Japan has emerged as a leading market for service robots, partly due to a post-pandemic demand for contactless service

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

July 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Rice Robotics' has a pipeline of service, disinfectant and delivery robots
Rice Robotics' has a pipeline of service, disinfectant and delivery robotsRice Robotics

Rice Robotics has raised $7 million in its latest funding round to expand its pipeline of service and disinfection robots into Japan.

The pre-Series A funding round included investors Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund, Soul Capital, Audacy Ventures, Sun Hung Kai & Company and Cyberport HK.

Japan has already emerged as Rice Robotics’ primary customer base, with major corporations such as Softbank, Toyota, Japan Post and Mitsui Group already deploying the group’s service robots.

A portion of the investment round has been allocated to establish a production plant in Hong Kong, which began operations in the first quarter of 2023. According to the company the 13,000-square-foot facility, located in Tsuen Wan's industrial area, has already quadrupled the company’s annual production capacity, boosting annual production from 500 to 2,000 robots.

As well as seeking to increase production to meet ongoing demand, Rice Robotics also said it hopes to demonstrate the leading role of Hong Kong in robotics manufacturing and production.

"We aspire to showcase to the world that Hong Kong possesses a robotics company capable of producing first-tier service robots,” said Victor Lee, Rice Robotics’ CEO. “Our aim is to nurture talent locally and contribute to the advancement of Industry 4.0 in our hometown."

Ongoing labor shortages and a rising population, as well as a new demand for disinfectant and cleaning robots post-pandemic in Japan, have made it a blossoming market for service robots.

The company’s service bots are designed to autonomously deliver food and drink to customers and can carry up to 66 pounds of produce.

The wheeled robots have been used by Softbank to deliver 7-Eleven products to employees in Takeshiba, Tokyo since 2021, as well as by Japan Post for last-mile deliveries, and as customer service robots for Toyota’s virtual showroom in Tokyo where they serve guests with drinks.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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