Locus Robotics says latest $25 million funding will help it expand product line
Locus Robotics Corp., whose robots help workers fulfill e-commerce orders, raised $25 million in a funding round led by Scale Venture Partners that the company plans to use to develop new products and expand into new markets.
The Wilmington, Mass.- based company makes software and autonomous mobile robots that sync up with warehouse- management systems to help workers handle orders more efficiently by taking the fastest routes through aisles.
The robots resemble motorized stools with shelving and touch screens. They operate in groups and use sensors to navigate through warehouses as workers pick items and move on.
Locus, whose customers include Deutsche Post AG's DHL Supply Chain, says its technology can double the number of items that workers pick per hour.
The business was spun out in 2015 from Quiet Logistics Inc., which uses Locus robots to fulfill orders for customers including beauty brand Glossier and online menswear retailer Mack Weldon Inc.
Most warehouses still rely largely on people who pull carts through the aisles. Even automated facilities like some of Amazon.com Inc.'s vast fulfillment centers require hundreds of workers to pick and pack goods for shipping.
But the market for logistics robots is growing as online sales surge and a tight labor supply makes it harder and more expensive to hire warehouse workers.
Locus's Series B round, which included existing investors, will back the company's plans to expand overseas, including in Asia.
The company also plans to bolster sales and marketing efforts, and to extend its technology to track inventory and process returned items, said Rick Faulk, Locus's chief executive.
Locus has about 55 employees and will generate less than $10 million in revenue this year, although it “is growing very quickly,” Mr. Faulk said. The company expects to break even by the middle of 2019, he said.
Other robotics companies are also taking aim at the logistics sector. Last month, Kindred, a manufacturer of robotic sorters that has offices in San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, announced $28 million in Series B funding led by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. In July, Geek +, a Chinese company that specializes in logistics robots, said it raised $60 million in financing led by an affiliate of private-equity firm Warburg Pincus.
BY JENNIFER SMITH