SoftBank Fund leads $114M investment in robotics

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(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund led a $114 million investment in a startup that specializes in developing self-driving technology for robots.

Brain Corp., based in San Diego, has created artificial intelligence and technology that enables robots to perceive their environment, learn to control motion and navigate using visual cues and landmarks while avoiding people and other obstacles. The investment will be used to further develop AI technology and create brains for different types of commercial and consumer robots, Brain Corp. said in a statement Wednesday.

“At Brain, we believe tomorrow’s robots will be intelligent autonomous machines that take care of us,” said Chief Executive Officer Eugene Izhikevich.

The $100 billion Vision Fund is interested in cutting-edge technologies from virtual reality to the Internet of Things. It’s scouting for possible investments in quantum computing, an experimental science being researched by companies such as Google and IBM to succeed current computer-processor technology. The fund also led a $200 million round into a vertical farming startup called Plenty.

Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Tokyo-based SoftBank, said Brain is developing “truly ground-breaking technology,” and that it’s team is “at the forefront of creating the future and a more convenient way of life through technology.”

Other investors in the funding round include Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Inc., and Bran’s first institutional investor.

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