LG Electronics has invested in Bossa Nova Robotics as part of the South Korean electronics giant's effort to grow its stake in the robotics industry at home and overseas, with the company having recently made related investments in South Korea-based startup businesses such as Acryl, SG ROBOTICS, and Robostar. Bossa Nova Robotics is the first non-Korean robotics company to receive funding from LG Electronics.
The latest investment is part of the Seoul-based company's broader initiative to commercialize service robots in sooner than later and diversify its offerings for electronics consumers. To that end, LG Electronics is already experimenting with a number of robotics technologies in South Korea. At Incheon's airport, the country's biggest international hub, LG Electronics deployed two automated helpers in July last year to assist travelers: an Airport Guide Robot and an Airport Cleaning Robot. At this year's CES, LG Electronics also showcased its first smart robot powered by the company's in-house artificial intelligence (AI) platform ThinQ: the voice-activated robot assistant and smart home hub LG CLOi. LG Electronics' investment in Bossa Nova Robotics is intended to complement those efforts. The U.S.-based company provides service robots to the global retail industry built to automate the collection and analysis of on-shelf inventory data.
LG Electronics says its investments in robotics startups have now amounted to more than $90 million since it launched such an initiative a year ago. Kim Sungwook, vice president of the global open innovation division at LG Electronics, said the company aims to grow "its robotics capabilities through investments in innovative partners as well as intense R and D efforts from within," noting that robotics is a key component of its ThinQ AI strategy formally introduced late last year. The company said then that this brand will identify all of its 2018 home appliances, consumers electronics, and AI-powered services, meaning that if a product belongs to the AI category, it will ship with a "ThinQ" name attached to it. At CES 2018, LG Electronics officially debuted a wide range of new products under its ThinQ sub-brand, which encompasses TVs, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, speakers, air conditioners, and automated vacuum cleaners, with the company expected to expand the branding to other product categories in the future.