Space equity investments tallied $18 billion from 2009 to 2018, with roughly $3 billion of that total invested last year alone, according to Space Angels. Credit: Space Angels
SOURCE: The Robot Report
In October 2019, The Robot Report tracked about $1.3 billion in robotics transactions. About half of the investments, or $532 million, this past month were around autonomous vehicles, followed by healthcare, logistics, and agricultural robotics.
Investors, the major automakers, and technology companies large and small are continuing to race toward self-driving cars, trucks, taxicabs, and buses. Zoox Inc.’s $200 million funding toward a Series C round for its robotic taxis was the largest transportation transaction reported last month.
At the same time, the trend toward fewer small transactions has also continued. Exit value will likely exceed $200 billion this year, according to PitchBook. However, global venture capital funding has declined in much of the world (including the U.S.) while remaining steady in Asia, reported Deal Street Asia and Crunchbase.
The total from October’s 43 reported robotics fundings is down from 39 deals worth approximately $2.4 billion in September 2019. In comparison, there were 23 deals worth $1.2 billion in October 2018, so the seasonal totals are close. See also our roundup of the 20 largest investments in the first half of this year.
The table below lists investments in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available:
Robotics investments, October 2019
|Company||Amt. (M$)||Type||Lead investors, partners||Date||Technology|
|Activ Surgical Inc.||11||Series A||DNS Capital||Oct. 29||surgical robotics|
|Aerodyne Group||30||Series B||Drone Fund, Gobi Partners||Oct. 16||drone services|
|AiM Medical Robotics Inc.||0.2||equity sale||Oct. 3||surgical robotics|
|AnotherBrain||20.7||Series A||Groupe SEB||Oct. 1||AI chips|
|Augmenta SA||2.5||seed||Hardware Club, Marathon Venture Capital||Oct. 8||precision agriculture|
|Bominwell Robotics||7||Series B||Northern Light Venture Capital||Oct. 30||inspection, security|
|Cerence Inc.||IPO/spinout||Nuance Communications Inc.||Oct. 1||connected cars|
|CODE42 Inc.||25||pre-Series A||Kia Motors||Oct. 30||autononmous shuttles|
|Cognicept Systems Pte. Ltd.||seed||Surge Ahead||Oct. 9||robot support|
|DeepRoute.ai LLC||50||pre-Series A||Fosun RZ Capital||Oct. 7||autonomous vehicles|
|Diligent Robotics Inc.||3||seed||True Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures||Oct. 1||hospital robot|
|Disperse||15||Series A||Northzone||Oct. 22||AI construction monitoring|
|EHang Holdings Ltd.||100||IPO||Oct. 31||passenger drones|
|Fabric||110||Series B||Corner Ventures||Oct. 23||micro-fulfillment centers|
|Einride AB||24||Series A||EQT Ventures, NordicNinja VC||Oct. 10||self-driving trucks|
|Ghost Locomotion Inc.||32.7||Series C||Oct. 28||autonomous vehicles|
|Gideon Brothers d.o.o.||2.95||seed||Pentland Ventures||Oct. 28||autonomous mobile robots|
|Hummingbird Technologies Ltd.||10||Series B||BASF Venture Capital, TELUS Ventures||Oct. 15||precision agriculture|
|Kane Robotics Inc.||0.175||equity sale||Oct. 10||robotic grinding|
|KuanDeng Technology||14.2||Series A+||Yihang Funds||Oct. 14||autonomous vehicles|
|Labrador Systems Inc.||2||pre-seed||HAX||Oct. 15||household assistive robot|
|Myomo Inc.||3||term loan||Chic||Oct. 23||wearable robotics|
|NetraDyne Inc.||Series B||Hyundai CRADLE||Oct. 4||machine vision|
|Osaro Inc.||16||Series B||King River Capital||Oct. 3||industrial automation software|
|PATS Indoor Drone Solutions||0.278||seed||UNIIQ||Oct. 4||greenhouse drones|
|Prophesee SA||28||Series C||European Investment Bank||Oct. 28||vision sensors|
|Realtime Robotics Inc.||11.7||Series A||SPARX Asset Management||Oct. 16||AI for robots, self-driving cars|
|Robobloq Co.||1.4||seed||Zhonghe Venture Capital||Oct. 28||STEM|
|Scallog SAS||seed||Colruyt Group||Oct. 22||warehouse robots|
|Shenzhen Youdi Technology||Series B||Oct. 9||delivery robots|
|SkyDrive Inc.||13.9||seed||STRIVE III Limited Liability Partnership, ITOCHU Technology Ventures||Oct. 4||drone taxis|
|Smart Radar System Inc.||4||Series A||Kakao Ventures||Oct. 28||sensors|
|SpeedBot||investment||Tongwei Capital||Oct. 8||3D visual perception|
|Tactile Mobility||9||investment||Porsche, Union Tech Ventures||Oct. 29||vehicle sensors|
