Food Supply Chain: Tyson Foods Invests in AI Robotics

Tyson Foods - among others - invests in Soft Robotics Series B extension, expanding the use of AI, robotics and automation in the food supply chain

Who Are Soft Robotics?

Founded in 2012, Soft Robotics is an industry leader and award-winning technology company that designs and builds automated picking solutions.

The company uses proprietary soft robotics grippers, 3D machine perception, and SoftAI™ artificial intelligence to provide its solutions to industries such as food and beverage, consumer package goods (CPG) and logistics. 

“We are dedicated to constant innovation and collaboration and are proud to be the face of the next wave of robotic automation,” says Soft Robotics.

Soft Robotics latest Series B extension - co-led by Material Impact, Scale Venture Partners and Calibrate Ventures - raised US$10mn.

The funds raised will help the company to further expand its commercial operations to meet the COIVD-19-fueled demand. In addition, the funds will go towards the launch of its SoftAI™ powered robotic solutions.

"This is an exciting time at Soft Robotics. The vulnerabilities of the food supply chain were illuminated by the pandemic making it clear that automation has graduated from a nice-to-have to a must-have across all large scale food production operations,” said Jeff Beck, CEO at Soft Robotics.

Understanding the Technology

SoftAI™ combines 3D vision and artificial intelligence (AI) with Soft Robotics’ patented, proven and IP69K-rated, soft grasping solution that gives industrial robots the hand-eye coordination of a human being. By combining these technologies, for the first time ever, the automation of bulk picking processes in the food supply chain is possible. 

"Today's industrial robots are unable to deal with product variability or unstructured environments typically found across the labour challenged food supply chain in areas such as agriculture, food processing, and logistics," said Mark Chiappetta, COO at Soft Robotics. 

"With our revolutionary soft grasping, 3D perception, and AI technologies, Soft Robotics unlocks robotic automation by augmenting widely available industrial robots with true hand-eye coordination allowing them to perform tasks that traditionally could only be performed by human workers." 


So Why Has Tyson Foods Invested in the Company?

Soft Robotics explains that food manufacturers, such as Tyson Foods, are relying on the adoption of robotic automation to improve safety and increase production in their facilities to meet the demand for high quality, safe, and nutritious protein products. 

Being a leading producer of chicken, beef and pork, Tyson Foods has invested US$500mn over the last three years into new technology and automation and is an existing user of Soft Robotics’ technology.

"At Tyson Ventures, we are continually exploring new areas in automation that can enhance safety and increase the productivity of our team members," said Rahul Ray, Senior Director of Tyson Ventures. "Soft Robotics' best-in-class robotic technology, computer vision and AI platform have the potential to transform the food industry and will play a key role in any company's automation journey."

“Soft Robotics patented technologies are ready and being used today to enable automation in the processing and packaging of proteins, produce and bakery products. Demand for both our hardware and SoftAI software solutions are increasing at an unprecedented pace.  This new capital will support Soft Robotics' exponential growth thereby ensuring automation plays a major role in safeguarding the food supply against future disruptions,” added Beck.

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