Fetch founder Melonee Wise joins Agility Robotics as CTO

We’ve discussed Agility quite a bit over the last several years. Most recently, it’s been a focus on the Oregon firm’s push to commercialize. There’s no question that the technology is impressive here. That much was clear when it was still an OSU research project. The path to market, on the other hand, has been tricky.

A Ford partnership focused on last-mile delivery didn’t bear much fruit, so the thriving world of warehouse fulfillment and logistics beckoned. Along with piloting a new head-sporting version of its bipedal robot, the company has been on a hiring spree of late. Back in March, I had a chat with newly-minted COO Aindrea Campbell, who previously worked at Apple and Ford. Last year, Agility appointed a new CFO (Renuka Ayer) and CCO (Rich Bohne), as well.

Today it’s announcing a new CTO that ought be read as another vote of confidence for its warehouse ambitions. Melonee Wise was the co-founder and CEO of Fetch Robotics until its sale to Zebra Technologies back in 2021. In the intervening years, she served as Zebra’s VP of Robotics Automation.

“Today, we’re thrilled to cap off this incredible year of leadership growth by welcoming industry luminary and well-known roboticist Melonee Wise to the team as our new CTO,” Agility co-founder and CEO Damion Shelton said in a prepared statement.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

A release tied to the news notes that “Melonee brings as much (or more) experience in building and deploying robot fleets than just about anyone on the planet.” A case could certainly be made. Wise is a former Willow Garage manager who led what would become one of the top robotics logistics systems in the game. Presumably she’ll help Agility focus more on interoperability and the broader robotic ecosystem, as warehouses look to integrate into existing systems.

With Wise stepping into the CTO role, co-founder Jonathan Hurst -- the robotics professor whose Cassie project would evolve into Digit -- is becoming CRO -- that’s chief robotics officer, clearly. The company writes:

He has therefore transitioned his title from CTO to CRO, to more closely match with his day-to-day work: setting Agility’s research and development roadmap, cultivating the innovation pipeline, shepherding Digit’s industrial design, and nurturing the company’s overall brand identity.

All of these moves are being funded by some impressive raises. Back in April, the company announced a $150 million Series B, bringing its total funding to $180 million to date.