SoftBank has picked its bet in China’s flourishing industrial robotics space. Youibot, a four-year-old startup that makes autonomous mobile robots for a range of scenarios, said it has notched close to 100 million yuan ($15.47 million) in its latest funding round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia, the Seoul-based early-stage arm of the global investment behemoth.
In December, SoftBank Ventures Asia led the financing round for another Chinese robotics startup called KeenOn, which focuses on delivery and service robots.
Youibot’s previous investors BlueRun Ventures and SIG also participated in the round. The startup, based in Shenzhen where it went through SOSV’s HAX hardware accelerator program, secured three financing rounds during 2020 as businesses and investors embraced industrial automation to minimize human contact. Youibot has raised more than 200 million yuan to date.
Founded by a group of PhDs from China’s prestigious Xi’an Jiaotong University, Youibot develops solutions for factory automation and logistics management, as well as inspection and maintenance for various industries. For example, its robots can navigate around a yard of buses, inspect every tire of the vehicles and provide a detailed report for maintenance, a feature that helped it rack up Michelin’s contract.
Youibot’s “strongest suits” are in electronics manufacturing and electric power patrol, the company’s spokesperson told TechCrunch.
The startup is also seeing high growth in its semiconductor business, with customers coming from several prominent front-end wafer fabs, which use the firm’s robots for chip packaging, testing and wafer production. Youibot declined to disclose their names due to confidentiality.
Chinese clients that it named include CRRC Zhuzhou, a state-owned locomotive manufacturer; Huaneng Group, a state-owned electricity generation giant; Huawei and more. China currently comprises 80% of Youibot’s total revenues, while overseas markets are rapidly catching up. The firm’s revenues tripled last year from 2020.
Youibot plans to spend the fresh proceeds on research and development in its mobile robots and proprietary software, team building and market expansion.