The SoftBank´s Vision Fund participated in a $300m round of robotics tech provider CloudMinds. This is a deal in the wider robotics and drones space, which has seen much growth in recent years
Telecoms firm SoftBank’s nearly $100bn Vision Fund invested in China-based artificial intelligence and robotics developer CloudMinds. The investment was part of a $300m funding round, after which SoftBank reportedly owns a 30% stake in CloudMinds. The fresh funding will go into scaling up production via a manufacturing line being built in Shanghai. SoftBank had already committed capital to the company as part of a $100m round in 2017.
Founded in 2015, CloudMinds has developed a cloud-based system that could potentially connect to millions of robots, which the company also produces, enabling capabilities like natural language processing, computer vision as well as advanced navigation. The potential applications of the robots range across different sectors, including retail and healthcare. CloudMinds is planning on selling a few hundred of its robots, which cost about $50,000 each, in the US by the end of 2019.
The broader robotics and unmanned aerial vehicle space has been increasingly on the radar of corporate investors over the past three years, as the GCV Analytics bar chart here suggests. The number of such rounds went up almost 4 times over from 13 in 2014 up to 48 last year. Similarly, the total estimated capital in those rounds surged from $70m to $1.66bn.