Amazon to invest in French robotics firm Balyo

Written by Hannah McGrath

Amazon could buy almost a third of shares in a French warehouse robotics firm that specialises in self-driving forklift trucks.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly planning to boost its stake in Balyo over the next seven years in a deal that could drive up sales of the French firm’s automated warehouse technology.

Fabient Bardinet, chief executive of Balyo, was quoted by Reuters as saying the agreement with Amazon “represents an unprecedented opportunity for Balyo to grow its business and supports the soundness of our investments over the years to perfect our robotic solutions”.

Balyo has developed robotic self-navigation technology for forklift trucks which enables the automated transport of pallets around a warehouse, driving efficiencies and speeding up supply chain processes.

Amazon already uses a robotics system developed by Kiva Systems for its delivery warehouses, after it bought the company for $775 million in 2012.

The deal with Balyo will grant Amazon free stock warrants of up to 29 per cent of the French firm’s capital, in line with Amazion’s orders of Balyo’s enabled products up to 300 million Euros, according to Reuters.

News of the deal comes after grocery delivery firm Ocado announced that sales of its industrial robot technology for use in warehouses had helped to drive growth by more than 11.5 per cent in the third quarter of last year.