Mujin secures $85M in funding to simplify warehouse robotics

Mujin Corp., a startup that develops warehouse robots and software for managing them, has raised $85 million in fresh funding.

The Series C round was announced this morning. It was led by SBI Investment with participation from Accenture plc, Toyota Motor Co. chief digital officer James Kuffner and several other backers. The round brings Mujin’s total outside funding to more than $159 million.

Deploying a new robotic arm at a supply chain facility can take upwards of months. The reason is that the system can’t start processing merchandise on its own, but must be manually configured to do so. The task often requires companies to write custom robot management software.

Tokyo- and Atlanta-based Mujin is working to simplify the task. It offers a hardware appliance, the MujinController, that companies can attach to robotic arms from major industrial manufacturers. The appliance promises to automate much of the manual work involved in programming newly installed robots.

According to Mujin, the MujinController can analyze the merchandise that a company seeks to process using machine learning and automatically identify the optimal way of carrying out the task at hand. It then implements the automatically-generated action plan with relatively little manual input. As a result, companies don’t have to write custom code or train artificial intelligence models.

The MujinController also promises to simplify warehouse operations in other ways.

Different manufacturers provide different software tools for managing their robots. At a logistics facility that contains automation hardware from multiple suppliers, workers often have to use several software interfaces to interact with the equipment. According to Mujin, the MujinController makes it possible to manage different types of robots through a single software interface. 

In warehouses, workers often place merchandise on pallets to ease transportation and storage. Mujin says that MujinController-powered robots can perform the task automatically. They’re also capable of unloading merchandise from newly arrived pallets, a process known as depalletizing.

Another repetitive warehouse task that Mujin promises to ease is picking. That’s the process of locating the warehouse shelf where a certain item is located and retrieving the item.

 “The MujinController introduces a unique approach to creating robotics applications, leveraging a real-time non-volatile digital twin and offering a suite of perception, planning and control algorithms to digitize the real world and autonomously move robots and other industrial equipment through it,” said Mujin co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Ross Diankov. 

Alongside the MujinController, the startup offers two internally-developed warehouse robots. The first is called QuickBot and focuses on automating the task of unloading merchandise from pallets. Mujin also offers TruckBot, a robotic conveyor belt designed to unload delivery trucks’ trailers and shipping containers.

The startup detailed today that MujinController powers more than 1,000 warehouse automation systems worldwide. Mujin will use its new $85 million funding round to expand customer adoption of the appliance.

Photo: Mujin

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