6 River Systems Raises $25M For Warehouse Robots

While the e-commerce industry continues to boom, the startup 6 River Systems, which is Boston-based, is seeing some benefits, reports Tech Crunch.

The robot-building company that offers machines to improve the production process in warehouses has raised $25 million in Series B financing in a round led by Menlo Ventures, with involvement from Norwest Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures and iRobot.

6 River reports early success with a robot it has produced called “Chuck”. Founder and CEO Jerome Dubois said that 6 River has built the “first and only collaborative robot with associates in the aisles doing work.” To put it simply, the goal is to improve human efficiency.

Chuck helps workers by guiding them through the facility through the phases of the packaging process. It features a touchscreen to help locate items as it glides around the room, using sensors to detect worker productivity. It’s been designed to assist with training employees.

6 River sees robots of this kind as a way to help warehouse professionals wrestling with a “massive labor shortage” rather than the path to eliminating humans from the labor force. “There aren’t enough people to fill the jobs,” Dubois said.

So far, 6 River has deployed 600 robots in 30 locations. These machines have assisted with packing medical supplies, products for retail, and “nuts and bolts” in industrial sites.

Former executives of Kiva Systems make up the team. Kiva produced a similar warehouse robot and was bought by Amazon for $775 million in 2012.

Matt Murphy of Menlo Ventures, who is on the board at 6 River, said there has been “very little automation outside of conveyor belts,” as to why he chose to invest. “[There] needed to be a second-generation robotics system to replace what Amazon started six years ago when they bought Kiva,” he said.

6 River is focused on developing its relationships with Fortune 100 businesses and uses SaaS licensing to offer its robots, or one-t0-two year rentals. It wants to build out its software and expand to Europe as well. In the last two years, it has raised  $21 million in funding.

The startup has plans to build out its own software, and expand into Europe. In the last two years, it raised $21 million in funding.