DHL today announced that it will be expanding an ongoing partnership with Locus Robotics. Last year, the logistics giant announced plans to deploy 1,000 of the Massachusetts-based startup’s robots. The number is effectively doubling to 2,000 by 2022 — a deal that would make DHL Locus’ largest customer by a wide margin.
The two have been piloting robotics together since 2021, but interest in automation has picked up significantly during the pandemic. The reasons are myriad, but among them are the fact that robots can help keep things running amid a shutdown and are less likely to serve as a potential vector during a global pandemic.
DHL’s Global Supply Chain COO/CIO Markus Voss breaks down the figures accordingly:
So far, more than 500 assisted picking robots are already in industrial use in our warehouses in the USA, Europe and the UK. By the end of 2021, another 500 robots are to be added in a total of more than 20 locations. The collaborative picking technology has clearly proven its effectiveness and reliability in modern warehousing. More locations have already been identified with concrete implementation roadmaps for the remaining robots, which we will deploy in 2022. However, the overall potential for assisted picking robots in our DHL warehouses is much bigger, so we are confident that we will meet the targets we have set ourselves together with Locus Robotics.
Locus is one of several DHL robotics partners. In late 2018, the company announced a planned $300 million investment in the category, and as of last year, it said it had deployed more than 200,000 robots in warehouses across the U.S. It’s a figure that rivals — or event bests — that of Amazon’s robotics efforts.
In addition to these deals, Locus has seemingly had little issue shoring up cash support. In February, it announced a $150 million Series E that valued the company at $1 billion.