Home Technology This week in robotics: Chinese startups achieve a series of fundraising successes

This week in robotics: Chinese startups achieve a series of fundraising successes

by Ana Lopez
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Before we dive into this week’s biggest robotics news, there’s an announcement of our own to highlight.

We will be hosting a number of robotics industry experts on our first-ever Hardware Stage at businessroundups.org Disrupt 2023. The stage kicks off on day three of Disrupt on September 21 and features speakers from Alphabet’s Intrinsic, Open Robotics, Agility Robotics, and Farm-ng, with more reveals to come.

Resident robotics expert Brian Heater is spearheading the Hardware Stage, and you can follow future updates and his continued coverage of the space by subscribing to the Actuator newsletter here.

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

Cooking robot company Botinkit raises 13 million dollars

Restaurant chains 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 US and will now use the $13 million it raised in a Series A to bring its culinary makers to Europe and the Middle East.

Besides reducing the loss of ingredients and energy consumption during the cooking process, Botinkit sees another advantage for its robots.

“In the past, cuisine was limited by time and geographical boundaries. However, the digitization of cooking creates a range of new possibilities, including remote cooking. Say 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 businessroundups.org earlier this week.

SoftBank invests in Rice Robotics supplies

Employees at SoftBank’s new headquarters in Tokyo use delivery robots with big, cute eyes to transport 7-Eleven orders between stores and delivery locations. The cartoonish couriers, made by Hong Kong-based Rice Robotics, can run for 12 hours and take just an hour to charge between onigiri and UCC coffee runs.

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

ForwardX’s robotics effort reached $140 million in fundraising

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

The company, which has already sent out 3,000 robots to a customer list that includes IKEA, UNIQLO, Walmart and Mitsubishi, has just announced a $30 million fundraiser that brings Series C to $61 million and total funding to $140 million.

Women in Robotics is launching a scholarship in honor of Joanne Pransky

Joanne Pransky, who recently passed away after decades of work in the robotics industry, left an indelible mark on the space as she sought to better understand the human side of our relationships with robots.

The nonprofit Women in Robotics wants to honor her legacy by helping the next wave of women and non-binary students with a scholarship bearing her namesake. Anyone can contribute to the fund here via Bold.org.

“As a pioneer in social robotics and the sales and marketing of robots and robotics magazines, Joanne was very often the only woman in the room,” Andra Keay, president of Women in Robotics, told businessroundups.org. And with the help of the Joanne Pransky Celebration of Women in Robotics scholarship, that is a thing of the past.

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