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Amazon seals seven-year deal with French robotics company

Amazon seals seven-year deal with French robotics company article image

French robotics company Balyo is entering into a seven-year agreement with e-commerce giant Amazon to supply autonomous forklifts.

In a media release Balyo said if Amazon buys up to €300 million (A$478 million) in Balyo product within the next seven years, Amazon will be entitled, via stock warrants, to acquire up to 29% of the robot-maker's stock at current pricing.

Balyo offers two robotic forklifts – the Yale and the Hyster. Each comes in three different configurations with varying load capacity ranging from 1,360kg to 6,800kg.

Amazon currently uses robotic equipment developed by Kiva Systems in its warehouses.  Amazon bought Kiva in 2012 and the company was later merged into Amazon Robotics.

Balyo’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Fabien Bardinet said: “We are very proud to have signed this agreement. It represents an unprecedented opportunity for Balyo to grow its business and supports the soundness of our investments over the years to perfect our robotic solutions.”

Through advanced technology Baylo transforms standard forklift trucks into standalone intelligent robots.

A geoguidance navigation system developed by Balyo enables vehicles equipped with the system to locate their position and navigate autonomously inside buildings.

Two strategic agreements

Within the automated handling vehicle market, Balyo has entered into two strategic agreements with Kion Group AG (Linde Material Handling's parent company) and Hyster-Yale Group, two major operators in the material handling sector.

Balyo has a presence in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Its expected sales revenue for 2018 is €23.3 million (A$37.1 million). Amazon’s equipment purchases could see Balyo’s revenue rise significantly in coming years.

A 2017 report from Deloitte found the implementation of these types of autonomous systems could reduce operating expenses and increase revenue.

"Autonomous robots can be used to improve the speed and accuracy of routine operations, particularly in warehousing and manufacturing spaces,” the report said.

They work side-by-side with humans for added efficiency and reduce the risk of employee injury in dangerous environments, it added.

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