Inventory errors around the world
can cost up to 1.5 trillion euros a year in losses. It is a simple mistake with
enormous consequences. The young Marco Mascorro believes that the solution to
avoiding these losses could be in robotics. Through his company, Fellow Robots,
he sells robots capable of keeping retail business inventories up to date. For
this innovation, Mascorro has been chosen as one of the Innovators Under 35 Latin
America 2017 winners by the MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition.
His intelligent machines are able to move autonomously through shops, communicate with each other, monitor store inventories using artificial vision, transmit information to employee devices and check that all products for sale are available and know where they are located. In addition to monitoring each product, the LoweBots (as Mascorro has called his robots) also can also perform customer service roles.
"In a single click, customers can check the availability of products on screen, verbally or by image, and the robot accompanies them to where they are located. They are service robots with very advanced technology and sensors and are very different from those are used in industry," explains the young engineer. Due to their artificial intelligence, the machines improve their performance by learning from every experience. "It's a big step for robotics," he adds.
Mascorro’s path to this product started when he was still a student, when he visited Germany to study industrial robots at BMW. Then he went to Japan, a country with a well-established relationship with robotics, and finally to the United States. There he attended Singularity University in Silicon Valley, where he was Assistant Professor of Robotics and had the opportunity to meet his future business partner, ex-astronaut and Professor of Robotics Dan Barry. Marco created Fellow Robots five years ago with his support.
In this business venture, Mascorro has focused his efforts on applying robotics to non-industrial sectors, such as retail. This is how, three years ago, he started working with LOWE, one of the biggest hardware and home improvement companies, who gave their name to his business’s first models.
Partnership with this company gave him the opportunity to leave the laboratory and face the problems of actually implementing technological solutions such as his own. In addition to technical challenges, there are also human ones, such as the rejection of robotic workers.
To overcome this obstable, Mascorro paid great attention to the aesthetic design, seeking to make it palatable and functional to users, but at the same time avoiding a form which is too anthropomorphic as that could lead to their rejection.
The company, which is still in its start-up phase, already consists of a team of 20 people, who are mainly engineers dedicated to innovation and product improvement. Its creator explains: "The problem we are trying to solve is difficult and very specific, as it requires us to develop our own technology from scratch." To date his efforts have already been recognized Forbes magazine, which has included Mascorro in its 30 Under 30 Manufacturing & Industry list. The list of companies his company are working with is growing, not only in the US, but also in countries such as Japan, where they are collaborating with the Yamada Denki department store.
"It is a mature project that solves the problem of inventory control, which is of great economic importance" says MakerMex and ACELAB Automation co-founder, Juan Carlos Orozco. The Innovators under 35 jury member believes that the project "has great potential to have a great economic impact and is highly likely to be used by large multinationals."