ForwardX Robotics Raises $31M to Bring More Autonomous Mobile Robots to the U.S.

ForwardX has raised a total of $60M this year as it expands R&D and global market reach.


ForwardX applies AI to mobile robots for warehouses and factories.
Beijing-based ForwardX Robotics, which has developed autonomous mobile robots for factories and warehouses, has raised Series C1 funding to increase R&D and expand in the U.S. market.

ForwardX Robotics, which develops mobile robots for warehousing and manufacturing environments, today announced that it has raised $31 million in its initial Series C1 funding round. The Beijing-based company said it plans to use the new capital to accelerate its research and development timeline, increase its deployment capabilities in key markets such as the U.S., and expand its sales reach into new markets.

“Our latest round of funding contributes to the positive momentum we have been building over the past 24 months,” stated Nicolas Chee, founder and CEO of ForwardX. “With a growing market share across our key territories, we look forward to continuing to deliver transformational results to our current and future customers.”

“While previously we’ve been focused on the domestic Chinese market, 2021 has brought us more success outside of China,” he noted. “We’re really looking forward to making our solutions available to a wider audience and cementing our position as a dominant player in North and South America, Asia, and Europe.”

ForwardX follows supply chain demand

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ForwardX said it has seen strong growth. Named by LinkedIn China as a Top 13 Startup, the company claimed that its flexible automation platform can “deliver better performance for customers at a better value.”

“It’s an exciting time for us and the industry as a whole,” said Yaxin Guan, chief operating officer of ForwardX. “COVID-19 made it difficult to expand overseas during 2020, but this year has brought us a lot more success in that regard. E-commerce in the U.S. has seen its 18-month spike become the new base level, resulting in accelerated demand for automation.”

“With this round of funding, we’re in a better position to deliver quality solutions to North American customers,” she added.

ForwardX said its AI-driven, fleet management software and vision-guided autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) enable customers to be “faster, stronger, and smarter within the supply chain.” The company said its Flex and Max AMRs can help automate labor-intensive workflows, such as order picking for fulfillment and distribution, as well as delivery of raw materials for production.

Leading manufacturers and logistics providers have successfully deployed ForwardX's AMRs, including JD Logistics, SF DHL Supply Chain China, TCL Electronics, ITOCHU Logistics China, and Dongfeng Motor Corp. The company also stated that it was a core provider for the world’s first 5G-enabled AMR deployment after its award-winning project with TCL Electronics.

ForwardX Robotics lineup

Source: ForwardX Robotics

Investors expect growth in robotics, 5G

Taikang Life Insurance led ForwardX's initial Series C round, with contributions from Qualcomm Ventures and Starlight Capital. Only seven months after the closure of its $63 million Series B round, the latest funding brings ForwardX to approximately $100 million in total investment since its founding in 2016.

“As a result of the continuous increase in labor costs and the steady advancement of artificial intelligence, the trend towards robotics investment is becoming more and more pronounced, particularly towards systems focused on automating the repetitive, physical tasks seen in low-skill material handling work,” said Wei Wei, investment director at Taikang Asset Management. “ForwardX’s team possesses outstanding research and development capabilities, which have allowed it to create a highly competitive offering.”

“Having been recognized by industry-leading customers, ForwardX’s solutions have been applied at a large scale across a variety of business applications,” he said. “Furthermore, its vision-first robot fleets provide flexible and versatile solutions that adapt well to complexity within dynamic environments.”

“The e-commerce revolution is driving the need for more intelligent warehouse automation tools,” said James Shen, vice president at Qualcomm International Inc. and managing director of Qualcomm Ventures China. “ForwardX’s vision-first autonomous mobile robot solution helps increase operational productivity and reliability.”

“We’re excited to support ForwardX in leveraging AI to optimize warehousing and manufacturing environments and enable 5G private network applications,” said Shen.

ForwardX to open U.S. East Coast office

ForwardX noted that its latest investment is a positive indicator for the industry, as more companies see positive results from automation and adopt the technology. It offers its systems through a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model.

“Business, technological, and social drivers, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have had an accelerative effect on the mobile robotics sector, particularly for AMRs,” said Ash Sharma, managing director at Interact Analysis. “Deployments are up and increasing rapidly, and you can expect more of the same in the future.”

In addition to R&D, ForwardX said it plans to use the funding to open an office on the U.S. East Coast, expanding its ability to serve the North American market. Since its previous funding round, ForwardX has opened an office in Tokyo and added partners across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and South America.

Behind the scenes at ForwardX.

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ForwardX applies AI to mobile robots for warehouses and factories.

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