In November 2019, The Robot Report tracked a total of about $4.7 billion in robotics transactions. Aside from one large investment in logistics, several of the reported investments this past month were in autonomous vehicles, followed by sensors and other components.
While developers of self-driving cars are competing with other robotics companies for talent, they’re getting a major share of venture capital, with $448 million in funding in November 2019. Component makers were involved in $460 million worth of transactions last month.
In November 2019, 28 companies received a total of $4.4 billion in funding for everything from battery technologies and aerial drones to robots for food preparation and assisting surgeons. In comparison, The Robot Report tracked 43 investments in the previous month. See also our roundup of the 20 largest investments from the first half of this year.
The table below lists investments in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available:
Robotics investments November 2019
|Lead investor, partner
|Main Sequence Ventures, CSIRO Innovation Fund
|AMP Robotics Corp.
|recycling robots and AI
|Assisted Surgical Technologies
|Russian Direct Investment Fund
|NTT Venture Capital
|Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd.
|Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
|Accelmed Growth Partners, Mivtach Shamir Holdings
|emergency room robotics
|Dive Technologies Inc.
|Bessemer Venture Partners
|drone mapping, analytics
|AI, machine vision
|Galen Robotics Inc.
|Verte Opportunity Fund
|Amperex Technologies Ltd., Showa Denkoo, Cabot Corp., BASF Venture Capital, OVP Venture Partners
|radar sensors for AVs
|hamburger flipping robot
|Signia Venture Partners, ATX Venture Partners
|Reckon Point Robotics
|Notes We Buy LLC
|Renu Robotics Corp.
|Uniiq Investment Fund
|EV refueling robots
|Skydweller Aero Inc.
|VC Innovation Industries, Mirai Creation Fund II
|collaborative robot software
|Vayyar Imaging Ltd.
|Koch Disruptive Technologies
|4D radar sensors
|self-driving car AI
|XACT Robotics Ltd.
|Chasing Value Asset Management Inc., Corindus Vascular Robotics
|SoftBank Vision Fund
There were five automation-related mergers and acquisitions in November 2019, compared with seven in October and four in November of last year. See also our list of 10 notable mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2019. Here are the past month’s acquisitions:
Robotics acquisitions November 2019
|Bal Seal Engineering Inc.
|REI Automation Inc.
|The HAHN Group GmbH
|The HAHN Group GmbH
|Tru-D SmartUVC LLC
|UV disinfection robot
Logistics and transportation stay on top
Even as the major automakers and some large technology firms have postponed their predictions of when fully autonomous vehicles will be available, the potential market size and hopes for spinoff benefits for robotics startups are attractive to investors.
The largest single investment of November 2019 was Alibaba’s $3.3 billion stake in Cainiao, which works on logistics, Internet of Things, and supply chain technologies such as mobile robots. Smart Robotics didn’t specify the amount of its funding for software to configure collaborative robots.
Chinese electronics company Xiaomi Corp. led the $400 million Series C for electrical and autonomous vehicle maker Xpeng Motors.
One of the biggest challenges to self-driving cars is the creation of systems that can understand their surroundings and make decisions in real time. Wayve raised $20 million as it works to improve the artificial intelligence for self-driving cars.
Whether it’s pumping gasoline or plugging in electric vehicles, somebody needs to flip the switch. Rocsys raised $220,000 for autonomous systems to charge electric vehicles.
Component makers get cash in November 2019
In November 2019, Kaman Corp. acquired Bal Seal Engineering for $330 million. In addition, suppliers of sensors, engineering, and services for robots and vehicles raised $129 million in funding.
Koch Disruptive Industries led a $109 million Series D round for Vayyar Imaging, which is developing “4D” radar sensors. Metawave raised an unspecified Series A, led by automotive supplier Denso, for its own radar for autonomous vehicles.
In battery technologies, Group14 Technologies raised $18 million, and Volt14 Solutions raised $955,000. Both are working on nanotechnology to add energy-storage capacity beyond that of conventional lithium-ion batteries. (Group14 is named after a group on the periodic table that includes carbon, silicon, and other elements with two electrons in their outermost orbits.)
Surgical, ER robots have modest month
As we look ahead to next week’s Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, it’s worth noting that November 2019 was relatively quiet for this sector, with about $60 million in transactions.
PDI acquired True-D SmartUVC, which makes a robot that disinfects hospital environments with ultraviolet light.
The Robot Report is launching the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo will focus on improving the design, development, and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, and register now!
Food and service robots give thanks
Service robot companies raised $400 million in November 2019. One of the largest robotics investments of the past month was the $375 million equity sale by Zume, whose pizza-making robot got support from the SoftBank Vision Fund. (The sale occurred on Oct. 17 but was reported on Nov. 1.)
Also in pizza making robots, Picnic, a.k.a. Vivid Robotics, raised seed funding of $5 million.
Miso Robotics turned to equity crowdfunding for its Flippy burger-flipping robot. It hopes to raise up to $30 million.
Bumblebee Spaces raised an unspecified Series A, including investment from Toyota AI Ventures, for robotic furniture.
At the end of the product lifecycle, the U.S. recycling industry is struggling to make up for Chinese restrictions. AMP Robotics, which has raised $16 million in Series A funding, has designed its high-speed Cortex system is to facilitate sortation.
Smart tractors and drones get funding in November 2019
Renu Robotics, which is working on a robotic mowers, hopes to raise $2.9 million in an equity round that’s still open. Raven Industries acquired autonomous tractor company Smart Ag for an unspecified amount.
Drone inspection firm Draganfly, which had previously raised $5.3 million (U.S.), had its initial public offering. Skydweller Aero, which is building solar-powered drones for long-duration flights, raised an unspecified amount in November 2019.
In addition to the field robotics firms above, Dive Technologies raised $3 million in equity sale for its undersea exploration robots, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
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 such as Tracxn, and association and industry publications. 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.