Kindred AI launches warehouse robots already in use by ‘major retailers’

A company called Kindred AI has launched a new range of warehouse robotics systems powered by artificial intelligence. 

In one system, Kindred appears to be using a Stäubli robot, and in another, an arm that looks like it’s from Universal Robots. 

The company, which says it is building “human-like intelligence in machines”, says “major global retailers” have started pilot programs integrating Kindred Sort, the company’s first commercial offering, in their existing fulfillment centers.

Kindred also says it has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Tencent, bringing the total amount raised to $44 million. Previous investors Eclipse Ventures and First Round Capital participated in the new round. 

Kindred says its team of scientists is exploring new types of cognitive architectures that can make any machine smarter.

The company is focused on uncovering how brains learn through a physical body, and applying those learnings to “create and teach a new intelligent class of robots that will enhance the quality of our day-to-day lives, and in particular, the way we work”.

The additional capital will go towards the continued research, development and deployment of Kindred’s robots as a service, says the company.

The new funds will also be used to advance the company’s broader mission to build human-like intelligence in machines.

Kindred Sort was developed for use in retail distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers to quickly and accurately sort an endless variety of products into orders, side by side with warehouse staff.

The robots will help retailers increase productivity and expand capacity to serve more customers faster, enabling top-line revenue growth, claims the company.

Pierre Lamond, partner at Eclipse Ventures, says: “Kindred Sort is only the beginning when it comes to showcasing the company’s unique approach to AI. 

“Their technology is powering a new class of robots that learn to do far more than traditional industrial robots.

“These intelligent robots complement human workers to meet the greater efficiency, flexibility and output demands of modern e-commerce fulfillment centers.”

With Kindred Sort, the company aims to alleviate what it says are the “massive pressures” facing the retail and fulfillment industry, which includes significant online sales growth, labor shortages, and a lack of advancement in technology.

Though overall employment in fulfillment centers grew by more than 6 percent last year, employers struggle to fill an increasing number of open positions.

Kindred Sort allows retailers to more efficiently manage the exploding growth and demand of this sector. 

George Babu, co-founder and head of product at Kindred, says: “Industrial robots, despite their accuracy and precision in the controlled environments of modern manufacturing facilities, do not adapt well to less controlled environments where the items could be randomly placed or come in a nearly infinite variety of sizes, shapes, and weights.

“Kindred Sort leverages our advancements in applying artificial intelligence to physical world systems and our unique approach to delivering intelligence to robots that can help solve the capacity issues facing modern fulfillment centers.”

Babu adds: “In the future, all machines will benefit from being able to understand and interact intelligently with the world around them, and Kindred is on the forefront of creating the building blocks for this future.” 

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