Neubility plans to roll out 400 lidar-free delivery and security robots by the end of the year

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Last-mile robotics startup Neutrality — which makes autonomous delivery robots that operate without lidar — says it plans to increase its fleet to 400 by the end of this year, up from the 50 it currently has in circulation. The goal is part of an ambitious plan the Seoul-based startup has laid out to boost its business after turning no less than five times since its inception six years ago, as well as recently completing a $26 million Series A. have completed. The plans also include the launch of a new security robot alongside the delivery models.

Fitting for a startup now focused on mobility, Neubility has come a long way from its original product, a video game haptic glove device. Neubility CEO Sangmin Lee told gotechbusiness.com that since late 2019 it has focused on developing hardware and software for its latest effort, delivery robots.

Neubility operates in a crowded industry with peers like Starship Technologies, Coco, Cartken and Kiwibot in the self-driving delivery robot space and Knightscope, which develops security robots. Lee told me that the startup’s differentiator builds its products developed in-house, leading to cost-effectiveness and low maintenance, from robotic hardware and software platforms to core technologies such as visual simultaneous localization and mapping (V-SLAM) and sensor fusion.

“A lot of [autonomous robots companies] don’t develop their own hardware, but the essence of self-driving cars is ownership over the hardware,” Lee said.

And instead of using expensive lidar, Neubie uses V-SLAM, which allows autonomous mobile robots to sense their environment and extract visual data from the physical world; then it builds up a 3D map generated by the robots and locates the robots on that map.

Neubility unveiled the second version of its autonomous delivery robot, known as Neubie 1.5R, earlier this year at CES 2023. It claims that it has the production scale to produce more than 100 Newbie 1.5R delivery robots per month. In addition to the robot, it also offers an API kit for robot monitoring and control solutions called ‘Neubie-GO’, which it sells on a “RaaS” (Robotics as a Service) model.

Neubility is also expanding its robotic products beyond autonomous last-mile delivery, with a move to security. Earlier this month, Neubility said it would partner with Korean telco SK Telecom and SK Shieldus to develop AI-powered “police robots,” a platform that provides central monitoring, cybersecurity consulting and dispatch services. Neubility plans to incorporate SK Telecom’s AI-powered camera and SK Shieldus’ security technology into its hardware, and plans to launch them later this year.

The outfit also recently raised another 2.6 million (3 billion KRW), the second close of Series A Samsung Venture Investment. The extension brings the startup and its Series A total funding to approximately $26.1 million (30 billion won) and values ​​Neubility at approximately $76.9 million (100 billion won), according to sources familiar with the situation. The company declined to comment on the valuation.

The new funding will enable Neubility to commercialize additional robots, enhance its RaaS platform and hire more staff on its R&D team. The company has a workforce of about 100 people, 70% of which are dedicated to R&D only.

Neubility is already working with a range of large companies, including some strategic investors in the startup. They include South Korea’s two largest telecom companies, SK Telecom and KT; Samsung Welstory, Samsung’s food distribution unit; and 42dot, the autonomous driving technology arm of Hyundai Motor.

Other lenders include IMM Investment, Korean retail companies Shinsegae and Lotte, Kakao Investment and KB Investment.

It’s also partnered with 7-Eleven, where it helped the convenience store chain launch a meal delivery service that goes live in June. Users can order food and small items through Neubility or 7-Eleven apps. The Neubie will help deliver the ordered items to a limited number of cities in a number of cities, such as Seoul and Incheon in South Korea. Most customers are in B2B. It hopes the deal with 7-Eleven will give it a chance to attract more B2C and retail customers in the future.

Neubility has launched a handful of pilot projects over the past 12 months to test its autonomous delivery robots on golf courses and campgrounds. (The startup now operates about 50 robots at five golf courses and campgrounds to deliver food, drink, and small items.)

Neutrality

Image Credits: Neutrality

Those construction robots believe that the growth of the e-commerce market will also drive demand for their technology. Delivery robots will be a $1.8 billion market by 2028, compared to just $0.4 billion in 2021, according to a recent report.