Since Sumer Kaya was eight, he enjoyed learning to code with his father and creating smart, effective technology like a fast-processing calculator. Today, the recent MBA from UofT Rotman School of Management is the founder and CEO of Gradient Robotics, a software and technology company taking residence in The Hub.
Fulfillment is the process that comes after you make an online order, where workers pick, pack, and deliver items. Workers walk approximately 15 miles a day to collect products scattered throughout stores. “People hate traveling, but robots love to travel,” Kaya added, “this combination and pair-up of people and machines save time for working with people and fulfilling customer needs.”
Robots can support people and provide precision, efficiency, travel and more. “There are 60 or more items in a typical grocery order,” Kaya explained, “that means there are 60 ways something can go wrong.” For over four years, Kaya has been involved in designing and building Gradient Robotics into a useful tool.
Today, ten grocery stores are piloting this automated system. Spaces are lined with sensors on the grounds and shelves that implement management software and enable mobile robot travel. When their capacity is full, a worker can simply press a button to send it to a packing station and then find another available robot, which cuts the unnecessary back and forth between aisles.
“In this network, you can get your sodas or toilet paper in under 30 minutes,” Kaya said, “from a customer point of view, nobody would be upset with a fast service.” The stores are close to customers which enables quick delivery through sustainable services like e-scooters and bikes. Kaya added, “it makes a lot of sense in urban areas because it’s easier to bypass traffic and deliver orders immediately” this way.
In two years, the pilot will roll out to fifty more stores globally and behind the scenes, the Gradient Robotics team are designing similar, implementable technology that is adaptable to a variety of different and bigger spaces. “We are building smart architecture and software to prep for the future that will change the customer experience and how we shop,” Kaya said.
Even before the current COVID-19 pandemic, the e-commerce marketplace has become a newly growing industry, but companies were not prepared for its current need. “Whenever I go to grocery stores, I see seniors and people with accessibility needs struggle, especially during these COVID times, they endure people elbowing their way through aisles,” Kaya added. Gradient Robotics was built with these communities in mind and strongly values customer experience and sustainable innovation.
“Robotics is hard but designed to simplify things,” Kaya said, “we have the technology, now it’s about finding the places to implement it.” Currently, he has built a small, but growing, team in Toronto and a manufacturing team overseas that are actively finding smart and efficient ways to fulfill customer needs. “The fact that this technology has been validated is a big success,” Kaya said, noting plans to grow his company in Canada, which currently has a relatively small pool of Robotics companies, and expand internationally.
Current infrastructure, like outdated conveyor belts, can be improved on and find value in what Kaya described as “smart robotics in combination with smart labour.” Kaya’s outlook and constant search for discovering the best, simplified processes match the idea of ‘gradient’ in computer vision, which means direction and the highest rate of change.
Gradient Robotics shows no signs of slowing down and recently won in The Hub’s Startup Competition 2020. Like their technology, Gradient Robotics adapts to change and accelerates innovation and growth.
· Interested in working with Sumer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/gradientrobotics/about/
Learn more about Gradient here: https://www.gradientnow.com/
-- article by Jenefer Savoeung