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Covariant Raises $80M to Expand AI Robotics Development


July 27, 2021

Covariant, which uses artificial intelligence to allow robots to see the world around them, has announced it raised $80 million in Series C funding, bringing its total capitalization to $147 million within two years of the company’s public launch. The company said it plans to use the funding to continue investment in AI Robotics research and development, as well as expand its team globally to accelerate bringing AI into the physical world.

The Series C round was led by returning investor Index Ventures, with additional participation of Amplify Partners and Radical Ventures. The company added new global investors, Temasek and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Within the last year, the company’s Covariant Brain, a universal AI for robotic manipulation, has been successfully deployed across several industries, including fashion, health and beauty, industrial supply, pharmaceutical, grocery, parcel and general merchandise, the company said. The Covariant Brain draws on its experiences across settings, verticals and geographies to allow customers from different industries to operate robots at human-level autonomy. The company said the variety of deployments are evidence of its consistent and reliable performance to assess autonomy in real-world situations.

“With Covariant rolling out multiple applications in warehouses across Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific over the last year, it’s the first time that AI Robotics has been successful at this scale with such variability,” said Mike Volpi of Index Ventures. “Covariant consistently outperforms the competition in tests by prospective clients to benchmark autonomy in real world operations. While the company is proving the value of AI robotics in the supply chain, we predict Covariant AI will expand far beyond the realm of warehouses.”

“As of today, the Covariant Brain is powering a wide range of industrial robots to manage order picking, putwall, sorter induction – all for companies in various industries with drastically different types of products to manipulate,” said Peter Chen, CEO of Covariant. “The breadth of use demonstrates the Covariant Brain can help robots of different types to manipulate new objects they’ve never seen before in environments where they’ve never operated.”

“Autonomous order picking has long been seen as the holy grail for warehouse automation in the robotics world,” said Pieter Abbeel, the president, co-founder and chief scientist at Covariant. “It’s a very hard problem, but thanks to our team’s fundamental advances in research and engineering, we’ve achieved production-grade autonomy for a range of industries over the past year. We are at a point where modern AI is opening up a whole new generation of robotic applications. Warehouses and distribution centers are where this transition is happening first, but I also see it as a sign of things to come elsewhere, for example, in the manufacturing, agriculture, and food industries.”

The company also announced adding new executives to its management team, including Raghavendra Prabhu as head of engineering and research; Ally Lynch as head of marketing; and Sam Cauthen as head of people. For more details on Covariant’s offerings, visit its website here.

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