News


Meet Mary Ellen Sparrow of NextShift Robotics

January 30, 2018 | Boston Voyager

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mary Ellen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.

In my 25+ years in the industrial automation and robotics industry, I’ve held management positions, served on strategic planning boards and industry standards committees, and led cross-functional, international teams in software, systems, controls, quality, program management, and field service. That experience and knowledge has been essential in my role as the CEO of NextShift Robotics. As the NextShift CEO, I have the good fortune to work in a field I love, with an energetic team, solving the problems facing e-commerce and manufacturing companies.

As a kid, I loved nature, math, and science, in that order. Originally focused on geology, I had the opportunity to get involved in programming so I switched gears after a few years and went back to school for my master’s in computer science.

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NextShift was Featured at State House Innovation Day

January 29, 2018 | State House

NextShift was excited to demonstrate their autonomous robotic technology at the Massachusetts TechHUB Caucus’s 3rd Innovation Day in January. Two hundred attendees discussed “Megatrends and the Future of Tech in Massachusetts” and saw live demonstrations of innovative new technologies from over a dozen Massachusetts-based tech firms and start-ups, including 128 Technology, Cisco, Machine Metrics, Raytheon, Verizon, the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and many others.

Boston is a city of innovation which actively supports the robotics and entrepreneurial communities. One of the great opportunities we have is to join other teams that are equally committed to advancing cutting-edge and practical technology. Innovation Day 2018 was an inspiring moment for all of us.

The TechHUB Caucus of industry stakeholders is supported by the TechHUB Collaborative, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. It serves as the nexus for industry, academia, and state government to better connect with and inform public policymakers and advance priorities for strengthening the Commonwealth’s tech sector.

“We are fortunate to have so much talent in Massachusetts,” stated Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), TechHUB Caucus co-chair. “The tech community is driving trends that are making a positive impact on our communities.”

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Spotlight: Mary Ellen Sparrow Wants To Make It Easier For People To Work With Robotics

January 18, 2018 | Lioness Magazine

Mary Ellen Sparrow, a Massachusetts native, spent most of her childhood outdoors. These days, the robotics entrepreneur spends most of her days in her Lowell robotics test center— and she loves it. Her mission is to make it easier for people to work with robots.

After starting her career in geology, Sparrow returned to school for her master’s degree in computer science.

“I love working with robots. There’s a misconception that robots will take our jobs and that robotics firms are anti-worker,” Sparrow said. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re building robots to work with, not instead of, people.”

In her over 25 years in the robotics industry, Sparrow has helped create material handling systems using a monorail for PRI Automation, an automated storage retrieval system (ASRS) for Symbotic, and an e-retail warehouse material handling system using collaborative, mobile, and autonomous robots for Harvest Automation. When Harvest returned to their original agricultural roots, Sparrow and Stephen Toebes bought their warehouse system and founded NextShift Robotics. NextShift Robotics specializes in creating material handling systems using collaborative, mobile, autonomous robots. The company is focused on meeting the demands of the exploding e-commerce order fulfillment market.

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Mary Ellen Sparrow of NextShift Robotics

Dec 28, 2017 | Radio Entrepreneurs

Mary Ellen Sparrow of NextShift Robotics speaks with Jeffrey Davis on the Radio Entrepreneurs show

“So, what our robots do is basically they help move the material from one spot in the warehouse to another.”

“So, when a customer calls in and they want socks, volley balls they wants baskets balls. What’s going to happen is it’s going to be all across the warehouse and the robot is really going to be doing the walking across the warehouse and the person (the picker) is going to stay within their zone.”

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Exclusive interview with NextShift Robotics CEO

December 18, 2017

Logistics robots: NextShift’s ‘unique workflow’ increases productivity and efficiency

The robotics and automation industry has always held a fascination for many people – for seasoned professionals and even passing observers alike. And it’s been particularly interesting in the past couple of years, for several reasons. One reason is the advancements in computing – both hardware and software, perhaps most importantly in networking.

But, arguably, the fastest-growing market in the next few years is going to be the category of logistics automation. It’s a broad area, but one segment stands out. Ever since Amazon bought Kiva Systems and took the company’s mobile warehouse robotic platform off the market, there has been a huge, gaping hole in this product category – and a big market opportunity.

Moreover, Amazon has shown the value of logistics robots. It’s probably the critical technology which enables the online retail giant to offer next-day deliveries across the expanse of the US and much of the world. In some places it even offers same-day delivery.

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Lead(H)er – Mary Ellen Sparrow, CEO & Co-Founder at NextShift Robotics

November 15, 2017 | Brianne Shelley | VentureFizz

Boston is a great city for being a robotics startup. The Boston community has been tremendous. I think the marriage of entrepreneurship with robotics has really helped move us forward,” said Mary Ellen Sparrow, Co-founder and CEO of NextShift Robotics.

Growing up in the New Bedford area, Mary Ellen spent most of her free time exploring the outdoors. When it came time to decide what she wanted to study, the UMass Amherst’s geology program seemed the obvious choice.

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NextShift Robotics Granted Patent for Materials Handling Workflow

November 17, 2017 | NextShift Robotics | GlobeNewswire

LOWELL, Mass., Nov. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — NextShift Robotics, a provider of robotics systems for ecommerce order fulfillment and cellular manufacturing, today announced that it was granted Patent # US9694977 B2 by the United States Patent Office for its materials handling workflow.

NextShift Robotics’ Systems:

  • Optimize workflow and support the promise of “immediate” delivery consumers have come to expect from ecommerce.
  • Are easily added to existing warehouses and distribution centers, making facilities efficient, effective and more productive.
  • Support a healthier work environment amid increased awareness of the need to improve working conditions in distribution centers and factories.

NextShift Robotics’ patented workflow supports independent robots that collaborate with workers but do not rely on them. “We take a very different approach from others in the industry,” said Mary Ellen Sparrow, co-founder and CEO of NextShift Robotics. “Our patented solution enables truly independent robots, meaning employees can take well-deserved breaks or have lunch while the robots continue working. This approach improves workflow at manufacturing and distribution sites to boost efficiency and productivity, and drive a competitive advantage.”

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