Last month, robot-assisted surgery and autonomous vehicles won the most investments. These were followed by a variety of applications of robots, drones, and artificial intelligence. The Robot Report tracked robotics deals worth more than $2.4 billion in September 2019.
That amount was less than the approximately $10 billion in robotics deals in the same month last year or July 2019, but about the same as the $2 billion in recorded for August 2019. There were 39 investments in September 2019, compared with 37 last month. See also our roundup of the 20 largest investments in the first half of this year.
The table below lists investments in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available:
Robotics Investments September 2019
|Company||Amt. (M$)||Type||Lead investor, partner||Date||Technology|
|Anduril Industries||127||seed||Andreessen Horowitz||Sept. 11||drone defense|
|Applied Intuition Inc.||40||Series B||General Catalyst||Sept. 12||self-driving simulation|
|AutoModality||3.8||investment||Genius NY||Sept. 19||drone inspection|
|AutoX||100||Series A||Dongfeng Motor||Sept. 18||self-driving cars|
|Beijing TrunkTech Co.||Series A+||GLP, Robert Bosch Venture Capital||Sept. 27||self-driving trucks|
|Built Robotics Inc.||33||Series B||Next47||Sept. 19||autonomous bulldozers|
|CalmCar Vision Systems LLC||14||Series A2||SAIC Motor||Sept. 18||autonomous sensors|
|Cartica Ltd.||Series B||Toyota AI Ventures||Sept. 3||perception for self-driving cars|
|CMR Surgical Ltd.||243||Series C||LGT, Escala Capital Investments, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Watrium, Zhejiang Silk Road Fund||Sept. 17||surgical robots|
|DeepRoute.ai LLC||50||pre-Series A||Fosun RZ Capital||Sept. 24||self-driving cars|
|Embark Trucks Inc.||70||Series C||Tiger Global Management LLC||Sept. 25||self-driving trucks|
|Emotix||2.25||Series A||Sept. 24||social robot|
|Evolver||70.5||investment||Moom Group||Sept. 18||educational robots|
|FarmWise Labs Inc.||14.5||Series A||Calibrate Ventures||Sept. 17||weeding robot|
|Fotokite||Series A||Genius NY||Sept. 19||tethered drones|
|Indus.ai Inc.||8||Series A||Millennium New Horizons||Sept. 18||machine vision for construction|
|Intelligent Marking ApS||investment||Sept. 26||sports field-marking robots|
|K-Tig Ltd.||4.81||IPO||Alto Capital||Sept. 11||welding|
|Keranova SA||26.56||investment||Mérieux Equity Partners, Supernova Invest||Sept. 11||eye surgery robot|
|Kingdom Technologies Ltd.||0.492||investment||Super Angel, United Angels||Sept. 11||robotic mower|
|Maka Autonomous Robotic Systems Inc.||8.9||equity sale||Sept. 23||mobile robots|
|Metomatics AG||investment||Fortyone||Sept. 2||weather drones|
|Moodify||1.6||seed||Next Gear Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures||Sept. 11||in-car scents|
|MYNT AI||Series A||Sumin Investment||Sept. 5||machine vision|
|Nocca Robotics Pvt. Ltd.||1.75||seed||Indian Angel Network Fund||Sept. 11||solar panel cleaning robot|
|Ori Inc.||20||Series B||Sidewalk Labs, Ingka Group, Geolo Capital, Khosla Ventures||Sept. 5||robotic furniture|
|Postmates Inc.||225||investment||GPI Capital||Sept. 19||delivery robot|
|Rob Surgical||5.49||investment||Scranton Enterprises||Sept. 25||surgical robots|
|Robocath Inc.||5.51||investment||Sept. 3||surgical robots|
|Simbe Robotics Inc.||26||Series A||Venrock||Sept. 12||inventory robot|
|Takeoff Technologies Inc.||25||Series C||Forrestal Capital||Sept. 16||automated fulfillment centers|
|Tamar Robotics Ltd.||2.25||investment||Mivtach Shamir Holdings Ltd.||Sept. 7||surgical robots|
|Titan Medical Inc.||18||stock offering||Sept. 24||surgical robots|
|TransEnterix Surgical Inc.||20.3||stock offering||Sept. 5||surgical robots|
|TuSimple Inc.||215||Series D||SINA||Sept. 17||autonomous trucks|
|Volocopter GmbH||55||Series C||Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.||Sept. 9||autonomous flying taxis|
|Voyage Auto Inc.||31||Series B||Franklin Templeton Investments||Sept. 12||self-driving shuttles|
|WhiteFox Defense Technologies||12||investment||Serra Ventures, Okapi Venture Capital||Sept. 18||drone defense|
The number of mergers and acquisitions held steady between August and September 2019, with six each month. Some industry observers have expressed concern that such activity has slowed, particularly in Asia. Half of this month’s total for robotics deals was the value of acquisitions by Stryker and Shopify. The Robot Report has also compiled a list of 10 notable mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2019.
