or highly trained experts are necessary, said Southie Autonomy. It said any operator can use its product to instruct a robot to perform tasks within minutes using only simple gestures. This flexibile automation results in a “turnkey cell that can adapt to fluctuating demands and improve efficiency and margins,” according to the company.

Southie Autonomy said its software is compatible with any robotic hardware and is currently being deployed by a handful of customers. It added that, with its software, collaborative robots can work safely alongside human workers (after an application assessment), and operators can configure daily line changeovers within minutes.

VCs support Southie Autonomy's RaaS approach

Bootstrap Labs led Southie Autonomy's seed funding, with participation from Ocean Azul. Kineo Finance participated in the equity round and is providing the additional venture leasing to support the startup's robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) business model.

Southie Autonomy said it will use the capital to accelerate customer acquisition and build out its network of distribution partners. In addition, the company plans to scale its operations and expand its commercial and technical team.

“Until now, it was very expensive and complex to reprogram robots to perform different tasks, causing the automation ROI [return on investment] to plummet,” said Benjamin Levy, co-founder and general partner at BootstrapLabs.

“With Southie's innovative AI-powered robotic automation platform, it only takes minutes, and no coding is required,” he added. “This is a pivotal moment for the industry, and with its RaaS business model, Southie is poised to accelerate the adoption of collaborative robots across new industries and types of organizations.”

Bootstrap Labs will join the board of Southie Autonomy. The San Francisco-based venture capital (VC) firm focuses on the application of AI to sectors such as the future of work, mobility, cyber, health, finance, energy, and climate.

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Ocean Azul Partners said it focuses on business-to-business software and deep tech companies that are either solving new challenges created by emerging technologies and trends or are preparing to disrupt established industries.

Basel, Switzerland-based kineo finance is an asset financing group with global reach and with subsidiaries in the U.S. and Germany. It said it provides tailor-made venture leasing and working capital solutions for young companies that are starting to commercialize their hardware and services. kineo enables startups to offer their customers product/market-specific “equipment-as-a-service” solutions via pay-per-use, rental, or subscription models.

Southie Autonomy demonstrates chip bag kitting with easy-to-use collaborative robot cell in repack facility.

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Southie Autonomy

Southie Autonomy variety packing robot in production.

Robot Technologies