Third Wave Automation (TWA), which develops high-reaching autonomous forklifts, has received a combined investment from Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies, which brings its reported total funding to US$70m (£58.1m).
“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.
“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 labour productivity and safety.
“We are excited to invest in Third Wave Automation to bring next-generation autonomy to the forklifts.”
The investment will be used by TWA to accelerate its development of new solutions as its first product expands its pilot programme.
With the funding, TWA plans to expand its commercial portfolio and accelerate new solutions for automating other classes of forklifts. This, the company has said, includes narrow aisle and counterbalance trucks and the integration of these with automation solutions.
“As our supply chain customers continue to battle labour shortages, they are turning to automation solutions to improve productivity,” said Tony Palcheck, managing director of Zebra Ventures at Zebra Technologies.
“TWA’s autonomous, high-reach fork trucks streamline warehouse workflows, enabling operators to increase throughput and lower costs while also improving worker safety.
“TWA’s approach aligns with Zebra’s goals and we look forward to working with Arshan and the Third Wave team to improve material handling operations.”
TWA reports that its autonomous Reach forklift is the only forklift automation solution currently on the market that offers users the flexibility to deploy their fleet in four modes – fully autonomous, remote operation, remote assist and traditional manual operation.
What’s more, TWA reports that, in pilot deployments, TWA Reach has helped users to meet throughput targets in inbound putaway, replenishment and outbound workflows.