Automatix Inc., founded in January 1980, was the first company to market industrial robots with built-in machine vision. Its founders were Victor Sheinman, inventor of the Stanford arm; Phillippe Villers, Michael Cronin, and Arnold Reinhold of Computervision; Jake Dias and Dan Nigro of Data General; Gordon Venderbrug, of NBS and Norman Wittels.
Initial product offerings included the Autovision machine vision system, the Robovision welding robot and the Cybervision electronic parts assembly system. Automatix was one of the first users of Motorola 68000 microprocessors, but because almost no software existed for the 68000 in 1980, Automatix had to develop its own operating system and a robotics scripting language, called RAIL. Its initial machine vision offering was based on software licensed from Stanford Research Institute. In the late 1980s, Automatix replaced the proprietary 68000 computer in its vision products with an Apple Macintosh II.
Automatix mostly used robot mechanisms imported from Hitachi at first and later from Yaskawa and KUKA. It did design and manufacture a Cartesian robot called the AID-600. The 600 was intended for use in precision assembly but was adapted for welding use, particularly Tungsten inert gas welding (TIG), which demands high accuracy and immunity from the intense electromagnetic interference that the TIG process creates. Automatx was the first company to market a vision_guided welding robot called Seamtracker. Structured laser light and monochromatic filters were used to allow an image to be seen in the presence of the welding arc.
Automatix raised large amounts of venture capital, and went public in 1983, but was not profitable until the early 1990s. In 1994 Automatix merged with another machine vision company, Itran Corp., to form Acuity Imaging, Inc. Acuity was acquired by RVSI in September 1995. As of 2004, RVSI still supported the evolved Automatix machine vision package under the PowerVision brand.