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Brooks Announces Agreement To Acquire Precise Automation

Brooks Automation, Inc. has announced that it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Precise Automation, Inc., a leading developer of collaborative robots and automation sub-systems headquartered in Fremont, CA.  The total cash purchase price for the acquisition will be approximately $70 million, subject to working capital and other adjustments.  The transaction is expected to close by the end of April upon satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Precise Automation’s proprietary technology enables human-robot workflows in a safe and easy-to-use manner, automating processes that could not be addressed practically in the past. The company’s collaborative robots, which include SCARA, 6-axis and Cartesian configurations, are delivered fully assembled and designed for easy system integration by end users and OEM customers.  Precise Automation’s products are used in a variety of end markets including laboratory automation and semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. Laboratory automation applications include drug discovery, analytical laboratory, clinical diagnostics, and genomics.

Steve Schwartz, President and CEO of Brooks commented, “Precise provides Brooks with a product offering and technology portfolio that is well positioned to take advantage of the exciting growth opportunities in the collaborative robot market. Their history of innovation in vision technology, precision motion, integrated controllers and direct drive motors and track record of solving customer challenges in laboratory and semiconductor automation makes Precise a great fit with Brooks.”

Co-founders Brian Carlisle and Dr. Bruce Shimano, two industry visionaries with over 35 years each of robotics experience, will join Brooks and continue to lead Precise Automation reporting to Dave Jarzynka, President of the Brooks Semiconductor Solutions Group.  Precise Automation generated $17 million in revenue over the last twelve months.

Visual Servoing – Vision Guided Motion Control

Precise Automation has developed Visual Servoing technology. By visually closing the robot’s position loop using a process known as visual servoing, a robot can achieve placement accuracies based on its encoder resolution rather than its absolute accuracy. By looking at both the object and target simultaneously, PreciseVision can determine their relative distance and direction and move the part accordingly. Instead of sending the robot a single motion command in world coordinates as in a traditional vision guidance application, the system sends a series of incremental distance and direction motion commands to a Guidance Controller embedded in  the robot. As the robot executes the motion, more pictures are taken, analyzed and new motion commands are issued. This process continues until PreciseVision confirms that the task is accomplished. Since the system is constantly correcting for inaccuracies from multiple sources, the system can achieve placement accuracies at the level of its encoder resolution. The tight integration of PreciseVision and Guidance controllers result in a system that can capture, analyze and put corrections into effect dozens of times per second making visual servoing practical for the first time.

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