Third Wave Automation (TWA), which provides artificial intelligence (AI) for high-reach autonomous forklifts, has landed a new investment wave from Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies that brings its total funding to $70 million.
California-based Third Wave did not specify the amount of the round, but a $40 million “series B” round in 2021 had brought the company’s total backing to $59 million.
Stocked with the new cash, Third Wave plans to accelerate new innovations as its first product expands its select pilot program, the firm said. Third Wave said it will now expand its market offerings, accelerate new solutions for automating other classes of forklifts—including narrow aisle and counterbalance trucks—and integrate with automation solutions such as Fetch Robotics, which is now part of Zebra Technologies.
“As our supply chain customers continue to battle labor shortages, they are turning to automation solutions to improve productivity. TWA's autonomous, high-reach fork trucks streamline warehouse workflows, enabling operators to increase throughput and lower costs while also improving worker safety," Tony Palcheck, managing director of Zebra Ventures at Zebra Technologies, said in a release.
Third Wave says its “TWA Reach” platform is the only forklift automation solution on the market today that offers users the flexibility to deploy their fleet in four modalities: fully autonomous, remote operation, remote assist, and traditional manual operation. According to the firm, customers in pilot deployments have used that technology enable users to meet their daily quota of throughput in inbound putaway, replenishment, and outbound workflows.
“The increasing adoption of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G connectivity is facilitating the use of autonomous solutions within the warehouse,” said Carlos Kokron, vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and managing director, Qualcomm Ventures Americas, said in a release. “Third Wave Automation’s shared autonomy approach with continuous learning capabilities delivers immediate value to the customers by easily integrating with existing workflows while enhancing labor productivity and safety. We are excited to invest in Third Wave Automation to bring next-generation autonomy to the forklifts.”