Investment into robotics and intelligent systems companies for July 2018 was robust, totaling approximately $1.6B worldwide from 34 investments into the same number of companies.
The bulk of the July 2018 investments were made into companies developing software and hardware technologies and products, along with services solutions in some instances, in support of self-driving vehicles. While autonomous transportation investments have been very strong in recent years, other funding targets such as companies providing commercial drone services, mobile service robots, gripping and manipulation solutions and so on, also attracted a substantial percentage of the total funding. That was not the case for July 2018. Notable July funding rounds included:
- Zoox – USA – $500M
- Pony.ai – USA – $214M
- Trax – Singapore – $125M
- Light – USA – $121M
- Yitu Technology – China – $100M
Editors Note: What defines a robotics investment? The answer to this simple question is central in any attempt to quantify robotics investment trends with some degree of rigor. To make investment analyses consistent, repeatable and valuable, it is critical to wring out as much subjectivity as possible during the evaluation process. This begins with a definition of terms and a description of assumptions.
- Investors and Investing – ‘Investment’ should come from VC firms, corporate investment groups, angel investors, and other sources. Friends-and-family investments, government/NGA agency grants, and crowd sourced funding are excluded.
- Robotics and Intelligent Systems Companies – Robotics companies must generate, or expect to generate, revenue from the production of robotics products (sense, think and act in the physical world), enabling technologies for robots and robotics subsystems (HW or SW), or services supporting robotics devices. For this analysis, autonomous vehicles (including technologies that support autonomous driving) and drones are considered robots, while 3D printers, CNC systems, and various types of ‘hard’ automation are not. Companies that are ‘robotic’ in name only, or use the term ‘robotic’ to describe products and services that that do not enable/support devices acting in the physical world, are excluded (ex. “software robots”, “robotic process automation”, etc.). Many firms have multiple locations in different countries. Company locations given in the analysis are based on the country publicly listed as headquarters in legal documents, press releases etc.
- Verification – Funding information is collected from a number of public and private sources. These included press releases from corporations and investment groups, corporate briefings, association and industry publications, along with sessions at conferences and seminars, and during private interviews with industry representatives, investors, and others. Unverifiable investments are excluded.
Bulk of Funding Goes to Chinese and US Firms
Companies in China received the largest number of rounds (11), followed by the United States (10), Israel (3) and Japan (2). The remaining investments went to companies in Singapore, Canada, Sweden, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Korea, Croatia and India (1 each).
Firms headquartered in the United States received the majority of VC and private sector investment dollars in July – approximately 60% which equates to $980M. Companies in China attracted roughly 23% of funding amounts for a total of $382M (See Figure 1).
Sizable Seed Rounds
Over $500M of July 2018’s robotics investments came from Seed Rounds. More importantly, the average for Seed round investments was much greater that other funding classes (See Table 1). This is atypical (go-to-market rounds are usually larger) and reflects the outsized Seed rounds placed into companies attempting to play in the fast moving, extremely dynamic, autonomous transportation space, where investor emphasis on first mover advantage and the consensus opinion of a vast opportunity are driving large Seed investments.
July 2018 VC and Private Sector Robotics Investments (Alphabetical)
Arbe Robotics (Israel) – $10M
Arbe Robotics, a developer of high resolution imaging radar and supporting software for Level 4 autonomous driving, received a $10M funding round from investors 360 Capital Partners, Canaan Partners, Taya Ventures, OurCrowd, iAngels and OG Tech Ventures. According to company representatives, the funding will be used to develop a new generation of a radar imaging chipsets.
AIRY3D – Canada – $10M
AIRY3D’s technology can render 3D point cloud images from a single 2D image taken from a single camera (shown as a 2D image), and is an enabling technology for autonomous driving, drones, robotics and more. The company raised $10M in Series A from Intel Capital, CRCM Ventures, Nautilus Venture Partners, R7 Partners, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, WI Harper Group, and TandemLaunch.
Azevtec (USA) – $8M
Stealthy startup Azevtec received $8M in investment funding to develop autonomous, zero-emission vehicle systems. The investors were not named.
