June 2020 is off to a hot start for developers of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Yesterday, OTTO Motors announced a $29 million Series C, and today Locus Robotics closed $40 million in Series D funding.
The Series D brings Locus‘ total amount of funding raised to $105 million. Locus’ latest round was led by Zebra Ventures, the strategic investment arm of Zebra Technologies. Existing investors such as Scale Venture Partners also participated in the round. Locus raised its $26 million Series C in April 2019.
The new funding will be used for R&D purposes, but it will also accelerate the company’s expansion into new markets. Locus is now planning to open its European headquarters in Amsterdam in either the third or fourth quarter of 2020. A Locus spokesperson told The Robot Report “Amsterdam allows us to be centrally located and close to many of the key fulfillment and distribution centers that serve the European markets.”
Denis Niezgoda, who joined Locus in September 2019 as the Director of Business Development for the European Union, will lead the new headquarters. Prior to joining Locus, Niezgoda served as Robotics Accelerator Lead at DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation. He was responsible for identifying and implementing new technologies to drive innovation.
Locus also has multiple positions open in Cologne, Germany, including a Sales Executive. “We source our talent from all over the EU and offer remote work options to minimize the need for relocation or extensive travel,” the Locus spokesperson said. “The Cologne area is currently a key location based on some of our customer support needs.”
Many experts are saying the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the shift to online shopping as the new normal across the globe. In the U.S. and Canada, for example, there’s been a 129% year-over-year growth of e-commerce orders as of April 21. AMRs from Locus and others are stepping up to help companies fulfill this surge in demand.
The LocusBot AMRs navigate autonomously within a warehouse to locate and transport pick items to associates. LocusBots can be flexibly deployed to support a range of picking strategies, helping to reduce time spent on routine or physically demanding tasks, reducing manual errors and increase productivity for customers.
“We have recently seen a dramatic disruption of retail with e-commerce growth as high as 400% year-over-year in some categories. And others were severely limited as the bulk of their inventory was in stores that they could not get into due to lockdowns. It’s critical that retailers are prepared for direct fulfillment from the warehouse,” said Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group, a global research and advisory firm for the retail and hospitality industries. “This announcement underscores the need for companies to prepare for today’s new labor challenges that will be impacted by the significant volume increases that are already occurring. Companies investing now in warehouse automation, particularly AMRs, will be better positioned for success in the post-pandemic economy as they can support sales from any channel.”
Locus and DHL Supply Chain recently expanded their partnership with new deployments of LocusBots throughout 2020. DHL Supply Chain, part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, will deploy 1,000 LocusBots to support 12 DHL sites in North America.
“Locus Robotics is thrilled to announce this new round of funding amid our most transformative year yet,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “The new funding allows Locus to accelerate expansion into global markets, enabling us to strengthen our support of retail, industrial, healthcare, and 3PL businesses around the world as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that they come out stronger on the other side.”