E-commerce giant Amazon has invested in Israeli robotics company BionicHIVE, the developer of an automated warehouse solution based on a fleet of synchronized autonomous robots.
BionicHIVE creates the SqUID, a robotic device powered by an AI-based algorithm engine that can sort, pick and put away packages, navigate warehouse floors using built-in cameras and sensors, and move between people and objects. The company says SqUID robots are being deployed in a “wide range of supply chain installations using existing shelves and boxes.”
A video of the robots in action last year caught the attention of business magnate Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla and other companies and interests), who tweeted that “the future of robots is coming”.
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Based in the city of Sderot in southern Israel, BionicHIVE was founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Liran Raizer, Tomer Amit and Ilan Reingold.
While the amount has not been disclosed, Amazon’s investment marks the company’s first major lender.
The future of the robot is coming
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 12, 2021
The multinational technology, commerce, streaming and computing company made the investment through the new Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, a billion-dollar fund announced Thursday that is expected to “drive innovation in supply chain, execution and logistics and will further improve the customer and employee experience”.
Amazon said the fund will invest in companies that provide solutions that increase delivery speed and improve working conditions for employees, warehouses and logistics. Amazon is estimated to have more than 2,000 facilities worldwide, including fulfillment and delivery centers, with more than 300 more on the way.
According to Geekwire, Amazon employs more than 1 million people in the United States and more than 1.5 million worldwide. The company’s terms of employment for warehouse workers have come under increased scrutiny and criticism.
In addition to investing in BionicHIVE, the new fund also invested in four other robotics companies, all based in the United States. None of the investment amounts have been disclosed.
“The goal of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund is to support emerging technologies through direct investments designed to fuel invention and solve the world’s toughest challenges in customer fulfillment, logistics and supply chain solutions,” said Katherine Chen, head of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. , in Amazon’s announcement.
“Amazon has recognized BionicHIVE for its differentiated solution that can optimize security around repetitive tasks, at every level, in the supply chain workplace, and this is the kind of technology that drives innovation,” added Chen.
BionicHIVE co-founder Reingold told the Times of Israel by email: “As an Israeli it is special to be one of the few companies Amazon has invested in here and the first in terms of realization. It’s a great recognition of our unique approach and a major step towards expanding and scaling internationally. †
Reingold said the company will use the funding to grow its teams and operations, establish a presence in the United States and expand its customer base.