Chinese robot manufacturer Ubtech Robotics has announced the successful close of an $820 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and valued six-year-old Ubtech at $5 billion. Ubtech described the funding as the single-largest funding round ever for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) company. Tencent has previously led a $400 million Series C investment round in Ubtech last November that then valued the company at $4 billion.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Minsheng Securities Co. Ltd., Australian telecommunications and media firm Telstra Corporation Ltd., Chinese consumer electronics firm Haier Group, Green Pine Capital Partners, CreditEase, existing investor CDH Investments, and others participated in the round, according to reports. The latest round of funding brings Ubtech’s total funding to $940 million, based on information available on Crunchbase. The Shenzhen-based company attained unicorn status in 2016.
Ubtech is a company focused on developing consumer humanoid robots for entertainment and educational purposes. In the past, it has developed and sold various products, including its consumer humanoid robots of the Alpha series, an interactive system of robotic building blocks Jimu Robot, the cloud-based intelligent humanoid service robot Cruzr, and the Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Robot in cooperation with Disney. Ubtech’s Lynx robot also comes with Amazon’s Alexa assistant and can be used to control smart home devices that support Alexa.
The company also partnered with Tencent to launch a personalized educational robot dubbed Alpha Ebot in February this year, as well as the humanoid robot Qrobot Alpha last December, the first robot to ship with Tencent’s Cloud Xiaowei service. Ubtech currently sells its products in more than 40 countries and regions worldwide – including China, North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia – through a network of more than 7,000 retail outlets.
Ubtech CEO James Zhou told China Money Network that the company plans to use the funds from the latest round for research and development, expanding its brand into new markets and verticals, as well as hiring fresh talent. Key R&D investment verticals will include large-size humanoid robots, motion control algorithms, computer vision, and servo systems used in robotics. Ubtech also aims to expand its presence in other markets internationally and will hire international talent for the same.
The investment marks the latest move by Tencent in its continued push into the AI and robotics space. The firm previously invested in US robot maker Marble and Canadian robotics firm Kindred Systems, both of which manufacture robots for logistics purpose.