Sumitomo Corporation has signed an exclusive distributorship agreement with Dexterity, Inc., a U.S.-based provider of AI robotics software. The collaboration allows Sumitomo to launch Robotics as a Service (RaaS) business* to improve efficiency and sophistication of the logistics industry in Japan.
The growth of the Japanese market for next-generation logistics business systems, including robotics automation, is estimated to reach 1 trillion JPY (US$6.91 billion) by 2025.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the growth of e-commerce and lifestyle; thus, logistics in Japan has undergone logistical crisis with the rapid growing volume of goods. Specifically, the number of parcel delivery services grew to approximately 4.8 billion in 2020, compared to 3 billion in 2010. Also, declining birthrates and aging demographics caused labor shortages. Moreover, warehouse operations require more efficiency and sophistication. Meanwhile, current operational robots are only able to handle predefined objects and movements. This means human supports are still needed in logistical operations.
Full-Stack Robotic Intelligence Software
Dexterity provides proprietary full-stack robotic intelligence software. It combines AI, computer vision, and control technologies to make traditional robots capable of handling complicated logistics tasks that previously could only be done manually. Compared to existing operational robots, Dexterity’s technology enables robots to handle human-level complex tasks with speed and low up-front costs.
Dexterity-powered robots have shipped tens of millions of goods for large retailers, manufacturers, and parcel carriers. In October 2021, Dexterity was valued at US$1.4 billion after raising US$180 million in its Series B financing round.
In the recent partnership, Sumitomo Corporation will interview logistics and retail companies about the issues they face. Then, it will implement Dexterity’s software on hardware to provide solutions in Japan, targeting to sell 1,500 units by 2026.
Furthermore, to show Dexterity’s software performance, a demo center is planned to be opened in the Kanto region in November 2022. Sumitomo will also collaborate with its logistics facilities, SOSiLA, and provide Dexterity’s robot arms and other equipment to SOSiLA tenants. Sumitomo invested in Dexterity in 2020 through Presidio Ventures Inc., a U.S. corporate venture capital. It has signed an exclusive distributorship agreement in Japan following investment.
The company will utilize its vast business network and the group’s integrated corporate strength to realize factory automation using innovative digital technology, such as Dexterity’s products. In addition, Sumitomo aims to contribute to the development of local communities and industries by establishing RaaS business, automating processes in logistics and manufacturing fields.
*Robotics as a Service (RaaS) business: providing wide variety of high-performance devices and technologies on a subscription basis.