Clearpath Robotics Ltd. said it has received CA$14 million ($11.2 million) from RRE Ventures and iNovia Capital. The Canadian company plans to spend the Series A round funding on hiring up to 50 developers and engineers for new products.
“If it’s got four wheels, we want to automate it,” said Clearpath CEO and co-founder Matt Rendall. “It can be something as small as a vacuum cleaner or something as large as the biggest mining equipment.”
Kitchener, Ontario-based Clearpath‘s customers include Deere & Co., Honda Motor Co., and Google Inc. Unlike Google, which is working on self-driving cars, Clearpath focuses on automating agricultural and industrial vehicles, as well as unmanned vehicles for land-based and water-based research.
McKinsey & Co. predicts that the application of advanced robotics could generate $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion per year by 2025, according to a Clearpath statement.
“Businesses in developing economies will be among the biggest buyers based on the current rate of automation, but the ability of robots to be more productive at lower costs will also enable North American businesses to draw more manufacturing back onshore because they would no longer have to chase cheap labor, while also providing jobs to domestic workers in developing, servicing, or working with the robots,” said the statement.
Clearpath’s autonomous vehicles include the Husky, the Kingfisher, and the Grizzly, which won a Game Changer Award in 2013. With the additional funding, it plans to expand into hazardous materials handling.
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“We are building robots that are essentially self-driving vehicles for the factory floor. Factories are organized chaos, and there is a huge movement to automate manufacturing operations, particularly for dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs,” said Rendall. “We envision a world where people don?t get hurt at work and where manufacturers can move operations back to North America because they don’t have to chase cheap labor.”
Clearpath offers ROS consulting service
In addition, Clearpath announced the launch of ROS Consulting, a service to support organizations using the Robot Operating System, which is an open-source software development framework. The company plans to donate 10% of its revenues from ROS Consulting to the Open Source Robotics Foundation.
?Clearpath was the first field robotics company to fully adopt and support ROS, and we are very pleased to support their launch of ROS Consulting,” said Brian Gerkey, CEO of the Open Source Robotics Foundation, in a statement.
Although Clearpath’s Husky grew out of its minesweeping robots for the U.S. military, it was the first robotics company to support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The organization is among those lobbying for an international ban on fully autonomous weapons systems. A United Nations commission is meeting in Geneva to discuss the use of certain weapons, but the U.S. and U.K. have said they won’t sign any treaty.
Clearpath was founded in 2009 by Rendall and other former students from the University of Waterloo. It became profitable in 18 months.