A decade after Amazon made its first foray into robotics with its acquisition of Kiva Programs, the e-commerce big is buying iRobot for $1.7 billion.
Whereas completion of the transaction remains to be topic to customary closing situations, the deal expands Amazon’s already in depth robotics portfolio. Right here’s a take a look at the corporate’s robotics acquisitions and a few of its investments and notable robots developed internally.
It’s unattainable to speak about Amazon’s historical past in robotics with out speaking about Kiva Programs. Amazon acquired the cellular robotic firm in 2012 for $775 million. On the time, it was Amazon’s second-largest acquisition ever.
Kiva initially continued to supply cellular robots to its current clients, however that shortly got here to an finish. And in 2015, it grew to become Amazon Robotics. Kiva’s automated guided automobiles (AGVs) use computerized barcode stickers on the ground to navigate Amazon’s warehouses.
Amazon Robotics just lately introduced its first autonomous cellular robotic (AMR), Proteus. It does related duties because the Kiva robots, however can work freely round Amazon staff as a substitute of caged off areas.
Amazon quietly acquired Dispatch, a last-mile supply firm, in 2017. It utilized the corporate’s expertise and experience to create Scout, which it introduced in early 2019. The six-wheeled sidewalk supply robots are totally electrical and travels at a strolling tempo.
In 2019, Amazon acquired Canvas Know-how for an undisclosed quantity. Canvas Know-how used “spatial AI” to permit cellular robots to navigate safely round individuals in dynamic environments. It’s doubtless this expertise contributed to Amazon’s Proteus AMR.
Zoox, an autonomous car developer, was acquired by Amazon in 2020 for an undisclosed quantity, though reports suggested Amazon paid $1.2 billion for the corporate. On the time, Amazon worldwide shopper CEO Jeff Wilke mentioned Amazon was excited to assist the Zoox crew convey its imaginative and prescient for a zero-emission autonomous experience hailing service to actuality.
Quickly after the acquisition, Zoox unveiled its autonomous car for the primary time. Since then, the corporate has expanded its testing to Seattle, its fourth testing metropolis, however issues have been principally quiet from the corporate.
Amazon plans to amass iRobot for $1.7 billion, over double what it paid for Kiva Programs, at $61 per share in an all-cash transaction. If the deal closes, it will likely be Amazon’s fourth greatest acquisition ever.
iRobot isn’t the corporate’s first enterprise into family robotics. In September 2021, Amazon unveiled Astro, basically an Echo Present 10 on wheels. The robotic can be utilized for residence monitoring, video conferencing and entertaining youngsters.
iRobot will definitely broaden Amazon’s shopper robotics portfolio, though iRobot has just lately been diversifying its portfolio with non-robotics merchandise. It acquired Aeris Cleantec AG, a Switzerland-based developer of air purifiers, in November 2021 for $72 million. Earlier in 2021, iRobot launched its H1 handheld vacuum, its first non-robotics product.
Different robotic pursuits
Whereas it’s not owned by Amazon, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ sub-orbital spaceflight firm, acquired Honeybee Robotics for an undisclosed quantity in January 2022. Honeybee Robotics is an R&D engineering firm that has delivered greater than 1,000 tasks to authorities and industrial clients within the spacecraft, planetary exploration, protection robotics, medical units, mining, oil and gasoline, and utility infrastructure sectors.
Amazon introduced its $1 billion Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund in April 2022. The fund’s first spherical of investments included Agility Robotics, an organization creating a bipedal strolling robotic, BionicHIVE, an organization creating an autonomous robotic resolution that may adapt to current infrastructure in warehouses, and Mantis Robotics, an organization creating a tactile robotic arm.
Amazon has made quite a lot of different investments in robotics corporations. For instance, it participated in a $530 million Sequence B spherical of funding for autonomous car developer Aurora Innovation in early 2019.
Ring, a safety firm owned by Amazon, is creating the Ring At all times House Cam, an indoor aerial drone for safety functions. Talking of drones, Amazon just lately introduced its Prime Air supply drones will start testing in Lockeford, California and School Station, Texas.