Inside Amazon’s robotics ecosystem – The Robotic Report


Take heed to this text

A decade after Amazon made its first foray into robotics with its acquisition of Kiva Methods, the e-commerce big is buying iRobot for $1.7 billion

Whereas completion of the transaction remains to be topic to customary closing circumstances, the deal expands Amazon’s already intensive robotics portfolio. Right here’s a take a look at the corporate’s notable robotics acquisitions by way of the years.

Kiva Methods

It’s unimaginable to speak about Amazon’s historical past in robotics with out speaking about Kiva Methods. Amazon acquired the cellular robotic firm in 2012 for $775 million. On the time, it was Amazon’s second-largest acquisition ever. 

Kiva initially continued to offer cellular robots to its current clients, however that shortly got here to an finish. And in 2015, it turned Amazon Robotics. Kiva’s automated guided automobiles (AGVs) use computerized barcode stickers on the ground to navigate Amazon’s warehouses.

Amazon Robotics not too long ago introduced its first autonomous cellular robotic (AMR), Proteus. It does related duties because the Kiva robots, however can work freely round Amazon employees as an alternative of caged off areas. 

Dispatch

amazon's scout

Amazon’s last-mile supply robotic, Scout. | Supply: Amazon

Amazon quietly acquired Dispatch, a last-mile supply firm, in 2017. It utilized the corporate’s know-how and experience to create Scout, which it introduced in early 2019. The six-wheeled sidewalk supply robots are totally electrical and travels at a strolling tempo.

Canvas Know-how

In 2019, Amazon acquired Canvas Know-how for an undisclosed quantity. Canvas Know-how used “spatial AI” to permit cellular robots to navigate safely round folks in dynamic environments. It’s seemingly this know-how contributed to Amazon’s Proteus AMR.

Zoox

Zoox, an autonomous car developer, was acquired by Amazon in 2020 for an undisclosed quantity, though reviews steered Amazon paid $1.2 billion for the corporate. On the time, Amazon worldwide shopper CEO Jeff Wilke stated Amazon was excited to assist the Zoox workforce carry its imaginative and prescient for a zero-emission autonomous experience hailing service to actuality.

Quickly after the acquisition, Zoox unveiled its autonomous car for the primary time. Since then, the corporate has expanded its testing to Seattle, its fourth testing metropolis, however issues have been largely quiet from the corporate.  

iRobot

Amazon plans to accumulate iRobot for $1.7 billion, over double what it paid for Kiva Methods, at $61 per share in an all-cash transaction. If the deal closes, it will likely be Amazon’s fourth greatest acquisition ever. 

iRobot isn’t the corporate’s first enterprise into family robotics. In September 2021, Amazon unveiled Astro, primarily an Echo Present 10 on wheels. The robotic can be utilized for dwelling monitoring, video conferencing and entertaining kids. 

iRobot will definitely broaden Amazon’s shopper robotics portfolio, though iRobot has not too long ago been diversifying its portfolio with non-robotics merchandise. It acquired Aeris Cleantec AG, a Switzerland-based developer of air purifiers, in November 2021 for $72 million. Earlier in 2021, iRobot launched its H1 handheld vacuum, its first non-robotics product. 

Different robotic pursuits 

Whereas it’s not owned by Amazon, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ sub-orbital spaceflight firm, acquired Honeybee Robotics for an undisclosed quantity in January 2022. Honeybee Robotics is an R&D engineering firm that has delivered greater than 1,000 initiatives to authorities and industrial clients within the spacecraft, planetary exploration, protection robotics, medical gadgets, mining, oil and fuel, and utility infrastructure sectors.

Amazon introduced its $1 billion Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund in April 2022. The fund’s first spherical of investments included Agility Robotics, an organization growing a bipedal strolling robotic, BionicHIVE, an organization growing an autonomous robotic resolution that may adapt to current infrastructure in warehouses, and Mantis Robotics, an organization growing a tactile robotic arm. 

Amazon has made a lot of different investments in robotics corporations. For instance, it participated in a $530 million Collection B spherical of funding for autonomous car developer Aurora Innovation in early 2019. 

Ring, a safety firm owned by Amazon, is growing the Ring At all times Dwelling Cam, an indoor aerial drone for safety functions. Talking of drones, Amazon not too long ago introduced its Prime Air supply drones will start testing in Lockeford, California and School Station, Texas.