Before we dive into the week’s biggest news in the robotics space, there’s an announcement of our own to highlight.
We’ll be hosting robotics industry experts on our first Hardware Stage at Zero2Billions 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 leads the Hardware Stage, and you can keep up with future updates, and its continued coverage of the space, by subscribing to the Actuator newsletter here.
With that self-promotion, let’s dive in.
Cooking robot company Botinkit raised $13 million
Restaurant chains value consistency and efficiency, two things automation lends itself to. Shenzhen-based startup Botinkit has taken its cooking robot beyond China’s borders to Japan and the US, and will now use the $13 million it raised in Series A to take its culinary creator to Europe and the Middle East.
As well as reducing material loss and energy use during the cooking process, Botinkit sees other benefits of its robots.
“In the past, cooking was limited by time and geographical boundaries. However, with the digitization of cooking comes new possibilities, including remote cooking. Suppose I am in Shenzhen and you are in the US, I can use our software and hardware systems to remotely ‘cook’ for you,” co-founder Shirley Chen told Zero2Billions earlier this week.
SoftBank invests in Rice Robotics delivery
Workers at SoftBank’s new Tokyo headquarters have been using wide-eyed, adorable delivery robots to deliver 7-Eleven orders between stores and delivery locations. The cartoon courier, created by Hong Kong-based Rice Robotics, can run for 12 hours and only takes an hour to refill between onigiri and UCC coffee.
And SoftBank announced this week it will contribute to Rice’s $7 million pre-Series A funding round, which will be used for further expansion in Japan, the company’s No.1 source of revenue.
ForwardX’s robotics efforts reached $140 million in fundraising
Warehouse logistics and inventory management have been covered in previous issues, and for good reason — this is a massive industry ripe with opportunities for robotics and automation. And ForwardX, based in Beijing, has raised a significant amount of investment since its launch in 2016.
The company, which has delivered 3,000 robots to a client roster that includes IKEA, UNIQLO, Walmart and Mitsubishi, just announced a $30 million fundraiser that takes its Series C to $61 million and its total funding to $140 million.
Women in Robotics launched a scholarship in honor of Joanne Pransky
Joanne Pransky, who recently passed away after decades working in the robotics industry, left an indelible mark on space as she sought to spur understanding of the human side of our relationship with robots.
The non-profit Women in Robotics wants to honor her legacy by helping the next wave of female and nonbinary students with scholarships bearing her name. Anyone can help donate funds here via Bold.org.
“As a pioneer in social robotics and the sales and marketing of robots and a robotics journal, Joanne is often the only woman in the room,” Women in Robotics president Andra Keay told Zero2Billions. And with the help of Joanne Pransky’s Celebration of Women in Robotics, that will be a thing of the past.
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