From Robohub’s Alex Kirkpatrick and Kassie Perlongo: Robohub Digest 01/17. New Year, New Perspectives. 2017 ushered in a new batch of fresh-faced game changers, celebrated in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Amidst the bright young shakers and innovators, some interesting trends in robotics, AI, intelligence energy storage, and automation shone through. Hint: watch out for connected/smart consumer goods, advanced manufacturing, and AI in 2017.
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting convened on the 17th of January in an attempt to set the course for 2017, and to address issues of responsive and responsible leadership. World leaders, academics and titans of industry converged on Davos to muse—amongst a plethora other issues—the role AI, cyber security, drone warfare and the role of humans in the fourth industrial revolution.
The WEF weren’t the only ones attempting to comprehend the fast-evolving technological landscape. The Legal Affairs Committee urged the EU Commission to put forward new rules for the robotics sector—for example, compliance with ethical standards and liability for accidents involving driverless cars. And across the pond, a New York Times article imagined how robots and automation might reshape the US manufacturing sector, and potentially impede President Trump’s endeavour to bring jobs back to American factories.
Farewell to a bumper year for startups
2016 was a busy and abundant year for seed, crowd, series A,B,C,D and VC funding of robotics-related startups. 128 companies got funded, some multiple times: $1.95 billion, 50% more than 2015, which was also a phenomenal year with over $1.32 billion funded. Good news for firms like Rethink Robotics: The Boston-based maker of the Baxter and Sawyer robots, founded by iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks, raised an additional $18 million in an unfinished $33 million Series E round led by private equity firm Adveq. This brought cumulative funding to $131.5 million, which will be used for Rethink’s global expansion initiatives and new product development.