Self-driving robot AI company Brain Corp raises $114M

A San Diego-based company that believes “tomorrow’s robots will be intelligent autonomous machines that can take care of us,” which will be “as commonplace as computers and mobile phones are today” has raised $114 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures. Brain Corp‘s primary product is its BrainOS platform, which is software designed to make it possible to create autonomous commercial robots using off-the-shelf hardware and sensors.

Brain’s tech uses AI to allow robots to control their own motion, as well as perceive their surroundings. The BrainOS software includes self-driving technology tailored for indoor use, as well as obstacle avoidance. Its business model involves selling its platform as a SaaS offering, which means its clients pay subscription fees to add autonomy to their robots.

BrainOS is intended to “play the same role as Android OS plays for smartphones,” the company says, offering equipment manufacturers an easy way to convert their existing machinery into functional robots. Qualcomm is also a strategic partner, in addition to the company’s first funder, and the plan is to get BrainOS working on Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile chips, with the goal of making it even easier and more cost-effective to add autonomous features to more robots that offer a range of services, including cleaning, sorting and acting as security (though hopefully not with the same sad fate as this security bot).

A lot of companies are focusing on indoor mobility and support robotics as a product opportunity for an aging global population, so this investment makes sense coming from SoftBank, which Brain CEO Dr. Eugene Izhikevich describes as a “long-term strategic partner.” BrainOS sounds like it could help address a range of those needs, as well as providing post last-mile services in retail and other shared environments.