Venture capitalists are continuing to fuel the growth of autonomous mobile robot (AMR) vendors, providing $36 million today for artificial intelligence (AI) firm Brain Corp. in an effort to provide increased automation for retail, healthcare, airports, education, and other industries struggling to cope with demand spikes and labor shortages during the Covid-19 health crisis.
Earlier today, Beijing-based robotic automation provider ForwardX Robotics also landed funding, saying the new round of $15 million would support its recent expansion into the North American market.
San Diego-based Brain Corp. has now raised its own “series D” funding with money led by returning investor SoftBank Vision Fund 1, as well as new investors ClearBridge Investments LLC and Satwik Ventures, and an additional investment from Qualcomm Ventures LLC.
Brain Corp. has traditionally focused on the robotic floor care sector, but will now expand beyond industrial cleaning and move into markets like inventory delivery, shelf analytics, and other applications that improve employee productivity, reduce costs, and enhance customer experiences, the company said.
The firm will also use its new backing to support the manufacturing and sales efforts of its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners in new markets, such as those in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Brain Corp.’s business model is to license its robotic AI software—BrainOS—to manufacturing partners such as Tennant Company, Nilfisk, Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG, Minuteman International, Dane Technologies, UniCarriers Americas. Those firms use the technology to create AMRs that can operate safely in dynamic indoor public spaces.
According to Brain Corp., its new financial support comes just in time to support a spike in demand for its robotic floor scrubbers as companies around the globe try to sanitize their buildings during the coronavirus pandemic. Autonomous usage of BrainOS-powered machines in retail locations in the U.S. spiked 13.6% in March 2020, compared to the same month last year, and 13% during the first quarter of this year, according to the firm’s internal network data. In addition, BrainOS-enabled robots are on track to deliver more than a quarter million hours of work over the next 30 days, giving essential workers time back to focus on other important tasks.
"We have always envisioned a world where robots make the lives of people safer, easier, and more productive," Brain Corp. CEO Eugene Izhikevich said in a release. "Autonomous robots are playing a vital role in supporting essential businesses and their workers during this health crisis. This investment will help us continue our pace of innovation and fuel our growth as we execute on the opportunity in front of us."
#BrainOS-powered #robots provide a measurable way for #retailers to increase productivity and operating efficiency with fleet management and data reporting tools. Find out other key benefits of #AMRs for #retail in our new eBook. https://t.co/0v6xJxCHa2 pic.twitter.com/RZW1A8K1gw— Brain Corp (@braincorp) April 23, 2020