Teradyne Inc. is strengthening its robotics portfolio by acquiring AutoGuide Mobile Robots, a Chelmsford, Mass.-based developer of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). North Reading, Mass.-based Teradyne will pay $58 million net of cash acquired for AutoGuide. The price of the acquisition could increase another $107 million if AutoGuide meets performance targets through 2022.
Referred to internally at Teradyne as “Project Megatron,” the deal is expected to close in Q4 2019 and is subject to routine closing conditions and regulatory approval. Like Teradyne’s other robotics acquisitions, AutoGuide will remain a standalone company, operating in Teradyne’s Industrial Automation segment. AutoGuide will report to Teradyne President and CEO Mark Jagiela.
This is the second Massachusetts-based AMR developer to be acquired recently. Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify Inc. just last week completed its $450 million acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based 6 River Systems Inc. The deal was first announced on Sept. 9.
Teradyne has acquired its way into quite an impressive robotics portfolio. Here’s a breakdown of the robotics companies Teradyne has acquired since 2015:
- Teradyne acquired Universal Robots in 2015 for $285 million.
- Teradyne acquired Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), a leading developer of autonomous mobile robots, for $272 million in April 2018.
- Teradyne quietly purchased Energid for an undisclosed amount in March 2018.
AutoGuide and MiR both develop AMRs for industrial and warehouse material handling applications. Teradyne said AutoGuide will complement MiR’s robots. AutoGuide’s lineup features a payload range of 1,770-10,000 lb. and expands Teradyne into the “emerging, high-growth market” of AMRs for heavy-payload transport. MiR’s heaviest payload is 2,204 lb. (1,000kg) via the MiR1000.
“The high-payload AMR market is an emerging, fast-growing segment of the global forklift market,” said Jagiela. “AutoGuide’s modular architecture and innovative technologies provide safe, easy-to-deploy products that naturally complement our MiR low- to mid-payload AMR’s extending Teradyne’s reach in this attractive market.”
Autoguide has several major competitors in the market, including Balyo, Seegrid, and Boston-based Vecna Robotics — not to mention several manual forklift manufacturers. Teradyne said AutoGuide “offers a unique, modular architecture on a purpose-built platform and is not a retrofitted manual product.”
While AutoGuide has flown under the radar compared with other logistics robotics providers, Teradyne said AutoGuide is well-positioned for rapid growth. AutoGuide generated about $4 million in sales in 2018, and Teradyne expects sales will more than double in 2019. Most of AutoGuide’s sales have been in the U.S., but it certainly will benefit from Teradyne’s global distribution expertise.
“AutoGuide, like UR and MiR, is using emerging smart, cost-effective technologies in industrial robotics to improve workflows and reduce operating costs in a broad spectrum of industries,” said Jagiela. “We look forward to helping AutoGuide grow by developing their global sales and support capabilities while continuing to strengthen and expand their innovative product lineup.”
Notable Robotics Acquisitions of 2019
|Acquired Company||Acquiring Company||Amount||Technology|
|Endeavor Robotics||FLIR Systems||$382M||Military Robotics|
|6 River Systems||Shopify||$450M||Autonomous Mobile Robots|
|Auris Health||Johnson & Johnson||$3.4B||Healthcare Robotics|
|Kinema Systems||Boston Dynamics||N/A||3D Vision|
|Canvas Technology||Amazon||N/A||Autonomous Navigation|
AutoGuide origins and lineup
In 2017, AutoGuide spun out of Heartland Automation, a systems integrator in Georgetown, Ky. Heartland Automation, which also manufactures AutoGuide’s robots, was not included in the acquisition.
AutoGuide President and CEO Rob Sullivan, who led the spinoff, was part owner of Heartland Automation. AutoGuide is focusing on rolling its products out across North America and will launch in Europe in 2020. AutoGuide builds both the hardware and software; it doesn’t retrofit existing hardware with autonomous navigation software.
“We own the building and the land in Kentucky,” Sullivan recently told The Robot Report. “One of AutoGuide’s big differentiators is that other companies are using retrofit kits. The problem there is you don’t control the design of the product. You can’t design it for purpose because you’re stuck with what the manual companies did. Customers don’t want that.”
The MAX N10 Mobile Robot Tugger uses lidar and SLAM to autonomously navigate infrastructure-free environments. It travels at speeds up to 4 mph in autonomous mode and has a modular design with an array of standard attachments to form application-specific vehicles. The MAX N10 moves loads up to 10,000 lb. (4,535 kg).
The Max N10 Pallet Stacker also uses lidar and SLAM to automatically pick and place pallets or racks from the floor level, trailer decks, conveyors, or racks up to 5 ft. high. The standard payload capacity is 1,770 lb. (800 kg), but there is a high-capacity version for up to 2,650 lb. (1,200 kg). The Max N10 pallet Stacker can pick pallets that have been displaced from their expected location. The vehicle sensors will identify the pallet, its location and orientation, and then dynamically re-plan a travel path for a successful pick.
The MYLO robots were engineered to tunnel under load-handling frames. They use magnetic tape guidance to autonomously transport loads up to 4,400 lb. (1,995.8 kg) and unhitch before moving on to the next target.
“The combined strength of Teradyne’s industrial automation businesses and AutoGuide’s product lines offer new opportunities to create end-to-end automation solutions for customers seeking the safest and most productive material-handling operations from a single source,” Sullivan said of the acquisition.