Q & A

Black-I Robotics CEO Brian Hart recently answered questions about how and why he founded the company and what the future holds.

A. Remarkable. Though we have been developing robots, including robotic arms, for many years, it’s been only a year since we entered the commercial market. Already we have forged deep relationships with the country’s largest consumer goods company, one of Europe’s largest consumer goods companies, and one of the country’s largest supply chain transportation companies. We’ve also had many other Fortune 100 corporations express serious interest In our product. They understand that our mobile arm is unique; that there is nothing like it on the market. Each of these companies has serious manpower shortages. They have seen our arm in action and believe it will solve their labor issues, enhance the efficiency of their operations, reduce their capital expenditures and make their workplaces safer. Once our testing is complete, we expect orders. Lots of orders.

A. Demand for technology solutions to organizational problems is nothing new, but the Covid pandemic accelerated the need. Corporations — particularly those in the logistics business — face a severe shortage of workers. That’s compounded by the difficulties that workers face on the job — injuries! It’s tough work pushing, pulling, lifting heavy boxes, cartons, pallets day in, day out. Our robotic arm resolves those problems, and then some. We’re the perfect fit for repetitive jobs that call for muscle every minute of the day. Robots are more economical than human workers, don’t ask for raises, don’t get injured, and are available 24×7.

A. Ascend Robotics is a world leader in robotic arm software controls and user interfaces. We partnered with them to accelerate time to market for the Fullscope product. Founders David Askey and Amy Yin, both out of MIT, have in their 20 years in the business pushed the boundaries of robotics applications, including AI and machine vision, which are critical — and unique — to our Fullscope arm. Ascend has enabled us to deliver a range of applications that the logistics industry has wanted for years, including a Management Dashboard that offers visibility into the performance of a firm’s workforce, among others of high value. When we say our Fullscope Mobile Heavy Lift Arm is revolutionary, we do not exaggerate.

A. This is the perfect environment for Black-I and other companies that enable their customers to become more efficient. The days of easy money, low interest rates and a compliant Federal Reserve that led to record corporate profits the past 12 years are over. Corporations understand now that the path to higher profits is through increases in productivity. Helping companies become more efficient, more profitable is Black-I’s mission.

A. Our proprietary arm’s payload is two times other arms. It was designed specifically for the logistics industry, integrating new and powerful technologies that keep operating costs low and productivity values high. Its exceptional vision capabilities enable it to move around a very busy workplace without banging into shelves, machinery, and, best of all, humans. It can reach high and low, our customized grippers lifting objects of different weights and shapes, placing them precisely where needed. If things change on the factory floor or on the shelves, the typical stationary arm needs to be taken off line or moved, with costly infrastructure changes. That’s expensive, and a blow to operations. Our arm is vastly more flexible and inherently mobile, and will easily save our customers millions of dollars a year — and lots of headaches!

Yes, our arm can be mounted on a wide variety of chassis, including AMRs and AGVs. The entire supply chain, particularly warehousing and manufacturing facilities, increasingly are incorporating AMRs into their operations, and we anticipate they’ll drive new revenue opportunities for AMR vendors integrating our arm. My thought is, if we autonomously pick and palletize with a mobile unit and add it to automated warehouse systems (AWS), it is possible to fully automate door to door logistics. The labor issue plaguing the supply chain, including huge variations in seasonal demand and customer expectations for faster, cheaper delivery, will only make the problem worse. We are the solution.

A. Absolutely. We designed our arm from the start to readily fit on a wide range of available AMRs with 500 kg payload capacity or higher. AMR companies and systems integrators are teaming up with us because they understand that adding a versatile, safe heavy lift arm to their platform greatly expands their revenue opportunities. We’re their perfect partner.

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