Robotics startup GreyOrange today announced that it has raised $110 million from Mithril Capital and BlackRock.
The investment included a mix of equity and debt financing, according to TechCrunch. GreyOrange, officially Grey Orange Pte. Ltd., will use the capital to grow its headcount by hiring another 300 workers. The startup plans to expand its engineering, product, sales and marketing departments as part of the hiring initiative.
Atlanta-based GreyOrange provides a line of robots that retailers can deploy in their fulfillment centers to increase operational efficiency. The startup’s robots are powered by an artificial intelligence platform dubbed GreyMatter that helps coordinate supply chain activities. The platform finds opportunities to speed up merchandise deliveries, tracks product inventory levels and performs an array of related tasks.
Some of GreyOrange’s robots are designed to retrieve items from warehouse shelves. In a large fulfillment center, finding the specific shelf that contains an item purchased by a customer can take a significant amount of time when the task is performed manually. According to GreyOrange, its robots can automate the process to help companies deliver merchandise to consumers faster.
Another task that GreyOrange helps retailers automate is sorting merchandise. A retailer could, for example, use GreyOrange’s robots to organize laptops in one section of its warehouse and household appliances in another. The startup says that its technology is more efficient than the conveyor belts historically used for the task.
GreyOrange’s robots are capable of moving more than 2,000 pounds of merchandise per trip. According to the startup, the robots can detect when an obstacle such as a misplaced package is blocking their path and maneuver around it. They’re also capable of automatically prioritizing important deliveries.
“As ecommerce sales soar, brands face a stark reality: embrace automation, or cede customers to the competition,” said GreyOrange co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Samay Kohli. “We orchestrate fulfillment and optimize inventory in a complex global supply chain environment for more companies that ship millions of items each day than any other player in the market outside of Amazon.”
GreyOrange says that 33 companies have deployed its robots in 48 fulfillment centers worldwide to support their supply chain operations. Among GreyOrange’s customers is Walmart Canada, which earlier this year announced plans to deploy its robots at a new $118 million fulfillment center in Canada.
GreyOrange is one of numerous startups developing warehouse automation systems to help retailers streamline their supply chains. Another market player, Agility Robotics Inc., closed a $150 million investment last month to develop a bipedal robot that can carry merchandise between different parts of a fulfillment center. Earlier, France-based Exotec SAS raised $335 million in funding its Skypod warehouse automation platform.
The recent investor interest in warehouse robot startups reflects the growing demand among retailers for products that can help them become more competitive with major e-commerce platforms. One of GreyOrange’s customers, Walmart Canada, plans to spend $3.5 billion over five years to modernize its supply chain and stores. Retailers are also increasing their use of public cloud platforms to streamline their information technology operations.