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Präsentiert vom Deutschen Robotikverband e.V.

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Inside - Exklusive MeldungenBesuchsberichteNeura Robotics

Neura Robotics Inside - Visit of the probably next unicorn (2/2)

As written in the first part of the article, I had the opportunity to meet David Reger (photo above), founder and CEO of this highly interesting startup. He took ample time to introduce the company. It is recommended to read the first part first.


Wide range of products

In the past, some robot manufacturers started with only one model (Franka, Yuanda, Agile Robots). They may convince the customer, but if the customer wants more payload or a different reach than the only model offered, they are out. Fixed cost degression cannot happen. Other manufacturers, such as Universal Robots or Kassow Robots, cover the gamut but are not mobile. (Universal Robots sales have been able to access products from sister company MIR since 2018). Neura Robotics has taken perhaps the broadest approach: "LARA" is offered as a classic cobot, "MAiRA" as a cognitive robot, and "MAV" as a larger mobile unit. While "MAiRA" consists of 100% in-house developments, "LARA", i.e. the classic cobot, also includes components from the Chinese sister company. The robots are again available in different sizes.

Cobot "LARA" - without artificial intelligence with 5 and 10 kg payload respectively

One of the special features is that the customer can buy a cheaper six-axis robot from Neura Robotics today and upgrade the seventh axis later if required. It is then enabled via software. The repeatability of 6 axes should be uniquely accurate at 6 µ, and at 7 axes it is 10 µ.

I also find it interesting that the use of a cloud is dispensed with. Everything learned is stored locally. However, a local cloud can be created within a company. This can be used to transfer programs from one robot to another. (By the way: The trademark "NeuraVerse" was protected some time ago).

In the robotics lab

Markets beyond industrial robotics

The robotics market volume for manufacturing will rise to $15 billion by 2025. The value may seem high, but it does not yet justify very high company valuations. However, scaling is achieved when other large markets can also be served. This is best achieved with the cognitive approach. The markets for service in the home (e.g. robots tidy up, serve) with $102 billion, in retail stores (robots fetch goods from the shelves for delivery service etc.) with $39 billion, medicine/rehab (incl. operations/care of nursing patients) with $15 billion should be mentioned here. All these markets together account for a market volume of $150 to $200 billion. By way of comparison, the smartphone market is worth around $800 billion p.a.

To reach these new markets, the first step must be taken. This means the robotization of the industry. The other markets will be partially developed with other robots. A household robot, for example, does not have to have a real useful life of 30,000 hours, as it is only used for a shorter time each day.

Mobile household robots will probably be carrying the shopping or playing with the children in just a few years - board games are already no problem today. They could also tidy up the children's room, for example, or - for educational reasons - return it to its original state afterwards. This would show the child the difference. The following video shows how "MAiRA" removes all objects on a table. For this, the user only has to mark the table and give the command to "keep it clean". After that, everything on the table is put away. This is done by correct grasping by means of high sensitivity.

If the idea of a household robot seems too "spacey", this blog article about the Samsung Bot Handy is recommended. Samsung is working on a very useful, because versatile household robot and has already published impressive videos.

Sales development and orders

So far, around 80,000 robots have been sold to China and some have also been delivered. After the sale of one unit in the founding year 2019 (the first prototype could already be shown after seven months), nearly €3 million could already be generated in 2020 and over €11 million in 2021. The units sold were robots for mechanically less demanding activities, such as breast cancer screening. The robots were and are still being manufactured in China and, with a price of €3,850, are also very affordable. In March, the company's own production is to start in Riederich. There, a neighboring town to Metzingen, "MAiRA" will be manufactured first and foremost.

According to David Reger, various groups have already signed orders worth 400 million, and there are also letters of intent for 1 billion. For an outsider like me, these figures seem extremely high. But David Reger probably has a good chance of being proven right with his forecast. He sees the use of artificial intelligence as the next big "thing" after the electrification of the automotive industry. Ultimately, he serves two trend themes: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Many financial investors are similarly optimistic, as shown by the financings of other companies in the robotics industry in recent months.

These figures could mean that Neura Robotics - provided that the environment (stock market!) remains positive - will soon reach a valuation beyond the billion mark and thus advance to become the highest-valued robotics startup in the world. A year ago, the stock market valuation of industrial robotics was compared to that of a startup for robotic process automation (i.e., automation of administration). UiPath, the name of the Romanian RPA startup, is still valued 20x higher than Agile Robots. If the market is enlarged accordingly (i.e. not only industrial customers) our robotics has chances to reach much higher valuations than today.

Vertrieb

One of the distinguishing features is the targeted distribution. Basically, one wants to serve at most the top 3 of an industry. The main focus is on cooperation with companies that are already strong suppliers to an industry and therefore know this industry and distribute Neura Robotics, expanded with their own know-how, in the industry. These partners have the ability and possibility to configure the robots industry-specific, e.g. by teaching typical activities or teaching used objects.

This approach also seems to make a lot of sense to me, as it is the only way to achieve scaling with high customer satisfaction within a short period of time.

Concluding remarks

Provided that the quality is right and the functions, as seen so far in the videos and also by me on site, are all easy to use, the "MAiRA" model in particular can significantly expand and also change the market. While this is undoubtedly an enrichment for Germany as a tech location, I am more concerned about whether German SMEs will also make use of the opportunities in the near future. In the case of global sales, I see a definite danger that the tech-savvy Chinese economy will be more likely to use "MAiRA" & Co. and thus generate further competitive advantages.

I also find the prospect of household robots very interesting. For the time being, they will probably be a gadget for the wealthy, but this market alone is already very large. Household robots could soon be helpful for normal earners in that they could be seen as a precursor to later care robots.

Vowever, are we networking? LinkedIn
-> To the Cobot group on LinkedIn(Link)

In my own account/advertisement
The author of this blog is significantly involved in the AI/robotics project Opdra. He advises robotics companies and investors on market analysis and funding/subsidies. More about him can be found here.

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