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Locus Robotics Acquires Waypoint Robotics in AMR Sector


September 20, 2021

Boston-based Locus Robotics, which develops autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for fulfillment warehouses, has announced it acquired Waypoint Robotics, a New Hampshire-based maker of industrial-strength and omnidirectional mobile robots. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

“Locus is the proven leader in the development of highly productive and innovative AMR technology that efficiently solves our customers’ needs for total warehouse optimization,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “As order fulfillment and labor shortages continue to grow around the world, the acquisition of Waypoint Robotics will accelerate our ability to meet these global needs in just months rather than years, helping us drive the digital transformation of the warehouse.”

The acquisition will broaden Locus’ product line of AMR solutions to scenarios that require larger, heavier payloads and fulfillment modalities, the company said. Expanding on the Locus announcement, Faulk wrote on a Locus blog that the acquisition “will accelerate our product roadmap. We will be introducing product offerings that address our customers’ urgent and growing needs worldwide, including serving industries with use cases requiring robots to handle larger, heavier payloads.” He added that the combined engineering teams from Locus and Waypoint are working to integrate the product fleet to “ensure that the Locus fleet operating philosophy permeates our offerings.” Faulk said the company’s robots-as-a-service pricing model will continue to deliver flexibility, value, and a rapid return on investment for customers.

“Waypoint shares Locus’ commitment to technology excellence in pursuit of customer success,” said Jason Walker, CEO of Waypoint Robotics. “We’re excited to contribute to the expansion of the Locus product family in order to deliver a broader range of solutions, as well as access to new market segments.”

Waypoint’s Vector and MAV3K robots are industrial-strength mobile robot platforms that feature omnidirectional mobility, and can be fitted with several modules and attachments, making them scalable for a host of applications, the company said. They are interoperable with other robots, and can communicate with machines and IoT devices throughout a facility. 

Why this matters

Another major acquisition in the AMR space indicates a consolidation trend where robot companies and others are looking to reach new markets and expand their product offerings. Locus’ acquisition here indicates a desire to offer customers with a broad range of AMR solutions for customers like DHL and others in the warehouse space.

DHL, a logistics company with more than 1,400 warehouses and offices in more than 55 countries and territories, recently signed a 2,000-robot deal with Locus as part of its efforts to digitize its supply chain processes.

“DHL Supply Chain and Locus Robotics have established a productive partnership based on a highly successful integration of the Locus autonomous mobile robot solution into our customers’ operations, and we value the emphasis they have placed on listening to our needs,” said Sally Miller, CIO of DHL Supply Chain North America. “This acquisition, which adds a larger, heavier-weight autonomous robot capability to their portfolio, is a good reflection of how they continue to address the customer requirements at the heart of their strategy. I believe it will open up promising new opportunities in our partnership, support DHL’s ongoing efforts to deploy technologies that improve our customers’ supply chains, and contribute to the continued advancement of a competitive robotics market.”

Commentary from key analysts:

“Warehouses and fulfillment centers benefit by harnessing the strengths of humans and robots working in collaboration,” said Jordan K. Speer, research manager of global supply chains at IDC Retail Insights. “With the acquisition of Waypoint Robotics, Locus Robotics is able to bring more capability to the fulfillment floor. Furthermore, introducing combinations of differently ‘skilled’ AMRs that are interoperable with each other enables new functional capabilities where robots hand off products to each other. Without intelligent automation that can handle a wide variety of tasks on the fulfillment floor – including returns, putaway, and sortation – organizations will not be able to thrive in today’s market.”

“While Locus has been extremely successful in supplying its robots to support order picking, this move illustrates its desire to expand beyond those workflows to other aspects of the warehouse and solve additional problems for customers,” said Ash Sharma, managing director of Interact Analysis. “Developing its own products and technology would have been time consuming and costly, and this acquisition could prove very smart indeed. There is likely to be considerable synergies across the two companies’ combined customer base, although not a huge contribution to Locus’ top-line revnues from Day 1.”

Sharma said that another big acquisition in this space does not necessarily signal upcoming conslidation in the industry. “While we expect further acquisitions to occur, concentrating some market share, the industry is still nascent and hence open to technological innovation, which continues to feed new entrants,” said Sharma. “The number of vendors continues to expand. Locus, which recently raised an additional $50 million, is now one of the most valuable mobile robot companies in the world. One possible and seemingly likely exit strategy of its investors could be an IPO in the near future.”

The Locus acquisition marks another big deal in the AMR sector – in July, ABB acquired ASTI Mobile Robotics, and Zebra Technologies acquired Fetch Robotics for $290 million.

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