Osaro raises $16 million to make warehouse robots smarter with AI

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Osaro, a San Francisco startup developing AI-based solutions for industrial robots, today announced that it's closed a $16 million series B funding round led by King River Capital (KRC), with participation from Alpha Intelligence Capital, Founders Fund, Fenox Venture Capital, GiTV Fund, and existing and strategic investors. It brings the startup's total raised to $29.3 million coming after a $10 million series A in April 2017, which cofounder and CEO Derik Pridmore said will bolster Osaro's hiring, international deployment, and R&D efforts. Alongside the funding round, Osaro revealed that Applied Digital Access, Mahi Networks, and Calix vereran Kevin Pope has joined as VP of engineering. "A key element of our competitive advantage is Osaro's … deep learning algorithms," said Pridmore, an MIT computer science and electrical engineering graduate who cofounded Osaro in 2015 with a team hailing from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and the University of Massachusetts. "These algorithms generalize picking tasks with minimal training data and no SKU registration for quick, scalable solutions. In addition, as a software company, we support a wide array of commodity hardware and robotic arms which lets our customers select options that best fit their needs."


Databricks raises $400 million at a $6.2 billion valuation

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Prescient are the entrepreneurs who predicted data would become the new oil, like Ali Ghodsi, Andy Konwinski, Ion Stoica, Matei Zaharia, Patrick Wendell, Reynold Xin, and Scott Shenker. They're the cofounders of Databricks, a San Francisco-based company that provides a suite of enterprise-focused scalable data science and data engineering tools. Since 2013, the year Databricks opened for business, it's had no trouble attracting customers. But this week kicked into high gear the company's uninterrupted march toward market domination. Databricks this morning announced that it's closed a $400 million series F fundraising round led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Microsoft, Alkeon Capital Management, BlackRock, Coatue Management, Dragoneer Investment Group, Geodesic, Green Bay Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, T. Rowe Price, and Tiger Global Management.


AI voice assistant developer Rokid raises $100M Series B extension to build its US presence

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Rokid, a Chinese startup that makes an AI voice assistant and smart devices, just raised a Series B extension round led by Temasek Holdings, with participation from Credit Suisse, IDG Capital and CDIB Capital. The size of the round was not released, but a source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch that it is $100 million. The company's previous funding was its Series B round, which was announced in November 2016. Founder and chief executive officer Mingming Zhu says Rokid raised a Series B instead of a C round because the company, which is based in Hangzhou, China with research centers in Beijing and San Francisco that develop its proprietary natural language processing, image processing, face recognition and robotics technology, is still in its early stages. Rokid wants to focus on gathering more resources and bringing in strategic investors like Temasek Holdings before moving on to a Series C.


Ratan Tata-backed AI startup Niki.ai raises $2 mn in Series A round

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Bangalore-based Niki.ai, which runs an artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant, has raised $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) in a Series A round of funding from San Francisco-based fund SAP.iO and existing investor Unilazer Ventures. VCCircle had exclusively reported on this development last month. Haresh Chawla of private equity firm True North, and Arihant Patni of Hive Technologies also invested, besides some US- and Germany-based investors, the company said on Wednesday. Software giant SAP launched SAP.iO with an initial investment of $35 million in March this year. The fund seeks to make early-stage investments in software startups with an aim to expand the SAP ecosystem.


Wayve raises $20 million to give autonomous cars better AI brains

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Wayve, a U.K.-based startup that's developing artificial intelligence (AI) that teaches cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision, has raised $20 million in a series A round of funding led by Palo Alto venture capital (VC) firm Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital, Compound Ventures, Fly Ventures, and First Minute Capital. Several notable angel investors also participated in the round, including Uber's chief scientist Zoubin Ghahramani and Pieter Abbeel, a UC Berkeley robotics professor and pioneer of deep reinforcement learning. Founded out of Cambridge, U.K., in 2017, Wayve's core premise is that the big breakthrough in self-driving cars will come from better AI brains rather than more sensors or "hand-coded" rules. The company said that it trains its autonomous driving system using simulated environments and then transfers that knowledge into the real world, where it emulates how humans adapt to conditions in real time. Wayve's systems learn from each safety driver intervention to understand why the driver had to intervene, bypassing HD maps, lidar, and other sensors that have become synonymous with the burgeoning autonomous vehicle movement.