Robots and automation have always been seen as a way to improve efficiency and allow humans to focus on more sophisticated work. During the pandemic, it has helped alleviate health and sanitary challenges, further pushing the automation movement.
Albany, Oregon-based Agility Robotics received $10MM in funding in October as it announced full commercial production of its bipedal humanoid robot called Digit. The robot is expected to perform manual labor, such as removing boxes from shelves and loading them onto a truck and the company aims to target its use for first and last-mile package delivery
Starship Technologies, which operates a robot food delivery service saw demand explode during the pandemic and is expected to start delivery at the Oregon State University campus. As contactless delivery becomes a norm, autonomous delivery demand is expected to increase.
COVID-19 has also spurred new cleaning regimes and Brain Corp, which converts machinery to autonomous floor-scrubbing robots has benefited. They have mentioned that bots in stores jumped 13% annually in March 2020 and just announced a new commercial relationship with all U.S. Sam’s Club stores.
The most famous among the companies manufacturing robots are definitely the robodog by Softbank-owned Boston Dynamics. The company began selling its commercial version “Spot” in June this year for $75,000 and has reportedly sold 250 already.
But not all robots are treated equally. In a turn of tides, Walmart recently announced it would remove its shelf scanning robots as they felt humans could do just as well. This announcement has a hard hit on the supplier Pittsburg-based Bossa Nova Robotics, who started the partnership with Walmart in 2017.
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