A Chinese company is poised to meet Japan’s demand for autonomous vehicles as robots play an increasingly important role in tackling labor shortages in an aging society.
Pix Moving joins forces with YEW, a publicly listed information technology company in Japan, to provide self-driving robots to retirees. As part of the partnership, Pix received “approximately $10 million” from TIS in its Series A funding round, just four months after it received $11 million Angelo Yu, founder and CEO of Pix Moving, spoke to TechCrunch about earlier investments.
The funding comes at a time when “US dollar VCs are cutting back” and “startup valuations are relatively low” in China, Yu says. So many companies have turned to domestic yuan funds, but these companies tend to shorter time horizon than their dollar counterparts, which puts a lot of pressure on companies in terms of monetization.
Yu declines to disclose Pix’s valuation after cashing in, but says the firm hit its target valuation in the latest round.
The strategic investment suggests that Pix Moving is working with TIS, which has clients in Japan, China and Southeast Asia, to supply aging communities with robots that can deliver food, groceries and medical equipment to residents on their doorstep. Pix will provide lidar vehicles and operational support, while TIS will not handle the IT aspect of the partnership.
Pix Moving was founded in 2014 by Yu, a former architect, and has taken a different path than most other autonomous start-ups in China: instead of developing a fully autonomous vehicle, it focuses on the so-called “skateboard” chassis, a platform. which contains electronic motors, batteries and other key components – similar to what Kanu and Rivian do. Skateboard Yu envisions that it can be scaled to various sizes and completed with various body styles, which is suitable for the EV market with rapidly changing products and lowers the barrier to EV production.
The skateboard’s modular architecture makes it easy to crowdsource ideas. Thus, the founder envisions a future where electric vehicle manufacturing can be done through, lo and behold, blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organizations or DAOs.
“Today, many DAO projects are virtual, so I wonder if we can do something in a tangible, real economy,” he says.
The vision is to bring in third party developers to build the Pix Moving Skateboard Platform. Instead of a hierarchical community management, a DAO will manage, which works by executing predefined rules in smart contracts or lines of code. The company experimented with this idea by conducting virtual hackathon which attracted automotive professionals from all over the world.
Overseas markets currently account for 40% of Pix’s revenue and this share is expected to reach 50% next year. The company, which employs 160 people, is headquartered in southern China’s Guizhou province, which also hosts Apple’s cloud storage in China. He opens a subsidiary and hires employees in Japan.
Credit: techcrunch.com /