Fort is working to keep humans safe from industrial robots

Industrial robots are big, hulking things. They are, at once, designed to operate alongside humans, while also posing potential bodily risk to our soft, fleshy exterior. It’s precisely for this reason that vibrant world of human-robot interaction has sprung up around the industry. With human workers remaining an integral part of the robotic workplace, how can we continue collaborating without risking injury.

That’s one of the questions driving Philly-based robotics firm, Fort. The company’s core offering is software designed to make robots safer around people, while protecting them from potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It notes that the platform has already been adopted by a number of robotics makers, including Agility, Hexagon and Moog (the robot company, not the synth one).

Fort describes its offering thusly:

The FORT Platform fuses functional safety and cybersecurity principles to enable highly reliable communication to, from, and between machines over any network. Messages sent with FORT’s technology are timely, accurate, and secure. This added layer of trust makes it possible for smart machines to perform automated tasks with less risk to people and their environment.

Today the company is announcing a $25 million Series B, led by -- you guessed it -- Tiger Global. The round brings Fort’s total raise up to $41.5 million, including the $13 million it drummed up in March 2021, courtesy of Prime Movers Lab, Quiet Capital, Lemnos Labs, Creative Ventures, Ahoy Capital, Compound, FundersClub and Mark Cuban. In spite of broader VC trends, it remains a fruitful time to be a robotics company looking for money.

People are still spending a ton on robots amid an ongoing labor shortage, so it tracks that software safety layers are top of mind for many.

“Smart machines are transforming the world, but they come with unprecedented safety and security risks,” founder/CEO Samuel Reeves said in a release. “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.”

The company says the additional funds will go toward further deployment of its safety systems.