Pickle, a startup that grew out of a lab at MIT and created a robotic arm that can unload up to 1,800 boxes an hour from a trailer, has raised $5.75 million to date and picked up 3PL and parcel shipping clients who have a need for speed. Dill can handle the 1,800 items per hour to a sorter, or 1,000 an hour directly to a putwall.
Boston Dynamics, creators of the viral dancing robots video just before New Year’s Eve, is making further inroads into the warehouse automation space with the unveiling this week of Stretch, a mobile robot purpose-built for unloading and palletizing and de-palletizing boxes. The company was acquired by Hyundai in December 2020.
Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment warehouses, has raised $150 million in a Series E round, led by Tiger Global Management and Bond, bringing its valuation to the unicorn level north of $1 billion as its business multiplies. The company is looking to expand in Europe and enter APAC in 2022.
We’re at a tipping point where automation is about to be a mainstream focus of ecommerce fulfillment centers. But while automation may be a sensible investment for bigger players like Amazon, that doesn’t mean it will scale effectively to smaller operations. So, are fully automated facilities really the future, and if so, what will it look like?
Ecommerce fulfillment software and systems integration provider Vargo has partnered with robotics sortation and grasping robot maker Kindred and autonomous mobile robot (AMR) creator Fetch Robotics to help their systems better sync with order orchestration and workflows. This continues a recent trend of SI/robotics partnerships.
French robotics firm Exotec, which lists Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo as a major client, has raised $90 million to power its global growth in ecommerce fulfillment. Founded in 2015, Exotec is built on a goods-to-person model with its Skypod bots which uses laser guidance to navigate a fulfillment center.
Amazon is in advanced talks to acquire self-driving car startup Zoox as it looks to expand its autonomous vehicle capabilities to address massive delivery costs, according to the Wall Street Journal. It has already invested heavily in autonomous technology, contributing to funding rounds for Aurora Innovation and Rivian Automotive LLC.
Walmart is expanding its fleet of shelf-scanning robots, adding 650 this year for a total of 1,000 as it looks to address nettlesome grocery out-of-stock issues and battle competitors with the technology like Ahold Delhaize’s Stop & Shop, Giant Eagle and Schnuck’s. It has also launched a micro fulfillment center at a New Hampshire store.