Chinese robotics firm CowaRobot, creator of a smart suitcase that automatically follows its owners, has raised Rmb135 million ($21.2 million) to finance further research and investments in autonomous driving technology.
According to a China Money Network report, CowaRobot’s Series B funding round was co-led by SoftBank China Venture Capital and China Creation Ventures. Infore Investment Holding Group, Orca M&A Capital, and Minsheng Investment Group also participated in the round, which was CowaRobot’s third round of financing.
CowaRobot has invented a smart luggage that enables owners to move around airport terminals and other places without lifting or dragging their suitcases. The luggage follows its owners, just like what pet puppies do, and can sense and understand the obstacles in its operating environments.
The company also addresses travellers’ concerns of lost or misplaced luggage by embedding mobile technology that allows owners to locate the bag using their mobile phone and then direct it to a certain location.
The robotic luggage also comes with an app that lets users control smart locks, record and share their luggage’s travelling path, among others.
“The smart suitcase frees your hands and stays with you autonomously, making travel much more high-tech and enjoyable,” the company said in an earlier statement. CowaRobot currently ships an average of about 2,000 smart luggage a month.
CowaRobot was founded in 2015 by He Tao, a former engineer at Japanese robotics firm HiBo. He completed his PhD in mechanical engineering from Japan Institute of Technology.
Aside from the smart suitcase, CowaRobot also designs robots for street cleaning and logistics and is expanding its research and development capabilities in autonomous driving technologies.
China has been boosting efforts to keep pace with the US in the bid to become the global leader in autonomous driving technology by ramping up investments in the sector.
Last week, Roadstar.ai, a Shenzhen-based AI-powered self-driving technology startup founded by former Google and Tesla engineers, announced that it has raised $128 million in a Series A funding round, the biggest-ever investment made into a Chinese startup in the country’s autonomous driving industry.
Roadstar.ai’s latest funding amount exceeds that of Pony.ai, another self-driving car startup, which pocketed $112 million in its Series A round led by two venture firms, Morningside Venture Capital and Legend.