Locus Robotics, a provider of mobile robots for use in e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners, along with the company's existing investors, according to a Bloomberg report.
The company operates under a Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) subscription business model that allows customers such as retailers, e-commerce sites and third-party logistics firms to use robots to address their fulfillment needs without having to make a very large capital investment.
Locus also said that logistics and fulfillment giant DHL, which had been running a pilot program using Locus robots in its supply chain operations, has now officially signed on as a customer.
Robots are taking over retail, and it's a good thing. From store aisles to online customer service to the supply chain, robotics are starting to have real impact. And, while it still may take a few years before we see in-store robots everywhere, they are already revolutionizing fulfillment. Some of the most recent examples include systems used by Hudson's Bay Company and Boxed, along with Walmart's recent expansion of inventory robots and the many thousands of robots already used by Amazon.
It has been five years since Amazon acquired Kiva Systems and gave itself a big head start on the rest of the retail sector in the use of robotics to improve its fulfillment productivity and streamline supply chain operations. Other retailers and logistics firms have been looking to catch up ever since — a task made more difficult by the fact that Amazon bought a company many of them otherwise could have worked with.
Locus Robotics is one of the companies that has emerged in recent years to fill the void and provide these firms with a potential robotics partner, and as Bloomberg reported, it is just one of several that have earned new funding recently, a good sign that retail and logistics firms are ready to help usher in the era of the automated supply chain.
And Locus hasn't been resting on its laurels, either. Earlier this year, the company announced new navigation software to optimize movement of its robots around warehouses and fulfillment centers and improve the coordination between robots operating in the same center. Likely understanding that not everyone is in a financial position to pull an Amazon move and acquire a robotics company, Locus has also developed a subscription business model to put the concept of a robotically-driven fulfillment process within reach for more retailers, with big businesses like DHL touting the capabilities of the company's robots.
"Integrating LocusBots into one of our sites has increased productivity two-fold and the associate feedback is positive," Adrian Kumar, vice president of solutions design North America at DHL supply chain, said in a statement, adding that the company is "eager" to further develop its relationship with Locus.