Dexterity: Ushering A New Era of Intelligent Robots

The California-based company provides a “Robots-as-a-Service” offering, with this, the rising startup aims to stand out in a vast market of autonomous robots. Let’s look at how Dexterity instantaneously “clicks”!
Dexterity CEO shared story in a meetup event
Courtesy: Dexterity
By | 8 min read

Nowadays, there is much growth concerning robotics and creativity. Enhancing the ability to generate unique and useful ideas in both humans and artificial agents is a crucial challenge for 21st-century problem solving. The ways in which humans and robots may engage in the creative process and foster the development of creative productivity is a central research question that interfaces psychology and technology.

From the sunny land of Redwood, California, Dexterity was founded by Samir Menon – CEO; Robert Sun, Kevin Chavez, Ben Varkey Benjamin, and Talbot Morris-Downing – Founding Engineers; and founding product managers Roger Hau and Adam Kell. Since then, the company has grown to include many luminaries in robotics, logistics, tech, and finance. With their unique passion for solving customer problems with cutting-edge robotics, they have consolidated Dexterity into the powerhouse of innovations and creativity.

Providing cutting-edge technological implementation for warehouses, supply chains, and numerous other logistics services, Dexterity’s system is designed to integrate into existing systems, rather than a totally ground-up approach.

Revolutionizing the preceding automation machines, Dexterity’s robots can learn as it picks, packs, and place novel objects that are unsurpassed. With a pioneering approach to customers, combined with a deep understanding of customers’ needs, Dexterity provides a “Robots-as-a-Service” offering, with this, the company aims to stand out in a vast market of autonomous robots. This unique pricing model allows Dexterity to deploy quickly and effectively, which results in an immediate performance and financial impact on customers’ warehouse operations.

With these visions and unique market positions, Dexterity is open to boundless market opportunities worldwide.

The Power of Robotics – Success Aligns with Quick Response

As stated by founder at Dexterity: “We believe in the power of robotics to radically transform the world around us and make work more purposeful. Through continuous innovation in robotic automation, we apply our experience and skills to solve persistent challenges in the logistics industry.” The company creates robots that can pick and place anything, have human-like dexterity in warehouses, and gracefully adapt to unforeseen circumstances. These incredible machines excel in fulfillment, palletizing or depalletizing, and sortation. 

Dexterity manages the entire process for customers, making automation deployments simpler, from end-to-end system design and engineering to deployments with operational guarantees. Unlike existing advanced mechanics suppliers, Dexterity robots are adaptable, mobile and collaborative. They are presently picking in excess of 200 extraordinary things underway with 99.5% accuracy, and a wide variety of novel objects including plastic bags, glass, and low-profile items are reliably picked.

Dexterity staff at a trade show
Courtesy: Dexterity

In the current picture of the ever-expanding global commerce, while supply chains continue to grow day by day, the interest in jobs that are repetitive, and tedious on these chains is swindling. As such, the warehousing industry is in deep need of automation of labor, filling the gap left by the declining manual labor force.

This trend has been further complicated by COVID-19 — increased volume, an exacerbated labor shortage due to health concerns, and the inability to guarantee safety for workers without heavily disrupting operations have amplified the need for automation. Furthermore, the demands presented at modern warehouses are constantly changing, one minute a robot may be sorting a load of packages and the next it may have to estimate how long it will take to move a specific package to a specific destination. The scenarios are ever-changing, and success requires quick, deft responses.

The ‘Seed Thinker’ Starts from Standford’s Campus

Contextualized by the global manual labor shortage, the team at Dexterity is inspired to bring an answer to the question: how can they empower their customers with robots to do more than they thought was possible?

While the potential of implementing automation in supply chains is vast, the limitation of inflexibility plagues preceding robots. Surprise is the bane of today’s robots – they are unable to adapt.

That said, adapting to a changing world is where humans excel – if a tool is in the wrong place, we figure out where it goes. We ask others for assistance if an unwieldy package is too heavy to lift on our own. It’s not hard to build a basic robot, but it is an incredible feat to have a robot that is as flexible and dexterous as a human. This is precisely the challenge that Samir Menon set out to address. Since his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford, he has been working to bring his visions to life, endowing robots with the flexibility of any other human, physically as well as intellectually.

As far as I know, Dexterity works closely with customers to design products and systems that meet their specific requirements, performing tasks such as fulfillment, kitting, sortation, singulation, palletization, and depalletization. Instead of being coded to carry out a single task, its platform is highly modular, Robots can be utilized in any warehouse application, with grippers or suction cups to suit objects being handled, 3D camera systems to track items, and general machine learning models trained to identify arbitrary unknown objects. Operators have increased their productivity by 47% using Dexterity robots, and this improvement will continue to grow as the robots learn and become more firmly integrated into local operations. In fact, Dexterity robots can also work safely with humans or alone, and they can comply and respond to human movement and interference.

2.5 Years and The Wave Keeps Growing

In the short 2.5 years, Samir has assembled an exceptional team of some of the best and the brightest in robotics, built a strong tech stack that is generalizable and delivered significant customer value.

