Robot companies providing components and other software support were able to grab financing this week from investors around the world. Artificial intelligence software companies continue to also earn funding, as well as companies gleaning data from manufacturing equipment.
Today, we’re highlighting 20 recent robotics and AI transactions. If you’ve missed some other transactions from the past months, 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 Q3 Transactions Report, which showcases and analyzes major investments from July through September 2018. It’s free for Insider subscribers to Robotics Business Review.
Grippers and gestures help robot firms score funding
It’s become clear that as robotic arms and collaborative robots grow in importance for industry and manufacturing companies, having grippers and other end-of-arm tools that mimic or come close to human hand functions will be even more important than ever. So it was good to see that Robotiq, one of the pioneers in the gripping space, raised $23.1 million ($31 million Canadian) this week in its first round of institutional funding. Battery Ventures, which provided the funding, will place Jesse Feldman, a general partner, on Robotiq’s board.
Robotiq said it will use the money for product development, international expansion, and “enhanced support of its partner ecosystem.
Founded 10 years ago as a spinoff from a Laval University project, Robotiq has been providing robot companies with specially designed, plug-and-play grippers that can handle a variety of manufacturing tasks. The company also makes force sensors, camera technology and related software.
“Collaborative robotics is transforming industries today, offering low-cost, easy-to-deploy solutions that stand in stark contrast to the more complicated, legacy robotics systems of the past,” said Samuel Bouchard, Robotiq’s co-founder and CEO. “We could not be more excited to work with Battery Ventures – a firm that has demonstrated a commitment to innovation in both industrial technology and software – to take our company to the next level.”
One of the more unique funding announcements this week came from Germany, where Dresden-based Wandelbots announced raising $6.76 million (€6 million) for its system that uses smart clothing as a way to control robots.
The company has demonstrated an intelligent jacket armed with sensors, which teaches a robot through gestures how to perform a certain task within minutes, without the need for programming. Wandelbots said that Volkswagen and Infineon are already using the jacket in assembly and logistics tasks.
Back in the States, Melbourne, Fla.-based Tomahawk Robotics raised $2.4 million in seed funding to further develop its Kinesis platform, a “multi-domain collaborative robotic control solution.” The company said it would use the round to further develop the platform and expand product development and engineering teams.
Kinesis was conceived as a robotics extension to IoT, which “enables true collaboration of multi-domain robotic systems – air, ground, and maritime – enabling the use of robotics for enterprises in the service economy by reducing cost and making robotic systems easy to use.”
Estonia-based company Robolab OU is looking to build its Yanu robotic bartending system. Earlier this year, it created an initial coin offering to raise money for the development. This week the public sale ended, having surpassed at least $1 million in the “soft cap” funding. There’s no news yet on whether it reached the $10 million “hard cap,” but we hope to hear more next week.
Analytics firms grab financing for manufacturing, IoT systems
The world of Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, and data analytics continues to spawn investments. In China, Hong Kong-based G7 announced completing a $320 million funding round to expand its IoT-based integrated fleet management platform, which covers safety, energy, payments, financing, equipment-as-a-service aimed at logistics and freight fleets.
Northampton, Mass.-based Machine Metrics, meanwhile, announced raising $11.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company sells IIoT and analytics software to small and midsize manufacturers that help analyze data from machines to share with remote maintenance teams.
Sensemetrics announced completing more than $10 million in financing for further development of its software, a cloud-based platform that “transforms industrial sensor data into real-time situational awareness.” With predictive analytics and other features, Sensemetrics is utilizing its platform in the energy and mining sector, among others.
Unique companies and solutions
This week also saw some interesting AI and augmented reality companies grab financing. First, French company NextMind announced raising $4.6 million to develop its “groundbreaking, noninvasive, AI-based, neural interface to the mass market.” The goal is to bring the “direct brain command solution” to technology integrators and game developers next year.
The company is developing a “discrete noninvasive brain-sensing device for the mass market that will allow users to play games and control electronic and mobile devices, including virtual and augmented reality headsets, in real time using just their thoughts.”
NextMind’s technology can analyze neural signals from the brain and translate them into digital commands or feedback instantaneously on a wireless digital interface.
I’m picturing Cerebro from the X-Men universe, but I’m pretty sure it won’t look like that.
Sticking with the AR world, WaveOptics this week announced raising $26 million to scale up business operations in the U.K. and around the world. The company creates diffractive waveguides for use in augmented reality wearable systems. Waveguides are the key optical component in AR devices, and the company said its technology is designed for “immersive AR experiences in industrial, enterprise and consumer markets”.
Moving from augmented to “virtual” reality, a unique company called Parallel Domain received an investment from Toyota AI Ventures this month, bringing its seed round funding to $2.65 million. The company is developing software that trains self-driving cars in virtual worlds, which can speed up the development of those systems.
In addition, companies could use the software to generate 3D virtual worlds in order to test their car systems.
AI Corner: Sales, bus routes, and spotting criminal suspects
This week was as busy as any other for AI-based companies to grab financing.
- Insurance technology firm Zesty.AI secured $13 million in Series A funding for development of its computer vision technology that leverages satellite and aerial imagery to “capture billions of data points on buildings and their surroundings without ever setting foot on the premises.” Machine learning then is used to model “multi-peril catastrophic life events (e.g., hurricane, wildfire, flood, etc.” at the property level with unprecedented accuracy.”
- China’s Emotibot earned $30 million in funding for development of its emotional AI system and caring robot.
- Israel’s TechSee said it did grab financing of $16 million for its vision-enabled tech support system.
- Suspect Technologies raised $810,000, including an investment by Mark Cuban, for its facial recognition and AI platform that helps identify suspects in surveillance footage.
- Guru raised $25 million for its AI-based platform that provides real-time knowledge updates for teams in the enterprise.
- Chorus.AI raised $33 million in Series B funding for its sales call monitoring system that has AI listen in and make suggestions on how to close the deal.
- Optibus raised $40 million for its AI platform that helps cities optimize bus routes.
Wrapping up the rest
We still haven’t finished our holiday shopping, so we’re going to wrap up this week’s transactions with the following bullet list. Click the links to learn more:
- General Atomics Wins Contract for MQ-9 Support for French Air Force
- ATS Acquires IP Assets of Transformix Engineering
- General Atomics Earns $40M Modification for Gray Eagle Unmanned System
See you next week!