PerceptIn has raised $11 million to help robotic vacuums and self-driving cars see

PerceptIn’s been operating mostly behind the scenes since launching in March of last year. Even so, the company has managed to raise a decent chunk of change in its mission of helping improve robotic vision. The startup’s raised a total of $11 million in all, including a seed round of ~$2 million last year and an $8 million Series A in 2017.

Samsung Ventures took interest in the company’s hardware/software solution for its own products as well, but failed to make it in time for the Series A-1, adding an additional $1 million in funding. It’s no guarantee at this early stage, but it could well mean that PerceptIn’s tech could one day make it into some piece of Samsung-designed robotic.

After all, the hardware giant does make its own robotic vacuums under the Powerbot line — and that happens to be one of the primary applications for PerceptIn’s new Ironsides vision system, which brings something akin to a plug-and-play combination hardware and software package for robotics. With vacuums being far and away the leader in consumer robotics, it’s a logical first step for the company.

“Our estimate had sales at around 10 million worldwide shipped,” PerceptIn CEO Zhe Zhang told TechCrunch, explaining why it’s going after vacuums. “It can use depth information to avoid very challenging obstacles like dog poop, cables and shoes. They’re very difficult for today’s robots to see and smartly navigate their way around.”

Zhang won’t disclose the company’s largest robotics client, but explains that it is working to integrate its vision system into a hardware client’s consumer robot set to ship some time next year. Beyond that, he adds, it’s been working with more than 100 university-based companies, along with another large consumer hardware maker.

“Huawei is one of our first companies,” he explains. “We’ve been working with them for almost two years. At this point we don’t have an announcement, but we’ll have something official next year.”

The Ironsides system runs $399 for developers and could ultimately cut down significantly on R&D for home robotics companies that have yet to crack the code of computer vision. The company is also hoping to scale the system up for enterprise robotics and self-driving cars in the future.