PODCAST: Agility Robotics’ Melonee Wise on how humanoids can fill automation gaps

Featured interview

Our guest this week is a long-time friend of the show and industry innovator Melonee Wise. Melonee was a co-founder of Fetch Robotics (acquired by Zebra in 2021), and an early pioneer of mobile robotics at Willow Garage.
Melonee joined Agility Robotics in May 2023, in the role of CTO, where she is leading the technical roadmap. She brings a breadth of experience in commercializing mobile robotic solutions to the company as it starts to ship production units of Digit.

News of the week

  • Rockwell Automation acquiring AMR developer Clearpath Robotics
    • Rockwell Automation said AMRs “are the next frontier in industrial automation and transformation, and this acquisition will supercharge Rockwell’s lead in bringing the connected enterprise to life.
    • Follows recent acquisitions:
      • This is the latest in a string of AMR-related acquisitions. In late August, Jungheinrich, a Hamburg-based intralogistics company, acquired all shares of Magazino. Jungheinrich has had shares in Magazino since 2020, and in 2022 it increased its ownership to 21.7%. The new deal, to acquire all shares of the company, took effect immediately upon signing. Both parties have agreed to not disclose the purchase price.
      • In June 2023, SoftBank Group entered into an agreement to acquire a 41.8% stake of Balyo for about $12.9 million. The companies hope to finalize the deal during the final quarter of 2023. If the deal is finalized, SoftBank wants to “implement a mandatory squeeze-out on the remaining outstanding shares of Balyo” and delist the company, according to a release from Softbank.
      • In May 2023, Ocado acquired 6 River Systems from Ocado. Ocado paid just $12.7 million to acquire 6 River Systems. For comparison, Shopify paid $450 million to acquire 6 River Systems in September 2019. Ocado paid roughly 2.8% of what Shopify paid for 6 River.
  • Human attacks Cruise robotaxi with a hammer
    • In SF, there was a video posted on X of a Cruise robotaxi being vandalized on the street by a masked attacker with a hammer, reminiscent of the Luddites moment at the turn of the last century. Some in the comments said it well: This is an example of “Enoch’s Hammer” – in reference to the Luddite movement.
    • Here’s a link to the video on X: https://x.com/BrokeAssStuart/status/1701316471627153626?s=20

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.