When Masaya Aso was working on autonomous driving technology in Japan and Germany, he realized that “many tasks were still manual because more than 85% of warehouses have almost no automation at all.”
To solve the problem, Aso co-founded LexxPluss, a now two-year-old Japanese startup that designs and develops autonomous mobile robots to move cargo and optimize workflows in warehouses and logistics sites.
Aso, who is the outfit’s CEO, co-founded it with robotics and autonomous vehicle veterans from Bosch, Amazon, Honda, and more, and now the Japanese outfit is preparing to enter the U.S. for an estimated $10.7 million (1, $45 billion) with a fresh injection. JPY) Series A funding that values the company at approximately $38.8 million (¥5.26 billion).
Drone Fund led the latest funding along with SOSV’s HAX, Incubate Fund, SBI Investments and DBJ Capital.
LexxPlus initially targeted the logistics and automotive manufacturing areas because these areas are actively deploying robots outside their production lines. Its main customers are in Japan in the logistics and automotive industries; Some current auto component manufacturers have facilities in the U.S., Aso said. It wants to use its customer relationships to enter the US market, the largest autonomous market for mobile robots, which was already at $762 million in 2021 and expected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2028which is about 40% of the world market.
In addition to the US expansion, Aso said the Series A money will help the company’s product development by increasing its payload to 500kg (a feature in high demand by e-commerce players) and adding 3D visualization of a “digital twin”. remote control and monitoring operations.
In terms of its competition, OTTO Motors, OMRON and Locus Robotics have also built autonomous mobile robots. Aso said the LexxPluss’ differentiation focuses on larger payloads (up to 500kg) and a more open mechanical design. Intellectual Property (IP) and application programming interfaces (API) that simplify maintenance and integration for customers. He adds that some of the company’s competitors tend to have closed IP, which is a pain point for their customers.
“Because we disclose a lot of technical information, our partners can explore all the details of our technology,” Aso explained. “So they can understand how it works and how it can be deployed and used in their warehouse or factories. They even can [handle] service by themselves. 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 as part of an open industrial robotics program it launched last June.. “The program should accelerate collaboration with industrial robotics companies by exposing most of our technical information, such as 3D CAD design, electrical design, embedded software, manufacturing process documentation, deployment tools, service documentation, APIs, and more,” Aso said. : TechCrunch.
The startup currently generates sales through a monthly subscription model, or a half-upfront and half-monthly subscription, Aso noted.
Naturally, the company’s investors believe that the company has a good chance of capturing a meaningful portion of a large market. Recent research predicts that the autonomous mobile robot market will reach $8.70 billion by 2028, up from $1.97 billion in 2021.
“LexxPluss has a significant advantage over other warehouse automation companies because they use a large technical team in Japan, known for both industrial robotics (37% of the global market) and the automotive sector (35% of the US auto industry”) – it is said. Duncan Turner, General Partner of SOSV and Managing Director of HAX.
“Their technical strength, combined with insights from decades of industry experience, will help them crack the US market, where seamless integration is key.”