Robot Investments Weekly: Robotics and AI Firms Earn Halloween Treats

Robotics Business Review

Instead of Snickers and candy corn, several robotics and artificial intelligence companies earned Halloween treats in the form of funding in recent weeks.

Today, we’re highlighting 18 recent robotics transactions. If you’ve missed some other transactions from the past months, you can track them in the RBR Transactions Database. Our regularly updated database lets you sort deals by company, industry, technology, or transaction type.

If you’re an RBR Insider, don’t forget to check out the Q2 Transactions Report, which showcases and analyzes major investment trends for the past three months. It’s free for subscribers to Robotics Business Review. The Q3 transactions report is coming soon!

Big bucks across the landscape

Generally, I try to group transactions for the week related to the technology type to see if there’s a general trend in the types of companies being funded. But this time, I’m grouping some treats together based on the dollar amount, which were all $100 million or more.

For example, the U.S. Navy awarded a contract that could reach $794 million to Alion Science and Technology to develop, build, and support a family of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). The systems, which can include both tethered and non-tethered UUVs, would be able to operate independently from, or in concert with submarines and surface ships.

Mission roles could include search, detection and classification, weapon targeting, undersea warfare training, countermeasures, mapping, and intelligence collection, among others, the company said in a statement.

Factory automotive robots Halloween Treats article

Bright Machines aims to provide software for manufacturing factories. Photo source: International Federation of Robotics

Moving to the factory floor, Bright Machines this week announced emerging from stealth mode, as well as a $179 million funding round. The company is aiming to automate manufacturing operations by bringing software to factories to help “drive machines using software rather than labor,” according to VentureBeat.

Boston’s DataRobot also scored a big payout this week – the company announced $100 million in new funding for its artificial intelligence and automated machine learning development system.

The final “big bucks” transaction may not yet be completed, but it’s still impressive. China’s Horizon Robotics announced that investors were set to fund between $500 million and $1 billion in the company.

According to China Money Network, the funding includes a chip firm “as prominent as Intel”, but no further details were provided. The company did secure $100 million in financing in late 2017 by Intel Capital, the venture funding division of Intel. Horizon is developing technology that connects processors, hardware, software, cloud computing, and data analytics to create offerings for the AI market.

Investments for lidar, vision for autonomous cars

A Reuters article this week outlined a “long road ahead” for GM’s Cruise unit as it’s working on rolling out self-driving car, highlighting some difficulties of the car’s systems in recognizing whether objects on the road are moving or stationary, for example.

Meanwhile, investors are continuing to award treats to support autonomous vehicle development. Innovusion this week announced it raised $30 million in Series A funding.

The Chinese company also announced it was shipping “the world’s first image-grade LiDAR system for autonomous vehicles.” The Innovusion Cheetah can support Level 4+ vehicles, or those that are fully autonomous in certain operating conditions, the company said.

“Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR detects objects more than 200 meters away and generates an exceptionally dense point cloud (300 lines), more than double of other providers in the space, while maintaining a high frame rate and achieving low-cost in high-volume production,” Innovusion said. It plans on increasing production to meet demand starting in Q4.

Also in China, Shanghai-based NASN Automotive Electronics announced raising $14.4 million in Series B funding. While the company develops automotive parts for chassis electronic control, it also has been developing “intelligent decision-making products in advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.”

Related to the automotive space, Eyesight, which is developing edge-based computer vision and AI systems to the automotive and IoT markets, announced raising $15 million this week.

The Israeli company offers a Driver Monitoring and Occupancy Monitoring System that tracks a driver’s attention on the road and behavior inside the car, as a way to help reduce car accidents. The system helps monitor’s a driver’s gaze direction, pupil dilation, eye openness and head position, to enable alerts when signs of drowsiness or distraction are detected.

Robotics firms score funding

In the robotics space, companies developing specific commercial systems got some funding treats in recent weeks.

Skyline Robotics, which is developing window cleaning robots for skyscrapers and other large buildings, earned $3 million in funding. The company said its Ozmo system can clean a building in about a week, with one operator on the ground, compared to three human workers working about 480 hours in the air.

Blue Ocean Robotics Halloween treats article

Denmark’s Blue Ocean Robotics scored $14.7 million in new funding.

Denmark’s Blue Ocean Robotics, which provides robot companies with a development platform and “reusable technological building bricks and the tools needed to build the robots,” announced a $14.7 million investment from Nordic Eye Venture Capital, a Danish venture capital fund. With the investment, Blue Ocean said it is now the third largest robotics company in Denmark.

The company makes its technologies, skills and network available for partner companies, in exchange for royalties and co-ownership when the robot is ready for the market.

Blue Ocean has helped develop Suitable Technologies’ Beam telepresence robot, Scape Technologies’ Scape robot, DEKO’s WallMo, and Niflfisk’s cleaning robots, among others. The company said the UVD Robots, which develops a robot that disinfects patient rooms in hospitals using UVC light, is active in Europe and Asian markets, and is set to enter the U.S. market.

WatchTower Robotics was among the winners of the MassChallenge startup competition. The company, which is developing a robotic system for water pipe operators to find leaks and save water, was among the four winners of $100,000 for the MassChallenge accelerator program awards – 19 startups were awarded money from 26 finalists.

Wrapping up the rest

With Halloween right around the corner, I have to wrap up this week’s column in order to grab some 100 Grand bars, which is the official candy bar of the weekly investment column and the best of all the Halloween treats. Here are some other non-candy-related transactions from recent weeks:

See you next week!

The post Robot Investments Weekly: Robotics and AI Firms Earn Halloween Treats appeared first on Robotics Business Review.


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