|TIBOT Technologies||3.3||Series A||Seventure Partners, Demeter||Oct. 11||poultry robotics|
|Titan Medical Inc.||25||stock sale||Oct. 25||surgical robotics|
|Toggle Industries Inc.||3||seed||Point72 Ventures AI Group||Oct. 15||construction|
|Velodyne LiDAR Inc.||50||investment||Hyundai Mobis||Oct. 22||autonomous vehicles|
|Verdant Robotics Inc.||11.5||Series A||Oct. 18||agricultural robotics, AI|
|Virtual Incision Corp.||10||securities sale||Oct. 29||surgical robotics|
|Wide Stool Technology||14.1||Series A||Easy Fund||Oct. 14||HD 3D maps for autonomous vehicles|
|Wolkus Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Fasal)||1.6||seed||Omnivore Ventures, Wavemaker Partners||Oct. 30||precision agriculture|
|Zoox Inc.||200||Series C||Oct. 22||autonomous vehicles|
Seven robotics mergers and acquisitions were reported this past month, in comparison with six last month and four a year ago. The Robot Report has also compiled a list of 10 notable mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2019.
Here are the mergers and acquisitions of the past month:
Robotics mergers & acquisitions, October 2019
|Company||Amt. (M$)||Acquirer, partner||Date||Technology|
|Altius Space Machines||Voyager Space Holdings||Oct. 23||satellite servicing|
|Aria Insights Inc.||FLIR Systems Inc.||Oct. 2||tethered drones|
|AutoGuide Mobile Robots||58||Teradyne Inc.||Oct. 21||mobile robots|
|DeepScale Inc.||Tesla Inc.||Oct. 1||computer vision|
|Keihin Corp., Showa Corp., Nissin Kogyo Co.||Hitachi Automotive Systems||Oct. 30||autonomous vehicles|
|Onshape||470||PTC Inc.||Oct. 23||CAD software|
|SUALAB||Cognex Corp.||Oct. 16||machine vision|
Transportation hauls in more money
After Zoox’s Series C, drone maker EHang Holdings’ initial public offering, worth $100 million, was the next largest deal in autonomous vehicles. China-based EHang is working on autonomous air taxis, as is Japan-based SkyDrive, which raised $14 million.
More down to earth, Hyundai Mobis invested $50 million in partner and sensor maker Velodyne LiDAR, while DeepRoute.ai raised $50 million in pre-Series A funding for its robotic taxis (see also our table of automotive funding for September).
Ghost Locomotion raised $32.7 million in Series C funding as it develops its suite of cameras and computing to make existing cars self-driving. Meanwhile, CODE42 plans to use its $25 million in pre-Series A funding to continue developing its Urban Mobility Operating system and create a “global autonomous transportation-as-a-service ecosystem.”
Einride, which is working on self-driving trucks or delivery “pods” raised $25 million led by Kia Motors to expand in the U.S.
Investors and engineers are recognizing high-definition mapping as a significant challenge for autonomous vehicles. KuangDeng Technology raised $14.2 million, and Wide Stool Technology raised $14.1 million. Both are in China.
Self-driving cars also need to perceive the world around them and then compare that with various maps. Tactile Mobility, also known as MobiWize, raised $9 million from Porsche and others for its tactile sensing and data analytics systems. Tesla, which itself borrowed $700 million from China Merchants Bank in October 2019, acquired computer vision company DeepScale for an unspecified amount.
Japanese automakers Honda and Hitach last month said they are merging Hitachi Automotive Systems with Honda affiliates Kehin, Showa, and Nissin Kogyo. Hitachi Automotive Systems has been testing autonomous and connected vehicles in North America and Japan.
Hyundai CRADLE invested an unspecified amount in NetraDyne, which uses AI, vision-based dashcams, and fleet management software for safety. Hyundai said it expects to use the technology to improve Level 3 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
Conversational artificial intelligence company Nuance Communications spun out Cerence Inc., which is working on speech recognition, natural language processing, and acoustic modeling for the automotive industry.
Healthcare robots reach for funding in October 2019
Robot-assisted surgery and other healthcare companies raised $52.2 million last month. Titan Medical bounced back from the news that it had to delay its submission of the Sport device to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) partly because of a lack of funding by offering $25 million in stock.
