Robotics investments recap: February 2020

Robotics investments recap: February 2020

In February 2020, Huntington Ingalls acquired Hydroid, which makes the REMUS 300 UUV. Source: Hydroid

In addition to companies developing autonomous vehicles and healthcare robotics, startups working on aerial drones, logistics and construction robots, and underwater systems obtained funding in February 2020.

This past month, The Robot Report and sibling site Robotics Business Review tracked a total of 25 reported investments, mergers, and acquisitions across automation. The reported values were worth a total of $1.19 billion.

In comparison, The Robot Report recorded $1.16 billion in transactions in January 2020, and $4.3 billion in February 2019. The number of investments declined from 40 last month and 25 a year ago.

The table below lists fundings in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available.

Robotics investments, February 2020

Company Amt. (M$) Transaction Lead investor, partner Date Technology
Aerodyne Group Series B North Summit Capital, Arc Ventures, Leave a Nest Feb. 4 drone inspection
Cepton Technologies Inc. 50 Series C Koito Manufacturing Co. Feb. 5 lidar
Intuition Robotics Ltd. 36 Series B SPARX Group, OurCrowd Feb. 13 social robots
Lyro Robotics Pty. seed Toyo Kanetsu Feb. 6 AI, pick and place
Nomagic 8.6 seed Khosla Ventures Feb. 4 warehouse
Outrider 53 Series A NEA, 8VC Feb. 19 autonomous yard trucks
Pony.ai Inc. 462 investment Toyota Motor Corp. Feb. 25 autonomous vehicles
Ready Robotics 23 investment Canaan Feb. 25 software
Ripcord 45 Series B2 CDK Global Feb. 25 AI, records digitization
Roborigger 5 investment Blackbird Ventures Feb. 7 remote crane control
Robotic Skies Inc. investment CerraCap Ventures Feb. 26 drone maintenance
Scaled Robotics 2.21 seed Norwegian Construct Venture, PropTech Fund Surplus Feb. 3 construction site mapping robot
Sensible4 7 Series A Itochu Corp., NordicNinja VC Feb. 28 autonomous vehicle software
Small Robot Co. 0.259 investment 7percent Ventures Feb. 11 robot mapping, weeding
Square Robot 12 Series B Feb. 12 inspection robots
Temi Global Ltd. 15 investment Joy Capital Feb. 27 telepresence
Unbox Robotics investment Entrepreneur First Feb. 20 package sorting
Volocopter GmbH 94.7 Series C DB Schenker Feb. 21 air taxi

In February 2020, there were six robotics-related mergers and acquisitions, compared with seven in January 2020 and six in February 2019. (See also our roundup of the biggest acquisitions of last year.)

Robotics acquisitions, February 2020

Company Amt. (M$) Acquirer, partner Date Technology
2G Robotics Inc. Sonardyne International Ltd. Feb. 5 imaging, AUVs, ROVs
Digital Surgery Medtronic PLC Feb. 13 AI, surgical robots
Hydroid Inc. 350 Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. Feb. 4 UUVs
Kadho Roybi Feb. 25 speech recognition, education
Orpheus Medical Ltd. Intuitive Surgical Inc. Feb. 10 surgical robots
Scape Technologies 40 Facebook Feb. 8 machine vision

Pony.ai fuels up for self-driving car race

Traditionally, President’s Day is marked with automotive sales. This year, technologies around self-driving cars raised a total of $613.7 million, led by Toyota’s $462 million investment in Pony.ai Inc. The Fremont, Calif.-based startup has build a modular system for perception, planning, and control that works with off-vehicle data processing and management for Level 4 autonomous vehicles.

Bruschal, Germany-based Volocopter GmbH extended its Series C funding to $94.7 million, as it develops a different sort of autonomous vehicle — aerial drones for transporting passengers and cargo.

Cepton Technologies Inc. last month raised $50 million in its Series C round. The San Jose, Calif.-based startup’s patented Micro Motion Technology is different from traditional beam-steering techniques for lidar.

Spring may be around the corner, but Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software is designed for all weather conditions. The Espoo, Fiinland-based company raised $7 million in its Series A round.

