It was a slow week, with the U.S. Fourth of July holiday happening smack-dab in the middle of the week. Most folks around here took vacation time, and it appeared like others in the robotics and AI space did as well. Still, we discovered a bunch of transactions that occurred the week before, especially in the autonomous platforms space. Companies developing products for self-driving cars, robots, and other vehicles received lots of funding in our latest tracking period.
Today, we’re highlighting more than 20 transactions from recent weeks, but you can always track more investments in the RBR Transactions Database. Our regularly updated database lets you sort deals by company, industry, technology, or transaction type.
RBR Insiders can also download the Q1 2018 Transactions Report, which gives further analysis on automation spending. With the second quarter now officially closed, stay tuned for the Q2 2018 report as well!
Funding continues for autonomous platforms
Getting robots, vehicles, drones, and even submarines to navigate autonomously continues to earn interest from investors.
On the military front, Oshkosh Defense won a $49 million contract from the U.S. Army to add scalable autonomous technology to existing Palletized Load System (PLS) vehicles as part of the army’s Expedient Leader Follower program.
The autonomous platforms remove soldiers from vehicles in highly contested areas, along with the flexibility to provide different modes, such as leader-follower, fully autonomous, and teleoperation, the company said. Oshkosh will initially integrate 70 autonomy kits for the program, with the option of procuring up to 150 kits.
The U.S. Navy awarded a $29.7 million contract to Raytheon to help produce the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, a.k.a. LOCUST, prototype. The project aims to deploy small, low-cost swarming aerial vehicles that can be launched quickly at adversaries. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., with completion expected by Jan. 25, 2020.
Chinese drone maker Chasing Innovation recently announced raising $3 million to further develop its GLADIUS underwater drone. The company initially raised almost $500,000 through a crowdfunding campaign in 2017. The GLADIUS tethered drone is aimed at consumers looking to navigate underwater, capturing photos and videos or observing sea life.
Earlier in June, Hexagon AB announced it was acquiring AutonomouStuff, a supplier of integrated autonomous platforms, for an undisclosed amount. The company provides platforms for autonomous vehicle development, robotics, and data intelligence for more than 2,500 customers across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Hexagon said the acquisition will accelerate its ability “to move our customers beyond the data impasse of IoT” and leveraging data being generated by connected devices.
In the agriculture space, Smart Ag received $5 million in funding from Stine Seed Farm for further development of its autonomous tractor conversion kits. The Iowa company’s AutoCart software application can fully automate a grain cart tractor for use during harvest.
Silexica, which provides programming tools for autonomous vehicle developers, announced $18 million in Series B funding. The company said the new funding will allow it to strengthen existing and upcoming tools, as well as develop a “vendor-neutral, multi-application Simulation Platform” to help OEMs and other members of the supply chain to optimize and integrate software for complex systems, including autonomous vehicles.
Adding autonomy to robots is the goal of Brain Corp., which announced a $13.4 million investment in Savioke, which creates the Relay indoor service robots for public environments such as hospitals and hotels. As part of the investment, Savioke will license Brain Corp.’s BrainOS to give the robots additional self-driving capabilities.
Brain Corp., one of the 2018 RBR50 companies, said the partnership will extend the reach of the company’s software into the health care, hospitality, and logistics space.
iRobot Doubles Credit Line
iRobot, one of the leaders in the consumer market space, announced today that it increased the amount of unsecured revolving line of credit from $75 million to $150 million. In a statement, the company announced the agreement extends the term of the credit line to June 2023.
The new funding will be used “for general corporate purposes, including strategic acquisitions, procurement of new equipment and other assets, and facility improvements to accommodate the continued growth of the business,” the company stated.
Robotics firms and suppliers score funding
Several companies either developing new robots or providing components for autonomous platforms grabbed some funding in recent weeks, including:
- Otto Robotics, which changed its name to Vivid Robotics and announced raising $4.9 million to further develop its food robots.
- China’s Turing Robot, which earned new funding for its educational robots and AI development.
- Pick-it, which raised $2.94 million to further develop its 3D vision system for collaborative robot arms.
Grabbing data from manufacturing equipment
One of the big themes around industrial automation is the digitization of manufacturing equipment to grab data and insights from machinery. Oden Technologies, a company that provides manufacturing data analytics, announced a $10 million Series A round of funding, led by Atomico.
The company said it would use the funding to expand its R&D and engineering teams in New York, with new sales teams in Illinois, Ohio, and Texas. Oden Technologies also announced the hiring of Deepak Turaga, adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, as its new vice president of data science.
REIN raises money for drone insurance platform
REIN, a drone insurance company, announced raising $7.3 million in a funding round that included Liberty Mutual, Kiplin Capital and other individual investors. The company recently launched its DroneInsurance.com site for use by commercial drone operators with flight liability insurance coverage.
Wrapping up the rest
Because Independence Day fell midweek, we’re wrapping up this week’s reports with some transactions from June that slipped through our fingers. Click the links to read more about these transactions across the autonomous platforms industry:
- Denmark’s Odico recently started trading shares on the Nasdaq First North exchange in Denmark.
- Lummus Corp. announced acquiring Carter Control Systems, a provider of automated material handling services for the U.S. Postal Service and integrator for parcel and e-commerce customers.
- Israeli chip maker Hailo raised $12.5 million in Series A funding to further develop its embedded deep learning chips.
- Singapore’s Trax Retail raised $125 million for its retail shelf-scanning technology. While it doesn’t specifically use robots, the Internet of Things-related devices can be used to help retailers keep track of inventory items.
- Ceres Imaging raised $25 million for its agricultural imaging system. While many companies use aerial drones for its scanning systems, Ceres uses regular aircraft.
- German firm Re’flekt, which has an odd apostrophe in the middle of its name, raised $4.4 million for its augmented reality tools platform. The system lets companies upload CAD drawings to create documentation and training applications for AR use, creating a 3D experience for trainees instead of making them read flat documents.
- Sphero, which recently announced pivoting to the education market away from consumer robotics, is purchasing Specdrums, which develops music-based technology.
- K.-based Bystronic acquired Italian robotics and industrial automation firm Antil for an undisclosed amount.
- Automation Anywhere raised $250 million for its robotic process automation software
I hope everyone’s holiday (or Wednesday, if you’re not in the U.S.) went well. See you next week!