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RoboTire, a robotics startup developing an automated tire-changing system for mechanics, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. RoboTire was founded in 2018, was based in Plymouth, Michigan, and won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award in 2023.
RoboTire filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Court of Delaware on January 19, 2024. You can read the filing here (PDF). According to the filing, RoboTire has $12.7 million in liabilities and $12.3 million in assets. There are 78 unsecured creditors in the case, most of which are based in Michigan. In December 2023, RoboTire was sued by American Funding Services, which claimed the robotics startup owed it more than $130,000.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also called a liquidation bankruptcy. Businesses that file for Chapter 7 need to sell non-exempt possessions and use the proceeds to repay creditors. Once the process is complete, the remainder of a business’ included debts are discharged. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy in the U.S. It differs from Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, which govern the process of reorganization of a debtor.
The Robot Report has reached out to RoboTire founder and CEO Victor Darolfi multiple times but has yet to hear back.
RoboTire uses an industrial-grade, six-axis robotic arm and an end-of-arm tool that houses the robot’s vision system, gripper, and torque wrench. Onboard cameras drive RoboTire’s automated guidance system, enabling the robot to independently find the wheel, recognize socket requirements and positioning, and render 3D depth maps. You can watch the robot in action in the video above and learn more about it here.
RoboTire raised $7.5 million in Series A funding back in 2022. The round was led by The Reinalt-Thomas Corporation, which does business as Discount Tire and America’s Tire and is the world’s largest independent tire retailer.
“Discount Tire is excited to support RoboTire in the development of new and innovative technologies that drive a better customer experience,” the company said at the time of the Series A round closing. “As customer expectations around the ‘buy and book online’ experience and our ability to deliver reduced wait times continue to grow, we will continue to pursue automation and enhancements that ensure an inviting, easy and safe experience for all our customers.”
Three months ago, Darolfi said on LinkedIn that RoboTire had just finished installing its fifth “live system.” The company installed its first system in 2022 at a Discount Tire facility in Fountain Hills, Arizona. It installed another system with a different Discount Tire shop in early 2023. RoboTire also worked with Creamery Tire, a locally owned and operated tire service center founded in Pennsylvania in 1988.
According to the bankruptcy filing, RoboTire also had an “open contract” with Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for a system that costs $348,277.57. The filing does not specify if the contract was for one RoboTire system or multiple units.
Darolfi joined episode 94 of The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the tire-changing robot. You can listen to that episode here.
It’s been a tough start to 2024 for the robotics industry. There have been layoffs at Locus Robotics and Vecna Robotics, among others. And Amazon’s $1.45 billion acquisition of iRobot was terminated due to it having no path of being approved by the European Commission. As a result of the deal falling through, iRobot is laying off 31% of its staff.