Proton Robotics secured two consecutive financing rounds totaling eight figures in yuan from Joy Capital and the Shanghai High-Tech Development Zone. The company develops robots that can perform various warehouse processes.
The startup is exploring industries where robotics may have the broadest impact, and decided that the warehousing and logistics sectors were ripe for upgrades, according to Mo Xuming, founder and CEO of Proton Robotics. Mo received his master’s degree in robotics from the University of Pennsylvania and returned to China to establish Proton Robotics at just 24 years old.
Proton has benefitted from the continued growth of China’s e-commerce consumption, as delivery companies shipped 63.52 billion parcels in 2019, an increase of 25.3% year-on-year, according to China’s State Post Bureau. At the same time, labor costs for the logistics industry are rising, spurring demand for intelligent logistics solutions. Industrial equipment like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), handling arms, and smart forklifts have become more and more common in China’s logistics sector.
Proton Robotics counts secondhand retail platform Zhuanzhuan Group among its clients, automating much of the labor involved in the company’s resale business. The company offers a cube-like device dubbed Zecube as part of a system to sort through products at a rate of 2,500 items per hour with 99% accuracy. Other robots aid warehouse workers in tasks like filling orders and transporting cargo. Mo says that capital outlay for installing Proton Robotics’ solutions can be recouped within 18 months.
“In a high-load logistics warehouse, the intelligent warehouse sorting system must be fast and accurate,” Mo said. “In addition, the cost of transformation is low, and the degree of flexibility is high. The demand for capacity expansion in human-machine integration makes a difference to customers.”
French startup Exotec has developed a similar approach to logistics automation, and has recently netted USD 100 million from the likes of Dell Technologies Capital. Its clients include Carrefour and Uniqlo.
Proton Robotics provides modular solutions that can be customized according to customers’ specific needs. “Our three-dimensional sorting system is built like Lego bricks, which can be assembled in a customized fashion, so we can increase or decrease the number of sorting robot carts, and tailor our solutions for customers according to their application scenarios,” Mo said. The company has benefited from China’s annual e-commerce shopping festivals like Alibaba’s Singles’ Day and JD.com’s 618, when orders spike, boosting the demand for automated logistics hardware.
36Kr Connection features translated and adapted content published by 36Kr. This article was originally written by Ru Qing for 36Kr.