Robotic storage and retrieval system startup Attabotics has raised $50 million in venture funding to accelerate the commercial rollout of its automated warehouse design that stores inventory in the center and deploys human fulfillment workers around the edges.

The “series C” round was led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP), along with existing investor Honeywell. The round follows a 2019 funding round of $25 million, and brings Attabotics’ total funding to $82.7 million.

Calgary, Alberta-based Attabotics says it will use the funds to accelerate the commercial deployment of its products, invest in new technologies, and scale manufacturing operations to meet a large spike in demand for e-commerce goods triggered by the coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing and work from home policies.

“For many companies, Covid has been a very scary time,” Attabotics founder, CEO, and CTO Scott Gravelle said in an interview. “But through the tragedy of Covid, our platform has been validated because it allows retailers to meet consumer behavior that has shifted so dramatically and so quickly toward digital commerce.”

The company’s product condenses a traditional warehouse design—with broad aisles, lift trucks, and human pickers—into a dense, vertical storage structure. It then deploys sleek robotic shuttles inside it to store and deliver goods. Moving in three dimensions, the shuttles carry inventory to workers on the perimeter, who pick, pack, and ship e-commerce orders. According to Attabotics, that dense storage design reduces a retailer’s warehouse footprint by up to 85%, allowing them to place warehouse facilities closer to cities, enabling faster delivery times and savings on real estate.

“We’re well financed now to lean into those validated, digital opportunities—not just tread water—because the world needs this solution now more than ever,” Gravelle said. “As soon as they can see there is some kind of treatment for Covid, you’ll see a dramatic uptick in consumer spending. We will see insane amounts of growth, just as we have already seen accelerated growth in grocery and CPG.”

The company currently has six live installations in North America, spanning customers across B2B, food & beverage, and retail, including the luxury apparel company Nordstrom.

As it adds additional clients through 2020 and 2021, Attabotics envisions a strategy where it combines its “micro-fulfillment” warehouse design with a “multi-tenant” space-sharing plan that allows small and medium retailers to pool their resources and manage inventory together in Attatobics’ system of stacked plastic bins and dense storage. That approach could help smaller firms to drive down their delivery and transportation costs to the levels of giant competitors like Walmart and Amazon, he said.

“We want to rid the world of conveyor belts and cardboard boxes,” Gravelle said.


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