Locus Robotics, an RBR50 company and developer of autonomous mobile robots, closed a $150 million Series E round of funding today. The round was led by Tiger Global Management and BOND, and included support from existing investors. With a new $1 billion valuation, Locus becomes a unicorn company. There are several autonomous vehicle unicorns, but not too many on the robotics side of things. UBTech Robotics is another unicorn valued at about $5 billion.
Locus said it will use the new funding to further expand its market opportunities around the globe and support ongoing R&D around its warehouse technology solution. The Wilmington, Mass.-based company has now raised about $255 million since it was founded in 2014.
Locus raised a $40 million Series D in June 2020, that in part helped it accelerate expansion into Europe and other markets. With its new unicorn valuation, you have to wonder if taking Locus public is in the future roadmap. According to CEO Rick Faulk, Locus’ revenue is between $10 million and $100 million. The company has about 4,000 AMRs out in the field today and 40-plus customers, including CEVA Logistics, DHL, Material Bank, Boots UK, GEODIS, Port Logistics Group, Verst Logistics, Radial, and others.
“This new round of funding marks an important inflection point for Locus Robotics,” said 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 said its LocusBot AMRs have picked more than 300 million units, including 70 million during the recent holiday season. LocusBots 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.
“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 Ash Sharma, managing director at Interact Analysis, a market research firm covering the intelligent automation sector. “Warehouses are massively under-penetrated today, but increasingly operators are seeing the huge benefits that warehouse robotics such as the Locus solution can bring. As a result, we expect that over a million warehouse robots will be installed over the next four years and the number of warehouses using them will grow ten-fold.”
Many experts say 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 mid-2020. AMRs from Locus and others are stepping up to help companies fulfill this surge in demand.
“As businesses increasingly look for ways to deliver productivity and operational efficiencies into their supply chain, it has become critical that providers deliver on the promise of speed and reliability in their technology deployments,” said John Santagate, VP of Robotics at Körber Supply Chain. “Through our strategic partnership with Locus Robotics, we continue to collaborate and innovate in order to deliver rapid results by driving down the time it takes from decision to use of Locus Robots in the warehouse.”
This story is developing. Faulk is expected to join us this week on The Robot Report Podcast. We will update this story with new information as it becomes available.