Startup at Port SA developing sorting robots that help FedEx

Plus One Robotics is part of a work flow for the delivery service

Port San Antonio is the technology hub of the Alamo City and it is seemingly growing by the day — and the companies on the campus are growing as well.

SAN ANTONIO – Port San Antonio is the technology hub of the Alamo City and it is seemingly growing by the day — and the companies on the campus are growing as well.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are relying on E-commerce and deliveries. Now, Plus One Robotics, a local startup at Port SA, is becoming an instrumental part of the world-wide delivery service.

“We’ve kind of gone from zero to almost 40 people here in the last three years,” Paul Hvass, COO of Plus One Robotics said.

Hvass and his team are now part of a core workflow of FedEx delivery services.

“We have developed some robots that help them. It’s called “Induction.” So we’re inducting parcels onto a sorter at FedEx in Memphis,” Hvass said.

The robots can automatically sort and move items ready to ship out. There are four systems installed in Memphis.

“It’s a time when automation really makes a lot of sense for hygienic reasons. And so I think all of us would appreciate it if robots were handling our packages and instead of people,” Hvass said.

The system is high tech and can register all types of items, but it’s not perfect, and that’s where people come in as robot managers.

“When the robot needs help, it’ll pop up over on the left side. And then she’s able to basically click on the screen and tell the robot what it should do next,” Hvass said.

“When people see robots, the first thing goes to their mind is we’re putting people out of work. What this is doing is taking people out of jobs that people really shouldn’t be doing and allowing those people to go on and do higher-value jobs,” Jim Perschbach, Port San Antonio president and CEO said.

Port San Antonio is a hidden technological and economic gem of San Antonio and of Texas.

“Well, Austin’s doing a lot of great things, but in San Antonio, we’re doing some things that are even more impressive. You see what Plus One Robotics is doing with artificial intelligence, supervised autonomy and sensors, technology on robots. That’s world-changing type of stuff,” Perschbach said.

Erik Nieves, CEO and co-founder of Plus One Robotics said a big reason for the company’s rapid growth and success is simple.

“Our difference is our people, and our folks here in San Antonio are reliable, trustworthy, capable, curious, and think in terms of what is best for the person beside me,” Nieves said.

And for Plus One Robotics and other businesses here at Port SA, the sky is the limit.

“These are the technologies that are driving our country. These are the technologies is going to drive our economy for the next hundred years,” Perschbach said.

About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.