Warehouse operations have benefited immensely with the increased development of robotics over the past few years. Despite the fact that 2018 Google statistics found that around 97% of e-commerce site visitors were not making purchases, the demand to fulfill e-commerce purchases continues to grow. This is especially true for huge e-commerce sites like Amazon, which has recently acquired Canvas Technology.
Canvas Technology is a warehouse robotics startup based in Boulder, Colorado. Canvas was founded in 2015 and is led by Jonathan McQueen. The company has shown some truly impressive work with their fully autonomous cart system over the years.
The cart system was displayed at Playground Global's open house last year and the startup company even raised a $15 million Series A led by Playground. At the open house, the cart system was able to successfully maneuver around people and objects in the space.
The autonomous cart system uses 3D imaging and a software system that was developed in-house to allow it to move around and avoid objects in its way. The software system can be applied to other items, like lifts and vehicles, needed to be used around a warehouse.
By using the in-house software, spatial artificial intelligence, and top-of-the-line cameras, these robotics can navigate through crowded areas easily. And since fall protection measures were introduced by OSHA in 1971, safety has always been a top priority, especially in warehouses. Fortunately, this technology allows the robots to move about both quickly and safely even with several moving parts, like people and operating equipment.
In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million. This acquisition resulted in one of the early leaders in robotics for logistics being taken off the market — which, in turn, put Amazon well ahead of its competitors. Kiva Systems produced shelving robotics and with the e-commerce company pushing for more automated parts throughout its warehouses, these robotics have been used in Amazon's numerous fulfillment for several years now.
And the Kiva Systems addition wasn't just big news for Amazon — this investment also encouraged numerous other startups to delve deeper into the world of autonomous mobile robots and automated guided vehicles. These startups had high hopes of being noticed by retailers and third-party logistics, and Canvas Technology definitely succeeded.
TechCrunch reported that Amazon issued a statement on the new deal, saying, “We are inspired by Canvas Technology’s innovations, and share a common vision for a future where people work alongside robotics to further improve safety and the workplace experience. We look forward to working with Canvas Technology’s fantastic team to keep inventing for customers.”