The Bangalore-based Ati Motors has a team of engineers across machine learning/AI, power electronics, control systems, mechanical engineering, system software and electronics and manufacturing. The team is focused on a hands-on, practical approach to robotics, building products that have been deployed in the real world, in factories and warehouses. The company takes pride in designing robots that fit into existing infrastructures, indoors and outdoors, with robust mechanical systems, reliable electronics and advanced automation software. During an interaction with Nitisha; Saurabh Chandra, CEO, Ati Motors talks about autonomous robots and the company’s expertise for the Indian audience.
Kindly explain Ati Motors and its special offerings.
Ati Motors makes autonomous vehicles for material movement in factories and warehouses. It has two products in the market: Sherpa Tug and Sherpa Rollertop for moving trolleys and bins respectively.
How Ati Motors differentiates itself from other companies?
Ati Motors is the only company in this space with a 3D Lidar based technology deployed in production. Ati Motors has created an original autonomy stack inspired by public road autonomous technology but applied in industrial spaces. This has unlocked new capabilities like ability to go outdoors between buildings, handle ramps and not need any markers for navigation on even very challenging floor conditions like steel flooring.
Kindly talk about autonomous robots and your expertise for the Indian audience.
Autonomous bots have been around for many years now. The first generation of such bots were guided vehicles that followed rail, magnetic lines, or QR codes on the ground. The most successful example of this kind is Kiva which was acquired by Amazon in 2008. There are 350,000 such bots serving Amazon warehouses. Probably the largest deployment of mobile robotics in the world.
The second-generation bots were based on 2D Lidars. Companies added these sensors to the first-generation bots and were able to get rid of the guiding lines. These bots can work around humans and be completely dynamic in deciding their routing. They still needed excellent flooring and occasional markers.
Ati has introduced the third generation of bots with 3D Lidars which are designed ground up and add capabilities like outdoor navigation, ramps and robustness on all flooring.
These bots have especially gained excellent traction in India since they handle the rough conditions of Indian industrial environment very well. We have now seen multiple times that customers have tried using first or second gen bots with no success and the Ati Sherpa would do a successful demo in the matter of hours.
What kind of challenges automation industry is facing and how it can be resolved?
A key challenge for the automation industry is the typically high upfront costs for customers with a risky and unpredictable outcome post-implementation. Ati is trying to meet that challenge in two ways. One is by offering a Robotics as a Service model where the bots are offered on subscription thus eliminating upfront capital expenses. The other is to make deployment so simple that customers can effectively see the real solution working even before making the commitment to commercially acquire it.
What are your future plans for business growth?
Ati will continue to expand in the Indian market and build on the initial success it has seen last year (its first year of introducing the product in the market). It is also entering the US market this year.
Talk about your investment plans and what kind of investor you are searching for your company?
Ati raised a good pre-series A round just 10 months ago with marquee investors. The next step is a Series A round which will be planned soon.