Robotics investments in October 2018 totaled at least $1.24 billion worldwide with a total of 23 verified investments. Unverifiable robotics investments, including several in China, have been excluded from this analysis. There are several robotics investments in which the amounts and/or rounds were not disclosed. If we verify those amounts and/or rounds, we will update these figures.
Once again the majority of robotics investments (57%) were made into companies developing hardware, services, and software for autonomous vehicles. Of the 23 robotics investments tracked by The Robot Report in October 2018, 13 were made into the autonomous vehicle market for a total of $947.9 million. The bulk of that total came from Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, which received a $750 million investment from Honda. Four of the top five investments were in the autonomous vehicle market. The drone market had the second-most robotics investments with three for a total of $41.8 million.
Here is a look at the six largest robotics investments of October 2018:
The USA was home to 10 robotics investments, Israel had the second-most robotics investments (5) and China had four robotics investments. Denmark, Germany, Japan and South Korea each had one. Below, in alphabetical order, are the verified robotics investments for October 2018.
October 2018 robotics investments
Aeva (USA) – $45M Series A
Mountain View, California, Aeva raised a $45 million Series A round. Funding was led by venture firms Lux Capital and Canaan Partners. Aeva, founded by two former Apple engineers, also raised a $3.5 million seed round in 2017. Aeva claims its LiDAR sensor is different from most others in that it sends out a continuous light wave instead of light pulses. So instead of collecting a series of frames and having to calculate its movements, Aeva claims it can directly measure velocity and predict where the light is headed.
Airobotics (Israel) – $30M Series D
Israeli automated drone startup Airobotics raised $30 million in Series D funding, bringing its total capital raised to $101M. Pavilion Capital led the round with participation from other investors, including BlueRun Ventures, Charles River Ventures and OurCrowd. Airobotics, which provides an end-to-end, fully automatic solution for collecting aerial data and gaining invaluable insights, will use the funding to further scale its operations in the United States and Australia.
ASI Mining (USA) – undisclosed amount
Epiroc Drilling Solutions acquired 34 percent of ASI Mining, LLC, a subsidiary of Autonomous Solutions Inc., for an undisclosed amount. Based in Mendon, Utah, ASI’s products include on-board hardware and software that convert manual vehicles to autonomous vehicles, as well as system level software platforms for command and control of autonomous fleets across various mining applications. Epiroc will help ASI provide its autonomous mining technology to its customers on a larger scale.
Blue Ocean Robotics (Denmark) – $14.8M
Denmark-based Blue Ocean Robotics raised $14.8 million (EUR 13 million) in an unknown round from Nordic Eye Venture Capital. The company provides robot companies with a development platform and “reusable technological building bricks and the tools needed to build the robots.” The investment will be used primarily to scale Blue Ocean Robotics scale, but it will also boost the development of new technology and hiring new employees.
Bright Machines (USA) – $179M Series A
San Francisco-based Bright Machines came out of stealth mode with a $179 million Series A round led by Eclipse Ventures. This was not your typical Series A, of course. Bright Machines was founded in part by former Autodesk interim CEO Amar Hanspal. The company already has 300-plus employees that aim to automate manufacturing operations in factories by combining robots and new software. Its software-defined manufacturing platform helps customers innovate faster to meet the growing demands of a new era of manufacturing. Bright Machines began as an incubated project inside Flex, a customized manufacturing company, spun out as a startup called AutoLab AI, and changed its name to Bright Machines.
Cognata (Israel) – $18.5M Series B Round
Cognata closed an $18.5 million funding round led by Scale Venture Partners with the participation of existing investors Emerge, Maniv Mobility, and Airbus Ventures and also the addition of Global IoT Technology Ventures. The Israeli company will use the funding to grow its engineering group and expand commercial operations in the United States, Europe and Asia. Cognata’s automotive simulation platform combines artificial intelligence, deep learning, and computer vision to provide a realistic virtual environment to simulate real-world test driving.
Cruise Automation (USA) – $750M Equity Round
Cruise Automation, the San Francisco-based self-driving unit of General Motors, will receive $2 billion from Honda over the next 12 years. The first chunk of that investment was a $750 million equity investment that gives Honda a 5.7% ownership stake in Cruise, valuing the company at $14.6 billion. In May 2018, the Softbank Vision Fund announced it will invest $2.25 billion in Cruise.
