The Robot Report tracked 38 robotics investments worth more than $4.8 billion in April 2021. This is quite the rebound from the same time last year when, amidst the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, robotics companies raised about $600 million. This marks a 700-plus percent increase in robotics investments year-over-year. There also were eight mergers and acquisitions and one IPO in April 2021.
The bulk of the funding in April 2021 came from two categories of robotics technologies – AS/RS systems and autonomous vehicles. AutoStore, a leading developer of AS/RS systems, raised $2.8 billion from Softbank, accounting for nearly half of the month’s total funding. Companies working on autonomous vehicles or autonomous vehicle technologies raised at least $839 million. San Francisco-based Cruise raised another $750 million for its work on autonomous vehicles, adding Walmart to its already impressive list of investors.
The table below lists robotics company fundings in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available. U.S.-based robotics companies accounted for 17 of the funding rounds, followed by China (6), India (3) and Israel (3).
Robotics Investments April 2021
|EasyMile||Series B||66.7||France||Autonomous vehicles|
|Plus One Robotics||Series B||33||USA||Perception software|
|EAVISION||Series C||30||China||Agricultural drones|
|Scale AI||Series E||325||USA||Training data for machine learning|
|Manna Drone Delivery||Series A||25||Europe||Drone delivery|
|Groq||Series C||300||USA||Tensor processing unit|
|Deeplite||Seed||4||Canada||Neural network optimization|
|Memic Innovative Surgery||Series D||96||Israel||Surgical robots|
|Oxbotica||Series B||13.7||UK||Autonomous vehicle software|
|Canvas||Series B||24||USA||Construction robots|
|Multiply Labs||Series A||20||USA||Manufacturing robots|
|Rapid Robotics||Series A||12||USA||Robots for manufacturing|
|Miko||Series B||6.6||India||Consumer robotics|
|Tortuga AgTech||Series A||20||USA||Agricultural robots|
|Ronovo Surgical||Series A||China||Surgical robots|
|Pickle Robot||Seed||5.8||USA||Package handling robots|
|Gaussian Robot||Series B||100||China||Cleaning robots|
|Unbox Robotics||Seed||1.2||India||Parcel sorting robots|
|CloudMinds||Series B||152.6||China||Cloud infrastructure|
|Mowito||Other||India||Mobile robot software|
|Reactive Robotics||Other||Germany||Robot-assisted therapy|
|RoboticPlus.AI||Series B||20||China||Construction robots|
|Halodi Robotics||Other||Norway||Consumer robots|
|Above Robotics||Other||USA||Fleet management|
|Genesis Systems Group||Other||2.3||USA||Integrator|
|Hermes Robotics||Other||USA||Autonomous trucks|
|Microsure||Series B||3.3||Netherlands||Surgical robots|
|EDDA Technology||Other||33||China||Surgical robots|
Robotics Mergers & Acquisitions
April 2021 was a busy month for mergers and acquisitions (M&As), too. The Robot Report tracked 8 M&As worth at least $1.7 billion, including two via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) or blank check companies.
Vicarious Surgical is going public through a $1.1 billion SPAC deal with Hong Kong–based D8 Holdings. The acquisition adds more than $425 million in cash to Vicarious’s balance sheet. This deal came about a year and a half after the FDA provided breakthrough device designation for Vicarious’ robot, which includes features such as arms that replicate human motion.
The capital-intensive autonomous vehicle industry continued to consolidate in April 2021. Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings acquired Lyft’s autonomous vehicle division, Level 5, for $550 million in cash. Lyft will receive $200 million upfront and $350 million of payments over a five-year period. Lyft launched Level 5 in 2017 and said that by 2021 “a majority” of its rides would take place in autonomous vehicles. Like predictions made by other autonomous vehicle companies, Lyft’s never came to fruition.
The table below lists the M&As from April 2021. Click on the “Story” links for more information about each of the M&As.
Mergers & Acquisitions - April 2021
|Acquired Company||Acquirer||Amount ($M)||Technology||Story|
|Lyft Level 5||Woven Planet Holdings||550||Autonomous Vehicles||Story|
|Precise Automation||Brooks Automation||70||Cobots||Story|
|Mowbot||Robin Autopilot||Robotic lawnmowers||Story|
|13 Robotics Ltda||Kraken Robotics||0.22||Unmanned maritime systems||Story|
|Root AI||AppHarvest||60||Agriculture robotics||Story|
|Vicarious Surgical||D8 Holdings||1100 (SPAC)||Surgical robots||Story|
|Sarcos Robotics||Rotor Acquisition Corp||SPAC||Exoskeletons||Story|
And, amazingly, autonomous truck developer TuSimple raised $1.08 billion in an IPO after debuting on the Nasdaq on April 15. TuSimple said it has 5,700 reservations for self-driving trucks from Navistar that are scheduled to go into production in 2024, with 70 trucks already on the road in the U.S. and China.
Robotics IPOs - April 2021
Editors’ note: What defines robotics investments? The answer to this simple question is central in any attempt to quantify them 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 venture capital firms, corporate investment groups, angel investors, and other sources. Friends-and-family investments, government/non-governmental 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 (that sense, analyze, and act in the physical world), hardware or software subsystems and enabling technologies for robots, 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 “robot” to describe products and services that that do not enable or support devices acting in the physical world, are excluded. For example, this includes “software robots” and robotic process automation. Many firms have multiple locations in different countries. Company locations given in the analysis are based on the publicly listed headquarters in legal documents, press releases, etc.
Funding information is collected from a number of public and private sources. These include press releases from corporations and investment groups, corporate briefings, industry analysts, and association and industry publications, including Crunchbase PitchBook and Tracxn. In addition, information comes from sessions at conferences and seminars, as well as during private interviews with industry representatives, investors, and others. Unverifiable investments are excluded.