BMW i Ventures announced its lead investment in Fox Robotics, developers of the first intelligent forklift that can autonomously unload pallets from the trailer to the receiving dock. The oversubscribed funding round totals $20 million. Additional new investors include Zebra Technologies, Japan Airlines & Translink Innovation Fund and Foothill Ventures.
Existing investors Menlo Ventures, ENIAC Ventures, and SignalFire also participated in the round.
Concurrent with the closing of the round, Till Reuter, former CEO of KUKA, and David Fuller, former CTO of KUKA and current CEO of Artificial, will join the company as independent board directors.
Supply chain efficiency and resiliency are top of mind for many companies today. Fox Robotics’ autonomous forklifts allow customers to handle loads quicker and safer while increasing overall workplace productivity.—Kasper Sage, Managing Partner at BMW i Ventures
Fox’s autonomous forklifts are running around the clock across dozens of customer sites today, and they have been proven out in some of the world’s most demanding environments such as DHL Supply Chain. The company has solved the hardest forklift challenge to date—unloading trailers without modifying the warehouse environment—and has simplified the path to automating all pallet movement.
Deep learning systems use on-board camera and LIDAR sensors to detect pallets, boxes and other obstacles in real time and enable the robot to pick and place pallets in trailers it’s seeing for the first time as well as receiving floors that change over time.
The unloader’s sensor and software guided planning provides flexible navigation in warehouses and trailers with precise position and speed control. Paths are predictable and adapt dynamically to avoid obstacles.
Forklifts can be up and running in a matter of hours, compared to the weeks or months that typical automation solutions take for integration.
Unloading trailers is a particularly challenging autonomy problem due to demanding operating environments, high throughput requirements, unknown load patterns, and the vehicles needing to be robust to frequent shocks and vibrations. The key to our success to-date has been our ability to deploy our solutions to customers and rapidly learn and improve in live production environments.—Peter Anderson-Sprecher, Co-Founder & CEO of Fox Robotics
DHL Supply Chain, the global and North American contract logistics leader within Deutsche Post DHL Group, was Fox’s first customer and is rapidly deploying their technology across their network of warehouses.
Although autonomous vehicles are not yet ready for mass deployment on public streets, the same technology is being commercially used in closed warehouse environments today. Fox retrofits a standard forklift with sensors and software to enable autonomous material handling operations with precise navigation and robust pallet picking and movement. Deep learning systems use on-board cameras and LiDAR sensors to detect pallets, boxes and other obstacles in real time and enable the forklift to pick pallets out of trailers it is seeing for the first time.