Robotics Mergers & Acquisitions, September 2019
|Company||Amt. (M$)||Acquirer, partner||Date||Technology|
|6 River Systems Inc.||450||Shopify Inc.||Sept. 9||mobile robots|
|Cohesio Group Ltd.||Korber AG||Sept. 24||mobile robots|
|Dexter Industries||Modular Robotics||Sept. 30||educational robots|
|Hangar Technologies Inc.||AirMap||Sept. 23||drone mission software|
|Mobius Imaging, Cardan Robotics||500||Stryker Corp.||Sept. 4||surgical robots|
|StelKast Inc.||24.1||Globus Medical Inc.||Sept. 19||surgical robots|
Healthcare sews up biggest robotics deals of September
Healthcare robotics companies raised more than $340 million in September 2019. Stryker’s acquisition of Mobius Imaging and its subsidiary Cardan Robotics for $500 million was the largest transaction of the month. The medical device maker plans to add their advanced imaging and surgical robotics capabilities to its portfolio for spinal procedures.
Another acquisition was Globus Medical’s purchase of StelKast, which is developing a robot-assisted joint reconstruction system, for $24.1 million.
On the investments side, CMR Surgical raised $240 million in its Series C round. The company, formerly known as Cambridge Medical Robotics, plans to soon launch its Versius surgical robot for abdominal procedures in Europe and Asia.
Keranova, which is working on a robot-assisted laser for cataract surgery, raised $26.5 million.
Titan Medical, which is preparing its Sport device for FDA approval, offered $22 million. Similarly, TransEnterix offered $20.3 million in stock as it continues developing its Senhance system for multiple procedures.
Meanwhile, Robcath raised $5.5 million and named a new CEO. The French company plans to release its R-One robotic coronary angioplasty platform in Europe. The similarly named Rob Surgical raised $5.49 million for the Bitrack laparoscopic system, which is intended to be an alternative for Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci.
The Robot Report is launching the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 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 registration is now open.
Transportation robotics rolls on with funding
Companies working on autonomous vehicles, sensors, and even in-car scents raised more than $600 million in September 2019, continuing the trend of leading robotics deals.
Also in trucking, Embark Trucks raised $70 million in Series C funding in September 2019, as it prepares hubs between Los Angeles and Phoenix for trucks to switch from autonomous to human-driven mode for entering urban areas.
Beijing TrunkTech Co., which is working on AI for autonomous trucks, raised Series A+ funding led by GLP and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. Speaking of AI, MYNT AI raised an unspecified Series A for its 3D vision and visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM) technology.
Hong Kong-based AutoX closed a Series A round of $100 million. It is testing robotic taxicabs in Europe and the U.S. Self-driving shuttle company Voyage Auto received $31 million in its Series B. It is expanding deployments of its G2 shuttle in retirement communities in Florida. Robotic taxis are considered an achievable interim step toward fully autonomous cars.
Several startups are working on flying taxis, and Volvo owner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. led the $55 million round for Germany-based Volocopter.
More down to earth, the software for navigation and testing of autonomous vehicles is another area of investor interest. DeepRoute.ai raised $50 million for sensing, mapping, and cloud computing and storage technologies. Applied Intuition raised $40 million in Series B funding for its simulation and validation platform.
