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How Automated Robots are Supporting the Surge in E-commerce

28 JUL 2020
TOPICS: COVID-19 | Technology Driving Innovation

In this episode of our Venture Capital Horizon series with Heath Terry of Goldman Sachs Research, we dive into the future of e-commerce and the adoption of robotics in everything from manufacturing to packaging and delivery.

With the pandemic keeping people home, e-commerce year-over-year growth has skyrocketed from 18% in February to 93% in May. With fulfillment capacity for retailers and manufacturers stretched beyond their limits and the need to socially distance in warehouses, new generations of affordable commercial robots are emerging. Terry spoke to Melonee Wise, the CEO of Fetch Robotics, which builds robots used to automate e-commerce warehouses like Amazon’s or Walmart’s, to hear how COVID is accelerating the use of robotics. “Before the pandemic, we were predominantly doing very long runs, several hundred feet that took people several minutes to walk those distances so that they could focus on doing assembly tasks or boxing… Today with the pandemic, it's shifted a little bit, now we take over most of the movement, even short movements between stations so people don't have to interact with each other,” explained Wise. Deven Parekh, a Managing Director at venture capital firm Insight Partners, also weighed in on the how the pandemic is impacting the industry, “every scale e-commerce company is going to have to look at robotics...it's hard to have high density in a warehouse right now and, might be for the foreseeable future.” As the technology and use cases continue to evolve, more than 50,000 warehouses worldwide are expected to include commercial robotics by 2025, according to market research firm ABI Research.

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This podcast was recorded on July 28, 2020.

 

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