Two major industrial automation companies—Mitsubishi Electric and Rockwell Automation—have announced strategic investments in independent robotics suppliers over the past few months.
Mitsubishi Electric invested in Clearpath Robotics, the parent company of autonomous mobile robot (AMR) supplier Otto Motors. This investment adds to Mitsubishi’s previous investments in Clearpath Robotics. According to Mitsubishi Electric, this investment “expands the strategic relationship between Otto Motors and Mitsubishi Electric and strengthens the two companies’ commercial collaboration.”
Otto Motors notes that much of its AMR customer base are Fortune 500 companies, such as GE, Ford and Toyota.
Rockwell Automation has invested in Ready Robotics, a Rockwell Technology Partner and provider of software-defined automation for robotics. Ready Robotics’ ForgeOS platform reportedly enables operators to control and program popular brands of robots from a single interface with minimal training. Using Task Canvas, a ForgeOS productivity app included with the platform, operators can create new automation tasks with a no-code, flowchart-based interface.
Rockwell and Ready Robotics have integrated ForgeOS into Rockwell’s line of Logix controllers as well as its design and simulation software. According to the companies, this integration “will simplify robot integration and accelerate time-to-market of industrial automation deployments.”
“Linking the intuitive ForgeOS software suite with Logix control, design and emulation capabilities allows a broader range of businesses to implement these powerful tools and spend less time getting their systems up and running,” said Matheus Bulho, vice president and general manager of production automation at Rockwell.
“Historically, automation has been hampered by software silos between robot vendors,” said Ben Gibbs, CEO and co-founder of Ready Robotics. “Ready’s interface alleviates this issue, eases deployment and enables automation where it might have been prohibitive before, especially in high-mix operations. Our platform enables programming and control of more than 3 million compatible robots deployed today.”
UPDATE: On September 5, 2023, it was announced that Rockwell Automation has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Clearpath Robotics, a supplier of autonomous robotics for industrial applications. Clearpath’s Otto Motors Division offers AMRs and fleet management and navigation software. According to Rockwell, the combination of Rockwell’s partnerships in “fixed robotic arms, solutions such as Independent Cart Technology, and traditional leadership in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), the addition of Otto Motors’ AMR capabilities will create a complete portfolio of advanced material handling solutions unmatched in the industry.”