I spent final week in Boston, assembly with a number of of the world’s high automation startups. Smooth Robotics — primarily based in close by Bedford, Massachusetts — is a type of names that comes up loads. Because the idea of soppy robotics grippers have more and more come into vogue, the corporate of the identical identify has been reaping a lot of that windfall.

Right now, for example, it introduced a $26 million Sequence C, led by Tyson Ventures. The VC arm of Tyson Meals is a pure match right here. In any case, meals manufacturing has lengthy been a giant piece of Smooth Robotics’ technique. Its compliant grippers do job selecting up fragile and inconsistently sized foodstuffs, from meat to provide — a longstanding problem for extra inflexible methods.

“At Tyson, we’re regularly exploring new areas in automation that may improve security and enhance the productiveness of our crew members,” Tyson Ventures’ Rahul Ray stated in a launch. “Smooth Robotics’ revolutionary robotic expertise, laptop imaginative and prescient and AI platform have the potential to rework the meals trade and can play a key function in any firm’s automation journey.”

Marel and Johnsonville additionally joined the spherical as new traders, following a $23 million Sequence B with a $10 million extension raised in June of final yr. On the time, Smooth Robotics cited pandemic-fueled job loss as a serious motivator within the funding spherical. Clearly the job scenario hasn’t gotten a lot better — notably in industries like meat packing — at the same time as funding has largely slowed down throughout the board over the previous yr.

The agency says the brand new spherical of funding will go towards accelerating the deployment of its mGripAI system, which mixes 3D imaginative and prescient with a delicate gripping system. Smooth Robotics says the right storm of pandemic-fueled points has resulted in “the 4 largest gross sales quarters within the firm’s eight-year historical past.”

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