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Sector Scoop: The Latest Robotics & Automation News from Waterloo

Scrub floors, cut grass, perform injections. These are all things robots can do, thanks to the ingenuity happening in Waterloo lately. Read on for these stories and more.

Waterloo has a legacy of manufacturing innovation. It also holds the reputation as Canada’s most dynamic tech ecosystem.

This winning combination is responsible for creating the country’s largest robotics and automation cluster. Waterloo’s robotics and automation industry is home to an impressive array of multinationals, startups, scale-ups and commercialization hubs.

Here are some quick facts that show the strength of our robotics and automation ecosystem:

  • Waterloo has the largest robotics and automation cluster in Canada.
  • Waterloo is the #1 small tech talent market in North America according to CBRE.
  • Waterloo has a manufacturing history of over 150 years.
  • Waterloo has a robust artificial intelligence workforce.
  • Waterloo is home to Canada’s largest engineering school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo).
  • Waterloo is home to Toyota, Canada’s largest automotive manufacturer.

Plus, UWaterloo hosts 60+ robotics experts and houses the Waterloo RoboHub, a state-of-the-art robotics and automation centre where a world-renowned team of researchers are working to revolutionize manufacturing technologies.

Waterloo has several credits to its name when it comes to robotics and automation. By choosing to locate here, you can build industry partnerships, commercialize research with our corporate innovation labs and tap into our exceptional talent pipeline.

Top robotics and automation stories from Waterloo

To showcase the major strides our community is making, we’ve compiled the top robotics and automation stories from around Waterloo over the past several months.

Local Robotics Company Receives Funding from Government of Canada, June 22, 2023

Loopx, a robotics company founded by a group of UWaterloo PhD students, received funding from the Government of Canada through the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) Network. Loopx was selected for its reliable 5G-enabled autonomous driving for underground mining.

Overall, the $15M in funding will support the development and deployment of innovative technologies to enhance our mining sector and establish Canada as a major industrial player in the new green economy.

Waterloo Startup Performs First Ever Robotic Intramuscular Injection, June 22, 2023

Waterloo-based autonomous robotics company, Cobionix, raised $2.8M for its industry-first telerobotic medical imaging tool which performs injections without needles. Since its inception in 2021, this revolutionary medtech solution has been paving the way for improved patient care in an industry faced with labour shortages.

The company’s versatile robotics platform can be deployed to complete tasks with 100% autonomy, highlighting the thrilling potential of robotics and automation across all industries.

Mitsubishi Electric Announces Strategic Investment in OTTO Motors to Accelerate Industrial Automation, May 15, 2023

Mitsubishi Electric announced a strategic partnership with Clearpath Robotics to accelerate automation innovation and strengthen commercial collaboration between the two companies. Clearpath Robots is the parent company of autonomous robotics leader OTTO Motors.

With more than 4M hours of production experience, OTTO Motors’ pioneering autonomous mobile robot (AMR) technology and award-winning software are used by Fortune 500 companies to deliver productivity and safety in material handling operations.

Mitsubishi intends to utilize OTTO Motors’ AMR systems to support complete factory optimization and automation. Together, the two companies will contribute to the development of manufacturing and robotics innovation in the region.

Avidbots Releases First Floor-Scrubbing Robot Built for Industrial Spaces, April 25, 2023

Avidbots, one of the world’s leading robotics companies, announced the launch of the first ever cleaning robot specifically designed for warehouses and manufacturing environments.

The robot will improve cleaning quality, efficiency and productivity in warehouses and factories, given the floor debris, dynamic activity and frequent layout changes in those spaces.

Avidbots Neo Cleaning Robot Used by Many of the Newly Named Top Cleanest Global Airports, March 28, 2023

Avidbots’ autonomous floor scrubber, Neo, is officially being used by some of the world’s cleanest airports. The 2023 World Airport Awards review more than 550 airports globally, evaluating terminal comfort, staff friendliness, cleanliness and hygiene and more.

Six of the world’s top-10 cleanest airports deploy Neo, and the top two cleanest airports use Avidbots’ autonomous cleaning solution to optimize, streamline and improve their floor care operations.

Swap Robotics Mowers Score $7M in Seed Funding, February 21, 2023

Swap Robotics, a local innovator in robotics and automation, announced $7M in seed funding led by SOLV Energy, a California-based solar provider. The firm focuses on solar farms, developing robots for solar vegetation cutting, and has already begun deploying its systems to select farms in the southern U.S.

“The solar market is a beachhead market for us,” founder and CEO Tim Lichti said. “Starting with solar vegetation cutting solves a massive problem for customers, since cutting the grass and vegetation is the biggest ongoing expense once utility-scale solar installations are built.

Large solar sites are fenced off from the public, and that allows our 100% electric robots to safely run 24/7 and maximize acreage cut per month. The global market for solar cuts is expected to reach tens of billions of dollars annually by the 2030s.”

Robot Innovation Helps Students with Learning Disabilities Stay Focused, February 21, 2023

Researchers at UWaterloo are successfully using a robot to help keep children with learning disabilities focused on their work. The researchers are conducting a series of tests with a small humanoid robot that can perform gestures using its head and hands, accompanied by its speech and facial features, making it suitable for use with children with learning disabilities.

Students who worked with the robot were more engaged with their tasks and could complete them at a higher rate compared to students who weren’t assisted. This development highlights UWaterloo’s determination and drive to use innovation for social good.

OTTO Motors Drives Clearpath Robotics into Billion-Dollar Club, November 7, 2022

Increasing demand for its automated materials handling technology for new factories launched local robotics and automation company Clearpath Robots into the big leagues.

There is record demand for technology that automates materials handling in North American factories and Clearpath’s division, OTTO Vehicles, does exactly that. This kind of growth is why Clearpath was added to Communitech’s list of Canadian firms expected to generate a billion dollars in annual revenue in the near future.

“The next 10 years will be the golden age of automation,” said co-founder and CEO Matt Rendall. “We just seem really well positioned for that, and we kind of find ourselves in this 10-year-overnight-success-story situation.”

Conestoga Students Develop Assembly Line to Recycle Plastics into Drink Coasters, September 19, 2022

Students at Conestoga College, one of the top post-secondary institutions in the region, designed and built an automated manufacturing system with a focus on environmental sustainability as part of their capstone project. The team developed a fully functioning assembly line to recycle high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic into drink coasters.

The students, who are enrolled in Conestoga’s Mechanical Engineering Technology – Robotics and Automation program, are exposed to all aspects of building an automated system. This exemplifies the exceptional talent coming out of Waterloo and the innovation mindset students have before they enter the robotics and automation field.

Want to innovate in robotics and automation?

Waterloo is the place to be. We’ll show you how to take advantage of the incredible momentum building in our robotics and automation ecosystem.