Road sweeper maker Kusa Tech nets tens of mlns of yuan from seed, angel rounds

Kusa Tech expects the product to enhance public sanitation efficiency by 50% in the long run, meaning that for the same amount of workload, only half of the original labor is required.

Kusa Tech (库萨科技), a Chinese commercial sweeping robot startup, has received tens of millions of yuan in seed and angel funding rounds, led by Vortex Info and the venture capital arm of 23 Seed, respectively, tech media outlet 36kr.com reported today.

Proceeds raised across these two rounds will go toward tech R&D and market exploration, according to a company press release.

Founded in June 2023, Suzhou-headquartered Kusa Tech is dedicated to developing robotic sweepers for applications including public sanitation, garbage disposal and treatment, among others.

Around four months after the firm’s inception, it rolled out its first robot capable of L4 autonomous driving and deployed it to urban roads on a trial basis.

The mass-produced model, called xing yun in pinyin, has a dimension of 3980 mm*1320mm*2280mm. It can climb a 20-degree slope, contains a 420L water tank and a 1,000 garbage storage tank, and is designed to move at a maximum speed of 20 kph.

While in action, it slows down to 8 kph.

Built-in batteries allow the vehicle to remain operational for up to eight hours. Recharging of the battery pack from 20% to 80% full takes one hour and a half under a DC mode or seven hours under an AC mode.

Photo courtesy of Kusa Tech

Kusa Tech expects the product to enhance public sanitation efficiency by 50% in the long run, meaning that for the same amount of workload, only half of the original labor is required.

“Autonomous driving technologies are achieving adoption at a faster pace, especially in the public sanitation space grappling with a labor shortage,” said Yang Xi, founder and CEO of Kusa Tech.

Edges and corners

In scenarios like mines and ports, self-initiated obstacle detection and avoidance is a prized capacity for autonomous robots.

By contrast, in an open environment like public urban roads, they need to identify and actively come in contact with objects that stand in their way, so as to clean them.

Additionally, these devices are expected to perform cleaning tasks with high operating accuracy.

For instance, in cases where the robot extends its side brushes to sweep the edges and corners of roads, it has to complete the job with a precision down to the centimeter.

The robot also needs to respond promptly to real-time situations on the roads.

To enable the robot to “see” the surrounding environment while it moves around, Kusa Tech introduced multi-modal visual solutions and trained its AI algorithms based on massive data acquired from public sanitation applications.

Moreover, the firm also employed semantic data pertinent to public sanitation work to make the robot more perceptive to changes in road conditions.

According to Kusa, this solution reduces the hardware costs and prolongs the lifespan of the robot.

Gaining momentum

China’s market for unmanned road sweeper is gathering momentum in recent years, thanks to a mounting labor shortage, enhanced tech capabilities and the need to bolster efficiency in public sanitation.

Image credit: Unsplash

Amid huge market potential, Kusa Tech came up with a cloud platform that monitors the real-time status of its sweeping robot fleet, in a bid to ensure proper dispatch, quick response and stable execution.

Data accumulated over the course of operation will be used to improve the robots’ performance.

The startup differs from some competitors in that it pairs its robot with a self-developed closed-source system.

Compared to ROS 2, which is an open-source software platform for robotic developers, Kusa claimed that its software is tailored to specific use cases like public sanitation.

A closed-source program carries benefits including higher communication efficiency, better information security and less resource consumption, Kusa Tech said.

Kusa Tech told media that it plans to enter overseas markets, selling primarily to commercial sanitation companies.

China’s autonomous road sweeper industry is characterized by intensifying competition. Legacy players like Fulongma (福龙马) and new players like CowaRobot (酷哇机器人), Yunchuang Zhixing (云创智行) and autowise.ai (仙途智能).

Image credit: Unsplash

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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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