Nimble Robotics, Inc., a robotics and e-commerce fulfillment technology company, announced a $50 million Series A financing round led by DNS Capital and GSR Ventures with participation from Accel and Reinvent Capital among others.
The company plans to accelerate hiring, product and technology development, and continue the scaling of robot deployments for its customer’s fulfillment operations.
The company also announced the appointment of two additional seats to its board of directors: Stanford University professor, Fei-Fei Li; and Sebastian Thrun, currently CEO of Kitty Hawk and founder of GoogleX and Waymo, and co-founder of Udacity.
Nimble provides automated end-to-end piece-picking, sorting, and packing solutions for e-commerce order fulfillment. The company has positioned itself as an artificial intelligence company developing solutions for robotics. Nimble’s fleet of AI-powered robots intelligently pick, pack, and handle millions of products, spanning from apparel and electronics to beauty, general merchandise and grocery items. Today, Nimble robots are deployed in fulfillment centers across the United States picking over 100,000 items per day for customers including several Fortune 500 retailers.
With the accelerated growth of e-commerce and online fulfillment operations over the last 24 months, Nimble is positioned to take advantage of the continued investment in warehouse infrastructure and automation solutions.
“There is no fulfillment solution that can handle double the orders, fulfill them in half the time, with half the staff, for half the cost. We’ve assembled an all-star team of engineers to build the future of autonomous on-demand fulfillment to solve this problem. Our next-gen robotics technology will allow retailers and grocers of all sizes to have the fastest and most affordable fulfillment,” said Simon Kalouche, Nimble’s founder and CEO.
In today’s fulfillment centers, the process of picking, handling, and packing individual products into customer boxes is still performed manually. In the past decade, advances in warehouse automation have been primarily confined to robot shuttles and conveyor systems that transport shelves and bins of inventory from storage to manual pick stations in what is called a goods-to-person system. In even the most highly automated fulfillment centers, the piece-picking task, where products are picked off a shelf or out of a bin and packed into the customer order, remains a manual task performed by people. It is the most challenging task to automate because of the vast diversity in product size, shape, weight and fragility, and thus has been the most labor-intensive part of the fulfillment process.
“Nimble addresses both reliability and integration concerns. Their robots have been picking reliably in production, at scale for over a year for some of the world’s largest retailers. They’ve developed an AI-powered product that makes integration fast and frictionless for their retail customers,” said Fei-Fei Li, seed investor and Nimble Board Member.
Automated piece-picking has yet to be adopted at scale because robots have struggled to handle the millions of different e-commerce products with human-level reliability. Additionally, the notoriously high capital and time costs of technology integration within the fulfillment center has stifled retailer’s willingness to implement and adopt new technologies.
“Nimble’s unique deep imitation learning approach has created a breakthrough platform with the ability to seamlessly handle the millions of objects shipped from fulfillment centers” according to Sunny Kumar, Partner, GSR Ventures.
“Nimble is a plug and play solution and has repeatedly demonstrated that its robot systems can be integrated and picking in production on day one without changing a single line of code in the warehouse management system. This advantage allows Nimble to scale and expand its footprint faster than other competitors,” said Michael Pucker, Chairman and CEO, DNS Capital.
Nimble’s team brings world-class engineering talent from Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Berkeley, Cornell, Ohio State, NASA, SpaceX, Tesla, Boston Dynamics, GoogleX and other leading technology companies and academic institutions.
Nimble is one of a growing number of AI and robotics companies who have used the time during the pandemic to advance their technology and ready their solutions for real applications in fulfillment operations. With this funding round, Nimble has the resources to build out the team necessary to take the solution to a broader market and expand its capabilities.