Walmart’s robot maker Bossa Nova Robotics announced on Thursday that it has raised another $29 million to help ramp up its production to fill more retailer requests over the next six months.
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Martin Hitch, co-founder and chief business officer of the San-Francisco-based robotics company, says the new funding will allow them to produce hundreds of robots a month to meet its new demand for 2019.
The new $29 million funding round was led by Cota Capital, China Walden Venture and LG Electronics, which bumps up the company’s total funding to $70 million. Bossa Nova also announced a new manufacturing partnership with Flex to expand its production. The company is also exploring opening international offices due to high interest from retailers overseas.
While Hitch would not disclose what companies are placing orders, he did say the devices aren’t designed to take jobs away.
“It's very easy to initially think negatively about it,” he tells FOX Business. “But the robots are actually creating so much more work for people.”
For example, the 50 robots that are currently in Walmart stores across the country are only being used to scan shelves to figure out what’s in stock or what needs to be replenished. The data is actually helping to improve Walmart’s bottom line and its overall operations, he adds.
“The stores are educating the staff on how the robots can be beneficial to them as well,” Hitch says. “[The robots] also allow associates and employees to focus on the highest value tasks instead.”
The robots are able to work three times faster and can be up to twice as accurate when scanning shelves, which frees up employees to do other important tasks, like helping shoppers or stocking shelves, which is something the robot can’t do well.
“[They] are not very good at moving products around or taking products off of stocking shelves,” Hitch says.