Warehouse automation company Nimble Robotics today announced that it has raised a $50 million Series A. Led by DNS Capital and GSR Ventures and featuring Accel and Reinvent Capital, the round will go toward helping the company essentially double its headcount this year.
Founded by former Stanford PhD student Simon Kalouche, the system utilizes deep imitation learning – a popular concept in robotics research that helps systems map and improve through imitation.
“Instead of letting it sit in a lab for five years and creating this robotic application before it’s finally ready to deploy to the real world, we deployed it today,” says Kalouche. “It’s not fully autonomous – it’s autonomous maybe 90, 95% of the time. The other 5-10% is assisted by remote human operators, but it’s reliable on day one, and it’s reliable on day 10,000.”
Nimble is one in a long list of robotics companies to get a boast from Covid-19. The pandemic has driven both explosive growth in ecommerce and interest in automation, contributing to a significant excitement around the warehouse fulfillment tech. Nimble has also benefited from the rapid deployment of its systems.
“We’re not the first robotic pick, place and pack company that’s out there. We’ve grown really fast and have a lot of robots deployed in production,” Kalouche tells TechCrunch. “A lot of people have robots in the corner of a warehouse. Right now, we have heaps of robots deployed, and we’re growing really quickly. These are robots that are in production and picking tens of thousands of real orders every single day for each of our customers.”
In addition to the large funding round, the company is also adding two impressive names to its Board of Directors: Sequoia Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, Fei-Fei Li and Kitty Hawk/Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun.
“Nimble addresses both reliability and integration concerns,” Li, who’s also a seed investor, said in a release tied to the news. “Their robots have been picking reliably in production, at scale for over a year for some of the world’s largest retailers. They’ve developed an AI-powered product that makes integration fast and frictionless for their retail customers.”