Fox Robotics raises US$9m for autonomous forklifts

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Fox Robotics, based in Austin, Texas, has announced the close of a US$9m (£6.7m) Series A funding round to continue development of its self-driving forklifts.

The round was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Menlo Ventures, and included Eniac Ventures, La Famiglia, SignalFire, Congruent Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.

Charles DuHadway, CEO of Fox Robotics, said: “The market for warehouse automation is huge and growing. The future of warehouse automation isn’t fixed automation systems that cost several hundred million dollars. It’s mobile robots that are low-cost, flexible and can be deployed incrementally and quickly.”

Fox claims to make self-driving forklifts that are more flexible, more capable and safer than current automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

According to the company, its forklifts “can tackle tasks that no other automation can handle”, such as unloading trailers without modifying the warehouse environment.

Fox’s forklifts can reportedly be installed and running in a new warehouse in less than a day, compared to the weeks or months that typical AGVs take for integration.

The full-stack solution can reportedly increase workplace productivity by 200-300%, bringing efficiency to the supply chain.

Fox utilises technology similar to that used in self-driving cars, customised for the warehouse environment.

The forklifts use AI for real-time detection of pallets, trailers and obstacles and don’t require pre-programmed fixed locations.

They instead use sensors and dynamic positioning to plan routes ad-hoc and don’t require hand-drawn or memorised routes.

The investment will enable Fox ramp up production to meet existing demand. Fox said it has been running pilots with large logistics companies since last October.

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