I did a little of a double take on this one: $ 100 million is a big number anytime, but two and a half months after a $ 56 million round is pretty wild. At the very least, we know that Path Robotics is willing to put its money where its mouth is – and that Tiger Global loves what it sees in the welding robotics company.
The “preemptive” Series C brings its total funding to $ 171 and propels it to the top of the best-funded construction robotics companies. There is plenty of room here, of course. The global construction market is in the tens of billions of dollars a year. And one of the beauties of the industry is precisely the number of flanks from which to attack it.
The specific funding of Path… well, path, indicates ambitions beyond welding. But that’s a good place to start, with a massive labor shortage of around 400,000 jobs in the United States alone by 2024. Tiger Global partner Griffin Schroeder is pulling the curtain back slightly. declaring:
Path’s innovative approach to computer vision and proprietary AI software enables robots to detect, understand and adapt to the challenges of every unique welding project. We believe that this revolutionary technology can be adopted for many other applications and products beyond just welding, to serve their customers holistically.
I think there is a risk of taking too much and too quickly for a startup, even as well funded as Path.
Verve Motion’s fundraising round narrowly missed the scoop inclusion threshold last week. It’s tough when your entry is a $ 100 million round, but $ 15 million is certainly nothing to scoff at. Stemming from some of the really interesting work done in Conor Walsh’s lab at Harvard’s Wyss Institute and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Verve Motion is one of many startups in the exoskeleton / exoskeleton category.
There are two largely distinct audiences for this technology: people with mobility challenges and the blue collar workforce. For now, at least, Verve is targeting the latter, with their soft suits designed to help reduce workplace injuries from activities like repetitive lifting. Honestly, that fits the dull, dirty, and dangerous paradigm pretty well.
Less funny news from OpenAI, which quietly disbanded its robotics team. The move actually happened last October, but Venture Beat talked about it last week. The team were probably best known for their Rubik’s Cube-solving robotic hand – a fascinating, but seemingly a bit dead-end, project. Quoting a spokesperson:
After advancing the state of the art in reinforcement learning through our Rubik’s Cube project and other initiatives, we decided last October not to continue research in robotics and to refocus the team on other projects. Due to the rapid advancements in AI and its capabilities, we have found that other approaches, such as reinforcement learning with human feedback, lead to faster advancements in our research on reinforcement learning.
And in the department of the horrific slaughter of a funny thing Mark Twain once said, the information about Pepper’s death is… if not exaggerated, at least disputed by the source. What remains clear is that Softbank’s robotic face wasn’t doing what the firm had hoped, and at the very least, it decided to return to the drawing board.
In addition to continued sales of the refurbished humanoid robot containing the signage, Softbank Robotics’ marketing director Kazutaka Hasumi told Reuters: “We will still be selling Pepper in five years.” Difficult to know what to think of it. When it comes to these things, Pepper wasn’t a particularly useful robot, although it did have a solid pedigree due to Softbank’s acquisition of French company Aldebaran.
At the very least, the company is considering some sort of overhaul. That alone seems unlikely to move the needle much.