MassRobotics resident Activ Surgical closed $11 million in Series A funding for its ActivSight system. Virtual Incision, which is working on a miniaturized robotic surgical assistant, raised $10 million (see also our list of surgical robotics transactions to date).
AiM Medical Robotics raised $200,000 in an equity sale, according to an SEC filing. It is working on a robot for neurosurgery that can be used while a patient is in an MRI scanner.
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.
Logistics robotics gears up
With the holiday shopping season approaching — and some retailers putting out Christmas displays before Halloween — the need for robots in the supply chain is clear. Fabric, previously known as CommonSense Robotics, raised $110 million as it builds micro-fulfillment centers across the U.S.
North Reading, Mass.-based Teradyne, which already owns collaborative robot leader Universal Robots, logistics robot maker Mobile Industrial Robots, and integrator Energid, just acquired AutoGuide Mobile Robots for $58 million.
Osaro raised $16 million in October 2019 for its picking and vision systems, while Gideon Brothers raised $2.95 million and partnered with European logistics leader DB Schenker to deploy its vision-driven autonomous mobile robots.
Scallog raised an unspecified amount in seed funds to build more warehouse robots, and Shenzhen Youdi Technology raised Series B funding for its delivery robots.
Agbots reap new funds in October 2019
Agriculture has long been mechanized, and the trend will only intensify with agbots, say analysts. The global market for agricultural robots or agbots will grow from $16.8 billion in 2020 to $75 billion by 2025, predicts Market Research Engine. According to Markets and Markets, it will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.34%, from $4.1 billion in 2017 to $25.2 billion in 2025.
Verdant Robotics reaped $11.5 million in Series A funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Hayward, Calif.-based company’s agbots use computer vision and AI for fruit cultivation.
Hummingbird Technologies raised $10 million for its on-demand combination of remote sensing, AI, and data analytics for precision farming. France-based TIBOT Technologies raised $3.3 million for robots to improve poultry operations.
Greenhouse Drone provider PATS Indoor Drone Solutions raised $278,000 as it develops aerial drones for insect control.
Infrastructure inspection on the rise
The individual transactions around construction and inspection robots and drones in October 2019 may be relatively small. However, like agbots, they represent a growing set of commercial applications, thanks to improving sensors and communications.
Speaking of aerial drones, security robotics provider FLIR Systems acquired the intellectual property and operating assets of tethered drone maker Aria Insights, formerly known as CyPhy Works.
Manufacturing and perception in October 2019
Industrial automation investments in October 2019 combined robotics and machine vision. For instance, SpeedBot raised an unspecified amount for its industrial robots, which use 3D machine vision.
Prophesee raised $28 million to commercialize its “event-based” vision sensors, and Smart Radar System closed a $4 million Series A round for its 4D image radar used in industrial and automotive applications. Cognex acquired SUALAB to improve its visual inspection capabilities.
In other robotics for manufacturing, robotic grinding provider Kane Robotics raised $175,000 in an equity sale, according to an SEC filing. Sequoia Capital participated in seed funding for Cognicept Systems, which provides “human in the loop” telerobotic troubleshooting.
Funding for robots in schools, homes, and outer space
The remaining robotics transactions for October 2019 were in a variety of areas. In the biggest single deal of the month, PTC paid $470 million for Onshape, whose software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering can aid in the design of products including robots.
Also in software, Realtime Robotics raised $11.7 million in Series A funding for its collision-avoidance technology. On the hardware side, AnotherBrain raised $20.7 million for chips that it said are energy-efficient and can lead to “organic AI.”
Labrador Systems raised $2 million in pre-seed funding for its household assistant robot, and China-based Robobloq raised $1.4 million in seed funding for its educational robots. Crowdfunding campaigns are outside the scope of this roundup, but Knightscope’s StartEngine listing is worth noting as the security robot provider prepares for an IPO.
Finally, for now, Voyager Space Holdings said it plans to acquire Altius Space Machines, which is designing a robot to service satellites.
SOURCE: The Robot Report – > 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.
SOURCE: The Robot Report
Are you looking for an updated list of top tier tools for startups?
Here are our Top 5 Startup Tool Resources for 2019.
*Updated Nov 2019*
The industrial robots boom 2019. The number of industrial robots deployed worldwide will increase to around 2.6 million units by 2019. That’s about one million units more than in the record-breaking year of 2015.
