The following piece about MassTLC member Waypoint Robotics originally appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Merrimack company rolls out user-friendly robot
by KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Sunday News Correspondent
MERRIMACK – A new startup company believes its user-friendly robot can become a vital tool in helping companies thrive.
“The reality is that we have one very central goal that we are all laser-focused on, and that is making robotics more accessible to people and companies,” said Jason Walker, CEO and co-founder of Waypoint Robotics.
Until recently, Walker said, robots have been complicated, challenging and difficult to operate without a roboticist.
Waypoint Robotics has designed Vector, a mobile robot that Walker says is as easy to operate as an elevator.
“People are very receptive to this. One of the biggest problems we have is making people believe it is that simple, because it never has been,” Walker said. “We just want to give them a better tool so that they can be more productive.”
Waypoint Robotics is a spinoff of Stanley Robotics, and is located at 9 Webb Drive in Merrimack. The company was established last year and is currently promoting Vector, its flagship mobile robot, for laboratory or factory use.
Waypoint Robotics is also having a soft launch of its newest product, the Whistle. The Whistle is a wall-mounted device that allows customers to hit a button that will activate Vector so that it moves to a certain location such as a loading dock. Once the robot is loaded, it can then be ordered to respond to a different destination such as a warehouse where the delivery can be stored.
The Vector sells for about $40,000, and several of the devices are already in use in Massachusetts.
“There is a ton of manufacturing here in New Hampshire, so that is the field we really want to help,” Walker said.
With four employees, Waypoint Robotics was one of 12 companies recently accepted into Accelerate NH 2018, an aggressive startup program designed to support, nurture and fund early stage startups.
Walker stressed that the robots are not meant to replace human workers, but rather give them the tools to work smarter.
When he visited an auto shop recently, Walker said he was told that some of the company’s most valuable workers spend four hours a day pushing carts. If a robot could take over that duty, it would allow the employees to focus on more highly skilled work, he said.
Vector weighs about 100 pounds, but can carry up to 300 pounds.
“The robots we make are just as valuable and useful for a family-run bakery as they are for automotive manufacturers. We are focused on the small- to midsize-operation,” he said.
This week, Waypoint Robotics will be participating in the MODEX 2018 trade show in Atlanta, Ga., where its products will be featured alongside 850 other exhibitors.