Vecna gets $65M to replace forklifts with robots

In the rush to automate warehouses, forklifts are something of a no-brainer. Lifting heavy payloads already requires heavy machinery, and these systems are somewhat notorious for being involved in incidents, with tens of thousands of forklift accidents recorded in the U.S. alone each year.

Massachusetts-based Vecna Robotics is among those firms looking to bring autonomy to pallet moving and other forklift-centric warehouse activities. The firm has already raised a decent chunk of change, including a $50 million Series B back in January 2020 — just before the pandemic did its number on the U.S. That round brought its funding north of $60 million, a figure it’s more than doubled with a new Series C.

Tiger Global Management (because, of course) is leading the $65 million round, which also features participation from existing investors Blackhorn Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Tectonic Ventures, Drive Capital and Fontinalis Partners, plus new names like Lineage Logistics, Proficio Capital Partners and Impulse.

The company already used its previous round to do a fair bit of hiring, including new CEO Craig Malloy and CMO Josh Kivenko. Here’s the former on what this fresh infusing of funding will go toward:

There is huge headroom for growth in automated material handling with over 5 billion pallets in the world being moved by more than 5 million forklifts and nearly 5 million manual operators. This investment, led by such a prominent and supportive group of investors, will allow us to accelerate our roadmap and deliver solutions to the market faster in order to meet the insatiable demand for increased throughput in material handling environments like factories and warehouses.

Vecna says the money will be used for R&D on the software and hardware front, fulfilling orders and expanding operations. The company is no doubt one in a long line of robotics firms that’ve seen increased interest among investors fueled by the pandemic and a widespread inability to keep jobs filled.