Waterloo Region’s Clearpath Robotics has raised USD$30 million in investment to accelerate development of its self-driving vehicles for industrial use.
The Series B round – led by Montreal-based iNovia Capital with participation from Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, RRE Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank – comes one year after Clearpath launched its OTTO Motors division to provide autonomous vehicles for moving materials inside factories and warehouses.
GE and John Deere are among customers already using OTTO.
“Factories operate like small indoor cities, complete with roads, traffic, intersections and pedestrians,” Clearpath CEO Matt Rendall said today in a release.
The major difference is that “a factory floor is a controlled environment, which makes it an ideal place to introduce self-driving vehicles at scale,” Rendall said. “Companies like Google, Tesla and Uber are still testing, whereas our self-driving vehicles are commercially available today.”
Citing a predicted $80-billion market for self-driving passenger vehicles by 2030, Rendall said Clearpath believes the market for autonomous vehicles that handle materials “will be equally significant.” This latest funding infusion should help Clearpath extend its head start, he said.
iNovia Partner Karam Nijjar predicted “software-differentiated hardware will disrupt every major sector over the next decade,” adding that “Clearpath has built a world-class team, technology and customer base” to accelerate this transportation revolution.
While robots and autonomous vehicles are often associated with the displacement of jobs done by humans, a Deloitte study predicts that U.S. manufacturers will actually see a shortage of more than two million skilled workers over the next 10 years. Clearpath is positioning OTTO as a way to help fill that gap, while creating a new industry and category of domestic jobs in developing, servicing and working with self-driving vehicles.
Clearpath’s last big funding raise, in early 2015, was a USD$11.2-million Series A round led by RRE Ventures, with participation from iNovia, GE Ventures and Eclipse Ventures, which helped the company develop the OTTO product line.
The company, founded in 2009, has its roots in a robotics competition, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, to design a robot to detect and remove land mines. It then pivoted to unmanned vehicles for the global research community, and launched OTTO Motors last year.
Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto. This article originally appeared on their site.