In addition, SAIC Motor led $14 million in investment in CalmCar Vision Systems, which is working on sensing for Level 2 autonomous driving. Toyota AI Ventures participated in an unspecified Series B in Cartica, which is working on unsupervised machine learning for safer driverless vehicles. Toyota AI Ventures also supported Moodify, which is developing scents that could help tired human drivers stay alert or relax passengers in self-driving cars.
Logistics and manufacturing transactions in September 2019
While there’s less buzz around traditional industrial automation, there are still innovators receiving funding. Shopify’s acquisition of 6 River Systems for $450 million is one of the biggest robotics deals of September 2019. The mobile robotics deal is reminiscent of how Amazon.com helped create a category by pulling Kiva Systems off the market back in 2012.
Postmates, which is testing autonomous delivery robots in San Francisco, raised $225 million last month.
Simbe Robotics, whose Tally can take inventory for retailers, raised a Series A of $25 million and expanded its partnership with SoftBank Robotics to manufacture 1,000 of the mobile robots in the next two years.
Takeoff Technologies raised $25 million in Series C funding for Version 2 of its automated “micro-fulfillment solution” for online grocers.
Germany-based Körber acquired a majority stake in Cohesio Group, which integrates systems including robots for logistics. In manufacturing, Australian welding robotics provider K-Tig Ltd. raised $4.8 million in its initial public offering.
Field robotics and drones build up
Not all robots are confined to factories and warehouses. In September 2019, Built Robotics closed a $33 million Series B for its autonomy stack, which it said uses sensors and software to make construction vehicles into robots. Indus.ai, which is developing machine vision and AI for managing construction sites, raised $8 million.
FarmWise Labs reaped a Series A of $14.5 million for its weeding robot, which it said can help farmers use fewer pesticides. Maka Autonomous Robotics Systems raised $8.9 million for its weeding robots.
AirMap acquired Hangar Technology for an unspecified amount. AirMap said it plans to add Hangar’s drone workflow automation system to its offerings for aerial drone inspections.
Drones for security were also popular, with border security firm Anduril Industries raising $127 million and counter-drone company WhiteFox Defense Technologies raising $12 million. In tethered drones, Fotokite raised an unspecified amount for emergency response drones, while FLIR this week acquired the assets of Aria Insights, formerly known as CyPhy Works.
India-based Nocca Robotics raised seed funding of $1.75 million for its robot to clean solar panels.
Sometimes field robotics are literally on the field. Ireland-based Kingdom Technologies this month raised $492,000 for its robotic mower. Denmark-based Intelligent Marking ApS raised an unspecified amount for its robot, which marks the fields of U.S. football teams including the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The one spinoff this month was that of Ocean Discovery from Kraken Robotics, whose board member Larry Puddister created a joint venture to provide subesea services for mapping the Atlantic Ocean off of Canada. Kraken Robotics provides naval systems.
Service and consumer robots in September 2019
Beijing Evolutionary Robot Technology Co., also known as Evolver Robotics, raised $70.5 million for its social and service robots. Its Fabo robot is already in use in 2,000 kindergartens and elementary schools in China.
Ori Living raised a Series B of $20 million for its robotic furniture, which helps maximize space and privacy in small apartments.
Emotix, which makes the Miko social robot for entertaining and educating children, raised another $2.25 million after raising $7.5 million in its Series A in August. In September 2019, Modular Robotics and Dexter Industries merged in pursuit of educational robotics market leadership.
With McDonald’s recent acquisition of voice-recognition startup Apprente Inc., demand for AI will likely grow. While not listed among the robotics deals above, Microsoft’s $1 billion equity investment in OpenAI LP for generalized AI, and Element AI’s $151.3 million for systems integration, and Iluvatar CoreX’s Series B round for processors show how every industry is seeking AI.
In another demonstration of the difficulties facing consumer robotics developers, Reach Robotics shut down in September 2019. It had combined a quadruped toy robot with an augmented reality (AR) interface.
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.