We’re almost done with summer here in North America – officially that means the leaves will be falling, and we’ll be seeing snowflakes sooner than we hope. In the robotics and AI funding space, it’s not leaves that are falling, but rather cash – as companies rake in more funding from investors.
Today, we’re highlighting 22 transactions from recent weeks – 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 the Insider program.
Robotics funding for consumer, industrial robot firms
Let’s start our weekly roundup with robotics companies that were able to score funding in recent weeks. In China, ROKAE Technology, which makes light industrial robotic arms, announced a $23.3 million Series B investment round.
The company also announced a new product line, “xMate,” a flexible collaborative robot expected to launch in Q3 2019.
Another Chinese company, GJS Robot, a.k.a. Gongjiangshe Technology, announced a $14.58 million Series B funding round for further development of its fighting robots. The company said it plans to release two new robots between the end of this year and the middle of 2019.
GJS added that it will “hire a team to manage professional club operations and organize local robot clubs in different regions,” with the hopes of forming a professional sports league model and branded league system.
Back in the U.S., Plus One Robotics, which develops software with computer vision technologies to help robot arms pick products more accurately in the materials handling space, raised $8.3 million in an equity sale, according to an SEC Form D filing.
Seattle startup BluHaptics rebranded itself as Olis Robotics, and also acquired a machine learning startup, White Marsh Forests, according to GeekWire. The company develops remote-control software for underwater vehicles, as well as space-based machines.
UIPath earns big bucks for robotic process automation
We don’t typically cover the robotics process automation, but when a company makes a big funding announcement and also earns a $1 billion valuation, we pay attention. Such was the case for UIPath, which raised $225 million this week in its latest funding round. Read our story on Robotics Business Review for more details.
Consumer plays in robots, gaming, AR
A variety of different companies in the consumer space generated some funding buzz recently. A Crunchbase News article stated that Anki, which recently launched its home robot Vector through a $1.88 million crowdfunding campaign, raised more than $17.15 million in a “Series 1 Preferred Stock” sale. The article also highlighted board member changes from the most recent SEC filing.
In the augmented reality (AR) space, there were some interesting transactions. Startup Illumix emerged from stealth mode to announce raising $8.6 million in seed round funding. The company is developing and publishing mobile AR games “that puts the user experience front and center,” through a combination of developments in computer vision, deep learning, and mobile AR.
Illumix plans to release an original IP game and a licensed game in 2019. The company said its technology “understands and interacts with a player’s environment in real-time, at home or anywhere else, without the need for pre-mapping the space.”
On a more serious use of AR, Apprentice.IO announced raising $8 million for its “Conversational” AR/AI platform, aimed at the pharmaceutical and biotech market.
Through a combination of monocular smart glasses (including HoloLens and Magic Leap) and AI software, the company is developing a platform that lets lab technicians access complex procedures, visualize a 3D technique demonstration, and “intelligently capture or track data using computer vision – all without touching a single piece of paper.”
The company also developed an ARKit 2 (Apple iOS) and ARCore (Android) mobile solution that offers AR experiences for more flexible environments.
Another company combining computer vision with AR technology is Blippar, a London-based company that announced raising $37 million in Series E funding. The company provides tools for companies using AR, AI, visual search, and computer vision technologies.
AI transactions include mergers, a new ETF
Providers of AI, machine learning, or deep learning capabilities continue to earn the interest of investors. Microsoft, for example, recently announced acquiring Lobe for its AI development technology, with the goal of making “deep learning simple, understandable, and accessible to everyone.” The company’s visual interface lets users develop and apply deep learning and AI models quickly, without writing code.
In Australia, BetaShares launched a new exchange-traded fund (ETF), the Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (RBTZ), on the Australian Stock Exchange. The goal is to give Australian investors an opportunity to invest in AI and robotics companies, InvestorDaily reported.
Here are some additional AI-related investments made in recent weeks:
- Beta Bionics raised $50 million in Series B financing to help develop “the world’s first autonomous bionic pancreas” through machine learning and AI technology.
- India’s Mate Labs earned seed round funding for its machine learning system that lets nontechnical and non-developer end users to build a machine learning system without needing to code.
- AI announced raising seed round funds for its AI-based customer service platform, a.k.a. chatbots.
Autonomous vehicle development funding continues
Companies developing software around self-driving cars earned investor interest as well in recent weeks. In the U.K., Oxbotica raised $18.5 million in funding to continue developing its self-driving vehicle software.
Using computer vision, machine learning, and AI, the company’s technology enables “vehicles to operate autonomously in any environment, and on any terrain,” the company stated.
Moving across the English Channel, France’s BpiFrance invested $7.6 million in EasyMile for further development of its autonomous vehicle systems. The company is best known for its electric autonomous shuttle, the EZ10, which can transport up to 15 people.
Lunewave, which is developing new sensors for autonomous vehicles and 5G wireless networks, announced securing $5 million in seed funding to continue developing its radar and antenna technologies.
The company’s spherical sensors have a 360-degree field of view, and “can detect objects that are normally only achievable with the use of multiple sensors.”
Wrapping up the rest
I’m going to have to start raking up leaves, so I’m going to wrap up this week’s column with the following transactions:
- AeroVironment earned a pair of military contracts to sell unmanned aircraft systems to Estonia and the Portuguese Army.
- Nanoramic Laboratories raised funding for further development of its nano-carbon materials in the manufacturing space for electronics makers.
- Global Medical acquired Nemaris for it surgical planning software to help assist its surgical robot systems.
- ioTium raised $13.6 million to help develop its software-defined infrastructure and networking technology, to help companies in the Industrial Internet-of-Things space.
Next week we’ll be at RoboBusiness 2018. If you’re out there too, be sure to track me down – remember there’s a special prize if you tell me the secret code “robot.”