Autonomous warehouse robot maker OTTO Motors has raised $29m in a Series C funding round to help meet the growing demand from manufacturers for mobile robots.

This demand has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Matthew Rendall, CEO and co-founder of OTTO Motors parent company Clearpath Robotics.

Launched in 2015, OTTO Motors provides robots for material handling inside manufacturing facilities and warehouses.

It counts Fortune 500 companies such as GE, Toyota and Nestle among its customers. More than 70% of the autonomous mobile robots installed by OTTO are in Fortune Global 500 firms.

The Series C round was led by Kensington Private Equity Fund with participation from BMO Capital Partners, Export Development Canada (EDC). Previous investors iNovia Capital and RRE Ventures also joined the funding round. It brings the total raised by OTTO Motors to $83m.

The funds will go towards expanding its autonomous mobile robot (AMR) platform. Skill shortages have driven demand for AMRs, with Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute forecasting 2.4 million positions will be unfilled between 2018 and 2028.

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By GlobalData

OTTO Motors funding comes as autonomous robot adoption grows amid coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic means that warehouses are expected to accelerate the adoption of autonomous robots to avoid business interruptions.

“Mobile robots are no longer a luxury in the workplace; they are a necessity,” said Rendall.

“In a post-Covid world, AMRs enhance worker safety and bring resiliency to supply chains. As enterprises adapt, AMR demand will accelerate globally. This investment will enable us to grow to meet the evolving needs of the factories and warehouses of the future anywhere in the world.”

OTTO counts Fortune 500 manufacturing firm Berry Global Group among its customers. At Berry Global’s Kentucky plant, a fleet of 19 OTTO AMR’s operate 24×7 supplying cases to and from automated production machines.

“Our mission to ensure a safe and productive work environment, along with the challenges of persistent labor constraints, has led us to increase investments in creative automation solutions,” said Scott Spaeth, director of corporate automation at Berry Global.

“The OTTO vehicles address those challenges and deliver improved operations reliability, while enhancing the working environment for our employees.”

OTTO parent company Clearpath Robotics was founded in 2009 and operates in mining, military, agriculture, aerospace and academia.

Read more: Temperature-checking robots to combat coronavirus in China