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Everyone Wants To Build A Robot

July 27, 2023
x min read

A few years ago, a video surfaced from Boston Dynamics- the engineering company spun out of MIT- of a prototype of a robot they were building, named Atlas. The video featured a robot was life like, running, walking and even jumping.

It caused mass panic, confusion, excitement and even panic as people thought about the implications of such technology becoming widely adopted.

And then, as quickly as that happened, most people simply forgot all about it.

Except for Silicon Valley.

Ever since Boston Dynamics revealed what they were building, startups started popping up to launch similar variations of the same concept: human like robotics.

The concept has now been dubbed “humanoids”. Meaning, a robot resembling human shape and human features.

But, why:

the boom in robotics startups has many different reasons.

  • For military and combat purposes
  • For manual labour jobs that are highly dangerous
  • For replacing difficult aspects of logistics

Robots and Venture Capital:

in the last month alone, there has been major momentum across venture backed robotics startups.

  • Intel Capital recently invested $9M into Robotics company Figure (private). Figure is founded by Brett Adcock, who notably put $100M of his own capital into getting the project off the ground
  • Rice Robotics (private) recently raised $7M from SoftBank for their office delivery robots
  • Neura Robotics raised $55M for “cognitive robots” that can collaborate with human beings to solve problems. Neura Robotics says it has $450M in orders to fulfil already
  • ForwardX (private) raised $61M in a Series C round for warehouse robotics that can perform various manual labour and logistic tasks
  • Simbe (private) raised $28M in new funding for their inventory focused robotics

The Big Picture:

  • While most robotics startups are currently very much still largely in research and development, there is growing evidence that there is enormous commercial demand for them
  • Small pilot projects are now happening between robotics startups and large companies. As these pilot projects show traction, the funding cycles are likely to pick up even more amongst VC funds

The Risks:

  • Robotics startups are extremely capital intensive, with most needing to raise hundreds of millions to fully build out and validate their technology
  • Many of the technical challenges and capabilities are unknown, as humanoid robotics is so new
  • Since the need for capital is so high, many startups are raising at extremely high valuations and are pre revenues. There will be immense pressure from early investors for these companies to grow into their valuations as time goes on, which can cause future challenges to access capital

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