Melonee Wise

She’s making robots to tackle the tedious warehouse jobs that humans don’t want to do.

San JoseCA 
Science Pioneers
 Photo Credit: Courtesy subject

From manufacturing to delivering a product to a shopper’s doorstep, the race for ever more efficiency is fierce. Melonee Wise’s autonomous, mobile robots make it easier to find, track, and move items in warehouses and factories. When they’re hauling things, the robots also gather useful data about everything around them. “We use that data to tell people about the inside of their facilities,” Wise explains. Understanding where there’s congestion, for instance, is powerful information for a warehouse manager. A mechanical-engineering PhD and founder of a previous robotics company, Wise has led San Jose, California-based Fetch Robotics since shortly after its founding in 2014. In July, Fetch raised $46 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to $94 million. This year, it also landed a major new client, Universal Logistics, which uses Fetch-designed robots and cloud-based software to move car parts around the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, the largest auto factory in North America. Fetch has several hundred robots deployed in 11 countries, and Wise says she's looking to expand in Europe. --Brit Morse