Robot Investments Weekly: Self-Driving Car Components Score Big

Robotics Business Review

Companies creating self-driving cars grab the big headlines when it comes to large investments, but a lot of those companies require lots of self-driving car components. Fortunately, there are a bunch of startups in this space, too, and they’re earning funding as well.

Today, we’re highlighting 17 recent robotics transactions. If you’ve missed some other transactions from last month or earlier this year, 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.

Companies creating self-driving car components earn funding

As the automotive world continues to work on autonomous vehicles, one of the key technologies they are using to help cars see the world around them is lidar. This week, two companies creating lidar systems for the self-driving car space found additional funding.

Shenzhen, China-based RoboSense announced completing a $45 million financing round to help the company expand its market share and expand development of its lidar perception technology. The company said the extra funding will be used for research and development, as well as accelerate product development and long-term manufacturing.

The company said one of the first markets for autonomous vehicle space will be logistics vehicles, predicted to be a $145 billion market by 2025. RoboSense has teamed up with Cainaio, SAIC and BAIC to jointly promote the rapid development of autonomous vehicles into production and commercialization.

In South Korea, SOS Lab completed a venture funding round of $6 million, which it said will allow the company to expand its lidar equipment sales to beyond the domestic Korean market. The company also recently announced a hybrid lidar system, SL-1, which combines a conventional motor scanning system with a MEMS-based mirror. The company said this offers high performance at a lower cost than traditional time-of-flight lidar sensors.

In addition to lidar, self-driving vehicles require advanced software to process the images and other things going around the vehicle. One company making a large splash in this space is Perceptive Automata, which this week announced raising $16 million in an over-subscribed Series A funding round, which included investments by Hyundai and Toyota. The company had raised $3 million in July as part of its initial seed round.

The Somerville, Mass.-based company is developing human behavior prediction software for machines, which aims to give automated vehicles “the ability to understand the state-of-mind of humans, pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.” It incorporates behavioral science techniques “to characterize the way human drivers understand the states of the minds of other humans, and then trains its deep learning models to acquire that same ability.”

China investment in AI, Robotics heats up

In addition to RoboSense, Chinese AI and robotics companies raised some additional funding in recent weeks. CloudWalk Technology raised $144 million in new funding for its AI-based facial recognition technology platform, bringing its total raised to more than half a billion dollars ($509 million). The company said it plans to use the money to expand research, development and create new research centers. Founded in 2015, the company develops facial recognition terminals, scanners for door entry, and infrared binocular scanning machines. As we’ve mentioned before in this space, facial recognition technology could be used as part of an application for humanoid-style robots to help them identify humans that they’re “seeing.”

In the healthcare space, Beijing-based Deep Intelligent Pharma announced raising $15 million in a Series B funding round. The company is developing AI- and blockchain-based technology platforms to help pharmaceutical companies accelerate their drug discovery and development efforts.

In addition, China’s Knowledge Vision (not to be confused with KnowledgeVision) raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding, led by Zero2IPO Ventures and Yaohuoban. Further details were not disclosed.

Investors plunk money on VR companies

In the virtual reality world, companies received real dollars in recent weeks. In Finland, Varjo announced a $31 million investment for its industrial VR headset and technology. The company is developing technology that is promising human-eye resolution VR and mixed-reality at resolutions higher than what is offered by consumer headsets such as Magic Leap or Microsoft’s HoloLens. The company is aiming the higher-end headset to industries like architecture, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, engineering, and construction, according to this TechCrunch article.

Another company looking to use VR in training is STRIVR, which announced raising $16 million in Series A funding. The company’s platform uses VR to simulate real-world, on-the-job scenarios for enhanced learning opportunities for employees. Recently, Wal-Mart announced it would expand its VR training to nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S., giving more than 1 million associates training capabilities through the STRIVR software and Oculus Go headsets.

The weekly “AI Corner” part of the column

As always, AI-based companies from across different industries and applications earned investments in recent weeks, including:

  • Machinify, which is aiming to develop an easy-to-deploy AI platform for enterprises, raised $10 million in Series A funding.
  • In the industrial space, Israel-based Kitov Systems raised $10 million for its AI-based computer vision platform, allowing for better visual inspection in the manufacturing space.
  • Germany’s Teraki recently earned $3 million in seed funding for its AI and edge processing platform. This week, the company announced availability of its Intelligent Signal Processing software, which delivers more than 10x increase in automotive chip, communications, and learning performance in embedded environments.
  • June.AI announced a pre-seed funding found of $1.5 million wants to use artificial intelligence to better manage your email inbox. The company this week.

Drone investments include consumer, insurance inspection applications

Two companies in the unmanned aerial vehicle, aka drone, space have also acquired some additional funding.

Traveler’s Insurance announced investing $3 million in Kittyhawk to expand drone operations for insurance purposes, having seen drones in action after Hurricane Matthew destroyed parts of North and South Carolina in 2016.

On the consumer drone front, Vantage Robotics raised $8.8 million in an equity sale, according to an SEC filing. The company makes the Snap drone, a quadcopter with  photo, video and smart tracking capabilities for action-sports purposes. I suppose you could use this in your office to track you as you walk from your desk to a meeting, but it’s probably more fun to do this while biking, snowboarding or skateboarding.

Wrapping up the rest

Speaking of skateboarding, I’m going to wrap this up so I can go gleam a cube or hit the half-pipe (or, more likely, crank up Tony Hawk on the game console). Here are some other recent transactions of note:

See you next week!

The post Robot Investments Weekly: Self-Driving Car Components Score Big appeared first on Robotics Business Review.


Source: roboticsbusinessreview

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply