Just when you thought the super-hot mobile robot market was the hottest it could get, along comes another major investment by companies looking to take advantage of autonomous mobile robots that assist warehouses and e-commerce order-fulfillment centers handle materials for distribution.
The very large investment in GreyOrange tops this week’s transactions, which also saw other robotics companies earning some green of their own for further expansion and growth.
In this roundup, we’re highlighting only 10 robotics transactions from recent weeks, but you can always track more investments 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.
GreyOrange is the new green
Fresh on the heels of announcing its move into the U.S. market, Singapore-based GreyOrange announced a $140 million Series C round of funding for its mobile warehouse robots. The round was led by Mithril Capital, co-founded by Ajay Royan and Peter Thiel. It also included investors Blume Ventures, Mitsubishi, Flipkart, and Project Verte.
The company said it will use the funds to expand operations in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. GreyOrange‘s robotics systems include the goods-to-person Butler, the Butler PickPal that combines AI and machine vision to automate fulfillment, and the GreyMatter platform, which uses AI to optimize warehouse operations.
In addition to the new U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, GreyOrange plans to open a Boston-based research & development center.
Analysts covering the space said they were impressed by the size of the deal, indicating that the market for mobile robots in the warehouse and supply chain space is still super-hot.
“This round of funding may help to accelerate some deals that are already in the works, or it may give competitors a bit of ammunition to seek higher valuations,” said John Santagate, research director, service robotics, at IDC. “The big thing is that this is a market that is expanding rapidly, albeit one that also has an abundance of competitors all doing things slightly differently. Regardless, it is a large opportunity.”
Interact Analysis’ Ash Sharma said the investment in GreyOrange and its move into the U.S. market was not a surprise, “given the tremendous growth that the mobile robot industry is currently experiencing.”
Sharma said he expects to see strong demand for other types of autonomous mobile robots that solve the material-handling problem slightly differently to GreyOrange, along with stronger growth for person-to-goods robots and mobile conveyors in the longer term.
However, he said that other mobile robot companies would need to attract similar scale investments over the next 18 months in order for them to scale their business.
“Shipments of their products will need to grow from tens per month to thousands per year, and this will require significant working capital while production remains in-house,” Sharma said. “The trend for end customers to rely on leasing agreements or robots-as-a-service models further exacerbates this situation.”
Robots remain red-hot ’round the world
It wasn’t just GreyOrange grabbing the green recently – other robotics companies snapped up financing from investors.
Bear Flag Robotics announced raising $3.5 million in seed round funding to help expand its autonomous technology for agricultural companies and farms. The Sunnyvale-based company has raised $4.5 million since the company started in 2017.
Bear Flag’s technology helps equip tractors and other farming vehicles to automate several farming tasks, including spraying and mowing operations in crops such as fruits, nuts, and grapes.
Sarcos Robotics raised $30 million in Series B funding to help expand its industrial exoskeleton technology. The company said it will use the money to expand its team, as well as scale production and deployment of its Guardian S IoT inspection and surveillance robot, as well as prepare for commercial launch of its full-body industrial exoskeleton Guardian XO line in late 2019.
Sarcos said its exoskeletons “augment human productivity and safety by combining the best of what man and machine have to offer – the intelligence, intuition and instincts of humans and the strength, endurance and precision of machines.”
The Guardian GT system can be custom-ordered to meet specific requirements and needs, the company said. The Guardian XO and XO Max systems will be autonomously powered, full-body industrial exoskeletons, improving safety and productivity for human workers.
Spyce, which built a restaurant in Boston with robots that help prepare food bowls, announced raising $21 million to open new restaurants along the East Coast, as well as “further develop their robotic culinary platform.” The company said it will hire additional employees to “roughly double in size over the next year.”
Spyce was originally founded in 2015 by four MIT graduates, combining robots with food service preparation. Additional funding in this round came from individual chefs, including Thomas Keller, Jerome Bouse, and Gavin Kaysen, all who will join Culinary Director Chef Daniel Boulud as angel investors in the company.
Mergers and acquisitions heat up
It was another big week for companies acquiring technology and automation companies around the world, including the following:
- Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec will acquire five German robotics companies by the end of March 2019, spending approximately $450 million to help move companies to automated manufacturing.
- Food preparation robotics company Frontmatec acquired 40% of the shares of AIRA (Assessorament Industrial Robotica I Automatitzacio), a supplier of robotics solutions for the meat industry.
- Stryker Corp. and K2M Group Holdings announced a definitive merger agreement, with Stryker acquiring all issued and outstanding shares of common stock of K2M in an all-cash transaction, with an equity value of $1.4 billion. K2M develops a minimally invasive spinal surgical system called Balance ACS.
Wrapping up the rest
We’ve had a short week with the U.S. Labor Day holiday, so we’re still going to enjoy what’s left of summer up here in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are a bunch of other interesting transactions in the robotics and robotics-related company space:
- Chinese manufacturer Aishida, a.k.a. ASD, will invest $147 million on smart manufacturing and robotics systems to help grow its industrial robotics production.
- Vapor IO has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C funding to help deploy its Kinetic Edge Data Centers across every major U.S. metropolitan area.
- SkyX has raised $9.5 million in Series B funding to help expand its unmanned aerial vehicle data platform for utilities, and oil and gas companies. The company’s autonomous systems help capture high-resolution data to monitor long-range assets such as oil and gas pipelines.
See you next week!