Giving an insight into their popular product lines, as we can see, Dexterity Robots handle the complexity that traditional industrial arms can’t. Their warehouse robots intelligently pick, palletize, and depalletize without changing your workflows.

Dexterity team implement system for customer
Courtesy: Dexterity

Generally recognized, at Dexterity, understanding customers’ needs in their business and offering a suitable robots-as-a-service model is being put up as the sheer steering force of their whole operation. Maintaining a high-touch approach with customers, Dexterity can gain insight into their customers’ business and their own, providing swift resolutions, creating an immediate impact on the buyers’ warehouse operations.

From my point of view, the continuous progress of Dexterity could be attributed to venture investment from 9 reputable firms, namely, Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Obvious Ventures, Pacific West Bank, B37 Ventures, Presidio (Sumitomo) Ventures, Blackhorn Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Stanford StartX.

In total, Dexterity raised $196.2M in funding over 2 rounds. With the most recent backer joining on Oct 13, 2021, being Lightspeed Venture Partners and Presidio Ventures from a Series B round. How a great achievement!

The Joy of Progress Signal

The quality of their machines was far from an overnight success, well, in my understanding, their robots are developed through countless testing, and innovations that stem from customer feedback. As mentioned above, Dexterity takes their customer’s needs to heart, providing quick and suitable solutions for customers around the world, ensuring integrity, and building on their supply chains globally as well as domestically. Thus, improving efficiency and productivity.

Overcoming struggles of the environment and in their internal operations, Dexterity have made immense progress since their start. As more Dexterity-powered robots are shipped out, the market demand for flexible automation that can operate in existing workflows and infrastructure will continue to grow, partly attributed to Dexterity as a pioneer in intelligent and adaptable robotics. And with that, Dexterity is put up to the task of filling said demand

“Every great business model starts from within”, fully understanding this concept, the founding team at Dexterity has created a working environment like no other. In 2022, Forbes America named Dexterity as the 67th Best Startup Employer. Dexterity values personal and professional growth and embraces all aspects of diversity within their current teams of 79 employees. These employees are all bright minds in the field of robotics, logistics, tech, and finance… who have been treated to an incredibly high standard of employment at Dexterity, provided with comprehensive healthcare benefits for employees and their families, insurance and wellbeing programs, generous vacation, and holidays along with numerous Discounts and perks.

Over the span of just more than 2 years of operations, Dexterity has been able to create a measurable impact on the industry, over 37 million goods have been picked by Dexterity robots in warehouses across the United States, across 50,000 SKUs. All this sheer scaling of operation can immensely contribute to the continuous refinement of algorithms and advanced machine learning (ML) that have enabled efficiencies in labor, material flow, and system efficiency.

50,000 Units in Action & The Adaption of Dexterity

Within 2 years of developing and working alongside customers, Dexterity has been moving more than 14 million items in that time, across 50,000+ product SKUs. This is really such a great accomplishment.

Differentiating themselves from existing robotics providers, Dexterity robots are adaptable, mobile, and collaborative with their human operatives. They are presently capable of picking more than 200 unique items in production with an astonishing 99.5% accuracy. This provides a wide range of usage in the operation of logistical warehouses storing odd-shaped packages, and novel objects including plastic bags, glass, perishables, and low-profile items.

Dexterity CEO in a meeting with Sumitomo leadership
Courtesy: Dexterity

Stemming from the fact that current robotic automation in sorting and moving conveyer belt lines is insufficient in accuracy and reliability, therefore, needing regular tending and maintenance from specially trained workers, Dexterity adopts an intelligent implemented approach to the current situation, constantly updating their models to adapt and operate in a dynamic environment like warehouses. Based on Menon’s Ph.D. thesis in Robotics, the company can create a firm foundation, a technical approach for development as well as a “creative direction” for future endeavors.

Furthermore, as far as I can tell, the demand for logistically efficient robotic automation in today’s consumerism is one of the main targets for Dexterity, “Customers in retail, consumer goods manufacturing and parcel handling need robots to scale quickly in order to manage the ever-increasing volume and variety of packages moving through their distribution centers”. Dexterity’s intelligent robots constantly adapt to warehouse operations and do tedious and strenuous tasks, which maximizes productivity by enabling humans to focus on meaningful work

Bottom Lines

Dexterity enables human-like intelligence and dexterity to unlock a larger set of tasks in supply chain environments that have been previously unsolved by traditional robotics solutions. I personally think that Dexterity will deliver world-changing robotics

With the visions and prospects of Dexterity in mind, there is assurance in a future of intelligent, adaptable, machine-learning Robots revolutionizing the logistics industry.

Dexterity robots are already moving millions of packages every day for customers with these core applications. The company is continually boosting the capabilities of its platform — to make the robots even faster and nimbler — and simplifying hardware to reduce costs so they can provide these benefits to customers all over the world. As Dexterity’s head of supply chain operations and quality, Avinash Verma, says, “We are just getting started.”

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