Rapid Robotics, creator of ready-to-work robotic machine operator, announces $5.5M in seed funding

Rapid Robotics, creator of what it calls the first ready-to-work robotic machine operator, has announced $5.5M in seed funding.

Using the company's affordable robotics solution for executing simple machine operator tasks, US manufacturers can reduce costs and recapture billions of dollars of revenue currently flowing to offshore competitors, Rapid says. The company adds that its customers are saving an average of $110,000 per year for each robotic machine operator they install, achieving positive Return on Investment in as little as three months.

According to Rapid, US companies are struggling to fill more than 600,000 open positions for machine operators, employees who run the machines that perform 80 percent of all factory tasks, such as injection molding, pad printing, heat stamping, pick-and-place and dozens of other standard tasks required for creating components across almost every manufacturing sector including medical devices, electronics, CPG, automotive and more.

Rapid says that US manufacturers “can’t hire machine operators fast enough,” and until now, there's been no viable way for them to automate the jobs. The company notes that traditional robotics solutions need to be programmed by specialized systems integrators, which makes automation too expensive for most contract manufacturers. As a result, they can’t scale their operations, can’t bid competitively and have had to watch work go to facilities overseas.

“Right now, billions of dollars of revenue are flowing offshore due to what I call ‘the automation gap’ for US contract manufacturers,” explains Rapid Robotics CEO Jordan Kretchmer.

“The need to automate simple tasks is incredibly high, but the ability to do so has been out of reach for a vast majority of manufacturers.”

Rapid’s solution to this problem is a pretrained robotic machine operator called the Rapid Machine Operator. A complete software and hardware solution that combines proprietary machine vision and deep learning artificial intelligence with proven robotic hardware to handle most machine operator jobs ‘out of the box,’ the Rapid Machine Operator understands how to perform common machine tasks without programming or systems integration.

“The Rapid Machine Operator is the first robotic solution to close that gap, making US manufacturers more competitive and supply chains more resilient,” Kretchmer says.

The Rapid Machine Operator becomes smarter as it works, sharing its experience through the cloud with the rest of the Rapid Robotics fleet. This allows each robotic machine operator to become more skilled—and more valuable—at no additional expense.

Manufacturers can ‘hire’ a Rapid robot machine operator for $25,000 per year, which is about 10 percent the total cost of operation of competing solutions, according to Rapid. In less than a day, Rapid Machine Operators can be up and running, and can be easily moved between tasks or machines as needed. Using a simple touchscreen interface, employees can now manage numerous Rapid Machine Operators, with no robotics expertise required.

Rapid says that the boost in productivity from the Rapid Machine Operator allows manufacturers to take on more projects, outbid foreign competitors and scale their business so they can redeploy human operators to more complex, more profitable and more rewarding jobs.