Israeli firm CommonSense Robotics is building what it says is the world’s first underground automated fulfillment operation for grocery delivery, anticipating a future where facilities like this will occupy abandoned urban spaces above and below ground to fulfill one-hour deliveries for city dwellers.
Called a micro-fulfillment center, it will be an 18,000 square foot triangular space with an average clearance height of 11 feet, underneath a Tel Aviv skyscraper. CommonSense is partnering with Israeli grocers on the project, a full-service site with three temperature zones for on-demand fulfillment of fresh, chilled and frozen grocery orders.
CommonSense notes how existing supply chains are challenged to meet the demands and logistics of modern ecommerce fulfillment, necessitating the repurposing of existing space in urban centers. It is also responding to trends like a decline in car ownership coupled with the rise in ride hailing apps, crowdsourced delivery and courier services, as well as increased migration to cities.
Using AI and machine learning, CommonSense software breaks orders into tasks and delegates them autonomously to mobile robots which bring items via totes to human packers. A different set of robots transports packed orders to a shipping area for loading and delivery.
“With ecommerce logistics pushing both retailers’ profitability and urban infrastructures to the breaking point, it’s clear that we need to reinvent the way goods are fulfilled and delivered within cities,” said Elram Goren, CEO and Co-Founder of CommonSense Robotics in a release. “In order to fulfill and deliver on demand, you inherently need to be closer to your end customers, but that’s really hard in cities. Taking ecommerce fulfillment underground inside cities is one way we can enable retailers to fulfill online orders in close proximity to their customers while doing so profitably.”
CommonSense’s first fulfillment site has been has been used by Israeli retailer Super-Pharm since October 2018, fulfilling over 400 orders a day out of a 6,000-square-foot space.