Robots in the Real World: News on Savioke, Marble, Knightscope, Fetch

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some of the most demanding technical and competitive challenges in the robotics industry. Fetch makes autonomous robots that have to work safely alongside human beings in warehouse and manufacturing settings. The machines need to recognize and navigate around people and fast-moving forklifts.

In April 2015, Fetch unveiled its first pair of robots, named Fetch and Freight, with the hope that it could sign up companies for pilot projects. The robots were designed to help modestly-sized distribution centers automate the rapid turnaround of shipments, even though they don’t operate on the scale of Amazon. Smaller companies may struggle to meet consumer expectations for on-demand delivery set by the Seattle-based commerce giant.

Fetch was an automaton that could expand in height and use its gripper arm to pick items from warehouse shelves. It passed the goods to its stocky companion bot, Freight, which then sped off to deliver them to shipping stations.

Fetch has since expanded its industrial robot line to include pallet-sized versions of the original barrel-shaped Freight. The company now has a Web-based fleet management system, FetchCore, that helps Fetch customers manage their robots and the materials they handle. On its website, Fetch is emphasizing the Freight line of robots, and still conducts R&D on the components of Fetch-style machines that deploy grippers and flexible arms for tasks like stock-picking.

Joining Fetch’s board is Brian Nugent, founding general partner at Sway Ventures, who estimates the current warehouse and logistics automation market at over $40 billion.

In its industrial sphere, Fetch is competing with companies including Wilmington, MA-based Locus Robotics, which raised $25 million last month in a Series B financing round led by Scale Venture Partners; Waltham, MA-based 6 River Systems; Somerville, MA-based RightHand Robotics; and Cambridge, MA-based Vecna.

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