Warehouse Robotics Startups Drawing Bigger Investor Backing

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Investors are pouring money into warehouse automation as more companies turn to robotics to help speed distribution in a tight labor market.

Logistics operators that once relied largely on human labor are now testing autonomous forklifts, self-driving carts and other technology intended to improve efficiency and cut costs by automating repetitive tasks and freeing workers up to handle more complex jobs.

There have been some $1.2 billion in U.S. venture-capital deals in logistics-focused robotics and automation companies since 2015, according to data firm PitchBook. Last year saw $357.2 million in deals in the category, which also includes self-driving truck startups and companies specializing in freight data and tracking.

The latest such startup to draw investor attention is Waltham, Mass.-based Vecna Robotics. Its technology helps companies automate industrial equipment such as forklifts and coordinate human and robot workflows. The company said Tuesday it raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Blackhorn Ventures, with participation from new investors Highland Capital Partners and Fontinalis Partners and existing investors Drive Capital and Tectonic Ventures.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.