Pick and Place Robot Ready as RightHand Robotics Raises $8M

In the News
March 28, 2017

RightHand Robotics Inc., which has developed robotic systems for e-commerce order fulfillment, has raised $8 million in Series A funding.

The company today also released its RightPick offering, which combines hardware and software for “piece picking,” or pick and place of individual items.

Playground Global led the funding round, which also included Dream Incubator, Matrix Partners, Seven Seas Partners, and angel investors.

“RightHand Robotics has created a transformative technology combining machine learning and smart hardware to address a tremendous opportunity in the logistics industry,” said Andy Rubin, founder and CEO of Playground Global. “For the first time, affordable industrial robots can grasp things they have never seen before.”

The company plans to use that capital to expand staffing, product development, and marketing. Somerville, Mass.-based RightHand Robotics already employs researchers who are alumni of the Harvard Biorobotics Lab, MIT, and the Yale GRAB Lab.

“We started out with three Ph.D.s in robotics, said Leif Jentoft, co-founder of RightHand Robotics and a Harvard graduate. “We’ve been in stealth mode for about three years now.”

“We have 20 employees, give or take a few interns,” he told Robotics Business Review. “We’re interested in growing out in the sales and account manager space. We have the technology in place and are interested in scaling out.”

Business Takeaways:

  • RightHand Robotics has moved from three Ph.D.s operating in stealth mode to a robotics provider with Series A funding that’s ready to serve the supply chain industry.
  • The company’s RightPick combines a sensor-enabled gripper with machine-learning capability for pick and place operations. It is designed to work with a number of industrial robot arms.
  • Although many robotics companies are pursuing e-commerce order fulfillment, RightHand believes that the market is big enough and that its solution is robust enough for competition to not be a pressing concern.

Watching the warehouse market

Global shipments of warehousing and logistics robotics will increase from 40,000 units worth $1.9 billion last year to 620,000 units worth $22.4 billion by 2021, according to research firm Tractica LLC.

“The market is experiencing strong growth, with many prominent companies showing greater confidence in new robotics technologies that can yield a return on investment in less time than it took a few years ago,” said Tractica.

“I see a lot of companies with cool ideas, but they need to understand what’s needed and what’s possible,” Jentoft said. “Two of our three co-founders shifted fulltime to studying what companies need.”

“We looked at logistics, healthcare, the military, and manufacturing, but we kept coming back to e-commerce order fulfillment,” he recalled. “There’s a huge shortage of people for picking in warehouses, which represented an...

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