Chinese tech media outlet 36Kr reported today that Yueshi Robot (粤十机器人), a warehouse robot company dedicated to cold chain logistics, had completed an angel round worth tens of millions of yuan, led by Haiyi Investment.
Proceeds from this round will be spent on R&D activities and business expansion.
Founded by doctorate holders from Peking, Zhejiang universities and The University of Hong Kong, Yueshi Robot specializes in applying AI, environmental perception, deep learning and servo control technologies to low-speed autonomous driving.
It looks to automate the cold chain logistics industry via a mix of mobile robots, cloud platform and unmanned factory management.
In the cold chain scenario, the replacement of human employees by robots has become the norm, amid growing concerns about staff health.
Across China, there is an estimated shortage of around 500,000 forklift drivers willing to work in cold chain warehouses and other storage facilities, the Shenzhen-based Yueshi Robot said.
The startup decided that the in-warehouse deliver needs can be met by mobile robots. It looks to dispatch unmanned forklift, autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and automated guided vehicle (AGV) to take over from human carriers, who are often responsible for palletizing, storing, sorting and material forwarding.
Reliant on the smart AGV dispatch system, SKU management platform and other software innovations of Qianhai Yueshi, the startup’s parent, the robotic firm enjoys a head-start in its foray into the cold chain market relative to competitors.
Nationwide, cold chain mobile robots have a market size of 40 billion yuan, according to cold chain data service provider lianku.org.cn.
Market intelligence also indicates that China has about 16,000 cold storage depots, with each requiring five forklifts.
This means that some 80,000 forklifts or mobile robots are required to keep the nation’s cold chain in running order.
This augurs well for startups like Yueshi Robot, who banks on burgeoning demand from this sector.
To date, the startup claimed it has snagged more than 200 orders from various cold chain operators. Going forward, it eyes an expansion to other parts of China, in partnership with Cainiao, the logistics arm of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, to tap deeper into the nation’s cold chain market.