Located in a parking garage in downtown Tel Aviv, the world’s first underground robotic fulfillment center leverages underutilized urban real estate to make one-hour delivery profitable for retailers
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, July 11, 2019 — CommonSense Robotics today announced that its second Micro-Fulfillment Center is under construction and will be the world’s first automated warehouse to be built and operated underground. In partnership with one of Israel’s leading grocery retailers, this warehouse will serve one-hour grocery deliveries from an underground parking lot in Tel Aviv. By leveraging underutilized urban real estate, this Micro-Fulfillment Center marks a new retail infrastructure that makes on-demand logistics both possible and profitable for retailers.
CommonSense’s second Micro-Fulfillment Center is strategically located on the -1-floor parking of Tel Aviv’s oldest skyscraper, Shalom Meir Tower, just blocks from iconic Rothschild Boulevard. Whereas most robotic facilities must be at least 120,000 square feet to operate, in a feat of engineering and structural design, the site fits the full power of automation in an 18,000 square foot triangular space with an average clearance height of only 11 feet. It will be a full-service grocery site with three temperature zones, supporting on-demand fulfillment of fresh, ambient, chilled, and frozen items.
Fitting automation into underutilized urban spaces directly addresses the challenges presented by rapid urbanization and the rise of e-commerce. With 68 percent of the world’s population projected to migrate to cities within the next 25 years, urban infrastructures are under unprecedented strain. These challenges are further exacerbated by the rise of on-demand e-commerce, which current supply chains and logistics systems can no longer support.
In order to meet the growing consumer appetite for same-day and one-hour deliveries, e-commerce fulfillment must move from centralized warehouses in rural areas to smaller sites inside cities. While traditional urban spaces are often cost-prohibitive for retailers to use for e-commerce fulfillment, CommonSense has identified underground parking lots as one type of real estate asset in cities that is centrally located, readily available, and cost-effective.
With the rise of ride-sharing apps and micro-mobility in cities, car ownership is on the decline and parking lots are increasingly sitting vacant. The U.S. already has as many as two billion parking spaces for only about 250 million cars, and this trend is expected to accelerate, with one think tank predicting that car ownership in the U.S. will drop by 80 percent by 2030. By transforming urban spaces such as vacant parking lots into automated fulfillment centers, CommonSense enables retailers to offer a winning customer proposition that combines the speed of local delivery with the efficiencies and scale of automated fulfillment.
CommonSense’s proprietary robotics and AI technology prioritizes flexibility and adaptability, allowing them to fit automated fulfillment into small urban spaces such as parking garages and abandoned storefronts that sit in close proximity to end consumers. This new site marks the first of an entirely new retail infrastructure that brings a “location-first” approach to automated fulfillment that optimizes on the last mile rather than existing store real estate or traditional warehouse space, making on-demand e-commerce possible, profitable, and sustainable for retailers.
“With e-commerce logistics pushing both retailers’ profitability and urban infrastructures to the breaking point, it’s clear that we need to reinvent the way goods are fulfilled and delivered within cities,” said Elram Goren, CEO and Co-Founder of CommonSense Robotics. “In order to fulfill and deliver on demand, you inherently need to be closer to your end customers, but that’s really hard in cities. Taking e-commerce fulfillment underground inside cities is one way we can enable retailers to fulfill online orders in close proximity to their customers — while doing so profitably. Fitting automation into underutilized real estate enables us to create a new PNL for this type of operation, which means we can enable our retail partners to run a sustainable, profitable, one-hour delivery business.”
The company’s first site (MFC ONE), known to be the world’s smallest automated fulfillment center, has been servicing retail partner Super-Pharm since October 2018 and is serving over 400 orders a day out of just 6000 square feet.
About CommonSense Robotic
CommonSense Robotics’ mission is to enable grocery retailers to profitably fulfill and deliver online orders within one hour. To make this a reality, they build networks of automated Micro-Fulfillment Centers in dense urban areas that combine the speed of local delivery with the efficiencies and scale of large-scale warehouses.
Their proprietary robotic and AI technology, together with a pay-as-you-go service proposition, enable their retail partners to profitably deliver to their online customers within one hour and scale their operations as their business grows.
Founded in 2015, CommonSense Robotics is backed by the top-tier VCs Innovation Endeavors, Aleph, and Playground. They’ve recently completed their first commercial deployment and are rapidly scaling their operations. They’re redefining the way goods are fulfilled and delivered within cities, so that we all get our groceries faster.
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