In the midst of global business, as they seek ways to automatize production lines and logistics chains, companies making the machines are attracting a lot of investor interest. One of the latest companies to receive funding has been Flexiv which has completed its Series B round in the that was more than $100 million with investors including China’s online services massive Meituan, TechCrunch learned.
Other key investors who participated in this round include Chinese venture capitalist Meta Capital (Yuan Zhi Zi Ben ), the major Chinese agriculture company New Hope Group, private equity firm Longwood, Jack Ma’s YF Capital, prominent Chinese venture capital companies Gaorong Capital and GSR Ventures along with the Plug and Play’s China and US ventures. The latest round has boosted the capital the startup raised to more than $120 million in the past.
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China’s Robot Maker That Is Adaptive Flexiv Raises More Than $100 Million
The company is based in a variety of significant Chinese cities and California, with two-thirds of its workforce in China. This is a typical strategy for AI companies run by Chinese founders who have lived and studied in the US.
In the year 2016, Wang Shiquan, alumni of Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab, established Flexiv with a primary focus on creating adaptive robots for the production industry. With the capital boost, the startup plans to deploy its AI-driven general-purpose robots in different areas, including agriculture, logistics, and medical health care.
With Meituan’s strategic investment, for example, Flexiv could deploy its solutions to the investor’s primary food delivery service, which is characterized by repetitive, high-volume work and is set to be automated.
While we wait, there’s plenty of potential for automation in conventional manufacturing processes, Wang spoke to TechCrunch. Consumer electronics require precision and delicate manufacturing processes, so the production line is often modified to accommodate an entirely new product. Flexible robots, with computer vision and force feedback systems, can adapt to changing conditions and could help factory managers save time and money when installing new machinery, Wang claimed.
The founder said that the flexibility of the robots at the company is the main reason it stands out from established players.
“Conventional robotic arms can complete tasks when there aren’t barriers in the way, but they’re less suited to operating in challenging situations. Many straightforward tasks, like cleaning dishes, require AI-based decision-making and recognition.”
The company started manufacturing in the latter quarter of the year and produced about 100 robots. The company is planning to earn money by making robots available for sale, licensing software, and offering after-sales services. The next challenge is finding partnerships and customers from various industries who will trust the company’s nascent technology.
China remains the largest market for Flexiv, and North America is a key market for its expansion plans. “Each market has its advantage in robotics,” Wang suggested. “China’s advantages lie in manufacturing, supply chains as well as labor costs.”
“In the field of adaptive and traditional robotics, the gap between nations is shrinking,” the founder said.