Robotics investments recap: October 2020

The Robot Report
October 2020 robotics transactions

Autonomous vehicle and drone companies received funding in October 2020. Source: Workhorse Group

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and political uncertainty around the so-called Brexit and U.S. elections likely contributed to a dip in robotics investments last month. However, autonomous vehicles, aerial drones, and healthcare systems continued to find funding in October 2020.

Companies announced 51 transactions worth a total of $851 million in October 2020, compared with 59 robotics deals worth more than $1.5 billion in September 2020 and 51 transactions worth about $1.3 billion in October 2019. Robots for agriculture, mining, and supply chain and logistics applications also obtained financing.

Last month, The Robot Report tracked funding to 44 robotics companies, in comparison with 52 the previous month and 43 a year ago. This also suggests a seasonal drop after a wave of September investments. Beyond robotics and automation, Crunchbase predicted that funding would hold steady and rebound after any October slowdown.

Tracxn October 2020

The table below lists robotics fundings in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available.

Robotics investments, October 2020

Company Amt. (M$) Type Investor, partner Date Technology
AdaSky 15 Series B Kyocera Corp., Sungwoo Hitech Co. Oct. 22 thermal imaging
AEye Inc. 23 Series B Continental AG Oct. 27 lidar sensors
Agility Robotics 20 Series A DCVC, Playground Global Oct. 15 legged robots
Applied Intuition Inc. 125 Series C Lux Capital, General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz Oct. 22 autonomous vehicle software
Artimus Robotics 0.594 seed Oct. 30 robotic actuation
Beijing Tage Idriver Technology Co. 30.17 Series B Qianhai Fund of Funds Oct. 31 autonomous vehicles
Blue Ocean Seismic Services Ltd. 13 Series A BP Ventures Oct. 14 marine robotics
Bota Systems 0.164 seed Venture Kick Oct. 16 sensor, gripper
Dedrone 12.1 investment TempoCap Oct. 1 drone defense
Einride AB 10 investment Norrsken VC Oct. 1 autonomous trucks
Epirus 57.3 Series C Oct. 9 drone defense
Fourier Intelligence 15 Series C Yuan Jing Capital Oct. 26 exoskeleton
Genrobotics Innovations Pvt. Ltd. 0.034 pre-Series A Anand Mahindra Oct. 7 sewer cleaning robot
HUVRdata Inc. 5 Series A Cottonwood Venture Partners Oct. 5 drone inspections
Jianjia Robots 14.72 Series B Hillhouse Capital Oct. 13 surgical robotics
Kraken Robotics 10.4 post-seed Canaccord Genuity Group Oct. 1 marine robotics
LM Industries 15 investment Mirai Creation Fund II Oct. 16 self-driving shuttle
Locomation 2 Series A Daimler Oct. 20 autonomous vehicles
Luminar Technologies Series C Oct. 30 lidar sensors
Manna Series A Greenman Investments Oct. 28 drone food delivery
Miko 3.14 Series A Chirate Ventures Oct. 9 educational
MINIEYE 40.7 Series C Harvest Fund, Oriental Fortune Capital, Vision+ Capital, NavInfo Oct. 28 autonomous vehicles
MOV.AI 4 Series A SOMV Oct. 13 cobot ROS environment
Myrmex Inc. seed Ocado Group Oct. 15 mobile robots
Neocis Inc. 72 Series D DFJ Growth Oct. 8 surgical robotics
Outrider 65 Series B Koch Disruptive Technologies Oct. 28 autonomous yard operations
Picnic 3 venture Vulcan Capital Oct. 7 pizza robot seed Lenovo Ventures Oct. 12 simulation software
Realtime Robotics Inc. 2 equity sale Oct. 2 software, controller
Robust.AI 15 Series A JAZZ Venture Partners Oct. 28 AI software
Root AI 0.325 investment Brown Angel Group Oct. 13 indoor robot farming
Sea Machines Robotics Inc. 5 Series B Brunswick Corp. Oct. 28 marine robotics
Shenzhen Han’s Robot Co. 24.3 Series A Suzhuo Fujishin Oct. 9 industrial automation
Shenzhen Youdi Technology Co. Series B Oct. 19 service
SwarmFarm Robotics 3.22 Series A Tenacious Ventures, Artesian Oct. 2 farming robot platform
Tevel Aerobotics Technologies Ltd. 20 Series B Maverick Ventures, OurCrowd Oct. 27 drone fruit picking
vHive 4 Series A+ Deutsche Telekom Oct. 14 drone software
VitiBot 12.9 investment Oct. 22 viticulture robot
Ware 2.5 seed UP Partners Oct. 22 inventory drones
Workhorse Group Inc. 200 investment Antara Capital GP LLC Oct. 16 electric drone delivery vehicles
YPC Technologies 1.8 seed Hike Ventures LLC, Real Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures Oct. 20 kitchen robots
Yrobot seed Baidu Ventures Oct. 29 wearable devices
Zadar Labs 4 seed Mentors Fund, Plug and Play Oct. 30 radar sensors

There were eight robotics mergers and acquisitions in October 2020, compared with seven in September 2020 and seven in October 2019. None of last month’s merger announcements included amounts.

