Intelligent, affordable robots to transform manufacturing

What does the phrase “modern manufacturing” conjure in one’s mind? A gleaming mechanized factory, robot arms moving with efficient purpose under the supervision of a few highly-compensated human technicians? For most manufacturers today, sadly this vision is still only a dream.

For every giant car factory, there are thousands of small suppliers making not just components like door handles and headlights, but also screws, tools, and packaging. A huge fraction of manufacturing in the U.S. and globally occurs in small enterprises with just a few hundred employees or less. Caught between global competition and an acute local labor shortage, these companies need to automate to survive. But that is exceedingly difficult, because traditional robotics means high upfront capital costs, long installation times, and functional inflexibility once deployed. Like the mainframe computers of the past, early robotics in manufacturing has mostly been the domain of large companies focused on automating a very narrow set of laborious tasks.

Jordan Kretchmer and Ruddick Lawrence, the founders of Rapid Robotics, saw another path. Jordan has a background in software, while Ruddick has been building robots for most of his career. Together, they share a passion for automating manufacturing, and they set out to build a company that would make robotics accessible for even the smallest companies.

Rapid Robotics is changing the equation with its Rapid Machine Operator (RMO), a robotic worker designed specifically to take manufacturing robotics from a “mainframe world” to a “PC world.” The RMO is pre-trained to perform common manufacturing tasks like tending stamping machines and applying adhesives. It’s deployable in hours instead of months, and can easily be transferred between tasks without major reprogramming. And perhaps most importantly, Rapid uses a Robotics Subscription Services pricing model, only charging customers a recurring monthly fee. This makes RMOs easily affordable and adoptable even by the smallest businesses. Rapid’s RMOs help make everything from coffee gear to medical equipment, and they’re enabling Rapid’s customers to not just survive, but to thrive.

We are excited to co-lead Rapid Robotics’ Series B, and to partner with Jordan, Ruddick and the Rapid Robotics team to revitalize manufacturing in America...and beyond.

— Wen & Haomiao