Robot Investments Weekly: Driverless Vehicles, AI, Cobots Get Funding

January 27, 2018      

Robot Investments Weekly recaps the past week’s transactions across the global robotics industry. For more information, Robotics Business Review subscribers can access our Transactions Database to stay up to date on the key mergers and acquisitions, investments, public offerings, and government funding developments. Search, sort, and print by transaction type, date, or industry.

Recent transactions include major players in the driverless vehicles and fleets space, as well as more support of artificial intelligence in business, precision agriculture, and drones.

AImotive raises Series C for driverless vehicles

Budapest-based AImotive raised $38 million for driverless vehicle technology. B Capital Group and Prime Ventures led the Series C round.

The company plans to use the additional funding to develop its proprietary technology, which combines off-the-shelf cameras with AI-based vision processing.

AImotive is already testing self-driving cars in Hungary, France, and the U.S., and it plans to expand testing to China, Japan, and states beyond California this year.

Denso invests in ActiveScaler for mobility as a service

In another transaction related to driverless vehicles, Japanese automotive supplier Denso Corp. said it made a “significant investment” in “managed mobility as a service” (MaaS) provider ActiveScaler Inc.

Milpitas, Calif.-based ActiveScaler’s managed MaaS offering includes its In-Motion technology, which combines real-time, in-vehicle data collection, cloud-based analytics, and autonomous operations. ActiveScaler’s FleetFactor is designed to help fleet operators, and the company also provides an application programming interface (API) for third-party integrators and developers.

“Traditional fleet management services and systems are quickly becoming obsolete because of issues like high upfront software and hardware costs, poor ecosystem integration, and lack of flexibility, which are limiting the type and quality of services that can be offered,” said Abhay Jain, CEO of ActiveScaler. “Our new AI-powered technology and fresh approach provides the ability to build end-to-end MaaS businesses featuring advanced analytics and automation, high security, and regulatory compliance while reducing environmental impact. This is essential for current as well as future businesses built around multi-mode transportation and autonomous vehicles.”

AGI adds automation, sensor firms to farming tech basket

Ag Growth International Inc. (AGI) this week acquired CMC Industrial Electronics and Junge Control Inc. (JCI). Winnipeg, Manitoba-based AGI makes equipment for grain and fertilizer handling, storage, and conditioning.

AGI is building its agriculture technology portfolio.

CMC makes sensors for agricultural material handling, and it has headquarters in Burnaby, B.C., and Minneapolis. JCI in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, makes automation, precision measuring, and blending systems for the fertilizer and fuel industries.

Indico gets equity funding for machine learning

Boston-based indico raised $4 million from Osage Venture Partners and other investors for its machine learning technology, which is intended to allow enterprises to build customized models with smaller data sets.

Indico’s AI lets customers gain insights from their data and automate business processes.

“Indico is addressing a really important issue for many enterprises — how to apply the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning to all the valuable, but often messy, unstructured data found in documents, text, images, and audio,” said David Drahms, an Osage partner who is joining indico’s board. “This type of content makes up 70% to 80% of the data in most organizations. The ability to automate document-based processes and more easily extract new insights from this content can unlock tremendous business value.”

PrecisionHawk raises money for drone services

Raleigh, N.C.-based PrecisionHawk has raised $75 million from companies including Third Point Ventures, Intel Capital, Comcast Ventures, Verizon Ventures, and NTT Docomo Ventures. The company sells commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and data services for precision agriculture, construction, and inspection uses.

“Goldman Sachs Research predicts that the sector’s fastest growth will come from businesses and civil governments, who are expected to spend $13 billion on drones through 2020,” noted PrecisionHawk.

PrecisionHawk predicts the drone market will continue to grow.

(Credit: PrecisionHawk Inc.)

“Drones are not only replacing old information with more precise information,” said Michael Chasen, PrecisionHawk CEO. “They are providing an entirely new layer that was previously unattainable or economically prohibitive to collect.”

“With advanced sensors such as lidar and the analytics to interpret their outputs, organizations are gaining unprecedented visibility into their work,” he added. “Ultimately, making them more profitable and sustainable.”

Vention gets seed funding for machine design

Montreal-based Vention has raised $3.5 million Canadian ($2.84 million U.S.) in seed financing from White Star Capital, Bolt, Real Ventures, and angel investors. The company is developing a digital manufacturing platform of hardware and software that is certified by collaborative robot maker Universal Robots.

Vention’s 3D MachineBuilder is designed to let engineers design and order equipment for next-day delivery in North America.