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China’s logistics robot maker VisionNav raises $76M at $500M valuation –

Industrial robots have in recent years become one of the hottest technology sectors in China as the country encourages the use of advanced technology to increase the efficiency of the product floor.

VisionNav Robotics, which specializes in self-propelled forks, cranks and other logistics tools, is the latest industrial robot in China to invest. Shenzhen-based guided vehicles (AGV) have attracted 500 million yuan (about $ 76 million) from the Series C expansion led by Meituan, a Chinese food delivery company, and 5Y Capital, a leading trading company of the country. Existing investors IDG, parent company TikTok’s ByteDance, and founder of Xiaomi Lei Jun’s Shunwei Capital also joined the fray.

Founded in 2016 by a group of PhDs from the University of Tokyo and the University of China in Hong Kong, VisionNav’s valuation raised more than $ 500 million this year, up from $ 393 million six months ago when it raised milyan 300 million. ($ 47). million) of Series C funding, she told TechCrunch.

The new investment will allow VisionNav to invest in R&D and expand its use cases, expanding its focus and moving to other activities such as aggregation and relocation.

The most important part of adding new components is to train and improve the initial software algorithms, much less the development of new tools, said the company’s vice president of global sales, Dong. “From control, deployment, cognition, we have to improve our software capabilities as a whole.”

The biggest challenge for robots, Dong said, is to effectively identify and navigate the world around them. Problems with a camera operating on an independent drive solution, such as that of Tesla, can easily affect the brightness of the light. Lidar, an effective technology for announcing accurate distance detection, was still too expensive to adopt large numbers a few years ago, but has seen prices drop by Chinese players such as Livox affiliated with DJI and Robosense.

“Previously, we were mostly providing indoor solutions. Now that we are expanding unmanned aerial vehicles, which often go out, it is imperative that we operate in strong light. That is why we are adapting to the mix. vision and radar technology to navigate our devices, ”Dong said.

VisionNav sees Pittsburg-based Seegrid and France-based Balyo as rivals but believes it has “significant benefits” for its presence in China, home to its production and R&D activities. The startup is already sending robots to customers in Southeast Asia, East Asia, as well as the Netherlands, the UK, and Hungary. It is in the process of setting up companies under the auspices of Europe and the United States.

The startup works with the integration of the system to sell its robots, which means it does not collect detailed customer data, making compliance with foreign market data easier. It is expected to generate 50-60% of its foreign revenue in the coming years, compared to its current 30-40% share. The United States is one of the target markets, Dong said, as the forklift industry produces “larger revenues than China despite having a small number of fork cars.”

Last year, VisionNav totaled total sales revenue of between 200 million ($ 31 million) and 250 million yuan ($ 39 million). It currently employs a group of 400 people across China and is expected to reach 1,000 employees this year with strong recruitment abroad.