Amid Robotics Buzz, Rethink Retools With $27M More

Building a robotics company is expensive, but it could pay off in a big way. Just ask Rethink Robotics, which has added $26.6 million in venture funding to its war chest, which has totaled at least $100 million over several rounds.

Rethink Robotics’ investors include Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, CRV, Bezos Expeditions, and DFJ. There are new investors in the current round, but Rethink isn’t saying who they are yet. The company is led by founder and CTO Rodney Brooks and CEO Scott Eckert.

Rethink has developed an industrial robot called Baxter that is designed to work safely in factories and warehouses. It has two arms and hands, a head and torso, computer vision and learning capabilities, and can do things like pick up objects and place them in a box.

The company got started in 2008 and spent several years on research and development. Since 2012, Rethink Robotics has been working more on sales and marketing—and has run into its share of challenges as it looks to transform the fields of manufacturing and logistics.

Robotics is a particularly hot topic this year. In addition to drones soaring into new markets and research milestones like the DARPA Robotics Challenge, there is the perennial question of what the impact of robots will be on jobs. Another question is who will emerge as the leading robotics company of this era.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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