Reliance Industries Limited, owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is buying an Indian robotics firm as the conglomerate ramps up automation across its industries, from e-commerce to new energy.
Reliance paid $132 million for a controlling share in Addverb Technologies, which utilises robots to improve the efficiency of e-commerce warehouses and energy production, according to Sangeet Kumar, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest person, is investing in technology as rivalry from rivals such as Amazon.com heats up in India’s thriving e-commerce business. Addverb already deploys robotic conveyors, semi-automated systems, and pick-by-voice software in dozens of warehouses across Reliance’s empire, including online grocer JioMart, apparel store Ajio, and internet pharmacy Netmeds.
“Reliance has big aspirations to automate its digital warehouses,” said Mr Kumar, 41. “They intend to expand storage to hundreds of locations over the next two years, and only robotic systems can be successful at that scale.”
Addverb, situated in Noida, is a five-year-old company that creates and manufactures software as well as installs robotic systems. As a result, it is one of just a few businesses in the world that works on all aspects of robotics, from hardware and software through deployment.
Addverb’s robots assist in the packing of Reliance’s oil and gas storage facilities, and the company has built automation for the conglomerate’s refinery in Jamnagar, Gujarat. It is implementing solutions at Reliance’s massive new solar factory, also in Jamnagar, where the firm aims to invest more than $80 billion in green energy.
According to Mr Kumar, the two’s most significant partnership is yet to come. Addverb and Reliance want to develop “next-generation” 5G robotics and battery systems, as well as use carbon fibre to create inexpensive, smart robots.