When Masaya Aso worked on autonomous driving technology at Bosch in Japan and Germany, he realized that “many tasks were still manual, as more than 85% of warehouses are almost not automated at all.”
To address the problem, Aso co-founded LexxPlussa now two-year-old Japan-based startup that designs and develops autonomous mobile robots to move loads and optimize workflows within warehouses and logistics sites.
Aso, CEO of the outfit, co-founded the company with robotics and autonomous vehicle veterans from Bosch, Amazon, Honda and more, and now the Japanese outfit is preparing to enter the US with a new injection of approximately $10.7 million JPY) of Series A financing that values the company at approximately $38.8 million (5.26 billion yen).
Drone Fund led the latest funding together with SOSV’s HAX, Incubate Fund, SBI investment and DBJ Capital.
LexxPlus initially focused on the logistics and automotive production areas, because those areas actively deploy robots outside their production lines. The main customers are in Japan in the logistics and automotive sectors; some of today’s auto parts manufacturers have facilities in the US, Aso said. It wants to use its existing customer relationships to enter the US market, the largest market for autonomous mobile robots, which has already reached $762 million in 2021 and is expected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2028accounting for about 40% of the global market size.
In addition to the US expansion, Aso said, the Series A money will help the company’s product development, increase payload to 500kg (a much-requested feature by e-commerce players) and add a 3D visualization of a “digital twin” . operations for remote control and monitoring.
In terms of competition, OTTO Motors, OMRON and Locus Robotics have also built autonomous mobile robots. Aso said LexxPluss differentiation revolves around larger payloads (up to 500kg) and a more open mechanical design intellectual property (IP) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that make maintenance and integration easier for customers. He adds that some of the company’s rivals often have a closed IP, which is a pain point for their customers.
“Because we release a lot of technical information, our partners can see every detail of our technology,” explains Aso. “So that they can understand how it works and how it can be deployed and used in their warehouse or factories. They even can [handle] maintenance yourself. 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, part of an open industrial robot program launched last June. “The program aims to accelerate collaboration with industrial robotics companies by releasing most of our technical information, such as 3D CAD design, electrical design, embedded software, manufacturing process documents, implementation tools, maintenance documents, APIs, and so on,” said Aso. businessupdates.org.
The startup currently generates revenue through a monthly subscription model or half-advance and half-monthly subscription, Aso noted.
Naturally, the company’s investors think the company has a good chance of capturing a significant portion of a large market. Recent research predicts that the market for autonomous mobile robots is expected to reach $8.70 billion by 2028, compared to $1.97 billion in 2021.
“LexxPluss has a significant advantage over other warehouse automation companies because they leverage a large engineering team based in Japan, known for both industrial robotics (37% of the global market) and the automotive sector (35% of the US auto industry). industry),” said Duncan Turner, general partner at SOSV and general manager of HAX.
“Their technical strength, combined with insight from decades of industry experience, will help them crack the US market where seamless integration is key.”