Loading docks are a new frontier for robots. Pickle Robot Co. today announced that its pilot implementations are live, unloading tens of thousands of packages per month at customer sites in the greater Los Angeles area. The startup also said it has raised $26 million in Series A funding and added industry veterans to its leadership team as it brings its systems to market.
Founded in 2018, Pickle Robot said it addresses warehouse challenges using industrial robots with artificial intelligence, computer vision, and advanced sensors. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said it is currently focusing on applying its technology to one of the most labor-intensive, physically demanding, and highest turnover work areas in logistics operations— truck unloading.
“Customer interest in Pickle unload systems has been incredibly strong, and now that we have our initial unload systems out of the lab and into customer operations, we have a clear path to broad commercialization,” stated AJ Meyer, founder and CEO of Pickle Robot. “The early customer deployments, financing, and leadership additions set the stage for us to accelerate customer acquisition and build the company infrastructure we need to deliver more systems to more customers in the coming months.”
United Exchange Corp. pilots robotic unloading
Every day, millions of trucks and ocean freight containers are loaded and unloaded around the world. Many of those trucks and containers are “floor-loaded,” which means people need to manually handle every package. That work is difficult, dirty, sometimes dangerous, and increasingly hard to staff, noted Pickle Robot.
Pickle Robot Unload Systems work with people on loading docks to make that work safer, faster, and more efficient, said the company.
United Exchange Corp. (UEC) is an early customer using the Pickle Robot Unload System. Cypress, Calif.-based UEC produces, sources, and distributes private-label and licensed consumer goods and food items sold by retailers around the world.
At UEC’s Southern California distribution center, the Pickle Robot Unload System processes eligible floor-loaded ocean freight containers alongside UEC staffers who use traditional manual processes to unload other trailers at the facility.
“Pickle robots really do unload trucks or, in our case, ocean freight containers,” said Tom Blaylock, director of operations at United Exchange Corp.
“Pickle has been a great partner to work with,” he added. “We’ve seen their technology improve month-over-month handling our varied product types and package sizes, plus their team works closely with our staff on site to make sure the daily work gets done on time to quality standards.”
Pickle Robot adds executives
Ranpak, JS Capital, Schusterman Family Investments, and Catapult Ventures led Pickle Robot's Series A round. The company has raised a total of nearly $32 million to date. Previous investors that participated in this funding round included Toyota AI Ventures, Third Kind Venture Capital, Hyperplane Ventures, BoxGroup, and Version One Ventures.
Omar Asali, chairman and CEO of Ranpak, has joined Pickle’s board of directors as part of the investment deal.
“Unloading freight from trucks and containers is a difficult, sometimes dangerous, and always tedious task that is performed in thousands of locations every day,” he said. “Operators around the globe are having difficulty filling positions to do this type of work, and Pickle is delivering a real robotic unload system that can help fill the labor gap plaguing the logistics industry.”
Pickle said it will use the funding to accelerate go-to-market activities and strengthen deployment capabilities. In addition, the company has added executives to its leadership team to accelerate commercialization.
Pickle has appointed Mike Donikian, vice president of product and product operations, and Pete Blair, vice president of marketing and sales. Donikian has experience launching and growing teams and products for Wayfair, Amazon Robotics, Amazon Pay, and Alexa.
Blair brings go-to-market strategy and execution from his previous roles leading marketing at Berkshire Grey, Applause App Quality, and Kiva Systems/Amazon Robotics.