InVia Robotics raises $30M for warehouse robotics push

InVia Robotics, an industrial robotics company based in Los Angeles, California, today announced it has […]

InVia Robotics, an industrial robotics company based in Los Angeles, California, today announced it has raised $30 million in a series C round co-led by Microsoft’s M12 Ventures and Qualcomm, with participation from Hitachi. InVia says the new equity funding will be used to support its growth, specifically through adopting Qualcomm’s Robotics RB5 Platform and drawing on AI expertise from Hitachi and Microsoft.

Companies are increasingly determined to improve warehouse automation in light of pandemic-related supply chain challenges. A recent Honeywell survey found that 14% of enterprises rank improving automation within their facilities as a top priority, while 37% rank it among their top three near-term goals. A separate report published in Forbes found that 96% of warehouse executives expect the warehouse automation value proposition to increase over the next three years.

To fill this need, InVia Robotics offers a subscription-based service that includes autonomous robots, optimization software, and dedicated monitoring teams. The platform integrates with existing warehouses, determining paths, mapping workflows, and identifying task interdependencies to minimize inefficiencies and “warehouse walking.” InVia says it robots can be scaled up or down or have tasks reassigned in response to changes in order volume and seasonality. The company owns, operates, and maintains its equipment over the lifetime of service contracts.

“You don’t need to buy robots or be a robotics expert to reap the benefits of warehouse automation. We handle everything. Through our robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model, we own, operate, and continuously optimize our robots to integrate with your fulfillment processes and maximize your efficiency,” InVia explains on its website. “Our engineers work remotely to keep your system maintained and optimized, [and we] make sure all … resources are fully utilized [by directing] the workforce to execute all workflow tasks — that can be [handled by] people, our robots, or both.”

Simulation and deployment

InVia’s robots retrieve and move goods with the help of hot-swappable batteries, a self-charging feature, and built-in lighting. Via a tool called Pickmate, human workers get directions to pick goods from the robots, a pallet, or a rack and place them into order bins.

Customers can view status reports via a dashboard that shows the productivity of various segments of their fulfillment chain.

Despite the appeal of warehouse automation, it remains far from a perfect science. Accidents can happen, like the fire at U.K.-based grocer Ocado’s fulfillment center that was reportedly caused by a robot collision.

As a safety measure, InVia says it employs predictive monitoring for each of its warehouse clients. The company’s engineering staff watches simulations of warehouses, as well as real-time feeds, and attempts to troubleshoot issues before they become a problem.

InVia competes with LocusBerkshire Grey, 6 River Systems, and others in the growing RaaS market, which accounts for an estimated 30% of the robotic industry’s total worth. But InVia, which recently notched customer wins with ecommerce company Hollar and Cascade Orthopedic, claims its model is unique in that it allows businesses to pay only for productivity, rather than leasing at a flat rate. InVia subscribers only pay for what they need based on throughput requirements.

“Warehouse automation is critical for ecommerce companies competing against behemoths like Amazon, but the overhead cost of purchasing a fleet of robots to streamline efficiency can be crippling,” founder and CEO Lior Elazary told VentureBeat in a previous interview. “InVia’s innovative RaaS technology eliminates this challenge for our customers.”

This latest round of funding brings InVia’s total raised to date to $59 million.

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