Robot Investments Weekly: Healthcare AI and Robotics Systems Shine
April 19, 2019      

With all of the ProMat and Automate coverage over the past few weeks, we’ve been pretty busy around here, so we’ve slipped a bit on covering the transactions in the robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence space. Fortunately, we’re caught up enough to give you an overview of some of the more interesting transactions recently.

This week we’re highlighting 13 recent transactions covering the robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence space. If you’ve missed some transactions over the past few months, you can track them through the RBR Transactions Database. This regularly updated database lets you sort deals by company, industry, technology, or transaction type.

Robotics, AI in healthcare space

A cluster of investments have been made in robotics and AI companies using technology to better diagnose diseases and perform surgery in recent weeks.

HistoSonics, which develops a non-invasive robotics platform and novel beam therapy, closed a $54 million Series C financing round earlier this month. The company’s Robotically Assisted Sonic Therapy (RAST) combines robotics and imaging with proprietary sensing technology “to deliver personalized treatments with unparalleled precision and control,” the company said. The system uses histotripsy and focused sound energy “to generate pressures strong enough to liquefy and completely destroy targeted tissues at sub-cellular levels,” it continued.


Enlitic AI transactions column

Enlitic’s AI platform can help radiologists discover abnormalities for radiologists. Source: Enlitic

Enlitic, which develops AI to streamline medical imaging workflows for radiologists, closed $15 million in Series B funding earlier this month. The company’s platform uses deep learning and other AI forms to develop algorithms that identify and analyze suspicious findings in medical images. “Working closely with hospitals and radiology providers around the world, the company has developed a comprehensive platform enabling the development, validation, and seamless integration of clinical AI at scale,” the company said. It added that early applications of the technology were able to speed up radiologists’ interpretation by more than 20%, while also improving true positive rates and reducing false positive rates by more than 10%.

The company’s first product interprets chest x-rays, triaging normal from abnormal scans, and detecting and characterizing more than 40 distinct abnormalities, the company said. Enlitic said it is working with partners around the world for approvals to deploy the product in several countries.

Another company helping radiologists is Aidoc, which raised $27 million to expand its own AI solutions. The Israel-based company said it will use the funding to grow its technology and go-to-market team to support demand for its products. The company also announced it analyzed its 1 millionth CT scan in real-time, “the largest number of images analyzed by an AI tool and a landmark in the radiology AI ecosystem.” The company’s solutions are able to flag acute anomalies in real-time for radiologists.

On the pathology side, Deep Lens announced closing a $14 million Series A financing round for its AI-driven digital pathology platform. The company said it plans to use the funding to expand its product development, scale its services, sales, and marketing organizations. The company’s Virtual Imaging for Pathology Education and Research (VIPER) technology combines AI with advanced pathology workflows “while also facilitating peer-to-peer collaboration and patient identification for clinical trials. The company said its goal is to provide users with fast and accurate information for better patient care and advanced clinical research.

Another company in the pathology space, Boston-based PathAI announced raising $60 million in Series B funding. The company said it plans to use the new funds to “enhance offerings to existing partners, drive continuous improvement of its flagship pathology research platform, meet market demands, and fuel research and development into new tools and medical devices.” The company develops AI-powered research tools and services for pathology, helping to improve the accuracy and diagnosis and the efficacy of treatment for diseases like cancer, “leveraging modern approaches in machine and deep learning.”

Finally, startup Theator announced raising $3 million in seed round funding to develop its AI-based surgical platform. The platform helps “surgeons enhance capabilities and reduce medical errors by leveraging machine learning and computer-vision to identify, optimize and scale dissemination of best practices,” the company said. While other companies focus on static images such as x-rays and CT scans for diagnostics, Theator said it is working to leverage video footage. The company’s Minutes platform provides intelligently edited versions of surgical procedures that cover steps and outcome-critical components. “Hours-long procedures can be reviewed in minutes, helping surgeons prepare and review procedures,” the company said. In addition, AI-powered algorithms and analytics can inform surgeons on their performance, with videos stored for upcoming procedures or to debrief during post-operative processes.

Amazon buys Canvas, OnRobot buys Blue Workforce

A couple of interesting acquisitions of note:

  • Amazon announced it would acquire Canvas Technology, which develops autonomous carts that can move items around warehouses, for an undisclosed amount.
  • OnRobot, which develops end-of-arm tools and grippers for cobots, announced it would acquire the assets of Blue Workforce, which developed the robot called RAGNAR. Denmark-based Blue Workforce had recently filed for bankruptcy, and OnRobot said it would also hire 12 robot developers from the company.
  • While not an acquisition, FLIR Systems did announce it made a strategic investment in DroneBase, a drone operations company that provides businesses access to one of the largest unmanned aerial surveillance (UAS) pilot networks. The investment would make FLIR the exclusive provider of thermal product solutions and thermal image training provider for DroneBase’s pilot network. Terms of the investment were undisclosed.

Automotive-related investments for AI, teleoperation

While not completely related to the self-driving car space, there were a couple of interesting announcements that could make us better drivers.

  • Affectiva, which develops an Emotion AI and human perception platform, announced closing $26 million in funding. The company’s technology helps autonomous vehicles and other vehicles to understand drivers’ and passengers’ states and moods, providing alerts when drivers are distracted, etc.
  • Phantom Auto, which develops remote teleoperation of autonomous vehicles, said it raised about $19 million in Series A financing. The company’s systems allow for a remote teleoperator, who sits in a cockpit with a steering wheel watching images from cameras in the car, to take over control when the car faces “tricky situations.”

Wrapping up the rest

I’m getting anxious about a giant bunny coming to the house to deliver some candy to my kids this weekend, so I’m going to wrap up the rest of the recent transactions. Click the links to learn more:

Happy Easter, everyone!