Maybe this last holiday weekend here in the US, or maybe it’s the simple truth that we’re currently looking into a midsummer depression, but gosh, it’s been a slow week on the robotics news front. I know you have to hook readers with a compelling first paragraph, but the truth is that this material has ebb and flow, and as we get closer to mid-July we are experiencing the former.
I naturally use some of my column space to share another great piece of news about our July 21 event on robotics (100% available for streaming at 100% free). We have officially announced three judges for our submission (Hope you got in because reception closes today) and, boy, hello, this is the wealth embarrassment ruler.
Joining us is Ohio State University Dean of Engineering Ayanna Howard; E14 Venture Partner and IttleBits Founder Aya Bdeir; and DCVC partner Kelly Chen. The presentation is the highlight of every TechCrunch event, and while I’m probably (definitely) a bit biased, I think it’s doubly true in robotics, where we all have the rare opportunity to see some real companies early on.
As you probably know, it can be difficult to get everything in line with demo robotics firms early on. You really need to get to the point of “goldilocks” when you have technology to showcase but haven’t raised significant capital yet. We’ll be announcing these companies shortly, but for now, I’m in awe of the three judges who bring truly unique perspectives from research, startups, and venture capital to the discussion.
register free here!
From where I sit, the biggest piece of robotics financial news this week Planned acquisition of American Robotics by Airobotics — or rather, the planned acquisition of Airobotics by parent company American Robotics. The former was acquired by Ondas last August, which now plans to acquire the latter in a deal valued at $18.4 million. Both companies produce fully autonomous surveillance drones tethered to a base station.
Sure, there will be some layoffs (and the Airobotics brand will likely end up being swallowed up by the American Robotics banner – a sad end to a funny name), but the deal will create a joint company headquartered in Massachusetts and Tel Aviv. . American Robotics CEO Reese Moser told me:
American Robotics and Airobotics have developed various elements of the DIB ecosystem, and this business combination allows for an accelerated set of offerings that reinforces our leadership position in a broader set of market opportunities. In other words, in the near future, we will learn from each other to further improve our respective systems. In the long term, the Scout System and Optimus System will be different models within the same product family, each specializing in different use cases.
Much less good news: Starship Robotics’ “last mile” delivery platform announced that it lays off about 11% of its global workforce. Not surprising given how widespread layoffs have been in the tech sector lately, but the overfunded robotics industry has been able to largely avoid such a disaster. The company noted in a release that the news came after a big raise, but it still had to adjust due to unforeseen circumstances.
[D]Due to the aforementioned economic and investment changes, Starship must now make difficult changes to focus on cost savings and improved profitability. These changes mean that we will be closing a small number of service centers in the US and Germany over the next two months. The places we have to close don’t have the right mix of merchants and customer base to meet our short-term profitability targets. In addition to the staff affected by these decisions, we are also downsizing the team at the corporate level.
Speaking of old news that’s only now resurfacing (listen guys, I told you it was slow), Jaia Robotics closed out June by announcing a $1 million seed round. The company makes tiny underwater drones designed to collect data. Co-Founder and CEO Jan Estaphan Owen notes, “This investment in Jaia Robotics is a strong demonstration of confidence in the company as an investment opportunity and encouraged us to keep the round open for 90 days, leading to a second close to bring us closer. up to a ceiling of $1.75 million. This will give us more flexibility and really accelerate the growth of our team.”
This week we are closed by a fun study with even smaller robots. University of Pennsylvania showcases some ‘proof of concept’ researchdemonstrating how “a robotic, shape-shifting microroy could one day act as a toothbrush, mouthwash and floss all in one.”
Professor Hyun Koo notes: “Whether your teeth are straight or crooked, they adapt to different surfaces. The system can adapt to all the nooks and crannies in the mouth.”
As you can no doubt tell from the above, these are still very early stages.
No time is a good time for goodbyes, but now is the perfect time to register in an agent.
Credit: techcrunch.com /