JJ Velasquez / Rivard Report
A growing San Antonio startup unveiled a 10,000-square-foot robotics lab at Port San Antonio on Wednesday.
Erik Nieves, CEO and co-founder of Plus One Robotics, said the new facility gives the company improved capabilities to test its robotic software and develop more commercial products. Nieves said he wearies of investors’ focus on minimum viable product, or the earliest form of a startup’s product. He touted, instead, Plus One’s early capabilities of using 3D camera-equipped robotics and mechanical limbs that can pick up small items on a conveyor belt.
“That capability manifests itself 50 different ways in the warehouse,” Nieves said. “And those are your products, so what you’re seeing here is the ability to explore more of those applications of our capability. So what will you see? You will see more products as a result.”
Plus One Robotics develops the software used to instruct robots in warehouses and other logistics facilities how to pick up, arrange, and sort items that are being shipped off to e-commerce customers. Among its products are a remote system for supervising robots, automated mail package separator, and an automated quality assurance system for parcel services.
While the launch of the new facility brings more than double its previous space at the Port, Plus One may already be looking for additional square footage, Nieves said.
“We’ve been in here two months, and we’re already busting at the seams on the robot side,” he said. “We know we can fit more developers in here. But it was either really good growth or really bad planning, and I’m not sure which, because it’s clear we’re going to have to get more space for the robot floor in the not-too-distant future.”
Plus One Robotics will likely execute a clause in its lease agreement with the Port to take over the neighboring 10,000 square feet at the new building on Port San Antonio’s 1,900-acre campus. That could happen as soon as the first half of 2020, Nieves said.
The startup currently employs about 30 people, most of whom work at the new facility. The company also has an office in Boulder, Colorado.
The company formally moved to its new facility at Port San Antonio in August. Wednesday’s event showcased its technology to an audience of several dozen attendees at a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. Inside the lab, engineers demonstrated the robots and their software-powered capabilities.
Founded in 2016, the company moved its operations to Port San Antonio in 2018 before opening its new facility. The venture-backed robotics firm has closed on more than $10 million in capital since last spring.
Plus One is currently hiring for an artificial intelligence software engineer and a fall software engineering intern.