Software company SVT Robotics recently announced it has closed on a $25 million series A funding round led by Tiger Global Management with participation from Prologis Ventures to step up the company’s mission to make it easier for warehouses to invest and deploy robotics automation.
“With the seismic shifts we’ve seen in supply chain demands, warehouse operators want to adapt, but they need a way to quickly deploy fully integrated automation,” said William O’Donnell, managing director of Prologis Ventures. “SVT’s platform addresses this problem, giving these companies the tools they need to avert the next crisis.”
A.K. Schultz, co-founder and CEO of SVT Robotics, explained in an interview with FreightWaves the complexity he saw when deploying automation in warehouses and the noticeable need for resolution.
“Everybody’s software is literally designed not to work with each other and that has been the industry model for decades,” he said. “This led us to start working on AI type optimization at a system level because each robot has its own AI layer and these layers will fight each other because each one is trying to optimize itself. We decided to create an overarching integration layer, normalize all data sets between each type of automation to achieve system-level AI.”
|Funding details||SVT Robotics|
|Funding amount||$25 million|
|Funding round||Series A|
|Lead investor||Tiger Global Management|
|Secondary investor||Prologis Ventures|
|Business goals for the round||Expand customer base and continue with research and development|
|Total funding||$30.6 million|
Schultz went on to describe SVT’s software, called the SOFTBOT platform, as the “USB of robotics.”
Prior to the universal serial bus, a modem, printer, keyboard and mouse all had their own cords and ports into a computer. The USB created a routine way for electronics to easily connect and work together.
“Now you don’t have to care about what company built that computer or what operating system it uses, you can make all of this technology work as long as you adhere to this standard,” Schultz said.
He said implementing robotics automation in warehouses often takes multiple third-party integrators working together to create an internal standard between each type of automation. With SVT’s SOFTBOT platform, integrators will be able to work on a standard set of rules, decreasing the amount of time it takes to deploy these technologies within warehouses and manage any technology changes that could occur over the robots’ life span.
“Most people look to automation to save them from problems, but because it is so hard to integrate and by the time you have the technology integrated into your systems, there is a good chance that the market has moved and what you built is not really what you need anymore. Suddenly this automation that was supposed to save you now has you in a prison because you can’t easily tweak it and modernize it,” Schultz said.
SVT’s efforts have earned the company such honors as being named a Cool Vendor in Supply Chain Execution Technology for 2021 by Gartner, which recognizes emerging execution technology in logistics. According to Gartner, multi-robot orchestration has only penetrated 1%-5% of its total target audience and will become necessary as companies begin deploying more than one robotics technology within their operations.
With its new capital and investor relations, SVT plans to continue building upon its SOFTBOT platform to execute multi-robot orchestration through various robotics and integrator partnerships.
“With its SOFTBOT Platform, SVT Robotics is solving this crucial interoperability problem. We believe the company is well positioned to lead in the rapid and flexible deployment of automation and we’re excited to partner with them as they grow,” said Griffin Schroeder, a partner at Tiger Global.