December 15, 2017      

Welcome to “Robot Investments Weekly,” a new feature on Robotics Business Review that every Friday recaps the week that was in acquisitions, funding, IPOs and mergers and acquisitions in the robotics industry.

For more information about investing in robotics, RBR members can access our Transactions Database that keeps you updated on the key mergers and acquisitions, investments, sales, and government-funding initiatives taking place across the global robotics industry. Search, sort, and print by transaction type, date, or industry.

At press time, we tracked investments for 10 companies that raised more than $126 million. While the average raised this week for investments we tracked was $12.6 million, Kespry led the way with $33 million raised, followed by Ouster with a $27 million round.

Industrial drone company Kespry raises $33 million

Industrial drone platform provider Kespry raised $33 million in a series C round led by G2VP, with participation from Cisco Investments, Shell Technology Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, DCM Ventures, Spectrum 28, ABB Ventures, and H. Barton Asset Management.

Founded out of Menlo Park in 2013, Kespry targets industries such as mining and construction with an automated system that uses drones to capture and process imagery of sites from the skies above. The system includes everything needed to complete the inspection, including the drone and an iPad, and the user can draw out an area for analysis with their finger.

Ouster raises $27 million in Series A for OS1 LiDAR

Ouster, a San Francisco-based developer of high performance LiDAR, emerged from stealth mode this week, announcing its OS1 LiDAR and $27 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Cox Enterprises, whose Cox Automotive division owns and offers a variety of auto services, including the well-known Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader.com.

LiDAR is essential to building Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles, but most available LiDAR options are too expensive for most companies to afford at scale. Ouster says its first product, the 64-channel OS1 LiDAR sensor, will be cheaper than other available options at $12,000. Ouster said the OS1 is lighter, smaller, and uses less power than other competitors.

Virtual Incision Raises $18 million for mini surgical robots

Virtual Incision Corporation raised $18 million in Series B funding. The round was co co-led by new investor Sinopharm Capital, the private equity fund initiated by Sinopharm Group, China’s largest healthcare company, and existing investor Bluestem Capital, with participation from PrairieGold Venture Partners and others.

Virtual Incision said the funding will support its 510(k) pre-market notification submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its next-generation miniaturized robotically assisted surgical device (RASD). The RASD features a small, dexterous and self-contained surgical robot that can be inserted through an umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen. The platform leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to track and guide instrument usage.

Kasisto Announces $17 Million for Conversational AI

Kasisto, creators of the KAI conversational AI platform for finance, raised $17 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Oak HC/FT with participation from existing investors Propel Venture Partners, Two Sigma Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Mastercard and Partnership Fund for New York City.

Ecoppia raises $13 million for robots that clean solar panels

Ecoppia raised $13 million in funding for its robots that clean solar panels. The round was led by existing investors Swarth Group, GlenRock and Gandyr, and Israel’s largest insurance group, Harel Group Insurance and Finance.

The company’s water-free, automated technology removes dust from panels on a daily basis to ensure peak output, even in the toughest desert conditions. Supported by a robust control unit, systems can be remotely programmed and managed to minimize O&M costs.

Bay Labs Completes $5.5 Million Series A Financing

Bay Labs completed a $5.5 million Series A round that was led by existing investor Khosla Ventures. Bay Labs applies AI to cardiovascular imaging to help in the diagnosis and management of heart disease. Bay Labs has partnered with the Minneapolis Heart Institute and Allina Health, Northwestern Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and cardiologists at Stanford University to develop, test and validate deep learning algorithms for echocardiography.

In May 2017, Bay Labs won $125,000 for being named a runner-up in NVIDIA’s Inception Awards for best AI startups.

Aeronyde raises $4.7M in seed funding to build drone infrastructure

Aeronyde Corporation raised $4.7 million in seed funding that was led by led by Korean electronics manufacturing giant JASTech Co. Ltd. Aeronyde is building a traffic management system to safely integrate commercial drones into urban areas.

SoftBank bets $3.5 million on Mirror AI’s emoji app

Mirror AI, an app that uses AI to create realistic emojis based on the user’s face, is the latest beneficiary of Softbank’s focus on AI. The app’s facial recognition technology scans a selfie to identify unique physical qualities, then uses that data to build a realistic emoji that mirrors human expressions and facial features.

For now, Mirror can generate hundreds of personalized emojis, but the San Francisco-based company said it will soon be able to create more than 10,000 emojis. The app also works on photos of friends and will soon be able to detect things such as pets and clothing.

 

Slingshot Aerospace raises $3.25 million

ATX Seed Ventures led a $3.25 million Series Seed funding in Slingshot Aerospace, a company using AI to provide repeatable solutions to geospatial information challenges for industries such as defense, insurance and energy. Participating in the seed round were Okapi Venture Capital and Sway Ventures, along with Stage and NoName Ventures. Slingshot Aerospace plans to use this capital to build upon its early success by unlocking insights gained from satellite imaging, drones and aircraft.

Kami raises $1.7 Million for conversational AI

Kami announced a $1.7 million seed investment round. The investments came from ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator Limited, a subsidiary of Softbank, X Technology Fund (HKX) and Tin Fu Fund.

Kami is a deep-tech startup developing a next-generation conversational AI platform for the banking, finance, securities and insurance sectors. Kami’s platform learns and builds knowledge from conversations, knows and remembers individuals and converses naturally.