Home / iot / Robotics firm closes $820 million investment, backed by Tencent

Robotics firm closes $820 million investment, backed by Tencent

A humanoid robotic production company has closed probably the most global’s greatest robotics and synthetic intelligence funding campaigns.

UBTECH Robotics, which develops a spread of robots for shoppers, training, and companies, has raised $820 million in a chain C funding spherical, valuing the corporate at $five billion. 

The overall funding determine is over double that already introduced in December.

The sequence C spherical used to be led by way of Asia’s most useful corporate, the $580 billion Chinese language web and era funding large Tencent, which has introduced or funded a spread of AI, device studying, and different attached merchandise lately.

Different traders come with: ICBC; Haier; Minsheng Securities; Telstra; Chia Tai Crew; China Minsheng Financial institution; China Movie and TV Capital; CGN; Sichuan Railway Funding Crew; Inexperienced Pine Capital Companions; Whale Capital; and Shenzhen JinFuZi Community Generation.

The robo-unicorn

Based in 2012 – at the again of study begun in 2008 – Shenzen, China-based UBTECH used to be already a ‘unicorn’ startup in 2016, valued at $1 billion. Its US subsidiary, UBTECH North The usa, is founded in Los Angeles.

UBTECH makes a spread of robots, which within the West are referred to as: the Alpha 1 Professional instructional humanoid; home/leisure robotic Lynx (branded in China as Qrobot Alpha), which used to be the primary house robotic to incorporate Amazon’s Alexa assistant; the Jimu robotics kits, which can be designed to inspire STEM training in small children; and the cloud-linked, AI- and SLAM-enabled customer support robotic, Cruzr (see video).

As one among UBTECH’s main traders, Shenzen-based Tencent plans to paintings intently with the corporate on long term product building and launches. The 2 have already collaborated on a number of initiatives.

“We’re honoured and gratified by way of this funding, the exceptionally top quality of our traders, and the strategic projects we can release as we innovate a brand new technology of shopper robots,” stated UBTECH CEO, James Zhou.

He defined that the corporate will make investments the cash in accelerating its analysis and building actions, expanding emblem consciousness, pushing into new territories, and recruiting new skill.

Contemporary hires come with Professor Tao Dacheng from the College of Sydney, as AI leader scientist, and Professor Zhao Mingguo from Tsinghua College, as humanoids leader scientist.

Growth plans

UBTECH no longer simplest desires to enlarge its vary of clever humanoid robots and “put a robotic in each and every house”, but additionally to create larger ones which can be underpinned by way of movement regulate algorithms and laptop imaginative and prescient era. The company could also be having a look to construct an ecosystem of products and services and content material for its robots.

“As era evolves to incorporate extra voice and contact functions, folks want new units that keep in touch and engage extra naturally and intuitively at house, in class, and at paintings,” stated Zhou.

“Whilst tendencies in robots and robotics are growing, no corporate has but stepped ahead with the sources, imaginative and prescient, and merchandise ecosystem to change into robotic delusion and fiction into robotic truth. UBTECH is bringing this truth to lifestyles by way of increasing the chances for innovation.”

Web of Industry says

Zhou’s ambition can’t be faulted, and the massive funding in UBTECH for sure provides it the prospective to enlarge past a core industry that – the Cruzr robotic apart – has basically enthusiastic about price range and/or instructional robots that blur the road between toys and home units.

However he’s overstating UBTECH’s case. Amongst its many severe competition at the global degree are China’s Qihan, makers of the Sanbot humanoid and repair robotic vary, and Japan’s SoftBank, proprietor of Boston Dynamics, and of the NAO, Pepper, and Romeo humanoids at the start evolved by way of Aldebaran Robotics. In design phrases, no less than, the NAO robotic would seem to have been an inspiration for UBTECH’s lower-cost Lynx (or Qrobot) device.

In the meantime – if rumours are true – every other competitor would possibly quickly be UBTECH’s era spouse, Amazon.

For extra on China’s booming robots sector, and different tendencies in robotics analysis, see this feature from our fresh stories, beneath.

Further reporting: Chris Middleton

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