Autonomous material handling solutions startup Third Wave Automation has closed a $40 million Series B funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners, and with previous investors Eclipse Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, and Toyota Ventures. The company will use the funding to accelerate hiring and commercialization efforts, company leaders said.
Founded in 2018, Third Wave formed a strategic partnership with Toyota Industries Corporation earlier this year. The company is developing technology that enables forklifts to perform complex tasks using shared autonomy; the equipment operates independently, but is able to ask for help when encountering challenges and can be assisted and trained by a human operator.
Third Wave combines three ingredients to make its technology effective and scalable, according to company leaders: adaptive automation that leverages 3D perception technology; shared autonomy that allows a human operator (who manages robots) to train robots as they encounter unfamiliar challenges; and continuous learning that enables all Third Wave-powered robots to learn from guidance to all robots on any site.
“Third Wave's solution is unique among its peers, leveraging a proprietary mix of adaptive automation, shared autonomy, and continuous learning,” the company said in a statement. “The end result is a system that is highly flexible, quickly deployable, capable of constant improvement, and delivers a rapid return on customer investment. Third Wave’s system renders improvements in safety, efficiency, and throughput while delivering unparalleled functionality, such as high rack pick-and-place.”
The Series B funding brings total investment in Third Wave to $59 million. In addition, Matt Howard, general partner at Norwest Venture Partners, will join Third Wave’s board of directors, the company said.
“While we weren't actively raising, having the opportunity to bring Norwest and Matt’s expertise into our orbit was too good to pass up,” Arshan Poursohi, Third Wave’s CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “This extra capital will allow us to accelerate hiring and speed our path to the commercial market following our recent successful technical trials. We are now in active conversations with the top 20 3PLs and retailers in the industry. There is a real need for our technology and we are eager to meet that need.”
Other previous Third Wave investors include Heartland Ventures and Homebrew.