Seegrid was named to Fast Company’s prestigious list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2022, placing #4 globally in the robotics category. In this “5 Questions Answered” segment, Seegrid’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Graves, discusses the importance of innovation, what innovation means at Seegrid, and how the company achieved this esteemed recognition.
How Would You Define Innovation?
Innovation is the process of bringing new ideas, methods, technologies, and products to reality. Successful innovators think outside of the box, leveraging their innate curiosity through contemplation, vision, experimentation, and analysis. Innovation creates value for society and accelerates future possibilities through new tools and technologies.
Why Is Innovation Important to Seegrid?
Innovation is in our DNA at Seegrid. Our company mission is to provide autonomous mobile robots and software technologies for material handling that create human-machine partnerships, delivering productivity and profitability for manufacturing and distribution customers around the world. We strive to continuously fortify supply chains and create opportunities with safe, seamless, and smart mobile robotics solutions.
To support this mission, Seegrid embraces ingenuity and has a visionary mindset, teaming the best innovators in mobile robotics with leading experts in material handling. It’s crucial that our entire team embraces innovation with a passion for pushing the realm of what’s possible, always keeping our customers’ needs at the focal point. Our team is collectively focused on delivering solutions that transform global supply chains as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible.
Every day, our world is changing, whether it’s due to fluctuating consumer demands, labor issues, or new regulations or guidelines. Seegrid is continuously evolving to support customer challenges, leading customers into the future of intelligent automation. We are dedicated to helping our customers address hurdles by providing the technologies and tools they need to achieve today’s goals and accelerate opportunities for what’s possible in the future.
What Innovations Has Seegrid Recently Achieved To Advance Its Mission?
In 2021, we significantly expanded our AMR product and solutions portfolio by premiering our first autonomous lift truck, the Palion™ Lift AMR, the most advanced AMR forklift on the market. Palion Lift adds vertical lift capabilities to our strong line of horizontal material handling products. We also announced technology enhancements to our self-driving Palion Tow Tractors and Palion Pallet Trucks. These new and enhanced mobile robots, paired with our latest fleet analytics software, Fleet Geek™, expanded Seegrid’s serviceable footprint within facilities for a holistic, end-to-end automation solution. Our Palion AMR fleet has been performing and reporting on tasks safely and productively for more than 7 million autonomous miles for leading brands in the manufacturing, e-commerce, warehousing, and logistics sectors.
We continue to advance our robotic intelligence, giving Palion AMRs the ability to perceive, plan, and control movement using Seegrid’s proprietary autonomy technology, Seegrid IQ. Seegrid IQ combines our battle-tested vision guidance system with best-in-class sensing technologies.
In 2021, Seegrid formed Blue Labs, a dedicated in-house research group of world-class automation experts, many with Ph.D. level expertise in robotics and computer vision systems, to focus on the rapid advancement of mobile automation technologies to further the company’s strong technical advantage, accelerating capabilities throughout the sectors it serves.
Seegrid continues to lead the mobile automation market as a trusted automation partner—working closely with customers and providing innovative solutions that address a variety of challenges, enabling customers to maintain a competitive advantage while achieving material handling goals.
How Have Seegrid’s Innovations Led the Material Handling Industry Forward?
Seegrid has long been a technology innovator since our founding in 2003 by world-renowned roboticist Hans Moravec, who continues to innovate as Seegrid’s Chief Scientist. Seegrid computer vision technology, sensor fusion algorithms, and data exhaust capture have been continuously refined for more than a decade. Seegrid IQ autonomy technology is protected by more than 100 patents, intellectual property, and proprietary know-how–with more than 150 scientists and engineers continuing to innovate and expand Seegrid’s best-in-class technologies. Our in-house research and development team, Blue Labs, was formed to continue building on, accelerating, and expanding the company’s capabilities and innovations.
Seegrid’s technology solves the incredibly complex problem of enabling mobile robots to move through a multi-dimensional world and complete meaningful work, safely alongside humans. We’ve built upon Hans Moravec’s life-long vision to elevate human potential with intelligent mobile automation. To date, our AMRs have driven more than seven million miles in customer operations, proving the reliability and robustness of Seegrid’s solutions.
In 2021, we built upon that track record of success by launching multiple new automated workflows for Palion AMRs to offer connected, end-to-end automation solutions for many high-demand material handling processes. Seegrid continues to advance software and hardware capabilities to safely move the right material, in the right way, to the right place, at the right time for enterprise-wide material orchestration.
Seegrid is planning additional moves and product types, particularly around data analytics, offering customers real-time actionable insights that enable them to continue using solutions in an even more productive and meaningful way. Seegrid IQ collects, prioritizes, and interprets massive amounts of real-world, live data points from cameras with a 360° field of view, as well as best-in-class LiDAR sensors. With more data points collected and analyzed, robots are smarter and safer, as well as highly capable of helping customers gain insights, evaluate performance, and continuously improve.
Every day, Seegrid employees work with a passion for helping manufacturing, e-commerce, and logistics customers remain agile while ensuring the flow of goods is both steady and safe. Seegrid’s approach to intelligent automation provides better job opportunities, sustainable economic growth, and better health and safety for generations to come. Our team is diverse and talented, collectively excited about working in support of this purpose: keeping customers up and running, goods flowing, and workers safer with rewarding career opportunities.
How Are Seegrid’s Innovations Addressing Larger Societal Issues?
Seegrid fortifies global supply chains, creates profitable economies, and advances opportunities for the human workforce with safe, seamless, and smart mobile robotics solutions. The world’s largest manufacturing, warehousing, e-commerce, and logistics companies solve supply chain gaps and disruptions through Seegrid’s flexible, scalable, and connected mobile automation solutions.
The pandemic put a spotlight on Seegrid’s capabilities to help companies become resilient, safer, and more profitable by quickly and safely adapting automation workflows to accommodate increasing and evolving demands. Essentially overnight, facilities needed to adjust operations to meet spikes in demand with a limited workforce while implementing new social distancing guidelines and safety protocols for human workers. Seegrid’s innovations ensure that operations can safely maintain production despite these challenges by implementing AMRs and enterprise software solutions.
We continue to focus on helping supply chains safely and effectively maintain flow of essential goods while keeping them profitable, despite the extreme evolving demands. This is a testament to our ability to deliver solutions that help orchestrate material flow around the world.
Additionally, nearly 100,000 manually driven forklifts are involved in an injury or fatality each year in the United States. In the U.S. alone, someone is killed every four days from a manual forklift accident, and someone is injured due to a manual forklift-related incident every five minutes. Warehouses and manufacturing plants can be chaotic with high traffic volumes, heavy machinery, and pressures to meet production quotas. Seegrid Palion AMRs make facilities safer by automating these dangerous tasks. When AMRs take on hazardous, repetitive tasks, human workers can be reassigned to more satisfying, cognitive, and most importantly safer jobs in the customer’s operations. This not only helps a facility boost productivity, efficiency, reliability, and safety, but it also increases employee retention amidst a record high labor shortage.
Seegrid’s intelligent automation is a driving force of human progress, creating better health and safety, more career opportunities for the human workforce, and sustainable economic growth for companies worldwide.