Robotics acquisitions, October 2020

Company Acquirer, partner Date Technology
Advanced Control Solutions Applied Industrial Technologies Oct. 7 robot control systems
Ballard Power Systems Inc. Honeywell International Oct. 15 drone inspections
Box Robotics Inc. Seegrid Corp. Oct. 6 lidar, mobile robots
Briggo Costa Coffee Oct. 26 robotic barista
Codian Robotics VB ABB Oct. 2 pick and place delta robots
Geodetics AEVEX Aerospace Oct. 5 drone navigation
Metamoto Foretellix Oct. 7 simulation software
Zimplistic Light Ray Holdings Oct. 16 Rotimatic cooking robot

Autonomous vehicles again move money

After a brief break in September, developers of autonomous vehicles and supporting technologies again raised the most funding in October 2020, receiving more than $359 million in investment. Applied Intuition Inc., a self-driving simulation software firm in Sunnyvale, Calif., raised Series C funding of $125 million.

Golden, Colo.-based Outrider, which is developing autonomous yard trucks, closed Series B funding of $65 million.

Related content: The Robot Report Podcast: Autonomous yard trucks from Outrider; analyzing retail robotics

Shenzhen, China-based MINIEYE raised $40.7 million in Series C funding for its sensing technology for advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and self-driving cars.

China-based Tage I-Driver Technology Co. raised $30.17 million in Series B funding for autonomous mining vehicles in October 2020. Meanwhile, automotive supplier Continental AG participated in the $23 million Series B round for AEye Inc., a lidar company in Pleasanton, Calif.

Tempe, Ariz.-based LM Industries, which is working on a self-driving shuttle, obtained $15 million, as did Israeli thermal imaging provider AdaSky.

Stockholm-based autonomous truck developer Einride AB received $10 million in funding, and San Jose, Calif.-based radar sensor maker Zadar Labs raised $4 million in October 2020.

Pittsburgh-based autonomous convoy firm Locomation raised $2 million in series A funding. Daimler participated in unspecified Series C funding for Luminar, a lidar provider in Orlando, Fla.

Also in October 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif., got seed funding as it develops simulation software for autonomous buses. Fortellix acquired Redwood City, Calif.-based Metaamoto, which provides simulation for ADAS, for an unspecified amount.

Drones get a lift in October 2020

Both unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drone countermeasures received $300 million in funding in October 2020. Workhorse Group Inc. in Loveland, Ohio, led with $200 million in financing for its electric vehicle and drone-delivery technology. It was the largest robotics transaction of the month.

Redondo Beach, Calif.-based drone defense startup Epirus got $57.3 million in Series C investment. Dedrone in San Francisco raised $12.1 million for its drone threat response system.

Gedera, Israel-based Tevel Aerobotics Technologies Ltd. received Series B funding of $20 million as it commercializes its AI-driven, fruit-picking drones.

Austin, Texas-based HUVRdata Inc., which analyzes drone inspection data for the energy industry, obtained $5 million in Series A. funding. Deutsche Telekom participated in the $4 million Series A+ investment round for vHive. The Herzliya, Israel-based company is also developing software for drones serving the energy industry.

Ware, a drone inventory firm in San Francisco, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Further along the supply chain, Dublin, Ireland-based Manna raised an unspecified Series A for drone deliveries of food and pharmaceuticals.

In October 2020 drone acquisitions, Honeywell International picked up Ballard Power Systems Inc., a drone inspection provider in Southborough, Mass. AEVEX Aerospace acquired Geodetics, a drone navigation firm in San Diego, for an unspecified amount.

Healthcare robotics find investment

Healthcare robotics companies raised more than $100 million in October 2020. Miami-based Neocis Inc., which is developing the Yomi robotic assistant for dental surgery, raised $72 million in Series D financing.

Shanghai-based rehabilitation exoskeleton maker Fourier Intelligence raised $15 million in Series C funding. Beijing-based orthopedic surgical robotics firm Jianjia Robots obtained $14.72 million in October 2020.

Yrobot, a wearable device provider in Cambridge, Mass., raised unspecified seed funding from Baidu Ventures.