EyeSight (Israel) – $15M Venture Round
Israeli computer vision company Eyesight raised a $15 million venture round for its driver and occupancy monitoring system. The round was led by Jebsen Capital, Arie Capital, and Mizrahi Tefahot, among other investors. Eyesight’s solution monitors a driver’s gaze direction, pupil dilation, eye openness and head position and sends alerts when drowsiness is detected. The sensing capabilities are set to be increasingly integrated into new vehicles, aligning with the requirements for such systems in autonomous vehicles and Euro NCAP’s safety recommendations that call for automakers to include driver monitoring systems in vehicles launched by 2020.
Innovusion (USA) – $30M Series A
Innovusion, a two-year-old startup developing LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, raised $30 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Chinese firms Nio Capital and Eight Roads Ventures, along with U.S.-based F-Prime Capital. Founded in November 2016, Los Altos, California-based Innovusion will use the funding to ramp up production of its Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR sensor, which it began shipping samples of in Q2 2018.
Kittyhawk (USA) – $3M Corporate Round
Drone operations management startup Kittyhawk closed a $3 million funding round led by strategic investor Travelers, a home and property insurance company. The San Francisco-based company will use the funding to expand its commercial drone operation and help Travelers improve its use of drones for inspections of insurance claims inside and outside of natural disaster zones.
Meltin (Japan) – $17.7M in an Undisclosed Round
Japanese bio-robotics startup Meltin has raised a $17.7 million round backed by SBI Investments, Sumitomo Dainippon and Dai-ichi Life Insurance. The capital will be used to accelerate the development of avatar robots and medical devices. Founded in 2013, Tokyo-based Meltin is focused on the research and development and the commercialization of robotic technologies and medical devices. Meltin last raised a $2.1-million round in December 2017.
Micropsi (Germany) – $6.08M Series A
Micropsi Industries, a German robotics software company founded in 2014, closed $6.08 million in Series A funding. The funding was led by Project A, a leading Berlin-based investor with more than €260 million in assets under its management. Previous investors Coparion and Vito Ventures as well as experienced business angels also participated in this round. Micropsi raised a $2.5 million seed round in June 2017. The funding will be used to launch Micropsi Industries’ artificial intelligence technology in the U.S. and Europe. Read our Q&A with Micropsi co-founder and CEO Ronnie Vuine.
Momenta (China) – Undisclosed Series C
Momenta, a China-based autonomous driving company, secured a new round of funding from industry-leading strategic investors and government funds at a valuation north of $1 billion, making Momenta the first autonomous driving unicorn company in China. Founded in September 2016, Momenta is building intelligent systems for autonomous driving, aiming to provide solutions for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs.
NASN (China) – $14.4M Series B
Shanghai, China-based NASN Automotive Electronics raised $14.4 million in Series B funding. While the company develops automotive parts for chassis electronic control, it’s also working on “intelligent decision-making products in advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.”
NextVPU (China) – $28.82 Series A
Chinese AI and computer vision start-up NextVPU raised $28.82 million in series A financing round from Cethik, a safety electronics subsidiary of Chinese state-owned firm China Electronics Technology Group. Founded in May 2016 by Alan Feng, former director at California-based semiconductor company AMD, NextVPU seeks to bring vision capability and embedded AI solutions to applications, including unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles and other smart devices.
Perceptive Automata (USA) – $16M oversubscribed Series A
Somerville, Mass.-based Perceptive Automata raised $16 million in Series A funding. The oversubscribed round was led by JAZZ Venture Partners with participation from Toyota AI Ventures, Hyundai Motor Company, and existing investors First Round Capital and Slow Ventures, among others. The investment brings Perceptive Automata’s total capital to $20 million. The company is building software that can recognize human behavior and calculate a person’s intent and awareness based on subtleties like posture, orientation, and head movement. The autonomous vehicle then acts in accordance with these calculations, enabling self-driving cars to safely interact with humans.
Quanergy Systems (USA) – Undisclosed Series C
Quanergy Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of LiDAR sensors, secured an undisclosed amount of Series C funding that values the company at more than $2 billion. Quanergy will use the funds to enhance its capital reserve and accelerate commercialization of its hardware and software. An undisclosed “global top-tier fund” was the lead investor.
