Pool cleaning robot builder Coclean bags shy of US$14m in Series B

Degrii robots consist of two parts. While the robot itself carries out underwater cleaning tasks, a platform floating on the water is responsible for supplying electricity and wireless telecommunication.

Coclean (众清科技), a domestic company making home cleaning products and swimming pool robots, has closed a Series B funding round just shy of 100 million yuan (US$14 million), roping in investors such as Zhonghai Fund, Linkinip Capital, Leading Cap and Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone.

Proceeds from the latest round will be spent on product R&D, brand-building and global market expansion.

Founded in 2015, Coclean focuses on the design and manufacturing of robotic products tailored to home application.

In 2020, it set up a subsidiary in Silicon Valley called Degrii and rolled out early this year a cordless swimming pool cleaning robot Degrii Zima Pro under the brand.

The device, utilizing supersonic SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) technologies, is primarily applied to clean up an outdoor swimming pool.

Yards and outdoor recreational space are a key scenario in Western family life, and customer needs for more efficient cleaning products and services are immense in this area, said Zhao Fei, founder and CEO of Beijing-based Coclean.

Currently, the world now has 30 million private swimming pools — 90% of which are in Western countries — and the number keeps growing at 5% a year.

According to Askci.com, a market intelligence provider, the market size of swimming pool cleaning robots is forecast to grow to US$2.286 billion in 2023 from US$1.612 in 2021, at a CAGR of nearly 20%.

This sector already has incumbents such as Maytronics and Polaris, which many years ago had launched robotic cleaners for swimming pools and dominated the market.

But in Zhao’s opinion, these products mostly come with a data transmission cord and they bump into pool walls all the time, as a result of randomly picked routes or inertia-driven navigation.

“This technical approach is marked by high costs and low efficiency,” he said, adding that the industry is now transitioning from a mode of random collision to one of intelligent route planning.

Against this backdrop, he said Degrii chose to adopt a cordless design for its robots from the outset.

This choice places higher requirements on technologies. After eight years of development, Coclean has come up with a suite of self-designed core sensors, electric control systems and algorithms, with 140 patents filed across the globe.

All these preparations paved the way for it to achieve underwater cordless SLAM functions.

Photo courtesy of Coclean

Equipped with multidimensional sensors such as supersonic radars, Degrii robots are able to position themselves and map the underwater environment as they move around.

Specifically, Degrii integrates more than 20 sensors into its products, including four-directional supersonic radar, 6-axis gyroscope, range sensor, and water sensor. These components enable the robot to map a 3D space, navigate and plan its route in real time.

One of the highlights of Degrii is that its robots are cordless unlike many similar products in the market.

Degrii robots consist of two parts. While the robot itself carries out underwater cleaning tasks, a platform floating on the water is responsible for supplying electricity and wireless telecommunication.

The platform comes with a 10000mAh lithium-ion battery system, with output through an electricity wire. On a single charge, it is able to power the robot for up to 3.5 hours.

Another benefit is that without the battery pack, the cleaning robot is much lighter and works longer hours, in particular in a wall-climbing mode involving gravity.

Degrii robots also come with a brushless electric water pump and independent wheels, capable of climbing up and down pool walls as well as circling in place.

In terms of global sales, in February this year Degrii created a listing for its Zima Pro on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, which has received financial contributions from some 1,000 users.

According to Zhao, Degrii products have already reached mass production, with delivery also underway.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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