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Robotics investments are gaining speed after post-pandemic slowdown

by California Digital News

New numbers out of Crunchbase this week see robotics investments once again trending in a positive direction. The previous two years presented a steady drop in overall numbers, following a record 2021 driven by pandemic-fueled job loss. As we head into the second half of the year, 2024 is on-track to beat last year’s numbers.

The first six months of the year have seen $4.2 billion invested in the category, putting this year well on track to beat 2023’s 12-month total of $6.8 billion. The number is still well shy of the COVID peak of 2021, which brought in $17.7 billion and even 2022’s $10.3 billion.

This does, however, signal recovery from the one-two punch of economic headwinds and post-pandemic reopenings, which brought the industry crashing back down to Earth.

The white-hot humanoids category continued to gain steam. Figure led the way there with a massive $675 million Series B. That raise alone moved the needle a bit. The other notable humanoid investment arrived by way of 1X. The Norwegian firm, which counts OpenAI as an early backer, brought in a healthy $100 million.

Medical robots have been having a good year, thanks to big rounds from MMI and Rono Surgical, but once again, labor replacement is the biggest driver, as spaces like warehouses and factories look to automate jobs they’re having difficulty filling.

Those demands aren’t going away anytime soon, while continued investment excitement around all things AI is likely to further bolster robotic startup growth. Unfortunately, it may take another pandemic to see things reach 2021 levels.

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