Field robots raise funds in February 2020

Companies making ruggedized robots for outdoor use raised significant funding this past month. After Pony.ai’s fund-raising, the next largest transaction of February 2020 was Huntington Ingalls Industries’ acquisition of Hydroid Inc. for $350 million.

The Pocasset, Mass.-based company’s REMUS unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) have been deployed for military, marine science, and commercial uses.

Sonardyne International Ltd. bought 2G Robotics Inc. for an unspecified amount. Waterloo, Ontario-based 2G Robotics provides imaging technology for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for exploration.

Boston-based Square Robot emerged from stealth and raised a $12 million Series B for its robots for underwater inspection.

In agriculture, Small Robot Co. in West Dean, U.K., raised $259,000 for robotic mapping and weeding. Malaysia-based Aerodyne Group raised an unspecified Series B round for the global expansion of its drones-as-a-service offering for precision agriculture, oil and gas, and infrastructure inspection.

Perth, Australia-based Roborigger last month raised $5 million for remote-controlled cranes, while Barcelona’s Scaled Robotics raised a seed round of $2.21 million for a wheeled robot for mapping construction sites.

Robotic Skies Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., raised an unspecified amount in strategic investment for its drone maintenance services. Facebook Inc. acquired Scape Technologies in London for its computer vision technology, which could provide more accurate location information than GPS.

Industrial automation receives investment

Although not as prominent as other vendors, companies supplying robots to factories and warehouses raised $84 million last month. BDO USA LLP surveyed chief financial officers at manufacturers and found that most are optimistic about automation’s prospects this year.

One promising area for automation is the yard between a facility and tractor-trailers and other vehicles. Bend, Ore.-based Outrider (formerly known as Azevtec) emerged from stealth and raised $53 million for its self-driving yard trucks.

February 2020 robotics invesments

Autonomous yard truck. Source: Outrider.ai

Columbus, Ohio-based Ready Robotics, which developed Forge O/S, an easy-to-use operating system for robot arms in manufacturing, raised $23 million in February 2020.

Pick-and-pack robot provider Nomagic raised $8.6 million in one of the largest seed rounds for a Polish startup to date.

Lyro Robotics Pty. in Brisbane, Australia, secured an unspecified amount as it develops algorithms, vision systems, and robotic grippers for pick-and-place operations.

Unbox Robotics also raised an unspecified amount for its package-sorting robots. The Bengaluru, India-based firm was among 19 “deep tech” startups funded by U.K.-based Entrepreneur First, according to DealStreet Asia.

Healthcare, service robot firms get funding in February 2020

There were fewer investments in surgical robots and other health and medical systems than in previous months, but that may change now that the COVID-19 outbreak is drawing attention to robots.

Israel-based Intuition Robotics Ltd., whose ElliQ is an “intelligent companion” for older people and whose “Q” offers new levels of interaction to automakers and others, raised $36 million in Series B funding in February 2020. The company is also supported by Toyota AI Ventures.



Intuitive Surgical Inc. acquired Orpheus Medical Ltd. for an unspecified amount. New York-based Orpheus Medical makes an informatics platform that complements Intuitive’s da Vinci system.

Intuitive’s leadership in robot-assisted surgery field is facing an increasing number of challengers. One of them, Medtronic PLC, acquired London-based Digital Surgery to add artificial intelligence and data analytics to its portfolio.

Also in February 2020, wearable technology company Myomo closed a public offering worth $15 million. ReWalk Robotics Ltd. closed a public offering, raising $7 million for its exoskeleton to help people with lower-limb disabilities.

Despite investor interest, the healthcare space can be challenging. Titan Medical Inc. said it needs to raise an additional $85 million to bring its Sport surgical robot to market. AVRA Medical Robotics recently paid off $25,000 in debt.

Beyond healthcare, Ripcord raised $45 million in Series B2 funding. The Hayward, Calif.-based company uses robots and AI to digitize documents. In addition, Temi Global Ltd. received $15 million. The New York-based telepresence provider is among the companies responding to coronavirus concerns.

Finally, educational robot maker Roybi acquired Mountain View, Calif.-based Kadho for its speech-recognition technology.


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.

Verification
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 PitchBook, 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.

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