Robotair crossed our radar in February last year, before much of the world came to a complete halt courtesy of the pandemic. Things were still pretty early stages for the Detroit-based startup, which was founded by Victor Darolfi, the former CEO of Spark Robotics.
The company has clearly picked up some good, strategic interest in the intervening year and a half, as more and more industries look to embrace the benefits of automation. Today it announced that it has raised a $7.5 million Series A round led by The Renault-Thomas Corporation, the leading tire retail brand behind Discount Tire and America’s Tire. When we spoke to Darolfi last year, the latter, quite funny, got mixed outcry.
“I sat at America Tires for three hours and thought, Hey, we use robots to put tires in the factory,” he told us. “Why don’t we bring robots into the service industry?” Clearly Renault-Thomas was listening. The company was joined by Automotive Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners and 640 Oxford Ventures in the round. Robotair says the funding will go toward expanding its operations in Detroit.
The underlying technology is capable of replacing a set of tires in less than 15 minutes, according to the company. From the sound of things, Discount Tire will be one of the first to adopt automatic technology.
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“Discount Tire is excited to support Robotair in the development of new and innovative technologies that deliver a superior customer experience,” said Tom Williams, Discount Tire’s Chief Experience Officer. As our ability to deliver customer expectations and shorter wait times around the “buy and book online” experience continues to grow, we will continue to drive automation and enhancements that ensure an inviting, easy and secure experience for all of our customers. Huh.”