Teradyne, a prosaic-sounding but flush company that provides automated testing equipment for industrial applications, has acquired the Danish robotics company MiR for an eye-popping $148 million, with $124 million on the table after meeting performance goals.
MiR, which despite the lowercase “i” stands for Mobile Industrial Robots, does what you might guess. Founded in 2013, the company has grown steadily and had a huge 2017, tripling its revenues to $12 million after its latest robot, the MiR200, received high marks from customers.
MiR’s robots are of the warehouse sort, wheeled little autonomous fellows that can lift and pull pallets, boxes and so on. They look a bit like the little ones that are always underfoot in Star Wars movies. It’s a natural fit for Teradyne, especially with the latter’s recent purchase of the well-known Universal Robotics in a $350 million deal in 2015.
Testing loads of electronics and components may be a dry business, but it’s a booming one, because the companies that test faster ship faster. Anytime efficiencies can be made in the process, be it warehouse logistics or assisting expert humans in sensitive procedures, one can be sure a company will be willing to pay for them.
Teradyne also noted (the Robot Report points out) that both companies take a modern approach to robots and how they interact and must be trained by people — the old paradigm of robotics specialists having to carefully program these things doesn’t scale well, and both UR and MiR were forward-thinking enough to improve that pain point.
The plan is, of course, to take MiR’s successful technology global, hopefully recreating its success on a larger scale.
“My main focus is to get our mobile robots out to the entire world,” said MiR CSO and founder Niels Jul Jacobsen in the press release announcing the acquisition. “With Teradyne as the owner, we will have strong backing to ensure MiR’s continued growth in the global market.”