China’s adaptive robot maker Flexiv raises over $100 million – TechCrunch

As businesses around the world look to automate production lines and supply chains, robot-making companies are attracting great investor interest. Is the latest to be funded Flexiv, Which closed a Series B round north of $ 100 million from investors, including China’s on-demand services giant Meituan, TechCrunch learned.

Other key investors in the strategic phase are Chinese venture capital firm Meta Capital (知 资) 本), leading Chinese agricultural company New Hope Group, private equity firm Longwood. Jack Ma’s YF Capital, the leading Chinese venture capital firm Gaurang Rajdhani And GSR Ventures, Also Plug and Play’s China and US venture. The new round raised the startup’s capital by more than $ 120 million.

The company operates out of several major Chinese cities and out of California, with two-thirds of its staff deployed in China, a common strategy for AI startups helmed by Chinese founders who have worked or studied in the US.

In 2016, Wang Wrinkle, an alumus Stanford’s Biometrics and Mastery Manipulation Lab, Founded Flexive with a focus on manufacturing adaptive robots for the manufacturing industry. With the new capital, the startup plans to implement its AI-powered, general-purpose robots in other areas such as services, agriculture, logistics and medical care.

Through this Of meituan For example strategic investment, Flexive can deploy its solutions to an investor’s core food delivery business, which includes repetitive, high-volume tasks and is used for automation.

Curved surface processing by Flexive’s robot region / photo: Flexive

Meanwhile, there is still enough room for automation in traditional manufacturing, Wang said in an interview with TechCrunch. Consumer electronics in particular require high-precision, delicate manufacturing processes, meaning that the production line often needs to be remodeled for a new product. Wang claimed that being equipped with flexible robots, force feedback and computer vision systems can adjust to new situations and save factory owners some time and money.

The company has flexible robots that set it apart from many existing players, the founder said.

“Traditional robotic weapons can function safely when there are no obstacles around, but they are less capable of operating in complex environments … many simple tasks such as actually AI-based validation for washing dishes And decision-making power is much needed. “

The company started mass production in the second half of this year and has so far produced about 100 robots. It plans to sell robots, license software and provide after-sales services. The challenge then lies in finding partners and customers in a wide range of industries to rely on their nascent technologies.

China remains the largest market for Flexive while North America is a major market in its expansion plans. “Each country has its own competitive edge in robotics,” Wang suggested. “China benefits in manufacturing, supply chain and labor costs.”

“In the field of traditional and adaptive robotics, the gap between different countries is definitely narrowing,” the founder said.