Softbank leads $20 million investment round in warehouse robot maker Fetch Robotics

The investment marks the Japanese corporation's latest push into the burgeoning robotics field.


Japanese telecom services provider SoftBank was named as the lead investor in a $20 million Series A financing round for Fetch Robotics.

The San Jose, Calif.-based startup has developed a robotics system for use in warehouse delivery and order fulfillment. The system is comprised of two units: a manipulator named Fetch (whose form factor is slightly reminiscent of Number 5 from the film Short Circuit) and a mobile base named Freight.

As for SoftBank, the investment marks the company's latest push into the burgeoning robotics field. Earlier on Wednesday, Japan's economic newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported a deal between SoftBank and Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn, alleging the companies are planning a joint business venture to produce robots.

The two tech giants previously joined forces for the development of the humanoid robot Pepper, which was officially unveiled in February. Pepper was developed by Softbank's French subsidiary Aldebaran, built by Foxconn, and supplied robot smarts via IBM's Watson.

Fetch's investment round includes additional funding from seed investors O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Shasta Ventures, and brings the startup's financing total to $23 million. Fetch says it plans to use the new capital to expand its sales and marketing operations to warehouses and fulfillment centers.

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