Somerville, MA-based RightHand Robotics has raised $23 million in a Series B funding round led by Menlo Ventures, joined by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and existing investors Dream Incubator, Matrix Partners and Playground Global. The company, founded in 2014, has raised $34.2 million to date.
Also Mick Mountz, founder and former CEO of Kiva Systems, has joined RightHand Robotics as a director. Kiva, which launched the modern era of ecommerce fulfillment robotics, was acquired by Amazon and taken private in 2012.
“RightHand is picking up where we left off,” said Mountz in a release. “Customers saw products coming directly to operators for picking and packing and would ask: ‘Why don’t you also automate this step with a robotic arm and gripper?’ But that was a difficult problem that we knew would require years of research and technical breakthroughs.”
RightHand Robotics said it will use the funds to expand its business and technical teams and broaden its suite of product applications to support customers including major retailers such as Hudson’s Bay Co., pharmaceutical firms and third-party logistics providers.
As the name implies, RightHand Robotics has created a robotic arm that can sense and learn colors and sizes of objects for ecommerce picking through machine learning software. Grippers and suction cups mounted on “fingers” grasp and pick the objects.
Adoption of automation and robotics is increasing rapidly as ecommerce companies struggle to keep up with rapid growth, including finding ample labor in a tight job market. This has led to a boomlet of robotics startups, with several like RightHand originating in the Boston area.
RightHand Robotics was part of a panel discussion on advances in robotics for fulfillment at Operations Summit 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA along with Hudson’s Bay, Quiet Logistics and Locus Robotics. Ecommerce Operations Summit 2019 will be held April 9-11 in Columbus, OH.