Dublin, Ireland-based Medtronic PLC, which produces medical devices in addition to robotics and is thus beyond the scope of this report, was acquired by Ai Biomed Corp. Similarly, Chicago-based prosthetics provider Coapt received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Industrial automation slow but resilient

Industrial automation is relatively mature, and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed global manufacturing, so fewer startups received funding in October 2020 in comparison with other sectors. Still, as the aforementioned Workhorse Group investment demonstrates, there are plenty of areas in factories and warehouses where automation can still be applied.

“Third-quarter revenues in all business areas were still dampened due to the impact of COVID-19, although a strong recovery in China and ongoing cost-mitigation efforts supported a strong underlying performance,” stated Björn Rosengren, CEO of ABB, in his company’s quarterly earnings call. “Robotics and Industrial Automation, on the other hand, are taking more time to recover.”

ABB acquired Ede, Netherlands-based delta robot maker Codian Robotics VB in October 2020.

Teradyne Inc., which owns collaborative robot leader Universal Robots A/S, mobile robot makers Mobile Industrial Robots ApS and AutoGuide Mobile Robots, and sensing and software provider Energid Technologies, reported that its industrial automation sales rebounded to 2019 levels in the third quarter of 2020 after a coronavirus-induced drop in the second quarter. Universal Robots‘ sales grew 23% from Q2 to Q3, it said.

Shenzhen, China-based Han’s Robot raised $24.3 million in Series A financing. Albany, Ore.-based legged robot maker Agility Robotics raised $20 million in Series A funding.

Also in October 2020, U.K.-based online grocer Ocado Group invested in Athens-based Myrmex Inc., which is developing mobile supply chain robots. Since then, Ocado has also acquired Haddington Dynamics and Kindred Systems.

Seegrid Corp. acquired Philadelphia-based Box Robotics Inc., which provides 3D lidar, high-definition maps, and deep learning for mobile robots.

Field robots reap more funding in October 2020

In addition to Tevel Aerobotics, VitiBot raised $12.9 million in October 2020. The Reims, France-based firm is developing robots for vineyards.

SwarmFarm Robotics in Gindie, Australia, obtained $3.22 million in Series A funding for its open platform. Boston-based Root AI raised $325,000 for automated indoor agriculture.

In addition to farming, Sea Machines Robotics Inc. raised $5 million in Series B funding. The Boston-based marine robotics company had raised $15 million in July.

BP Ventures participated in the $13 million Series A round of Farnborough, U.K.-based Blue Ocean Seismic Services Ltd. Paradise Cove, Calif.-based Kraken Robotics, which provides marine Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) to energy and military customers, raised $10.4 million.

Retail, service, consumer robots search for Halloween treats

It’s too soon to say what the retail and hospitality markets will look like after the pandemic, but robots are likely going to be part of the picture. At the same time, consumer robots still have a long way to go. Mumbai, India-based educational robot firm Miko raised $3.14 million.

Seattle-based pizza robot maker Picnic raised $3 million in venture funding in October 2020. Also in the kitchen, Toronto-based YPC Technologies raised $1.8 million in seed funding, with participation from Toyota AI Ventures.

Shenzhen, China-based hospitality robot maker Youdi Technology Co. raised an unspecified amount of Series B funding.

Coca-Cola unit Costa Coffee acquired Austin, Texas-based robotic barista company Briggo for an unspecified amount. Light Ray Holdings’ acquisition of Zimplistic could be considered the one failure of October 2020, as the Singapore-based maker of the Rotimatic flatbread machine had struggled in the consumer space.

Less glamorous but still necessary, sewer-cleaning robot maker Genrobotics Innovations Pvt. Ltd. in Thiruvananthapuram, India, raised $34,000.

Software, components complete October 2020 robotics deals

From motion control to artificial intelligence, last month’s final batch of transactions included key technologies for robotics. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Robust.AI, which has been developing a “cognitive engine” for robots, had a Series A round of $15 million.

Robust.AI founders

The founders of Robust AI, which is developing a cognitive platform for robots.

MOV.AI in Lisbon received $4 million in Series A funding as it builds an operating system for robot manufacturers and Robot Operating System (ROS) developers. Boston-based control software company Realtime Robotics Inc. raised $2 million through an equity sale, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On the hardware side, actuation firm Artimus Robotics in Boulder, Colo., raised $594,000 in seed funding, and Bota Systems, a Zurich-based sensor and gripper maker, received $164,000 in seed funding in October 2020.

Applied Industrial Technologies acquired Marietta, Ga.-based Advanced Control Solutions, which makes controls and mobile and collaborative robot, for an unspecified amount.

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.

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 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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