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Layoffs took their toll
Layoffs hit the entire technology space this year, and robotics companies were no exception. Robot makers big and small announced that they were downsizing their workforces to save costs, even while robot sales continued to rise globally.
Delivery robot makers were among the hardest hit. In the span of several days, Amazon and FedEx announced that they were either ending or significantly scaling back their delivery robot projects. Additionally, Nuro, Starship Technologies, and Pudu Robotics announced reductions to their workforces.
Food-service robotics companies also had their fair share of layoffs and cutbacks. Doordash-owned Chowbotics Inc., a salad-making robot startup, announced it was shutting down. So did Basil Street Pizza, a startup developing robotic pizza kiosk machines.
Companies that had received investment prior to or early in the pandemic ran out of runway as consumer habits kept shifting.
Industrial automation makers also felt the impact of the shaky economy. AMR maker Seegrid announced it was laying off 90 employees, and Shopify, which owns mobile robot maker 6 River Systems, announced it was laying off 10% of its staff in response to declining e-commerce demands.
Experts attributed the layoffs to a myriad of factors, including worries of an impending recession, pandemic readjustments, and a reduction in venture capital.
Even with these setbacks, many are still bullish about the robotics industry’s potential as demand continues and underlying technologies improve.
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