Robotics investments recap – April 2021

The Robot Report
April 2021 robotics investments

Softbank invested $2.8 billion into AS/RS developer AutoStore in April 2021.

The Robot Report tracked 38 robotics investments worth more than $4.8 billion in April 2021. This is quite the rebound from the same time last year when, amidst the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, robotics companies raised about $600 million. This marks a 700-plus percent increase in robotics investments year-over-year. There also were eight mergers and acquisitions and one IPO in April 2021.

Robotics investments

The bulk of the funding in April 2021 came from two categories of robotics technologies – AS/RS systems and autonomous vehicles. AutoStore, a leading developer of AS/RS systems, raised $2.8 billion from Softbank, accounting for nearly half of the month’s total funding. Companies working on autonomous vehicles or autonomous vehicle technologies raised at least $839 million. San Francisco-based Cruise raised another $750 million for its work on autonomous vehicles, adding Walmart to its already impressive list of investors.

The table below lists robotics company fundings in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available. U.S.-based robotics companies accounted for 17 of the funding rounds, followed by China (6), India (3) and Israel (3).

Robotics Investments April 2021

Company Type M$ Country Tech
EasyMile Series B 66.7 France Autonomous vehicles
Plus One Robotics Series B 33 USA Perception software
EAVISION Series C 30 China Agricultural drones
Scale AI Series E 325 USA Training data for machine learning
Manna Drone Delivery Series A 25 Europe Drone delivery
Groq Series C 300 USA Tensor processing unit
Deeplite Seed 4 Canada Neural network optimization
AutoStore Other 2800 Norway AS/RS
Memic Innovative Surgery Series D 96 Israel Surgical robots
Oxbotica Series B 13.7 UK Autonomous vehicle software
Canvas Series B 24 USA Construction robots
Cruise Other 750 USA Autonomous vehicles
Multiply Labs Series A 20 USA Manufacturing robots
Rapid Robotics Series A 12 USA Robots for manufacturing
Miko Series B 6.6 India Consumer robotics
Ottopia Series A 9 Israel Teleoperation
Tortuga AgTech Series A 20 USA Agricultural robots
Ronovo Surgical Series A China Surgical robots
infiniDome Seed 2.4 Israel GPS security
Pickle Robot Seed 5.8 USA Package handling robots
Gaussian Robot Series B 100 China Cleaning robots
Unbox Robotics Seed 1.2 India Parcel sorting robots
CloudMinds Series B 152.6 China Cloud infrastructure
Mowito Other India Mobile robot software
Reactive Robotics Other Germany Robot-assisted therapy
MightyFly Seed 5.1 USA Autonomous aircraft
RoboticPlus.AI Series B 20 China Construction robots
Halodi Robotics Other Norway Consumer robots
Above Robotics Other USA Fleet management
Genesis Systems Group Other 2.3 USA Integrator
Robomart Seed USA Autonomous vehicles
DroneSeed Seed USA Forestry management
Hermes Robotics Other USA Autonomous trucks
Ottonomy Other USA Last-mile delivery
Robotto Pre-Seed Denmark Drones
Liftians Seed 0.25 USA AGVs
Microsure Series B 3.3 Netherlands Surgical robots
EDDA Technology Other 33 China Surgical robots

Robotics Mergers & Acquisitions

April 2021 was a busy month for mergers and acquisitions (M&As), too. The Robot Report tracked 8 M&As, including two via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) or blank check companies.

Vicarious Surgical is going public through a $1.1 billion SPAC deal with Hong Kong–based D8 Holdings. The acquisition adds more than $425 million in cash to Vicarious’s balance sheet. This deal came about a year and a half after the FDA provided breakthrough device designation for Vicarious’ robot, which includes features such as arms that replicate human motion.

The capital-intensive autonomous vehicle industry continued to consolidate in April 2021. Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings acquired Lyft’s autonomous vehicle division, Level 5, for $550 million in cash. Lyft will receive $200 million upfront and $350 million of payments over a five-year period. Lyft launched Level 5 in 2017 and said that by 2021 “a majority” of its rides would take place in autonomous vehicles. Like predictions made by other autonomous vehicle companies, Lyft’s never came to fruition.

The table below lists the M&As from April 2021. Click on the “Story” links for more information about each of the M&As.

Mergers & Acquisitions – April 2021

Acquired Company Acquirer Amount ($M) Technology Story
Lyft Level 5 Woven Planet Holdings 550 Autonomous Vehicles Story
Precise Automation Brooks Automation 70 Cobots Story
Mowbot Robin Autopilot Robotic lawnmowers Story
13 Robotics Ltda Kraken Robotics 0.22 Unmanned maritime systems Story
Root AI AppHarvest 60 Agriculture robotics Story
Kyoto Robotics Hitachi Vision Story
Vicarious Surgical D8 Holdings 1100 (SPAC) Surgical robots Story
Sarcos Robotics Rotor Acquisition Corp SPAC Exoskeletons Story

IPO

And, amazingly, autonomous truck developer TuSimple raised $1.08 billion in an IPO after debuting on the Nasdaq on April 15. TuSimple said it has 5,700 reservations for self-driving trucks from Navistar that are scheduled to go into production in 2024, with 70 trucks already on the road in the U.S. and China.

Robotics IPOs – April 2021

Company Amount ($M) Tech
TuSimple 1000 Autonomous trucks

Editors’ note: What defines robotics investments? The answer to this simple question is central in any attempt to quantify them with some degree of rigor. To make investment analyses consistent, repeatable, and valuable, it is critical to wring out as much subjectivity as possible during the evaluation process. This begins with a definition of terms and a description of assumptions.

Investors and investing
Investment should come from venture capital firms, corporate investment groups, angel investors, and other sources. Friends-and-family investments, government/non-governmental agency grants, and crowd-sourced funding are excluded.

Robotics and intelligent systems companies
Robotics companies must generate or expect to generate revenue from the production of robotics products (that sense, analyze, and act in the physical world), hardware or software subsystems and enabling technologies for robots, or services supporting robotics devices. For this analysis, autonomous vehicles (including technologies that support autonomous driving) and drones are considered robots, while 3D printers, CNC systems, and various types of “hard” automation are not.

Companies that are “robotic” in name only, or use the term “robot” to describe products and services that that do not enable or support devices acting in the physical world, are excluded. For example, this includes “software robots” and robotic process automation. Many firms have multiple locations in different countries. Company locations given in the analysis are based on the publicly listed headquarters in legal documents, press releases, etc.

Verification
Funding information is collected from a number of public and private sources. These include press releases from corporations and investment groups, corporate briefings, industry analysts, and association and industry publications, including Crunchbase PitchBook and Tracxn. In addition, information comes from sessions at conferences and seminars, as well as during private interviews with industry representatives, investors, and others. Unverifiable investments are excluded.

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