We have not seen the last of Sawyer the collaborative robot. HAHN Group, a German automation specialist, has acquired all of the patents and trademarks from Rethink Robotics, including the Intera 5 software platform. The HAHN Group says it will further develop Rethink’s technology, “combining it with German engineering and know-how of industrial applications.” HAHN Group says it “intends to make the [Intera] software platform available to suitable partners through licensing or other arrangements.”
The HAHN Group says “the business unit ‘Rethink Robotics’ will become the third pillar of the HAHN Group’s robotic division and complete its service portfolio.” HAHN Robotics, the integration unit of the HAHN Group, already has Sawyer listed as a product on its website, adding that it is the “exclusive distributor” for the cobot. The HAHN Group told The Robot Report that, for the time being, it will continue to manufacture Sawyer robots in their patented red color.
As for Sawyer’s older, two-armed brother Baxter, Corun USA has the exclusive rights to the 100 remaining Baxter robots in the world. Corun USA told The Robot Report it owns “the rights to Baxter, the right to manufacture Baxter, the global distribution rights.” The HAHN Group news has no impact on Baxter.
After speaking with a dozen former Rethink distributors and integrators, know-how of industrial applications is an area where Rethink fell short. We will have a piece in the coming days examining Rethink’s downfall, but perhaps this is a good move for the Sawyer cobot’s future.
“The acquisition of Rethink Robotic’s technology marks an important milestone for the development of our portfolio of collaborative robotics solutions,” said Thomas Hähn, CEO of HAHN Group. “This transaction will bring us not only a boost in innovative technologies, but also access to highly specialized know-how in one of the most dynamic future markets. We are very pleased that we could convince the owners of Rethink Robotics to agree to the sale of its robotic technology around the cobot Sawyer as well as the Intera 5 software.”
The HAHN Group was previously a Rethink distributor. According to HAHN Group’s website, it will soon be adding Doosan cobots and MiR autonomous mobile robots to its portfolio. The HAHN Group has production sites in China, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, and the USA. The company currently has about 1,100 employees throughout 19 locations.
Rethink Robotics, the Boston, Mass.-based maker of collaborative robots Baxter and Sawyer, shut down on October 3, 2018. Rethink was founded in 2008 and raised nearly $150 million to date. Its last round of funding was an $18 million Series E in August 2017.
Rethink Robotics CEO Scott Eckert said an expected deal for Rethink Robotics to be acquired fell through. Rethink Robotics was short on cash as its robots sales failed to meet expectations.
“I can confirm that unfortunately the news is true, Rethink Robotics closed its doors today,” Eckert wrote in an email to The Robot Report, confirming the shutdown. “We were pioneers and innovators in the industry and responsible for the creation of the collaborative robot category, but unfortunately we didn’t quite achieve the market success we had intended. We have been helping our team find new homes and have been overwhelmed with interest. It’s a world-class group of people will continue to do great things in their next endeavors.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 7:50 PM with additional information from the HAHN Group and Corun USA.