The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, a US$1bn (£785,000) venture investment programme for new warehouse automation solutions, has recently invested in two new robotics solutions.
The fund launched in 2022, with Amazon claiming that since then it has invested in almost a dozen different solutions. Recent investments include funding for Rightbot, which is developing an automated system for unloading containers, and Instock, which has designed a robotic storage and retrieval system for inventory management.
Franziska Bossart, director of the Industrial Innovation Fund at Amazon, said: “Our vision to help accelerate automation and supply-chain innovation continues to be a key priority and unlock how we can better deliver for customers and improve our workplace for employees. This year, we want to further establish the Fund as a venture investor of choice for innovative start-ups of all sizes within the robotics, fulfilment and logistics space.”
In 2024, the fund is set to expand to include investment in autonomous vehicles and last-mile technologies, an Amazon spokesperson said.
Bossart predicts some major areas of growth for 2024 in terms of investment will be artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. She added: “Algorithms have enabled us to develop technologies that can process large amounts of data, make decisions and learn from experience. I believe in 2024, we’ll see more widespread use of these intelligent systems.”
Bossart continued: “Automation technologies are great at taking on repetitive and predictable tasks; by doing so, they can free up employees to take on new responsibilities […] Since Amazon introduced robots into its operations, we’ve created hundreds of thousands of new jobs and over 700 categories of new skilled roles within Amazon that didn’t exist within the company beforehand.”
Late last year, Amazon made global headlines when it began trialling a humanoid robot named Digit at its research and development facility just outside Seattle.