Three-year-old FORT Robotics, a Washington Square-based startup that builds wireless functional safety systems for autonomous machines, announced that it raised a $13 million round of venture capital.
The startup is a spinout of Humanistic Robotics, which was founded in 2004 and created devices to keep humans safe from landmines deployed in areas such as Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. In late 2019, the 2020 RealLIST Startups honoree had just raised $4 million, and was prepping for a Series A and lots of growth.
“With people out of the driver’s seat and machines being controlled by AI, there needs to be a way to ensure human safety,” FORT CEO and founder Samuel Reeves told Technical.ly during a visit to its Curtis Center office in 2019. “The industry has been there, and the tech is finally there, but there’s not yet a safety platform of record.”
Essentially, Reeves said, that’s FORT’s mission — to create a secure, end-to-end wireless platform that ensures human safety around dangerous machines.
This round of fundraising, lead by Prime Movers Lab, will allow leadership to “more than double” the size of FORT’s workforce, it said in a statement. The company currently has about 30 employees, and multiple open positions.
“We’re excited to partner with our new investors to help position FORT at the forefront of this rapidly evolving space,” Reeves said in a statement. “The world is on the cusp of a new industrial revolution in mobile automation. With added investment and support, we’ll be able to rapidly scale the company to capitalize on the convergence of trend and opportunity to ensure that robotic systems are safely deployed across all industries.”
Also included in this round are investors Prologis Ventures, Quiet Capital, Lemnos Labs, Creative Ventures, Ahoy Capital, Compound, FundersClub and Mark Cuban of “Shark Tank.” Last year, the company had more than 100 clients across industries like warehousing, construction, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, turf care, last-mile delivery and transportation, it said.
“Robotics and automation are a way for industries such as manufacturing to remain competitive in ‘America 2.0’, but these advances in technology don’t come without risks,” Cuban said in a statement. “I’m excited to partner with FORT because protecting the people who work with and around robots will be crucial as we enter this new era of automation.”
A FORT rep said Reeves got connected to Cuban via an existing investor.
“He’s investing in robotics companies, so he has a presence in our space,” Reeves said. “It’s always great to have existing investors want to bring in people they’ve invested with in the past.”