After Series A, Zikoo looks to disrupt AMR market with tilt tray robots

Founded in 2017 in Suzhou, Zikoo distinguishes itself from the multitude of domestic AMR and AGV suppliers with a focus on the niche segment of tilt tray robot.

Zikoo (智库智能), a producer of AMRs for warehouse application, has closed a Series A round worth tens of millions of yuan, Chinese media reported today.

The round was backed by Shagang Capital and Zhangjiagang Innovation Investment Group, with the proceeds to go toward R&D, market expansion and talent recruitment to bolster the startup’s market penetration.

Founded in 2017 in Nanjing, Zikoo distinguishes itself from the multitude of domestic AMR and AGV suppliers with a focus on the niche segment of tilt tray robot.

Since 2019, the startup has rolled out its core ZK-R four-directional RoboShuttle device, capable of “order to person” picking and material handling.

The model entered mass production after Zikoo overhauled and expanded its manufacturing base in 2021.

Nonetheless, the AMR market in China is already teeming with competition, posing a relatively high entry barrier to new entrants.

In the case of bin- or tote-carrying robots, the CR4 — meaning the concentration ratio of the top four players by market share — in 2022 stood at 76.92%, according to data from GGII, a market intelligence provider.

Against this backdrop, Zikoo has tried to differentiate itself by venturing into tilt tray robotics. According to Cai Chuanyu, founder and CEO of Zikoo, the reason the firm chose to double down on this segment is that tilt tray robot is still in its infancy in China, as opposed to goods-to-person robots and mobile forklifts.

“The industrial concentration ratio is still low, while the market size and room for growth is still immense,” said Chuan.

Zikoo’s current goal is to gradually replace traditional AMR devices with its tray-to-person robots, at different operational heights.

The startup’s core product, a four-directional RoboShuttle picker named Rail Guided Vehicle (RGV), aims to supplant palletizer at an operational height of more than 8m.

“Compared with the palletizer, the RGV is more flexible, agile and less costly and easier to maintain,” said Cai. “But at the same time it is able to support higher storage density.”

For palletizing of goods at a height of 8m and less, Zikoo looks to disrupt the market for traditional forklift.

To date, Zikoo has completed 400-plus projects in a dozen industries, such as electricity, food, cold chain, new energy, third-party logistics, precision manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, and across more than 20 provinces and municipalities.

The company has already begun to globalize its operations, with Japan being the first springboard to a wider global market.

Cai, the CEO, revealed that in 2021 and 2022, the firm recorded revenue exceeding 100 million yuan (US$14 million) each year. In 2022, its RGV sales jumped a whopping 182% year on year. On current trends, the firm is forecast to grow its revenue to over 1 billion yuan a year, he added.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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