Greetings from Berkeley, California, the place we’ve simply wrapped up our first-ever Local weather-focused occasion. It was barely surreal being again on stage at Zellerbach Corridor, given the final time I stepped foot within the constructing was a really totally different time, means again in March 2020.
I’m writing to you from an especially sunny sidewalk a number of blocks from the College of California campus, the place the occasion was held on Tuesday. I additionally had the chance to get a peek at a number of tasks from Pieter Abbeel’s lab at Berkeley Synthetic Intelligence Analysis (BAIR).
We shot a handful of movies of thrilling tasks we’ll be displaying you as a part of subsequent month’s free, on-line robotics occasion. We even have plans to fulfill with researchers in Boston in a number of weeks for some extra demos. I’m trying ahead to checking these out and being again in Boston for the primary time because the pandemic began.
A fast addition to the agenda: We simply introduced that we’ll have companions from DCVC, Playground International and FoundersX collectively on a panel on the occasion. For those who’ve ever been to a TechCrunch occasion, you realize we all the time have at the least one VC panel — it’s, in any case, our bread and butter, as a web site.
It has all the time been a spotlight of the robotics occasion, however this yr it carries much more weight than most. It’s been a turbulent couple of years because the final time we held the occasion — however at the least on this planet of robotics investing, the motion has been principally optimistic. There’s been a slight regression this yr, however total it’s been far much less dramatic than we’ve seen with the bigger startup.
The previous couple of years have been an amazing accelerator for robotics and automation, and I’m excited to carry collectively DCVC accomplice Kelly Chen, Playground International founding accomplice Bruce Leak and FoundersX founder/managing accomplice, Helen Liang. We’ve received heaps to debate, and I hope you’ll tune into the free occasion on July 21.
This previous week introduced us a handful of the aforementioned funding tales. On the high of my checklist is the merely named Collaborative Robotics, which launches with a $10 million increase, beneath the management of former Amazon Robotics VP Brad Porter. I spoke with the chief final week about his admittedly lofty targets of making a flexible, all-purpose robotic. Porter notes:
We don’t suppose that there’s an equal functionality to the six-degree-of-freedom robotic artwork that’s typically collaborative, works with people and may meet all kinds of use instances. So we’re beginning an organization to construct that.
One other huge spherical for Shenzhen-based HAI Robotics, which introduced a $200 million combo Collection C/D spherical all the best way again within the distant period of September 2021. The brand new “Collection D+” brings in $100 million, with lead investor Capital At this time and co-investors together with a high U.S. greenback fund and present shareholders 5Y Capital, Supply Code Capital, Sequoia Capital and 01VC.
The corporate makes warehouse/logistics robots and is capitalizing on labor shortages. Strike whereas the iron is scorching, I suppose. Founder and CEO, Richie Chen, notes:
This spherical of financing can be spent on stepping up the R&D of warehousing logistics robotic techniques and on world enterprise enlargement, to offer extra environment friendly, clever and versatile merchandise to energy each warehouse with robots to deal with labor scarcity and address the challenges introduced by the growing older inhabitants.
Tel Aviv-based drone agency Indoor Robotics introduced a $15 million Collection A, led by Pitango and that includes Goal International, European Innovation Council Fund and Spider Capital. The spherical will go towards bolstering manufacturing on the corporate’s Tando drone. The indoor system is targeted totally on safety and monitoring.
Right here’s co-founder and CEO, Doron Ben David:
We reimagined what a drone was able to and mixed human-like capabilities with AI instruments to allow next-generation safety and monitoring. Tando has already been deployed by the world’s main enterprises and safety monitoring corporations and is making a tangible impression on security and safety.
Talking of drones, after stumbling out of the gate, Amazon’s Prime Air drone supply program is lastly making some headway. This week the corporate introduced that the city of Lockeford, California can be “among the many first” spots within the U.S. to get entry to the service, later this yr. Lockeford is a small, census designated place about half-hour outdoors Stockton that’s in all probability finest generally known as the one-time residence of aviation pioneer Weldon B. Cooke. So, that’s a pleasant hook.
The corporate additionally provided a take a look at a number of the prototypes they’ve been fiddling round with over time. The most recent — MH27-2 — is able to transporting a five-pound payload as much as 50 miles an hour. Alphabet’s Wing very a lot has the upper-hand in the meanwhile, with lots of of hundreds of deliveries beneath its belt, however we’re nonetheless very a lot early levels right here, and on the final supply entrance, Amazon is, as ever, the corporate to beat.
And for good measure, right here’s a video of Ghost Robotics’ canine going for a swim, courtesy of Onyx Industries’ Nautical Autonomous Unmanned Tail (NAUT). As we’ve famous up to now, Ghost has made no bones about its navy and policing companions, grabbing headlines via photographs of a remote-controlled rifle strapped to the again of the canine, in addition to testing patrolling alongside the U.S. border.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke out in opposition to the latter in February through a tweet, noting:
It’s shameful how each events struggle tooth + nail to defend their capacity to pump infinite public cash into militarization. From tanks in police depts to deprave navy contracts, funding this violence is bipartisan + non-controversial, but healthcare + housing isn’t. It’s BS.
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