Ocado Group has reached an agreement with Canadian ecommerce giant Shopify to acquire autonomous mobile robot (AMR) provider 6 River Systems.
The collaborative AMR fulfilment solutions provider to the logistics and non-grocery retail sectors, based in Massachusetts, USA, was founded in 2015. It developed an AMR product called ‘Chuck’ that provides automated assistance to pickers in a warehouse, working collaboratively with human operators.
James Matthews, CEO of Ocado Technology, said: “We are delighted to welcome new colleagues to the Ocado family. 6 River Systems brings exciting new IP and possibilities to the wider Ocado technology estate, as well as valuable commercial and R&D expertise in non-grocery retail segments.
“Chuck robots are currently deployed in over 100 warehouses worldwide, with more than 70 customers. We’re looking forward to supporting 6 River Systems to build on these and new relationships in the years to come.”
Shopify acquired 6 River Systems in September 2019 for $450m, it paid 60% in cash and 40% in shares for the deal. At the time, Shopify said the acquisition “is a critical step to accelerate its growth.” However reports suggest that Shopify have axed the whole 6 River Systems robotics team during the sale to Ocado.
A source told The Robot Report: “Shopify sold 2/3 of Shopify Logistics to Flexport and 6RS to Ocado. The Shopify Logistics leadership was a disaster.”
Furthermore, there are reports of larger layoffs at Shopify. It said that it would let go 20% of its workforce in a second round of layoffs.
While Ocado continues to invest in robotic solutions as it works towards its goal is to one day have warehouses completely run by robots, with no human interaction required. The online grocer’s Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs) are highly automated to ensure large grocery orders get picked and packed in the fastest way possible, ready to go to customers.
Read an exclusive Ocado company profile in the DeliveryX Warehousing 2023 report.