Clean Robotics – USA – Undisclosed
Clean Robotics, makers of Trashbots, a garbage bin that sorts refuse using cameras and sensors, received a Seed funding round from Japan’s MBC Prototype Fund. The amount was undisclosed.
Deepmap (USA) – $60M
Deepmap received a $60M influx of funds (its fourth round), from investors Didi Chuxing, BAIC Group, and Alibaba. The company, which produces highly detailed, three-dimensional virtual maps for autonomous vehicles, and has attracted nearly $100M to date, is working with Honda, Ford, Daimler, and others.
Embark Trucks – USA – $30M
Embark Trucks landed a $30M Series B round from Sequoia Capital, Y Combinator, SV Angel, AME Cloud Ventures and others. With this investment, the company’s fourth (over $47M total), Embark will continue to develop their fleet of autonomous trucks.
Einride- Sweden – $4M
Sweden’s Einride develops electrically powered, unmanned trucks – the T-Pod – that are controlled remotely. With its July 2018 Series A round of $4M, drawn from a number of private investors, the company has attracted a total of $7.3M.
Entropik Tech – India – $1.1M
Entropik Tech’s solutions can track and measure cognitive and emotional responses using technologies such as brainwave mapping, facial coding, and eye tracking. The company received a Pre-A round investment of $1.1M, which according to Entropik representatives will be used to scale its technology and expand globally.
Epica International – USA – $14M
Epica International, a developer of robotic systems that guide and assist CT imaging systems, received a $14M funding round from SWK Holdings. The funds are slated for market expansion and further development.
Gideon Brothers – Croatia – $765K
Croatia’s Gideon Brothers produces autonomous, mobile robots capable of handling large pallets for intra logistics work in manufacturing, warehouse and commercial environments.
Hangzhou Lipper Technology – China – $7.3M
Hangzhou Lipper Technology received a $7.3M Series A round from Shenzhen Qianhai Zhongwei Capital Management. The company produces machine vision technologies for industrial visual inspection.
iMotion Automotive Technology – China – $14.5M
China’s iMotion Automotive Technology (Zhixing Automotive Technology / iMotion.ai) produces automated driving technologies including solutions for sensor fusion, autopilot decision-making, dynamic control and more. The company received $14.5M in funding which it plans on using for L3 and L4 system development and customer support.
ioranges Automation – China – $14M
ioranges, a provider of robotics, machine vision and other products and services for the computer, communications and consumer electronic manufacturing sectors, received a $14M Series B outlay from GGV Capital, Matrix Partners China, ChinaEquity Group, FutureCap and Vertex Ventures.
jRobot – China – Amount Undisclosed
jRobot (Chuangchuang Robot Technology Company) produces mobile robotics ‘platforms’ for researchers, industry and governmental agencies for applications such as search and rescue, inspection, exploration, transportation and university R&D. The company received an undisclosed investment from Jingpin Technology.
Light – USA – $121M
Light, a developer of cameras and advanced computational imaging technologies, received a $121M (Series D) infusion of funding, its largest to date, from SoftBank Vision Fund and Leica Camera AG. The company expects to use the new funding to expand beyond consumer photography and into a number of other markets including the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as robotics.
Ling Technology – China – $22.6M
Ling Technology produces the Luka social robot designed to assist in the teaching of reading to children. The company received $22.6M in ‘pre-A’ funding.
Mantis Vision – Israel – $55M
Mantis Vision secured $55M in Series D funding led by Luenmei Quantum and Samsung Catalyst Fund. The company, which produces 3D sensing and volumetric content acquisition technologies and has raised more than $83M to date, intends to use its latest round to expand its global workforce and target additional opportunities.
NERVteh – Slovenia – $1.2M
NERVteh, a developer of vehicle simulator technologies emphasizing biometric and cognitive driver evaluation, received a $1.2M Seed round from VectoIQ. The simulation technologies are used to profile drivers, but also has applicability for intelligent driving systems, including autonomous transportation.
