When Masaya Aso worked on autonomous driving technology at Bosch in Japan and Germany, he found that “many tasks were still manual as over 85% of the warehouses have almost no automation at all”.
To address the issue, Aso co-founded LexxPluss, a now two-year-old Japan-based startup that designs and develops autonomous mobile robots to move loads and streamline workflows in warehouses and logistics sites.
Aso, who is the company’s CEO, co-founded it with robotics and autonomous vehicle veterans from Bosch, Amazon, Honda and others, and now the Japanese company is gearing up with a new cash injection of about $10.7 million ($1.45 billion) in the US JPY) of a Series A financing that values the company at approximately $38.8 million (5.26 billion yen).
Drone Fund led SOSV’s recent funding alongside HAX, Incubate Fund, SBI Investment and DBJ Capital.
LexxPlus initially targeted the logistics and automotive manufacturing sectors, as these sectors are actively using robots outside of their production lines. The main customers are in Japan in the logistics and automotive sectors; Some of the current automotive component manufacturers have facilities in the US, Aso said. It wants to leverage its existing customers’ relationships to enter the US market, the largest market for autonomous mobile robots, already worth $762 million in 2021 expected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2028which accounts for about 40% of the global market size.
In addition to US expansion, Aso said the Series A money will support the company’s product development, increasing its payload to 500 kg (a feature highly requested by e-commerce players) and adding 3D visualization of a “digital twin.” . of remote control and monitoring operations.
In the competition, OTTO Motors, OMRON and Locus Robotics also built autonomous mobile robots. According to Aso, LexxPluss differentiation focuses on larger payloads (up to 500 kg) and a more open mechanical design intellectual property (IP) and application programming interfaces (APIs) that simplify maintenance and integration for customers. He adds that some of the company’s competitors tend to have closed intellectual property rights, which is a pain point for their customers.
“Because we disclose a lot of technical information, our partners can see every detail of our technology,” Aso explained. “So they can understand how it works and how it can be deployed and used in their warehouse or factory. You can even [handle] Maintenance itself. Our approach is to maximize product transparency and make collaboration much easier.”
The startup launched its sales strategy last year and now has seven customers and 32 partners who are part of an open industrial robot program it launched last June. “The program aims to accelerate collaboration with industrial robotics companies by disclosing most of our technical information, such as: B. 3D CAD design, electrical design, embedded software, manufacturing process documents, deployment tools, maintenance documents, APIs, etc.,” Aso told TechCrunch.
The startup currently generates revenue through a monthly subscription model, or a half upfront payment and a half monthly subscription fee, Aso noted.
Of course, the company’s investors believe that the company has a good chance of grabbing a significant stake in a large market. Recent research forecasts that the market for autonomous mobile robots is expected to reach $8.70 billion by 2028, up from $1.97 billion in 2021.
“LexxPluss has a significant advantage over other warehouse automation companies as they utilize a large technical team in Japan, known for both industrial robotics (37% of the world market) and the automotive sector (35% of the US auto industry),” said Duncan Turner , general partner at SOSV and managing director of HAX.
“Their technical strength, combined with insights from decades of industry experience, will help them conquer the US market where seamless integration is critical.”