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Plus One Robotics, a developer of vision software for logistics robots, raised $33 million in Series B funding. McRock Capital and TransLink Ventures co-led the round, with participation from BMW i Ventures, Kensington Capital Partners, Perot Jain, and Ironspring Ventures alongside existing investors. Whitney Rockley of McRock Capital and Toshi Otani of TransLink will join the company’s Board of Directors.
San Antonio, Texas-based Plus One Robotics has raised nearly $44 million since it was founded in 2016. The funding will support Plus One’s ongoing expansion in the U.S. and Europe, as well as continued product development that is being driven by the global boom in e-commerce.
Plus One’s 3D and AI-powered vision software, PickOne, works with any robot, gripper, and cloud service. It enables vision-guided manipulation of a variety of objects. If any exceptions occur, Plus One’s Yonder human-in-the-loop function notifies a “crew chief,” who can remotely manage the exception. One human can manage up to 50 robots remotely.
Plus One Robotics CEO and co-founder Erik Nieves told The Robot Report parcel sorting is growing strong, while the company has recently focused on depalletizing work. He said the theme of the Series B round is the company’s international readiness. “You can’t be the biggest vision-guided manipulation company out there solely on the back of North America. We’re here to win.”
Nieves said Plus One has been managing its European business abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wouldn’t confirm whether a European headquarters is on the future roadmap, but he certainly seemed to agree with the premise.
“It’s tricky managing abroad, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals,” Nieves said. “There are more warehouses and folks working in warehouses in Europe than in North America. The [workforce] scarcity problem and e-commerce growth is all the same over there. They need automation tools just as we do.”
“The Plus One team has done an excellent job aggressively growing its business over the past two years. Their market traction and customer base validates the need for logistics automation using agnostic, scalable applications. Erik and the team have a deep bench of robotics and vision software experience that is widely respected, making Plus One beautifully positioned to dominate the sector” said Whitney Rockley of McRock.
In December 2020, Plus One Robotics named Crystal Parrott VP of engineering. She is in charge of engineering and spearhead product development. Prior to joining Plus One, she served as VP of the Robotics Center of Excellence at Dematic, where she led all robotic initiatives for the logistic market. Plus One Robotics also announced a major partnership with FANUC.
“We believe that Plus One Robotics’ technology will usher in a new era of smart, adaptive robot systems to bring automation to new heights across supply chain, logistics and manufacturing. The beauty of Plus One’s technology is that it combines state-of-the-art computer-vision algorithms with a human-in-the-loop approach, enabling robots to operate at accuracy and throughput levels currently unmatched in the industry. This truly is the start of a new era of robotics-driven automation,” added Kasper Sage, Partner at BMW i Ventures.
Plus One Robotics recently deployed robots in the small-package sorting area of FedEx’s Memphis Hub. FedEx and Plus One Robotics have both said there are plans to expand the number of systems in the near future. Nieves recently joined The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the FedEx project, as well as the challenges of developing the company’s vision system, its human-in-the-loop approach, and why robotics-as-a-service might not be the correct sales approach for logistics customers. You can listen to the interview below, starting at the 2:48 mark.