European robot upheaval as French developer raises $90m

October 05, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
European robot upheaval as French developer Exotec raises $90m
French warehouse robot developer Exotec has raised $90m in a significant boost to its international business as Norwegian developer AutoStore sues UK supplier Ocado.

Exotec supplies its 3D Skypod robotics system to retailers including Carrefour in France, and had previously raised $21m since starting in 2015 . The $90m backing from 83North and Dell Technologies will be used to boost production to 4,000 robots per year by 2021.

The company competes with the Tharsus Group in the UK and AutoStore in Norway. Autostore is suing Tharsus and its supermarket partner Ocado for patent infringement on the robot technology. AutoStore is asking the US International Trade Commission for an exclusion order preventing the importation of Ocado’s infringing products into the United States, and an injunction barring the manufacture, sale, and use of Ocado’s infringing products in the UK. The case also cites Printed Motor Works in Hampshire, UK as an Ocado supplier.

“Since 1996, AutoStore has developed and pioneered technology that has revolutionized retail storage and order fulfillment, and is driving the growth of online retail,” said Karl Johan Lier, CEO and President of AutoStore. “Our ownership of the technology at the heart of Ocado’s warehousing system is clear. We will not tolerate Ocado’s continued infringement of our intellectual property rights in its effort to boost its growth and attempt to transform itself into a global technology company.”

The market for warehouse robotics is predicted to grow 45 per cent  a year (CAGR) while the global automation market's CAGR is also constantly growing by 10 to 15 per cent.

Exotec’s Skypod autonomous robot system quadruples warehouse productivity and increases the storage capacity by 5x by using a three-dimensional pattern at a speed of 4m/s.

"There is a global need for robotics solutions in warehouses, but logisticians are often concerned about investing in traditional fixed automation in this fast-changing world. This $50bn market should be supplied with flexible and efficient solutions to fulfill customers' needs and new shopping timelines. We offer a new generation of warehouse robotics and have the largest deployed and operational systems across three continents," said Romain Moulin, Co-founder and

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