RoboSense (China) – $45M unknown round
RoboSense, a Chinese maker of LiDAR sensors, raised more than $45 million from investors, including Alibaba Group Holding, SAIC Motor Corp and BAIC Group. RoboSense claims this was China’s largest-ever single round of financing for a LiDAR company. Founded in 2014, RoboSense debuted its solid-state LiDAR at CES 2018 and has been a supplier for partners including Cainiao, JD.com, Suning and Meituan Dianping for their self-driving delivery vehicles.
SOS LAB (South Korea) – $6M Series A
SOS LAB, a South Korea company developing LiDAR sensors for autonomous vehicles, raised a $6 million Series A round. SOS LAB’s Series A strategic investor was Mando, a top-tier automotive supplier with a well-established global network in the field of mass-producing automotive parts.
Skyline Robotics (Israel) – $3M Seed Round
Tel Aviv, Israel-based Skyline Robotics raised a $3 million Seed round led by U.S.-Israeli investment fund Gefen Capital, with participation from ICONYC, the Israeli government, and several others. Skyline is building a window-washing robots for skyscrapers called Ozmo. The robot recently completed its first start-to-finish cleaning job of an office tower in Tel Aviv. The company expects to scale outside of Israel by the start of 2019 and eventually to markets other than window-washing, including construction.
Takeoff Technologies (USA) – $24M Series B
Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff Technologies, an e-grocery automation startup, closed a $24M Series B round that was led by Forrestal Capital, taking the total capital raised to $46M. Also in October, Takeoff announced the launch of its first automated hyperlocal fulfillment center that will serve 14 Sedano’s stores in the Miami area. Sedano’s is one of the largest Hispanic grocers in the US. Here’s how the system works. Customers place grocery orders via a mobile app. The orders are then received and processed by Takeoff’s automated fulfillment facility, with the support of Sedano’s staff. Takeoff said its AI-enabled robots can assemble grocery orders of up to 60 items in several minutes.
Vantage Robotics (USA) – $8.8M Equity Sale
San Leandro-based Vantage Robotics raised $8.8 million for its Snap consumer quadcopter, according to an SEC filing. Founded in 2013, Vantage Robotics builds flying cameras. Snap, its first product, was introduced in 2015.
Vayavision (Israel) – $8M Seed Round
Vayavision, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based provider of raw data fusion and perception systems for self-driving vehicles, raised $8M in Seed funding. The round was led by Viola Ventures, Mizmaa Ventures and OurCrowd, with strategic participation from Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co., ltd. (MUCAP), and LG Electronics. Vayavision will use the funds to focus on developing customer engagement, as well as marketing and building partnerships with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.
HAHN Group acquired Rethink Robotics IP
HAHN Group, a German automation specialist, acquired the IP from Rethink Robotics, including the Intera 5 software platform, for an undisclosed amount. The HAHN Group says it will further develop Rethink’s technology, “combining it with German engineering and know-how of industrial applications.” HAHN Group says it “intends to make the [Intera] software platform available to suitable partners through licensing or other arrangements.”
Honeywell acquired Transnorm for $493M
Honeywell acquired German warehouse technology vendor Transnorm for $491 million from UK-based private equity firm IK Investment Partners, Post and Parcel reports. Transnorm offers a variety of automated warehouse solutions, ranging from conveyor belts to sorting and picking equipment.
Warehouse automation equipment designed to handle e-commerce orders accounts for 90% of Transnorm’s business, according to figures cited by Post and Parcel. Transnorm’s annual sales are about €100 million ($115.5 million) and are projected to grow by more than 30% this year, according to a Honeywell press release. The acquisition will strengthen Honeywell’s logistics offerings for the European market.
Jiangsu Hagong Intelligent Robot Co. acquired Nimak GmBH
Jiangsu Hagong Intelligent Robot Co. Ltd. acquired Nimak GmBH, along with related companies Nimak KG and Nickel GmbH for $100 million, according to a filing with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Nimak specializes in manufacturing advanced welding tools and machines for use in automotive, aircraft and household appliance production, according to its website. The deal will require approval from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
Textron Inc. acquired Howe & Howe Technologies
Textron Inc., which already owns brands like Bell, Cessna and Arctic Cat, entered into a letter of intent to acquire Howe & Howe Technologies for an undisclosed amount. Textron Systems is a global leader in unmanned systems, including combat systems for defense and aerospace customers. Howe & Howe produces advanced robotic and manned off-road vehicles built for extreme conditions.
Editors Note: What defines robotics investments? 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.
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.