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Amazon Invests In Israeli Robotics Firm BionicHIVE

E-commerce giant backs startup developing an autonomous warehouse robot, as well as four U.S. tech firms.

The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund has chosen BionicHIVE, an Israeli hi-tech robotics company, as one of five companies and the only firm from outside the United States that will be part of its investments in emerging supply-chain management technologies.

BionicHIVE’s SqUID robot can self-navigate and pick up, replenish or sort any item from floor-to-ceiling shelves of a warehouse while being powered by an AI-based algorithmic engine.

The Amazon fund says it plans to invest $1 billion in companies that develop technologies in supply-chain management and workplace safety. In addition to BionicHive, the other companies to get funding are:

  • Modjoul: Founded in 2016 and based in Greenville, South Carolina, Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time, personalized alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries, most notably musculoskeletal issues.
  • Vimaan: Founded in 2017 and based in Santa Clara, California, Vimaan is developing computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions engineered to improve inventory management.
  • Agility Robotics: Founded in 2015 and based in Corvallis, Oregon, Agility Robotics is developing a bipedal walking robot, Digit, that addresses the mobility limitations of traditional robots so that machines can assist people wherever they are.
  • Mantis Robotics: Founded in 2020 and based in San Francisco, Mantis Robotics is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to cohesively work alongside people.

“The purpose of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund is to support emerging technologies through direct investments, designed to spur invention and solve the world’s toughest challenges across customer fulfillment operations, logistics and supply-chain solutions,” said Katherine Chen, head of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund.

“Amazon has recognized BionicHIVE for its differentiated solution capable of optimizing safety around repeated tasks, at any height, in the supply-chain workplace, and this is the kind of technology that’s pulling innovation forward,” Chen added.

“With Amazon’s funding and support, BionicHIVE is growing its team and operations, establishing a U.S. footprint to expand its customer base…,” Ilan Reingold, the CEO of BionicHIVE, seen here, says. (Photo courtesy of BionicHIVE)

BionicHIVE is based in Sha’ar HaNegev in Israel’s southwest.

The company was founded in 2014 by Liran Raizer and Tomer Amit. The Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd invested in the company’s seed round.

“SqUID consists of a synchronized autonomous robotic fleet that has 3-dimensional movement capabilities, allowing a fully flexible operation. A high-end embedded control system and smart real-time data analysis allows BionicHIVE’s algorithmic engine to dynamically learn problems created in one warehouse and apply resolutions to all warehouses in the network,” BionicHIVE says on its website.

“With Amazon’s funding and support, BionicHIVE is growing its team and operations, establishing a U.S. footprint to expand its customer base and scale go-to-market, as well as increasing R&D,” said Ilan Reingold, the CEO of BionicHIVE.

 A robotic automated warehouse picking section moves goods at the Amazon fulfillment center on Dec. 13, 2021, in London, England. The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund plans to invest $1 billion in companies that develop technologies in supply-chain management and workplace safety. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“We couldn’t have asked for a better company whose investment is a validation of the unique approach and capabilities of our platform and whose guidance is invaluable,” Reingold added.

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital and robotics transformation in many fields. As many as 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs report said.

Amazon employs more than 1.3 million people worldwide and has at least 96 warehouses.

SqUID will certainly not be working alone.

Produced in association with ISRAEL21c.

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