As global trade has expanded by orders of magnitude in the last few decades, it has led to increasingly large and complex supply chains. Globalization has taken international trade to unprecedented levels, demanding frequent innovations in the logistics industry to manage the enormous amounts of goods in circulation around the world. This has caused traditionally important logistics hubs to grow even larger and has also made some newer hubs into globally important ones. Logistics innovations that employ an automated guided vehicle or a fleet of AGVs enable automated movement of goods to save time and cost as well as improve worker safety.
Traditionally, AGVs and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are two approaches to achieve material handling with machines in warehouses. However, with advances in automation, their definitions have blurred in the last few years. Challenges for AGVs include accurate localization, better fleet management, and safety issues, to name a few.
Top 5 Global Automated Guided Vehicle Startup Hubs
Using our StartUs Insights Platform, we analyzed the geographic distribution of global activity in automated guided vehicles in logistics. We identified 20 regional hubs* that see high activity in developing automated guided vehicle solutions to serve warehouses, eCommerce fulfillment centers, and seaports.
According to our data, Silicon Valley, London, New York City, Tel Aviv, and San Francisco are home to 191 startups* and emerging companies and account for 34.17 % of global startup activity. Let us have a look at some of the automated guided vehicle startups from these 5 top hubs.
According to our data, about six-sevenths of all activity in automated guided vehicles for logistics occurs in North America and Europe. Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine vision combined with logistics hubs on prominent trade routes create favorable conditions for automated guided vehicles to transform material handling and other aspects of the logistics industry.
Even though the rest of the world sees comparatively lower activity, Asia’s large population poses significant logistics challenges and opportunities. As markets move to newer regions, so do logistics innovation required to sustain the needs of the markets quickly and inexpensively.
#1 Silicon Valley | 91 Startups & Emerging Companies
Home to thousands of internet companies that continue to move commerce online, Silicon Valley stands to benefit from a symbiotic relationship with the logistics industry. Major eCommerce companies are investing in automated guided vehicles to expand the scale of their warehouses. Moreover, they are bringing in newer technologies such as machine vision to make transformative changes including making AGVs more autonomous.
Siera.AI, a startup based out of Palo Alto, uses AI to handle, inspect, and move materials safely and autonomously in warehouses. Their vehicle-agnostic solution confers any automated guided vehicle with smart truck technology to enable it with collision prevention and driverless automation. The solution also replaces paper checklists with digital checklists. This accelerates compliance, eliminates accidents, and predicts labor shortages.
#2 London | 38 Startups & Emerging Companies
London has a very high population density and a very high daytime population of individuals that commute to work. The city’s logistics woes are further made worse by its narrow roads and the high traffic. Furthermore, a tiny fraction of the land is available for warehouses and the rent is one of the highest globally. As a consequence, a major trend in logistics in London is the growth of parcel hubs as a solution to last-mile delivery.
The London-based startup Intelligent Robots uses AI to develop autonomous mobile robots for intralogistics. Their solution, Rpuck, automates the conveyor system and is easy to deploy with docking stations being the only requisite infrastructure change. It is easy to scale up by setting up additional trolleys and docks, rather than adding new robots. Their customers include companies in eCommerce fulfillment, retail, and manufacturing.
#3 New York City | 23 Startups & Emerging Companies
A major port on the Eastern side of the United States that is also a global hub in technologies such as artificial intelligence, New York benefits from both traditional routes of trades and those facilitated by the advent of the eCommerce industry. The city seems prepared to tap into the potential and announced a $100 million plan in 2018 to overhaul the aging urban freight systems. Innovations include the use of automated or autonomous vehicle solutions to last-mile delivery.
Aersys Inc. is a startup from New York that takes a modular approach to automated guided vehicles. They offer different types of modules that combine in different ways to meet the particular needs of a company. The Sidewalk Rover Module performs smaller deliveries, whereas the Industrial Rover Module supports large rovers that move huge volumes around a facility. This reduces worker movements and improves just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. Moreover, the company also develops modules for storage, loading, and drones.
#4 Tel Aviv | 20 Startups & Emerging Companies
Tel Aviv lies at the heart of Silicon Wadi (Hebrew or Arabic word for valley), the coastal area with a high concentration of tech startups. With technology and advanced manufacturing being the primary industries in the area, there’s a constant demand for logistics to keep up with the production. Startups in Tel Aviv are pushing the boundaries of AI, data analytics, and robotics to impact automated guided vehicles and logistics.
A startup based in Tel Aviv, Ception, develops a precise localization solution for AGVs. The startup’s multilayered system uses advanced computer vision and deep learning algorithms which offer a universal geospatial language that uses cross-modalities and cross-viewing angles to precisely represent spaces. The solution uses data from multiple sources and is able to navigate any environment. Other than logistics and ports, the solution applies to mining, first responders, and agriculture.
#5 Los Angeles | 19 Startups & Emerging Companies
The Port of Los Angeles is one of the busiest seaports in the world and a major route into and out of North America. It is also well connected to most major seaports around the globe. This makes the city a hotbed of innovations in logistics, particularly those focused at safely moving large amounts of cargo.
Hailing from Los Angeles, Coast Autonomous is a logistics startup that deploys self-driving fleets of AGVs across the supply chain. Their COAST flatbed automated guided vehicle implements on-demand Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and is ideal for handling cargo in airports, campuses, and ports. It is built with multiple layers of redundancies that prevent collisions with other vehicles or obstacles. The fleet management ensures that vehicles are where they are needed and reduces wait times.
Advancements in autonomous vehicles for transportation are finding their ways into automated guided vehicles used in logistics. These include the use of new technologies such as computer vision and the Internet of Things (IoT) based sensors. Startups that make AGVs more safe, reliable, and scalable stand to gain from the huge opportunity that e-commerce presents. Global hubs in AGVs, or logistics in general, already dictate the terms and the changing landscape of international trade and will continue to do so.
*A hub is defined as the regional geographic center of activity for this topic. It covers the center point with a radius of 100km. We define startups and emerging companies as those founded after 2010.