SoftBank Ventures Asia, the undertaking arm of Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Team, led a $5.8 million round in South Korean autonomous navigation startup Seadronix, bringing its whole funding to day to $8.3 million.
Founded in 2015, Seadronix develops AI computer software to aid cargo ships navigate with minimal involvement from sailors, equivalent to autonomous cars and trucks. The company’s two most important goods involve a checking technique to assistance big vessels berth at docks and a independent checking procedure to assistance vessels navigate in open waters, presently operating in four ports throughout Korea.
“Our mission is to be an AI system that guarantees the protection and environmental defense of the ocean,” explained Byeolteo Park, cofounder and CEO of Seadronix, in a statement. “With this funding, we hope to recruit far more skills in AI and sensor fusion and navigation, and accelerate our international industry penetration program.”
Seadronix’s proprietary methods could address 75% of maritime mishaps that stem from “human faults and environmental challenges,” this kind of as carbon dioxide leaks that can trigger lethal explosions, in accordance to the startup.
The autonomous delivery marketplace in Asia has witnessed a wave of investment over the earlier few yrs, dovetailing with a world push in the direction of “smarter” autonomous transportation. Toyota AI Ventures, for example, introduced a $100 million fund in 2019 for autonomous mobility, masking the shipping and delivery industry with an financial investment in Boston-based mostly Sea Devices.
Previous August, Boston Consulting Group’s innovation arm, BCG Electronic Ventures, invested in 3 Singapore-primarily based maritime tech startups. Quest Ventures, also primarily based in the city-state, launched a $7.5 million maritime know-how fund final calendar year, in collaboration with Singapore-primarily based ShipsFocus.
Launched in 2000, SoftBank Ventures Asia has approximately $1.8 billion in property less than administration, spanning about 300 providers, focusing on “ICT investments” this kind of as AI, IoT and intelligent robotics.
Last December, SoftBank Ventures Asia invested $150 million in metaverse platform Zepeto, operated by Naver Z, a device of Korean billionaire Lee Hae-jin’s net giant Naver.