BMW Founds IDEALworks in Bid to Dominate Mobile Material Handling

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4Q 2020 | IN-6019


Mobile Robotics Gets a Big New Entrant


In November, the BMW Group founded IDEALworks (IW)—a fully-owned subsidiary—headquartered in Munich. The stated aim is for IW to become a leading supplier of autonomous robotics solutions in the logistics sector, with the name “IDEAL” standing for Industry-Driven Engineering for Autonomous Logistics.

BMW has been partnering with Nvidia to develop mobile robots for internal use in its factories, primarily around automated material handling at the last mile, for a number of years. IW builds on this internal development and expands the scope to include autonomous robots in the logistics sector, suggesting that BMW is targeting couriers, 3PLs, retailer, and e-tailers.

This is exceptional in that, while major automotive vendors have frequently bought mobile robots, and in the case of Toyota, have sold automated forklifts via the use of technology provided by automation specialist like BlueBotics and Kollmorgen, there is little precedent for such a large player developing its own robotics division and selling outside of its traditional market. In the …

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