What do you do when you can’t send humans into potentially dangerous terrain? You send robots.
It’s been the mission of four-year-old FORT Robotics, a Center City-based startup that builds wireless functional safety systems for autonomous machines. The company just announced a $25 million Series B raise to continue growth and roll out a new machine communications platform to increase safety for their autonomous machines.
As the world increasingly relies on autonomous and connected machinery, FORT’s technology aims to address vulnerabilities in these systems. The FORT platform uses functional safety and cybersecurity principles to allow machines to communicate over any network.
“Smart machines are transforming the world, but they come with unprecedented safety and security risks,” said Samuel Reeves, the company’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “There’s a massive need for these machines to communicate in a trustworthy way, and it’s something that’s yet to be addressed in the industry. This investment will allow us to scale up to meet the demands of the next generation of smart machines.”
Bonnie Friel, the company’s communications manager, said the FORT Platform is designed for messages to be delivered accurately, quickly and securely. The company isn’t sharing details about the platform’s tech stack, but Friel said the security piece of communication between machines is “crucial” because a breach could result in loss of data, accidents and injuries.
“We’re essentially taking the strategies and best practices from the worlds of functional safety and cybersecurity and combining them to enable trusted machine communication over virtually any network,” Friel said. “This allows smart machines to take action with less risk to the people and environments around them.”
The round was led by Tiger Global, and brings its total funding to date up to $41.5 million. Participating in the round is existing investor Prologis, who will send Sineesh Keshav, its managing director and CTO, to join FORT’s board. Lemnos, GRIDS Capital, Creative Ventures, Compound and Funders Club also participated.
FORT’s tech is the foundation for its hardware solutions, including wireless emergency stops and remote control systems, which are used by industry leaders including Agility Robotics, Hexagon and Moog. The new round will go toward expanding the platform’s functionality and enhancing security offerings to address growing demand from end users.
“Over the years, a lot of work has gone into protecting networks, users and critical data in the enterprise from cyber threats,” Prologis’ Keshav said. “I’m delighted to join the FORT board and help support the company’s work to extend the existing cybersecurity boundaries to the smart machine landscape using their deep background in machine safety as a unique differentiator.”
The Philly company last raised a round in March 2021, a $13 million Series A that was focused on doubling its size. It did just that over the last year, going from about 30 employees to 65 “and growing,” Friel said. FORT also moved offices from the Curtis Center, where it got its start, to a full floor at 1608 Walnut St. last year. Check out its open roles here.
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