Third Wave Automation Gets Funding from Qualcomm Ventures, Zebra

Third Wave Automation (TWA) announced a strategic investment by Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies, bringing total funding to US$70 million. TWA is a provider of high-reach autonomous forklifts.

The strategic investment enables TWA to accelerate new innovations as its first product expands select pilot program. With the funding, TWA plans to expand its market offerings and accelerate new solutions for automating other classes of forklifts, including narrow aisle and counterbalance trucks. Additionally, the company plans to integrate them with automation solutions, such as Fetch Robotics, which is now part of Zebra Technologies.

The new investment will accelerate new innovations at TWA.

Accelerates Autonomous Solutions in Warehouses

“The increasing adoption of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G connectivity facilitates 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 customers. This is done 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,” Kokron continued.

“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,” said Tony Palcheck, managing director of Zebra Ventures at Zebra Technologies. “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 Reach Offers Ultimate Flexibility with Four Deployment Modalities

TWA Reach is the only forklift automation solution on the market today that offers users the flexibility to deploy their fleet in four modalities. These options are fully autonomous, remote operation, remote assist, and traditional manual operation.

Also, TWA Reach, which was named One of the Best Robots of CES 2023, is a fully automated reach truck solution that can operate in 10+ foot aisles up to 366 inches high in base configurations. It easily integrates into existing workflows with no costly infrastructure changes commonly required by traditional automation solutions. Thus, users can see immediate impact with the TWA Reach solution. In pilot deployments, TWA Reach has been instrumental in enabling users to meet their daily quota of throughput in inbound put away, replenishment, and outbound workflows.

“After successfully deploying our solution with key pilot customers, we are excited to expand the TWA Reach pilot program. This enables us to explore additional automation workflows and continue deploying flexible forklift automation technology,” said Arshan Poursohi, TWA’s co-founder and CEO. “With the strategic investment from Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies, we look forward to scaling production of our forktrucks, deploying them with new customers in a wide variety of sites. From there, we can continue to innovate with new applications and additional materials handling vehicles, and perfect our fleet management.”

Additionally, TWA Reach forklifts utilize TWA’s core automation technology and collaborative autonomy platform. Most importantly, they leverage AI and machine learning to enable remote operation and assistance, intelligent fleet management, and continuous learning capabilities. This process provides holistic materials handling solutions that improve over time.

Moreover, TWA’s fleet management system provides the visibility and tools needed to effectively manage users’ fleets of automated forklifts. Also, it responds to robot assist in a timely and effective manner. Meanwhile, with a focus on user experience, TWA’s operator-first approach ensures that edge cases are resolved quickly. This enables a high level of performance in warehouse operations.

In particular, TWA will be demonstrating the TWA Reach automation solution in booth N6151 at ProMat 2023, taking place March 20-23 in Chicago. Also, TWA will participate and host sessions on automation adoption and possibilities in supply chain robotics.