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Iris Ohyama, a Japanese maker of appliances for the home, has made plans to acquire Smile Robotics, according to reporting from NikkeiAsia. Iris Ohyama hopes to use Smile Robotics’ technology to develop robots in-house.
Smile Robotics was launched out of the University of Tokyo in 2019 by Takashi Ogura, now the CEO of the company. The company is known for developing its Autonomous Clear Up Robot called ACUR-C.
ACUR-C is a mobile manipulator for restaurants, clinics, nursing homes, and other service settings that clean serve and clean up dishes. Unlike other serving robots, which are typically mobile robots with shelves for humans to place and pick up food on, Smile Robotics’ system has an autonomous robotic arm that allows the robot to transfer the dishes on its own.
The robot is able to collect dishes up to 1 meter away from it and can carry multiple trays of food at once on its shelves. It can see 360º around itself using two laser sensors and four 3D cameras.
The companies entered into an acquisition agreement early on Monday. Iris Ohyama plans to acquire all outstanding shares of the company. The acquisition is expected to cost Iris Ohyama around 1 billion yen, or $7 million, although an official figure has not been disclosed.
This isn’t Iris Ohyama’s first foray into robotics. In 2020, the company collaborated with SoftBank Robotics, a part of SoftBank Group, to create cleaning and catering robots. The companies sold these robots to more than 4,000 companies by modifying the specifications of Chinese products for the Japanese market.
Now, Iris Ohyama hopes to continue to grow within the robotics sector by developing its own in-house robots using Smile Robotics’ technology. The company aims to tailor its machines to the needs of individual customers using Smile Robotics’ operating system. Iris Ohyama also hopes to develop more sophisticated technology, like the ability to operate multiple robots remotely, with Smile Robotics’ technology.
It’s likely that Iris Ohyama’s first product that it will develop will be a cleaning robot for corporate customers, according to NikkeiAsia.