Israeli startup raises $25 million for dark store robotics systems

An Israeli robotics startup established last year has secured $25 million in new funding to provide last-mile logistics solutions for international organizations, including top Fortune 500 companies.

Tel Aviv-based 1MRobotics was founded in 2021 by serial entrepreneur Eyal Yair, who serves as CEO and co-founded software companies Netonomy and CartCrunch (both acquired), and Roee Tuval, who previously worked for the augmented reality company. Magic Leap and who is now COO. Last year, the company participated in the Intel Ignite program, aimed at young start-ups.

The 1MRobotics team announced Monday that it has raised $25 million — an amount that includes an initial $8.5 million funding round — led by American-Israeli investment firm Ibex Investors, as well as investors. based company, Target Global, based in Berlin, and INT3, an investment fund created by dozens of Israeli tech founders.

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The company has set itself the goal of building the infrastructure for “next-generation robotic dark stores,” or robotic nano-dispatch centers, that will serve global companies in their logistics and delivery operations.

“Last mile delivery is a very challenging space, where delivering with maximum efficiency and in the shortest possible time is critical,” said Yair in Israel times.

The 1MRobotics team in Tel Aviv. (Permission)

“Dark stores are a new class of critical infrastructure for hyperlocal execution,” he added, noting that there are around 10,000 such centers around the world.

Dark stores are retail concepts that have taken off since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when online retail exploded, increasing demand for local fulfillment centers.

These are essentially existing physical spaces that have been transformed into largely automated facilities where robots and other systems pick up, collect and pack items with little human intervention. They are much smaller in size than traditional warehouses and can be set up more quickly.

A nano-expedition robotic system built by 1MRobotics. (Permission)

In a bid to compete with retail giant Amazon, it allows businesses of all sizes to store inventory locally and offer customers same-day delivery or pickup.

Companies like Softbank-backed Reef Technology, which specializes in turning underutilized urban spaces into call centers, have advanced in this area with thousands of locations across the United States. Reef acquired a Tel Aviv-based logistics software startup last year to bolster its operations.

The Israeli company Fabric, formerly known as CommonSense, also operates in this space with robotic installations in city centers such as Tel Aviv. She is currently working with pharmaceutical giant Super-Pharm to process online orders and deliver them the same day.

“Dark stores are a new class of critical infrastructure for fast commerce and direct-to-consumer retail,” said Yair. According to an industry study released in February, around 45,000 dark stores are expected to be operational by 2030.

Eyal Yair, co-founder and CEO of 1MRobotics. (Permission)

What 1MRobotics offers is the robotic system itself. “Systems can be deployed as standalone units [dans un conteneur d’expédition] or within any retail establishment, allowing full flexibility to position our units anywhere in the world,” says Eyal Yair.

According to the company, the systems allow for the rapid deployment of dark stores without organizations having to spend large amounts of money in the installation process.

“An important part of our solution is our holistic approach to providing an ecosystem of hardware and software to ensure smooth operation at any scale and complexity,” said Yair. “Our goal is to create a new global technology infrastructure for the last mile service industry that complements any existing service network. »

Yair said that “within 5 to 10 years, automated dark stores will be ubiquitous on street corners in the world’s largest metropolises. Retail is in its next phase of evolution. »

1MRobotics said the investment announced on Monday will be used to expand into new markets, acquire more corporate customers and grow its staff. The company currently employs around twenty people.

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