GlobalData predicts future robotics unicorns

Friday, 24 September, 2021

GlobalData predicts future robotics unicorns

Data and analytics company GlobalData has released a list of 50 robotics start-ups that have the potential to become unicorns (with a valuation greater than US$1 billion).

“Advances in AI have enabled the development of robots, allowing them to become highly complex products rather than being the standalone, fixed-function machines they used to be,” said Apoorva Bajaj, Practice Head of Financial Markets at GlobalData. “With the expansion of the roles that robots can perform, deep-pocketed venture capital (VC) firms are attracted to invest in this high-growth opportunity. VC funding has been gradually shifting towards early and growth stage start-ups in recent quarters with funding for seed stage start-ups declining.”

GlobalData’s recent report, Future Robotics Unicorns - 09 September 2021, reveals the fact that the although the volume of VC funding has slowed down in recent quarters, investment in value terms has increased in 2021, showing a sudden spike in Q2 2021 with investment in excess of US$6.5 billion spanning 177 deals globally. In Q2 2021, Asia–Pacific accounted for over 44% of VC deal volume valued at a total of US$2.7 billion, followed by North America (primarily the US) accounting for 31% of the total deal volume.

In terms of social media discussions, ‘robotics’ and its use cases in automotive, agriculture, health care and other sectors are increasingly being mentioned by social media influencers. Tesla announcing its plan to build a humanoid robot (Optimus) to Hyundai buying a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics are some of the recent trending robotics discussions on social media platforms.

Some of the robotics start-ups in GlobalData’s list of potential unicorns include Gecko Robotics, Covariant, Superpedestrian and Sphero.

Gecko Robotics builds and operates robots to automate infrastructure inspections across power, gas, oil and manufacturing industries. Gecko’s software portal allows clients to review all their assets in 3D, ensuring a holistic view of the equipment and prioritising areas that need urgent attention.

Covariant has designed a universal AI to enable robots to see, reason and act in the real world. Based on research in deep imitation learning, deep reinforcement learning and meta-learning, the company has built Covariant Brain, a universal AI for robots that can be applied to any use case or customer environment.

Superpedestrian is a US-based transportation robotics company that develops technologies for micro-electric vehicles to optimise safety, reliability and performance. Recently, it acquired micromobility-safety start-up Navmatic and launched an active safety system, Pedestrian Defense.

Sphero builds smartphone-controlled robots by combining robotic and digital technology into immersive entertainment experiences. Sphero robots allow kids to learn fundamental STEM concepts through play-based learning and educational STEAM activities.

“While innovation in robotics is entering into a stabilisation phase as evident by declining deal volumes and patents activity, its adoption is increasing as corroborated by more number of mentions of ‘robotics’ in corporate filings and continued increase in active job counts across industries including TMT, health care, industrials and retail,” Bajaj said.

Image: Gecko Toka4 inspection robot. Source: Gecko Robotics.

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