A startup called Ambi Robotics has raised $32 million to put a new kind of robot into e-commerce warehouses. But first…
Robotically sorted packages
The awkwardly named Ambisort A-Series V3 doesn’t need coffee in the mornings, bathroom breaks or relentless corporate agitprop about why it shouldn’t join a labor union. The elaborate contraption takes up 375 square feet of warehouse space and features a blue articulated arm equipped with a five-camera vision system and three kinds of suction cups, which it uses to pull an assortment of envelopes, plastic bags or lightweight boxes from a bin. Then the arm hands off each parcel to a second robot, a sort of forked tray, which passes over a gantry of mail sacks and selects the right one to drop it in, sorting the parcels by Zip code.
The Ambisort can plow through about 400 parcels per hour; humans do the same work at about one-third the pace and usually make more mistakes. Ambi Robotics, the company that developed the system and the accompanying machine-learning algorithms that allow the robot to recognize each parcel and select the right way to grasp it, has deployed 80 of these systems and plans to surpass 100 in the field next year. On Monday, Ambi is announcing that it raised $32 million from Tiger Global, Bow Capital and the UK’s Ahren Innovation Capital. Pitney Bowes, the postage meter maker turned e-commerce logistics firm with 55 warehouses around the country, is another investor in the round as well as a customer.