Rightbot, which is developing robots to unload freight, lands investment from Amazon | TechCrunch

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Rightbot, a startup developing suction-based robots that can unload truck-transported freight in a range of sizes, has raised $6.25 million in a funding round led by Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund (IIF) with participation from SOSV and Entrepreneur First.

Amazon launched IIF last April to bolster startups addressing challenges across customer fulfillment, logistics and the supply chain, TechCrunch readers might recall. IFF has reportedly experienced a fair share of management-related roadblocks — as of June, the fund had spent just $110 million of its $1 billion in deployable capital — but Rightbot evidently managed to cut through the bureaucratic tape to secure an investment.

Rightbot was co-founded several years ago by Anurag Dutta, a former consultant with Kearney, and Abhinav Warrier, who previously worked at the robotics startup GreyOrange. Dutta and Warrier met as part of Entrepreneur First’s accelerator program and — according to Dutta — were both fueled by the dream of building a robotics platform for quick commerce.

“Unstructured truck and container loads are varied and unpredictable in nature. They have consistently presented a hurdle in unloading automation,” Dutta told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We realized that an existing robot arm was not going to solve this problem, so we set out to understand the customer problem and solve it with a customized robot.”

Rightbot

A close-up shot of Rightbot’s freight-unloading robot. Image Credits: Rightbot

Rightbot’s robot can, the company claims, automatically unload trucks, trailers and container ships. Leveraging a conveyor belt, a robotic arm equipped with what’s essentially a suction cup and a camera with computer vision — specifically an algorithm trained on “thousands” of hours of footage from warehouse environments — Rightbot’s robot can pick up packages and place them within reach of the arm.

“Our focus on enhancing productivity and throughput directly translates to a significantly improved return on investment for our customers,” Dutta said.

Dutta acknowledges that Rightbot has competition, including big, recognizable brands like the Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics, Pickle (which recently raised $26 million for its truck-unloading robots) and Tokyo- and Atlanta-based Mujin. But he believes that, given the relative newness of the freight-unloading robotics space — and the anticipated shortage of skilled workers through 2030 — Rightbot has ample opportunity to carve out a niche.

“The robotics industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented upswing. We’re seeing a significant shortage of manual labor for repetitive tasks in warehouses, which is driving demand for robotic solutions,” Dutta said, adding that Rightbot has “multiple pilots” lined up for 2024 with customers in e-commerce and retail (he wouldn’t name said customers, however). “Additionally, many large-scale customers are already familiar with robotic technology in their supply chains, so they’re more open to exploring and adopting innovative solutions. Post-pandemic, the supply chain for robotics components has stabilized, setting the stage for exciting developments ahead in our industry.”

Added IIF head Franziska Bossart: “Rightbot’s swift progress from prototype to product and their approach to commercialization have been impressive. Their solution to the challenging, global issue of unstructured unloading of containers, trucks and trailers resonates with Amazon’s own operational needs and our commitment to innovative logistics solutions.”



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