WALTHAM, Mass. – Vecna Robotics, which develops software and technology that gives mobile autonomy to vehicles such as tuggers, pallet jacks and forklifts, last night held a free event here showcasing its technology to customers, partners, and the general public.
The company, a 2019 RBR50 honoree, gave tours of its new facility that included warehouse demonstrations showing its automated tuggers and pallet jacks moving goods around. It also used the event to tout its new relationship with UniCarriers America, in which the companies will collaborate on designing new autonomous vehicles.
Daniel Theobald, CEO and founder of Vecna Robotics, told the crowd that the company wanted to get together and celebrate “what has been in some sense, a long journey, some sense a short journey.” Last year, the company separated from its parent company, Vecna Technologies (which focuses on healthcare robotics), to create a standalone business that addressed the industrial sector.
“We’ve only been a company since June 2018, and in that time we’ve gone from a startup to a market leader, and that’s been a really exciting journey,” said Theobald. “But we bring a deep heritage in robotics to that startup, and we’re so excited to see the growth in this industry.”
In addition to the partnership with UniCarriers, Theobald said the company had signed a major deal with one of the world’s largest retailers, with another one on the way. “We’ve worked with all of the top players in retail, manufacturing, shipping, and they’re all coming to us,” Theobald said.
Addressing labor shortages
Beyond the business deals for the company, Theobald said he was excited to work with companies to address the needs of companies in hiring workers. “Some of our customers have over 200% turnover, which means that even when they can hire people, keeping those workers engaged and excited about the work they’re doing, it’s just an overwhelming challenge,” he added.
But companies also understand that the robots are there to help make workers’ jobs easier, not replace them, Theobald said. “This is about empowering workers to do more than they ever have before, which is going to allow the economy to keep growing,” he said. “If we limit ourselves to just the work that human beings can do with their own hands, we have a fundamental physics-based limit on what we can accomplish as a species. The whole idea with Vecna Robotics is we can use technology, robotics, and our pivot.al orchestration engine to help optimize the work in ways that allow us to accomplish more than ever before as a species.”
Also addressing the crowd included MassRobotics Executive Director Thomas Ryden, who discussed the recent news about Massachusetts companies receiving investments of more than $1 billion over the first nine months of 2019, and Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, who welcomed the company to the city with an official proclamation.