LG Electronics’ recent investment in US-based Bossa Nova Robotics marks the first overseas investment in a robotics partner by LG following a number of deals with Korean startups over the past year. In total, LG has committed over USD 90 million to robotics startups in the first 12 months of its investment initiative.
Bossa Nova Robotics is the leading provider of real-time, on-shelf product data for the global retail industry which helps run large-scale retail stores efficiently by automating collection and analysis of on-shelf inventory data. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has been testing Bossa Nova’s shelf-scanning robots in a number of stores since last year.
The funding of Bossa Nova follows LG’s investments in four other Korea-based robotics companies: Acryl, SG ROBOTICS, Robotis and Robostar:
- Acryl Inc., founded by a team of academics from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is a 7-year-old cognitive computing company providing the integrated artificial intelligence (AI) platform called “Jonathan” which can recognize human emotions and meanings from text, speech and image based on big data and deep learning to realize real-life AI.
- SG ROBOTICS is a start-up company that develops wearable robots to assist people with mobility challenges, including paraplegics and neuromuscular disease patients. The company was founded in 2017 to deliver “Robots For Better Life” and is working on commercializing a wearable robot for children. SG ROBOTICS’ WalkON Suit won a bronze medal in the first Cybathlon in 2016 and was the first torch bearer at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics.
- Robotis specializes in robotic solutions and educational robots. It is recognized for its proprietary smart actuators used in multi-jointed robots and produces hardware such as controllers and sensor modules to robot programming software.
- Robostar is a manufacturer of industry robots. Its mission is to be a one-stop solution provider for companies involved in industries such as mobile, display, automobile and semiconductor.
These investments complement LG’s own efforts to bring service robots to market in the very near future to become a core growth engine for the company. LG has already deployed a number of robots in Korea for trial service, with its Guide Robot and Cleaning Robot dispatched to assist travelers at South Korea’s largest airport during the winter games in PyeongChang. Earlier this year at CES, LG introduced three new CLOi concept robots specifically developed for commercial use in high-traffic locations such as hotels and supermarkets. LG’s CLOi robots are being developed in parallel to ThinQ products, LG’s AI brand for consumer electronics and home appliances.
“Robotics, as a key component of our ThinQ AI strategy, is a critical future growth opportunity for LG,” said Kim Sungwook, vice president of the global open innovation division at LG Electronics. “LG is committed to expanding its robotics capabilities through investments in innovative partners as well as intense R and D efforts from within.”