The Wandelbots History

Apr 23, 2020

The history of Wandelbots began in 2011 when our founders met at TU Dresden as a group of researchers focused on the methods and tools for the development of self-adaptive software systems. When they entered the field of industrial robotics, they were shocked at the state of industrial technology. The technologies and approaches used date back to the early 1990s and had not changed since then. Even the introduction of modern collaborative robots has not changed this. At the same time, modern community-based approaches such as the Robot Operating System (ROS) had not been a resounding success. They began to look scientifically into how to simplify the programming of robots. That was when the idea of an intelligent, sensor-equipped jacket with which a robot arm can be moved and taught in real time was first initiated

The technology was first presented publicly at the Innovation Award of the robot manufacturer KUKA in 2016. Thrilled by the results, KUKA invited our founders to demonstrate the SmartJacket at the KUKA booth at the Hannover Fair 2016. Up to this point, the work was a pure hobby project, developed after hours and on weekends. On the train ride back to Dresden, the overwhelming feedback from countless companies then led to the idea of founding a company.

Everything happened quite fast! As a result of good contacts to private investors through the TU Dresden, Wandelbots got a start-up financing which made it possible to hire our first employees and to invest in the necessary equipment, e.g. a robot arm. Based on our successful projects with customers from various industries and the great interest in our solution, we were also able to conclude a Series A financing with the renowned European venture capital funds EQT Ventures and Paua Ventures at the end of 2018. This has helped us to further develop our technology and enter the market even faster. 

The development of Wandelbots took a completely different course than initially assumed. Since the start in 2018, we have grown from 2 to 76 employees in 2 years. This has presented us with enormous operational challenges. In February 2019, we moved from our Sherpa office to our Villa in Tiergartenstraße because we had a greater workforce than what the old space could contain.
From office space to our own organizational structure, changes were required in virtually every area on a monthly basis. But the efforts have already paid off several times over: we have managed to persuade global talents to move to Dresden to become part of our success story. 

Although our initial idea was to develop the SmartJacket, we became overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we received about another of our innovations; the TracePen. We then shifted our focus to the TracePen and by June 2019, we exhibited the first prototype at the Gifa fair. We currently plan to launch this tool in summer 2020 but we have already carried out several successful PilotProjects using the TracePen. 

Our product has changed the entire industry. The topic “Ease-of-Use” has become one of the buzzwords in the field of industrial automation. Our partnerships range from the largest robot manufacturers such as Denso, to component manufacturers such as Schunk, to large tech companies such as Microsoft or SAP. Our customers include veterans of automation such as Volkswagen or Infineon as well as automation newcomers. There were numerous highlights in the rapid company development. Hiring our first employee in Japan as well as the award for Start-Up of the Year in the “Factory of the Year” award were just as important as the successful introduction of our product into the production line of Volkswagen’s electric vehicle ID.3 in Zwickau. One of the biggest highlights was that Wandelbots was invited to Seattle in October 2019 by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to present our product to the Microsoft Management Board. Satya Nadella taught a robot how to glue a component. The robot stood at a distance of 8000km in Dresden. This shows that with Wandelbots, we have created something that has never been seen before in the world. And we are convinced that we are turning the robotics market completely upside down.

Top Image: Wandelbots demo using the SmartJacket
Left Image: Wandelbots with Satya Nadella at Microsoft
Right Image: Wandelbots Team as at July 2019

“The revolutionary solution from Wandelbots offers us unprecedented opportunities to open up new markets and new applications. We are pleased about the close cooperation.”

Carsten Busch
Denso Robotics Europe

About the author

Christian Piechnick

CEO

 

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