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IAM Robotics raises $20 million to expand market for its mobile picking robot

IAM Robotics has raised $20 million from an investor called KCK to expand the market for its “Swift” system.

IAM claims Swift is “the world’s most advanced autonomous mobile picking robot”.

IAM says it is responding to the growing need for flexible automation systems in logistics environments. 

The new investment will be used to accelerate robot production and to build a sales, marketing, and delivery organization that works closely with leading distributors to transform the supply chain.

Joel Reed, IAM Robotics CEO and president, says: “Distributors and retailers need more workers to meet the demands of e-commerce. In the US alone, consumers spend 40 billion hours picking items from store shelves.

“As we buy more items online, that work moves to the warehouse. Currently, there are not enough people in the workforce to do this for us.

“The answer is to give organizations a tool that increases existing worker productivity, fosters greater job satisfaction, and maintains operational flexibility. This not only helps them to remain sustainable in a rapidly changing landscape, it makes them more competitive.”

Reed adds: “Companies along the supply chain have tested a range of new technologies, but the industry is still seeking a complete solution because the core problem of labor remains unresolved.

“We are working with leading retailers and distributors to build more efficient systems around our robots. KCK shares this vision and maintains a long-term commitment in their investments, which allows us to focus on execution without sacrificing our vision.”

IAM Robotics was founded by world-class robotics engineers, Tom Galluzzo and Vladimir Altman, who worked at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.

Having worked on advanced projects in computer vision, embedded systems and autonomous manipulation, they were drawn into the industry by a customer who asked if they could develop a robot that picked items from warehouse shelving.

Like many companies, this customer faced high labor turnover and hiring issues. The result was Swift, the first autonomous mobile manipulation robot worker that performed fundamental picking tasks in human environments.

Tom Galluzzo, IAM Robotics founder and CTO, says: “We’re expanding what is possible to accomplish with autonomous robots.

“There is a great deal of buzz around autonomous cars, but we see shorter-term opportunities to put autonomous robots to work performing tasks that will have a huge impact on global logistics operations. This funding will help us to recruit the talent needed to make autonomous robots an immediate reality.”

Dr Nety Krishna, KCK’s head of industrials and emtech, says: “IAM Robotics has a stellar team and the company is strategically located in a region with a strong industrial history that has also been on the cutting edge of robotics development.

“IAM’s core technology can be leveraged to build a suite of products that can serve different market segments.

“We are looking forward to working together to solve some challenging problems in the logistics industry, thereby unlocking tremendous value for our customers.”

KCK is a family office which invests in a diverse set of industrial, scientific, financial services, and medical technologies.

Often partnering with experienced management teams, focused on niche markets, the firm invests at all stages of startups from early stage to growth rounds.

KCK’s investment teams are located in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.