In case you missed it last week, Pickle Robot Company, a robotics startup based in Cambridge, MA, shared that they raised $5.75M in seed funding. Today, we are excited to announce our investment in this round led by Hyperplane with participation from Third Kind Ventures, Box Group, and others.
It’s no secret that the warehousing and logistics industry is facing enormous pressure: skyrocketing order volume and complexity (ship to store, ship to home, etc.), tighter delivery schedules and ‘same day delivery’ expectations. Then, add in labor shortages, rising labor costs and Covid-related stay at home orders. Automation is the solution, but much of the technology is still limited to labs, Proof of Concept and early adopter pilots. And this is why we appreciate Pickle’s approach so much.
We first met the Pickle team in early 2019 and quickly discovered that co-founders Andrew Meyer, Ariana Eisenstein, and Dan Paluska are awesome! Andrew studied machine learning at MIT and founded a successful R&D company called Leaf Labs. Ariana studied machine vision at MIT and during her time at Leaf Labs developed neurotechnologies for Facebook and the NIH. And Dan is a well-known roboticist and artist; you may have seen him on the cover of Wired Magazine for his intelligent robotics installations.
The collective brainpower of this group is awe-inspiring, but what impressed us even more is their clear and practical vision. Pickle isn’t trying to automate everything – for now, they’re focused on one very important use case: unloading packages from trucks at the loading dock. This is a physically demanding environment with high rates of employee turnover. It’s also a bottleneck in the warehouse: if you get boxes off trucks faster, the throughput of the entire warehouse goes up.
Pickle has spent more time working inside the messy realities of real warehouses than in the lab. They’re not looking to fully replace people with robots; people are still needed to supervise, pick up dropped packages, handle irregular items and other real-world stuff. Arianna summed it up this way: “We think of our robots less like Terminators and more like sled dogs. No one expects a team of dogs to run the Iditarod on their own.” But by automating mundane, labor-intensive tasks, people can focus on what they’re best at: solving complex problems.
The other important element to Pickle’s solution is that they’re building software (“the brain”) for commodity hardware robots, which helps lower the cost barrier for broader adoption in the industry.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out what Pickle’s first robot (named “Dill”) can do!