Deus Robotics is a Ukrainian startup that creates robots. The start of the big war forced the company to evacuate from Kiev, but it did not hinder its development.
Resilience is primarily about the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But it is also about a strong rear of Ukrainian civilian entrepreneurs who do not allow the enemy to destroy the future. One of such entrepreneurs is the CEO of Deus Robotics (formerly Deus Robots), Pavel Pikulin. Five years ago, Pavel launched his startup to create wheeled robots that can work in warehouses and navigate in space on their own.
By the start of the full-scale invasion, Deus Robotics had managed to produce over 40 robots for sorting parcels and transporting shelves weighing up to 500 kg. Some of them are being tested in branches and sorting terminals of Nova Poshta – before the war, a pilot project was planned: only robots were supposed to work in one of the post offices in Bila Tserkva. Such plans were disrupted by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
It became clear in March that Deus Robotics needed to be evacuated from Kiev in order to continue its work and fulfill contracts.”
“We decided that the war and Russian aggression should not destroy our dream, our business, and take away our work,” said Pavel.
At that time, the company approached Nova Poshta with a request for help in evacuating to the west of Ukraine. Nova Poshta not only agreed to evacuate the company but also offered to accommodate them in their warehouse, create a temporary office for Deus Robotics, and launch a pilot project with robots.
As the company was evacuated, overcoming all the risks and shelling, and finally resumed work in a new location – in a partnership project with Nova Poshta, they learned from Liga.net.”
The evacuation involved several tons of equipment.
The decision to evacuate was made during the cold days of the battle for Kiev, when enemy troops stopped just a few kilometers from the capital. In the early days of the full-scale war, the roads out of the capital were congested with Kiev residents, and explosions of rockets and anti-aircraft guns regularly sounded in the air.
In such conditions, the Deus Robotics team packed equipment weighing several tons in just one day. This included robots, tools for their maintenance, computers, desks, and some industrial equipment. All of this was loaded into a 10-ton truck of Nova Poshta the next day, which delivered the equipment to Mukachevo in just two days.
Along with the equipment, half of the Deus Robotics team – 15 people – also headed to the west. Their evacuation turned out to be more difficult than transporting the equipment itself, admits the CEO of the company.
In March, millions of Ukrainians temporarily relocated to the west – there was almost no available housing, for example, in Mukachevo.
“We couldn’t resettle everyone in Mukachevo, so some people lived in Ivano-Frankivsk and other cities. Some of our employees spent an hour or two just traveling to get to work,” says Pavel Pikulin. And they traveled to the Nova Poshta warehouse – where Deus Robotics had an “office” – to write and refine software and prepare robots for launch.”
In the first days after the evacuation, the team needed time to simply adjust to the new place, as everyone had to drastically change their lives almost completely by moving to a new city with a minimal set of things. Therefore, at first, the team found it difficult to focus on work – the first weeks of the war were spent on communication with loved ones, surveys to see if everyone was alive and well. However, within two weeks after the evacuation, the team reached 80% productivity, according to Pikulin.
By the end of March, they managed to complete all tests with the robots and prepare them for launch at the Nova Poshta branch in Mukachevo.
“Work helped to cope with stress and distract from difficult thoughts,” admits Pavel.
“We strive to be a support for people and businesses in Ukraine even in such difficult times. Therefore, we helped entrepreneurs evacuate from combat and high-risk zones such as Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Odessa, and the Kyiv region. There were more requests than available vehicles in the company’s fleet,” says Nova Poshta.
During the war, Nova Poshta made 846 flights to evacuate 177 companies, they say. Medium and large retail, IT, telecom, and agriculture were the main sectors seeking assistance.
Return and Future.
In May, after the Russians were defeated by our military near Kyiv, and the capital was no longer threatened by artillery fire and ground invasion, the team decided to return. Nova Poshta helped Deus Robotics to move back to the capital in the same way, in just two days.
This allowed the company to complete the project in Bila Tserkva and, despite the war, to fully launch their machines there: “In Bila Tserkva, robots issue packages to customers. Everyone can come to the branch and see them in action. Postal workers do not need to run and search for the package themselves, the robot will bring it from the shelf. This is a great achievement,” says Pavel Pikulin.
After returning, the company resumed all work processes: both software development, robot assembly, and design of new machines. Currently, they are working on contracts for a whole range of clients.
The company is also preparing to enter the new market – the United States. Deus Robotics plans to open a sales department and a service center there. The company is already in talks about supplying robots to the States, says the CEO. Overall, by 2023, Deus Robotics has pre-orders for more than 400 robots.”