Robots have long made the transition from sci-fi movies to reality. Advanced robotics have become an indispensable element in most industrial use cases and many factories and warehouses are run by robots that are programmed to perform one task over and over and executing that one task to perfection. Unstructured environments are still a huge challenge for robotics though. Taking rock samples on Mars can be easier for a robot than navigating in public dynamic spaces like us humans do on a day-to-day basis.
With advancing technology (notably computer vision and LIDAR), robotics has started to break free of the industrial safety cages and is slowly taking on dynamic spaces like pedestrian paths, supermarkets, shopping malls, or airports.
At the forefront of this robotic thrust into public dynamic spaces is our latest investment, BotsAndUs. Andrei Danescu (at that time working on the autonomous driving capabilities at JLR), Adrian Negoita (back then Senior Automation Engineer), and Oana Jinga (Retail Partnership Manager EMEA at Google) met at a robotics competition in Bucharest and were instantly united by their passion for robotics. In 2015, they founded BotsAndUs to liberate robotics from industrial environments and place them where they can add the most value - alongside humans.
Supported by numerous research grants, the team used the following five years to gather a team of experts in robotics and software engineering around them to build the best-in-class autonomous movement solution for public dynamic spaces. The technological core of the BotsAndUs hardware is based in an autonomous robotics platform on which different modules can be put to serve different use cases.
The first step for the robots is the retail industry, where there currently is a huge pull for automation and data collection. According to a survey by IHL, 24% of amazon’s revenues come from customers who first tried to buy a product in-store. Not only is online shopping often more convenient than the brick-and-mortar experience but additionally, e-commerce companies can gather huge data assets about their customers. Knowing what happens inside their store is the missing piece of the puzzle for physical retailers to compete with e-commerce giants.
During opening hours, the customer service module can be used to assist customers whereas the operations module monitors stock, layout, and planogram of the space. All robots are connected via fleet intelligence infrastructure and the captured real-time data is aggregated and analyzed in BotsAndUs’ robotics management system (RMS).
The huge potential of those data assets is recognized by many large retailers and BotsAndUs is working on deployments with retail giants such as MediaMarkt Saturn positioning itself at the forefront of robotics for public dynamics places for when the broader wave of adoption hits.
We are more than happy that alongside Kindred Capital, we will be joining the visionary team of BotsAndUs on this journey of making unprecedented streams of data accessible to companies serving customers in physical spaces.