Pittsburgh-based Seegrid acquires Center City's Box Robotics - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 7, 2020 2:34 pm

Pittsburgh-based Seegrid acquires Center City’s Box Robotics

Expect to see some hiring in the Philly area, said Seegrid CEO Jim Rock.
Box Robotics cofounders John Spletzer (left) and Tom Panzarella.

Box Robotics cofounders John Spletzer (left) and Tom Panzarella.

(Image via Canva; photos via LinkedIn)

Center City-based Box Robotics, led by the team behind the former Love Park Robotics, announced this week that it had been acquired by Pittsburgh’s Seegrid Corporation.

Cofounders Tom Panzarella and John Spletzer started work on Box, which focuses on 3D perception autonomy with situational awareness for industrial robots, last year. The pair are the company’s only two employees and will be joining the 280-person Seegrid team remotely from Philadelphia, leading the self-driving industrial vehicles maker’s perception team.

Seegrid’s proprietary navigation tech uses cameras, algorithms and machine learning to navigate environments like manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics facilities. The acquisition will accelerate the deployment of more advanced functionality for Seegrid’s vehicles, the company said in a statement. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are beyond excited to be a part of the Seegrid family and bring our technology to some of the world’s largest manufacturing and distribution brands already leveraging enormous returns with Seegrid’s vehicles,” said Panzarella, now the senior director of perception, in a statement. “This technology will enable Seegrid’s autonomous vehicles to gain an even more comprehensive understanding of the world, enabling them to be more productive and save customers time and money.”

For Technical.ly’s 2020 RealLIST Connectors, we wrote that if Philadelphia is going to have any chance at a robotics sector, Panzarella will be among its founders. A longtime community member, he dove deeply into advanced robotics, championing not just his firm but the category and Philadelphia as a natural home.

He and Spletzer worked with Seegrid before, while at Love Park Robotics, Seegrid CEO Jim Rock told Technical.ly. While Box has only been around for about a year, Seegrid’s relationship with the robotics pair has been “long term,” Rock said.

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“When you buy a company to add value to your existing company, the age of the target is irrelevant,” the CEO said. “They could be two days or 200 years old. It doesn’t doesn’t go into the calculus.”

Seegrid has seen quick growth in the last five years, and especially during the pandemic, as ecommerce business has risen, as is the need for autonomous vehicles in shipping warehouses. The company plans to add about 100 jobs in the coming months, Rock said, likely including some in Philadelphia, as Panzarella and Spletzer build out their team more. Philly’s tech scene has a lot to offer Seegrid, Rock added.

Those roles will be across the board — engineers, product designers, operations, sales, marketing and administrative. And with the remote-first mentality, they’re looking to hire from anywhere.

“In growing the company, we have 280 employees today, and we need more of everything,” Rock said.

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