April 24, 2024

This week in robotics: Chinese startups rack up fundraising successes

Before we dive into this week’s biggest news within the robotics space, we have an announcement of our own to highlight.

We’ll be hosting a number of experts in the robotics industry at our first Hardware Stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023. The stage kicks off on the third day of Disrupt on September 21, featuring speakers from Alphabet’s Intreach, Open Robotics, Agility Robotics and Farm-ng, with more to come.

The Hardware Stage is led by resident robotics expert Brian Heater, and you can keep tabs on future updates, and his ongoing coverage of the space, by subscribing to the Actuator newsletter right here.

With that self-promotion out of the way, let’s dive in.

Cooking robot company Boinkit raises $13M

Chain restaurants value consistency and efficiency, two things that lend themselves well to automation. Shenzhen-based startup Botinkit has taken its cooking robots beyond China’s borders to Japan and the United States, and will now use the $13 million it raised in Series A to bring its culinary creators to Europe and the Middle East.

Besides cutting down on ingredient loss and energy use during the cooking process, Botinkit sees another benefit to its robots.

“Art used to be constrained by time and geographical boundaries. However, with the digitization of cooking, a range of new possibilities emerge, including remote cooking. “Suppose I’m in Shenzhen and you’re in the US, I can use our software and hardware system to ‘cook’ for you remotely,” co-founder Shirley Chen told TechCrunch earlier this week.

SoftBank invests in Rice Robotics deliveries

Workers at SoftBank’s new Tokyo headquarters are using beautiful, wide-eyed delivery robots to carry 7-Eleven orders between stores and drop-off locations. The cartoonish messengers, made by Hong Kong-based Rice Robotics, can run for 12 hours and only take an hour to recharge between onigiri and UCC coffee runs.

And SoftBank announced this week that it would be adding to Rice’s $7 million pre-Series A funding round, which will be put towards continued expansion within Japan, the No. 1 source of revenue. 1 of the company.

ForwardX’s robotics efforts have achieved $140M in fundraising

Warehouse logistics and inventory management have been covered in previous editions, and for good reason – it’s a huge, ripe industry with opportunities for robotics and automation. And Beijing-based ForwardX has been raising a significant amount of investment since launching in 2016.

The company, which has already shipped 3,000 robots across a client list including IKEA, UNIQLO, Walmart and Mitsubishi, has just announced a $30 million funding round that brings its Series C to $61 million and its total funding to $140 million.

Women in Robotics launches a scholarship in honor of Joanne Pransky

Joanne Pransky, who passed away recently after many years of work within the robotics industry, left an indelible mark on the space as she sought to inspire an understanding of the human side of our relationship with robots.

The nonprofit Women in Robotics wants to honor her legacy by helping the next generation of women and non-binary students with a scholarship that bears her name. Anyone can help the fund right here through Bold.org.

“As a pioneer in the field of social robotics and robotics and robotics magazine sales and marketing, Joanne was often the only woman in the room,” Women in Robotics president Andra Keay told TechCrunch. And with the help of Joanne Pransky’s Celebrating Women in Robotics scholarship, that will be a thing of the past.

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