Despite the disappointing failure of Rethink Robotics, the Sawyer collaborative robot is not completely gone. The HAHN Group has acquired the patents and trademarks from Rethink Robotics, including its Intera 5 software platform.
HAHN Group said it will further develop Rethink’s technology, “combining it with German engineering and know-how of industrial applications.” The German automation firm said it “intends to make the [Intera] software platform available to suitable partners through licensing or other arrangements.”
The HAHN Group said “the business unit ‘Rethink Robotics’ will become the third pillar of the HAHN Group’s robotic division and complete its service portfolio.” HAHN Robotics, the integration unit of the HAHN Group, already has Sawyer listed as a product on its website, adding that it is the “exclusive distributor” for the cobot.
The HAHN Group told Collaborative Robotics Trends sibling The Robot Report that it will continue to manufacture Sawyer robots in their patented red color for now.
As for Sawyer’s older, two-armed brother Baxter, Corun USA has the exclusive rights to the 100 remaining Baxter robots in the world. Corun USA said it owns “the rights to Baxter, the right to manufacture Baxter, [and] the global distribution rights.” The HAHN Group news has no impact on Baxter.
After speaking with a dozen former Rethink distributors and integrators, know-how of industrial applications is an area where Rethink fell short, so the HAHN Group approach is promising.
“The acquisition of Rethink Robotic’s technology marks an important milestone for the development of our portfolio of collaborative robotics solutions,” said Thomas Hähn, CEO of HAHN Group. “This transaction will bring us not only a boost in innovative technologies, but also access to highly specialized know-how in one of the most dynamic future markets. We are very pleased that we could convince the owners of Rethink Robotics to agree to the sale of its robotic technology around the cobot Sawyer as well as the Intera 5 software.”
The HAHN Group was previously a Rethink distributor. The company said it plans to add Doosan cobots and robots from Mobile Industrial Robots to its portfolio. The HAHN Group has production sites in China, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, and the U.S. The company currently has about 1,100 employees throughout 19 locations.
Boston-based Rethink Robotics shut down on October 3, 2018. Rethink was founded in 2008 and raised nearly $150 million. Its last round of funding was an $18 million Series E in August 2017.
Rethink Robotics CEO Scott Eckert said an expected deal for Rethink Robotics to be acquired fell through. Rethink Robotics was short on cash as its robots sales failed to meet expectations.
“I can confirm that unfortunately the news is true, Rethink Robotics closed its doors today,” Eckert wrote in an e-mail confirming the shutdown. “We were pioneers and innovators in the industry and responsible for the creation of the collaborative robot category, but unfortunately we didn’t quite achieve the market success we had intended. We have been helping our team find new homes and have been overwhelmed with interest. It’s a world-class group of people will continue to do great things in their next endeavors.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 7:50 PM with additional information from the HAHN Group and Corun USA.