Gideon Brothers this week announced that it has raised €2.65 million ($2.95 million U.S.) in a second seed round and that it has begun a major deployment. The Croatian startup is developing robotics and artificial intelligence to serve the global logistics market.
The first autonomous mobile robot (AMR) produced by Gideon Brothers can carry palleted loads of up to 800kg (1,763.7 lb.). The company said its robots have a “hot-swappable” battery system and don’t require facility modifications to increase productivity.
Unlike other AMR companies, Gideon Brothers is relying on visual perception rather than lidar for navigation and safety. It said that its combination of deep learning with stereoscopic cameras provides simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) that is superior to lidar and less costly.
“Lidar is the dial-up of the autonomy world,” said Milan Račić, co-founder and chief growth officer of Gideon Brothers. “It is a very good technology, but 2D LiDAR has too many real-world limitations, making it a transitional step on the road to full autonomy. 3D is great, if economics don’t matter. Camera vision technology is the future of mobile autonomy, particularly in busy and ever-changing logistics centers. Our technology is gaining clear and unequivocal validation from our customers.”
Pentland Ventures led the round. It is the direct-investment division of Pentland Group, whose portfolio includes Lacoste and Speedo. NJF Capital and Linic Ltd. were new investors, and returning investors included Hardware Club, as well as Taavet Hinrikus, Ivan Topčić, and Luca Ascani. Gideon Brothers had previously raised €2.18 million ($2.42 million) in angel financing and funding, including $765,000 in July 2018.
The company said it plans to use the funding to grow its manufacturing and support capabilities, as well as its business development and research and development teams. Gideon Brothers claimed to have the “strongest visual autonomy team in Europe,” with 70 employees, including 10 Ph.D.s and 38 Masters of robotics hardware and AI software.
DB Schenker deploys Gideon Brothers AMRs
Gideon Brothers has already been piloting its AMRs with Orbico, a leading European third-party logistics provider (3PL) for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG); Atlantic Groupa, a FMCG manufacturer and distributor in Central and Eastern Europe; and DB Schenker.
DB Schenker is the third-largest logistics provider in the world, with 750 distribution centers, more than 75,000 employees, and revenue of €17.05 billion ($18.96 billion). The company has introduced Gideon Brothers’ AMRs into its facility in Leipzig, Germany.
During the pilot, DB Schenker used robots for tasks associated with order fulfillment and then added more pickup and drop-off points. Its staffers were able to expand and fine-tune the automated tasks on their own. In the pilot’s first month, Gideon Brothers said a robot typically traveled 26km (16.1 mi.) per week.