Third Wave Automation, Inc. Raises $15M in Series A Funding to Bring Advanced Shared Autonomy to Forklifts
Company Creating Safer, More Productive Work Environments for Forklift Operators
When my co-founders and I first discussed launching our own business we examined many possible routes. We had all worked on countless robotic systems and shared a passion for impactful engineering. We wanted our product to be an exemplar of how much modern machine learning had progressed the field of robotics and to make a significant difference in the world.
The more we looked into warehousing and logistics the clearer it became that the time was right to move the needle in supply-chain automation. The advances that machine learning brought to robotics had yet to be applied to the problems of supply-chain management. The forklift is this fantastic machine, has been in heavy use for a century already, and has become the core component of a well-functioning warehouse — making it a great target for automation. Existing products automate only a fraction of the utility of a forklift, and even in that fraction, they impose limitations that our technologies do not. Adding to all that, the supply chain and logistics industries have been steadily growing for more than a decade, and with recent demands related to the growth of e-commerce, both sectors are under huge pressure to increase bandwidth and efficiency.
So was born Third Wave Automation, to bring the third wave of AI to the problem of autonomous forklifts. We are tying together advances in robotics, the latest research on machine learning, and of course, the capabilities of the forklifts themselves.
In two years, Third Wave has grown to a team of 15 awesome engineers. As a team, we have proven that our technologies achieve those initial goals in an autonomous forklift solution. By using the latest findings in machine learning and robotics, we have built a robust autonomy solution that embraces the notion that there will always be a “long tail” of novel situations.
Our technologies enable autonomy that is robust to dynamic environments, varying payloads, and changing conditions. Warehouses are fast moving and messy: pallets are misplaced when forklift operators are in a hurry, payloads and the pallets themselves degrade over time, and there is constant movement in heavily trafficked areas. Third Wave systems identify these situations immediately, make a decision about how to respond, and are trained to confirm with the forklift operator if the response is in any way unsure. We call this technology, ”Shared Autonomy,” and the premise is that the robot is multiplying the potential of the forklift operator, while also keeping them out of harm’s way. Every time the operator is asked to assist the forklift, our systems learn from the interaction and are able to autonomously handle similar situations in the future.
Since our founding, we’ve shown that Shared Autonomy works in customer warehouses, that the market is not only ready for this sort of solution, but in fact clamoring for it, and that our team is uniquely fit to build the product.
I am proud to announce that Third Wave has just closed our A-round of $15M led by Innovation Endeavors, with participation from seed investors Eclipse Ventures, Homebrew VC, Toyota AI Ventures and new investor Heartland VC (thank you!)
With the resources we need in hand, a world-class team of engineers, fantastic investors around the table, industry partners ready to go to market with us, and customers awaiting the official launch of our products, we could not be more excited about what these next few years have in store.
If all that sounds exciting to you too, please contact us. We’re hiring!
CEO and Co-Founder of Third Wave