On Thursday, Locus Robotics, the privately held maker of autonomous mobile robots  for warehouse fulfillment, announced a new Series E funding round of $150 million. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, the technology private equity giant that is currently running its 12th innovation-focused fund, and cross-lifecycle venture capital investor BOND.

Existing investors, including Scale Venture Partners and Prologis Ventures, the venture capital arm of logistics real estate firm Prologis, re-upped commitments for the latest round.

Locus will use the new windfall to further expand its market opportunities around the globe and to support its ongoing research and development (R&D) in warehouse technology.

“This new round of funding marks an important inflection point for Locus Robotics,” said Locus CEO Rick Faulk. “Warehouses facing ongoing labor shortages and exploding volumes, are looking for flexible, intelligent automation to improve productivity and grow their operations. Locus is uniquely positioned to drive digital transformation in this enormous global market.”

“Locus’s innovative mix of proven technology, flexible design, and seamless scalability makes it an ideal choice to lead the digital transformation of the warehouse,” said Tiger Global Partner Griffin Schroeder. “Facing rapidly growing ecommerce volumes, rising labor costs, and increasingly demanding customers, warehouse operators are seeking an automation solution that is flexible, scalable, and just works.”

“The Locus solution unlocks substantial productivity gains, while significantly lowering expenses, improving employee morale, and providing customers with unmatched visibility into warehouse operations,” said Jay Simons, a general partner at BOND. “The platform is powerful enough to meet – and exceed – warehouse operators’ needs today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come.”

Locus currently serves more than 40 customers and 80 warehouses around the world, aiming at total addressable market of more than 20 billion square feet of global warehouse space as companies rush to accommodate rising volume in e-commerce.

According to the company, LocusBots have picked more than 300 million units to date, including 70 million units during the recent holiday season. Heading into that peak volume season for online shopping, Locus were reporting picking more than 10,000 units every 15 minutes, a 263 percent increase in units picked vs. the same period in 2019.

10x Growth?

Data from Interact Analysis, a market research firm that covers the intelligence automation sector, indicate that over a million warehouse robots will be installed globally over the next four years as the number of warehouses using this kind of automation increases tenfold.

“The logistics industry is facing huge challenges as it struggles to cope with rapid increases in demand, and at the same time severe labor shortages,” said Interact Analyst Managing Director Ash Sharma, commenting on the latest Locus Robotics Funding Round. “Warehouses are massively under-penetrated today, but increasingly operators are seeing the huge benefits that warehouse robotics such as the Locus solution can bring.”

Locus customers worldwide include CEVA Logistics, DHL, Material Bank, Boots UK, GEODIS, Port Logistics Group, Verst Logistics, Radial, and others. According to Locus Robotics, their warehouse automation solution enables clients to double or triple their fulfillment productivity with near-100% accuracy, while saving on operating expenses, and enhancing employee morale and safety.

Locus is built around a patented, proprietary software and intuitive user interface, programmed to integrate into existing and new warehouse environments, to improve the efficiency of both inbound (“putaway”) and outbound (“picking”) fulfillment. Locus robots can be configured to carry a wide variety of items. Patented technology automatically recognizes workers, and the robot’s large screen displays information in the worker’s preferred language, facilitating greater productivity and reduced error rates. Acting as a coordinated fleet, the robots autonomously navigate a warehouse, dynamically adjusting their paths and collaborating with workers. Locus’s algorithms “dynamically allocate” picker workload to optimize productivity and minimize unproductive walking.

Besides being loaded with real-time analytics, dashboards and reporting, Locus features a “Gamification” function that displays individual performance statistics designed to “help motivate workers to greater achievement.”

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