Ono Food Company – USA – Undisclosed
Recently formed and stealthy food start-up Ono Food Company received an undisclosed Seed round in July from Lemnos Labs, Compound, and Pathbreaker Ventures.
OrthoSpin – Israel – $3M
OrthoSpin provides a robotic treatment for use in orthopedics. The company’s technology makes pre-programmed adjustments automatically and continuously – without the need for patient involvement – for a variety of orthopedic treatments, such as bone lengthening, setting complex fractures and correcting deformities. Johnson & Johnson Innovation provided OrthoSpin’s $3M funding.
Phenospex – The Netherlands – The Netherlands
Phenospex builds intelligent smart sensors for the agriculture sector that can analyze crops in real-time, as well as robotics and other types of automation for scanning crops in indoor and outdoor environments. The company raised $2.3M in Series A funding from Future Food Fund and NV Industriebank LIOF.
Pony.ai – USA – $214M
Pony.ai produces software and infrastructure which enables autonomous vehicles to accurately perceive their surroundings, predict what others will do, and maneuver accordingly. Pony received a July B round issue of $214M approximately six months after a Series A investment of $112M.
Rapyuta Robotics – Japan -$9.5M
Japan based Rapyuta Robotics is developing a cloud-based operations, administration and management ‘platform’ for robots, primarily those used in the logistics and factory automation sectors. The company received a $9.5M Series A round which it expects to use for further development of their offerings.
Robostar– Korea – $49.7M
Robostar produces a variety of industrial robot systems used mostly in the automotive and electronics manufacturing sectors. LG Electronics invested $49.7M in Robostar for a 30% equity stake.
Sensyn Robotics – Japan – $10.8M
Sensyn Robotics, formally V-Cube, a provider of visual communications services, including using drones, received $10.8M in funding from Eight Roads Ventures Japan, Globis Capital Partners, Itochu Technology Partners and Drone Fund.
Sublue Ocean Science & Technology – China – $15M
Sublue Ocean Science & Technology, a manufacturer of underwater-robots including include autonomous underwater vehicles, underwater gliders and remote operated vehicles, landed $15M in Series B funding.
TMiRob – China – $30M
Shanghai, China based TMiRob received $30M is Series B funding. The company offers a healthcare logistics solution based on mobile service robots, as well as a number of mobile robotics ‘platforms’ for research and commercial use.
Trax – Singapore – $125M
Trax, which provides computer vision solutions and analytics for the retail sector, received an infusion of $125M (Series E) in July, bringing the total investment in the company to $286M. Using robots, drones and other technologies to acquire photos of in store products, Trax solutions convert images into analytic data which can be used for inventory management, sales and branding, and more.
Unisound – China – $89M
Unisound provides voice recognition, and language processing technologies for home appliances, automobiles, and healthcare products, as well as dedicated AI chipsets. According to company representatives, the round will be used to expand the workforce and for R&D, including an AI chip for automobiles.
Vivid Robotics – USA – $4.9M
Vivid Robotics, formally Otto Robotics, received $4.9M in funding in a round led by Vulcan Capital. The company, which is in stealth mode, is developing automation technology for the food sector.
Wayz.ai – China – $80M
Wayz.ai builds high-definition real-time maps for autonomous vehicles with Level 3 and Level 4 autonomy. The company landed $80M in Series A in July.
Yitu Technology – China – $100M
Yitu Technology, based in Shanghai, offers technology which uses computer vision, intelligent imaging, and video understanding to recognize human faces, automobiles and more. The company received $100M in an extended C Round from China Industrial Asset Management.
Yiwise.ai – China – $10M
China’s Yiwise.ai focuses on developing natural language process solutions using machine learning. The company garnered $10M in Series A funding from QF Capital and GSR United Capital as a follow-up from a 2017 Seed round.
Zoox – USA – $500M
Zoox, a developer of electric, autonomous vehicles for its own ride-hailing service, received $500M in a Series B round led by Grok Ventures. With this investment the company has received $790M in total funding.