Fox Robotics announces that they have closed a $9 million Series A round led by Menlo Ventures. With this round of financing, Fox’s total funding is now over $13 million.
Austin based Fox Robotics develops self-driving forklifts that are able to automatically unload trailers. Fox robots have been running in pilots with logistics companies that currently operate tens of thousands of manual forklifts. The company was founded in 2018.
This series is led by Menlo Ventures. With this agreement, Mark Siegel, partner at Menlo Ventures, will join the Fox Robotics board of directors. Additional investors include Eniac Ventures, La Famiglia, SignalFire, Congruent Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.
Quick to Deploy for Tractor Trailer Unloading
Fox makes self-driving forklifts that are more flexible, more capable and safer than current AGV’s. Fox’s forklifts can tackle challenging tasks that no other automation can handle, such as unloading trailers without modifying the warehouse environment. Fox’s forklifts can be installed and running in a new warehouse in less than a day, compared to the weeks or months that typical AGV’s take for integration.
The Fox Robotics solution is capable of autonomously unloading pallets off of trailers (image courtesy of Fox Robotics)
“We are proud to back the team at Fox Robotics,” said Mark Siegel, Partner at Menlo Ventures, an active investor in automation. “The company’s value proposition is clear: Their full-stack solution for self-driving forklifts that can increase workplace productivity 200 to 300 percent. They bring huge efficiency to the supply chain.”
Leveraging AI to Locate Pallets and Safely Drive
Fox’s robots are essentially pallet loading fork trucks that have been fitted with the intelligence to see the environment and safely maneuver the fork truck vehicle to acquire and remove a full unit-load pallet from the tractor trailer parked in a loading dock. The approach that Fox has taken to develop the solution is to leverage an existing fork truck platform, and build their vision navigation and sensing solution around it. The fork trucks can easilty be put into manual mode when needed.
The autonomous solution leverages artificial intelligence (AI), to identify the individual pallet loads within a loaded tractor trailer. Cameras located on the autonomous fork truck are able to safely drive the vehicle around the loading dock and onto a trailer that is parked at the loading dock. Once a loaded pallet is identified, the vehicle can acquire it, lift it, and move it off the truck to a staging area on the dock.
The cameras and other sensors onboard the vehicle enable it to deal with the continuously changing environment of the loading dock. As the pallet loads are removed from the trailer and staged for ingestion into the warehouse, the staging area can be a chaotic environment. Learning to safely operate in this chaotic environment is just one of the challenges that Fox Robotics has designed the system to overcome.
Primed for Growth
This investment lets Fox ramp up production to meet existing demand. Fox has been running pilots with large logistics companies since October.
“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.” said Charles DuHadway, CEO of Fox Robotics. “I’m excited to be working with Mark and Menlo Ventures alongside our existing investors as we make robots that work.”