Plus One Robotics, a provider of advanced AI vision software and solutions for robotic parcel handling, today announced that it has raised $50 million in Series C funding. That brings the company’s total funding to nearly $100 million.
Founded in 2016 and headquartered in San Antonio, Plus One Robotics said it combines computer vision, AI, and supervised autonomy to pick parcels for leading logistics and e-commerce organizations in the Global 100.
The company has claimed that its technology helps alleviate the persistent shortage of manual labor through robotic solutions, dramatically streamlining the parcel picking and depalletizing processes.
Plus One added that its deployments perform over one million parcel picks each day in production and currently hold an industry-leading metric of more than half a billion parcel picks globally.
With these new funds, Plus One said it can further increase its capacity and rapidly scale deployment, as well as expand its sales and marketing efforts in North America and internationally.
This expansion builds on Plus One Robotics’ existing relationships with customers in the parcel post, logistics, and general merchandise industries, serving customers that include FedEx, MSC Industrial, and many more, it said.
The funding round was led by Scale Venture Partners, with Partner Rory O’Driscoll joining the board of directors. Top Tier Capital Partners, Tyche Partners, ROBO Global Ventures, Translink, and McRock. Pritzker Group Venture Capital also participated in the round alongside existing investors.
The labor problem
“The labor shortage is hitting the shipping industry hard, and parcel picking is an often overlooked yet essential part of the process,” said Scale Partner Rory O’Driscoll. “By automating the parcel handling piece, Plus One Robotics is rapidly modernizing an outdated system that’s no longer sustainable. It is stepping up and leading the way in a $128 billion market, with fundamentals that prove its value.”
E-commerce has grown to represent 19% of U.S. retail sales, with approximately 20 billion parcels delivered in the U.S. in 2021, it said. Shipping growth is expected to rise by 25% over the next five years resulting in warehouses and distribution centers not having the workforce to keep up.
On the supply side, over 80% of warehouses are manual, and with the demands placed on shipping expected to grow, there will be over 1 million more jobs to fill by 2025 despite the shrinking of available labor sources – and costs are rising, the company said. Labor costs average $25 per hour and continues to increase. This creates a perfect storm threatening the supply chain and impeding future e-commerce growth.
“The growth of e-commerce has placed tremendous pressure on shipping responsiveness and scalability that has significantly exacerbated labor and capacity issues,” said Erik Nieves, CEO and co-founder of Plus One Robotics. “Automation is key, but keeping a human in the loop is essential to running a business 24/7 with greater speed and fewer errors. With the ongoing labor shortages, I believe we’ll see an increase in the adoption of Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) to lower capital expenditures and deploy automation on a subscription basis. This new funding will help us scale up and meet the need for these solutions.”
Plus One Robotics’ solutions employ AI-powered software with end-of-arm robot grippers that provide the perception and manipulation necessary to pick and place parcels. Key to Plus One Robotics’ effectiveness is its approach to human-in-the-loop software, it explained.
Employees, remote or on-premises, can supervise multiple robots from any location, speeding the robot’s ability to handle exceptions, and enabling 24/7 operations. Users benefit from improved sorting and picking throughput by >30% while decreasing operational costs.
Plus One has experienced nearly three times year-over-year growth from expanded business with existing customers and new deployments. Additionally, it has increased its adoption of the human-in-the-loop capability and RaaS offering among its parcel and post, third-party logistics (3PL), and general merchandise customers.
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