In 2017, robot sales increased by 30% to 381,335 units, a new peak for the fifth
year in a row. The main drivers of this exceptional growth in 2017 were the metal
industry (+55%) and electrical/electronics industry (+33%). Robot sales in the automotive industry increased by 22% and remained still the major customer of industrial robots with a share of 33% of the total supply in 2017.
The electrical/electronics industry has been catching up, especially since 2015. In 2017, it reached almost the same share of total supply (32%). The electrical/electronics industry became the most important customer in almost all major Asian markets, e.g. China, Japan, Republic of Korea, already in 2016.
Since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated considerably due to the ongoing trend toward automation and continued innovative technical improvements in industrial robots. Between 2012 and 2017, the average robot sales increase was at 19% per year (CAGR). The number of robot installations had never increased so strongly before. Between 2005 and 2008, the average annual number of robots sold was about 115,000 units. 2009 however, was not an ordinary year because of the global economic and financial crisis which caused an exceptional plunge in robot sales that year.
In 2010, investments which had been restrained in 2009 were the main driver of the significant increase in robot sales. Between 2011 and 2017, the average annual supply doubled to about 236,000 units compared to the average annual supply between 2005 and 2008. In the past three years (2015-2017) the average annual increase was about 310,000 units.
This is a clear indication of the tremendous, accelerating rise in demand for industrial robots worldwide.
Robot density in the United States manufacturing industry reached 200 robots per 10,000 employees in 2017, according to the International Federation of Robotics. That number is an increase from 189 robots in 2016 and 176 robots in 2015.
Robot density is a measurement that tracks the number of robots per 10,000 workers in an industry. While the US ranks 7th in the world in robot density, it has quite a ways to go to catch up to The Republic of Korea (710) and Singapore (638) that continue to rank first and second worldwide.
Based on the IFR’s initial numbers, there were no changes to the order of the top seven countries with the highest robot density. All seven countries saw the number increase. Here’s how the countries performed in 2016 and 2017.
The IFR points out that the robot density in the US manufacturing industry is more than double that of China, which ranks 21st in the world with a robot density of 97.
The IFR, which will discuss robot density in more detail at Automate 2019 in Chicago, says the trend to automate production in both domestic and global markets is the main driving force of robot installations in the US. The general industry sector, particularly the food and beverage industry (+64%) and the plastic and chemical products industry (+30%), had the highest growth.
To arrive at the Stengel 50, Millward Brown Optimor valued thousands of brands across 30+ countries. The list included both B2B and B2C businesses in 28 categories ranging in size from $100 million in revenues to well over $100 billion:
Based on 10 years of empirical research involving 50,000 brands, Millward Brown and Jim Stengel developed the list of the world’s 50 fastest growing brands which built the deepest relationships with customers and achieved the greatest financial growth from 2001-2011. The study, which forms the backbone of GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies (Crown Business; December 27, 2011), establishes a cause and effect relationship between a brand’s ability to serve a higher purpose and its financial performance. Notably, investment in these companies – the Stengel 50 – over the past decade would have been 400% more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500.
How Ideals Impact the Consumer Mind
To further explore if and how ideals impact consumer attitudes, Millward Brown’s Neuroscience team devised a method to uncover the implicit associations that people make between brands and ideals. This custom research provided insights into the types of associations activated in people’s minds by the Stengel 50 brands and their competitors. The research uncovered the extent to which these high-growth brands touch on the five fields of fundamental human values identified in GROW:
- Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
- Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with each other and the world in meaningful ways
- Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
- Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
- Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, from challenging the status quo to redefining categories
“GROW will change the way the C-Suite thinks about achieving financial performance and will help usher in a new era of marketing,” said Eileen Campbell, Global CEO of Millward Brown. “We are incredibly proud of our work with Jim – work that embodies Millward Brown’s own brand ideal of creating meaningful impact.”
To learn more about Millward Brown’s partnership with Jim Stengel and their approach to unlocking ideal-driven growth, visit www.millwardbrown.com/grow.
Perhaps the most interesting way to peek into the future of industrial robot installations is to look at potential sales in China.
Currently, the world’s most populous nation has a density of robots that is about half of the world average, equal to just 36 robots for every 10,000 manufacturing workers in China.
However, this is changing fast. It’s been the largest market for robots since 2013, and in 2014 the country bought 57,100 robots – the highest quantity ever recorded in a year. By 2018, one in every three robots in operation around the world will be in China.
What will happen if China’s density approaches that of other robot industrial centers?
Highly automated countries such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea all have robot densities that are multiples higher. South Korea, for example, has 478 industrial robots for every 10,000 workers – a ratio that is 13x higher than China’s.
With this kind of potential for growth, it’s clear that this is only the start of the robot story.