Dexterity Robotics unveiled its new full-stack robotics solution for industrial applications like warehouses and supply chain management yesterday. In addition to taking the wraps off its product, Dexterity also revealed that it has raised $56.2 million, including venture investments and debt from Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Obvious Ventures, Pacific West Bank, B37 Ventures, Presidio (Sumitomo) Ventures, Blackhorn Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Stanford StartX.
Part of Dexterity’s pitch is that its grippers have enough sensitivity to pick up and pack soft, delicate items like bread. Jonathan Vanian over at Fortune got an early look at the Dexterity robots in action and wrote:
The robotic arms can figure out how much pressure is needed to apply to a particular object, which is helpful so they don’t smash a spongy material like bread when they grip it. The software also helps the robot decide to gently lower the bread and other objects into a crate instead of dropping it carelessly into a container, which Menon described as a sort of Achilles heel for some pick-and-place machines.
Food is actually a good application to help advance the entire field of robotics. In addition to much of it being soft and malleable like bread, food is often irregularly shaped (produce) and delicate (eggs). That’s why Sony partnered with Carnegie-Mellon to develop food robots, and why researchers at MIT and Harvard developed an origami robot. Soft Robotics has also developed special octopus-like rubber grippers to handle food with odd shapes and textures.
The goal with all this is robo-development is to automate the repetitive tasks like packing boxes in large warehouses. Through computer vision and a soft touch, as it were, robots can accurately sort and pack items for shipment around the clock, ideally bringing more consistency and speed to the supply chain.
With a $56.2 million warchest, we’ll have to see now if Dexterity has the agility to make an impact on the supply chain.