The Robot Report, an online publication tracking the robotics and automation businesses, reported that 128 startup robot companies grabbed a total of $1.95 billion in investment funding in 2016 — 50 percent more than 2015.
It marked the best year ever for robot startup funding, the publication said.
And existing companies also picked up more investment. Rethink Robotics Inc. — known for its collaborative Baxter and Sawyer robots that have found use at some plastics processors — announced Dec. 23 that it picked up $18 million in new funding from Swiss private equity firm Advec, as well as money from its previous investors, including Bezos Expeditions, CRV, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, DFJ, Two Sigma Ventures, GE Ventures and Goldman Sachs.
Boston-based Rethink Robotics will use the funding to support global expansion and new product development.
Here are some of the 2015 startups that got funding, according to the Robot Report:
• UB Tech (Union Brother Technology) $90 million to help fund development of its small humanoid robots for consumer use. The Alpha2 robots, which cost $1,300, were available for sale in time for Christmas.
• Carbon 3D, a Silicon Valley 3-D printer startup, raised $81 million. Parts made on the company's machines, using its resins and elastomers, have different mechanical properties and a smooth surface than parts made by CNC machining.
• FormLabs, a designer and manufacturer of 3-D printers in Somerville, Mass., has raised $35 million from Foundry Group and Autodesk Inc.
• Desktop Metal, a Lexington, Mass.-based startup of industrial 3-D metals printing, raised $33.5 million.
• Raising $8 million was Locus Robotics, founded after Amazon acquired Kiva Systems in 2012, for use at its fulfillment centers, and the prospect that Kiva robots would no longer be available to non-Amazon customers. Lucas robots work in warehouses to carry picked items to a conveyor or the packing station.
• Arevo Labs raised $7 million. The company's robot-mounted 3-D printers that use composite materials for making ultra-strong parts for end-use applications.
• OnRobot, a Danish startup, got $1 million in equity funding for its grasping device that can easily adapt to Universal Robots and other brands of collaborative robots.
The Robot Report is at www.therobotreport.com.