Wheeled robot maker and motor producer Direct Drive Tech closes Series A+ round

A range of motor products developed by DDT, comprising M6, M9, M15 and M11, target a number of business scenarios, from mopping robot to industrial robots, from home service robots to fitness equipment.

Direct Drive Tech (本末科技, hereafter referred to as DDT), a robotic component maker, has bagged tens of millions of yuan from a Series A+ round of funding, tech media outlet 36Kr reported today.

The fundraiser was led by Liwan Capital, with participation from Shanghai Jianyuan Investment Co., Ltd.

Proceeds from this round will be spent on R&D, product line expansion and market promotion.

Founded in 2018 in Hong Kong and relocated in 2020 to XbotPark in Dongguan of southern Guangdong, DDT is dedicated to the manufacturing of direct drive actuators, a key part in robotics, to replace reduction gears in many machines.

The firm has roped in a consortium of investors from previous fundraisers such as XbotPark, Dami Ventures, MiraclePlus, 5Y Capital, Green Pine Capital and others.

In October last year, it closed a Series A round worth 100 million yuan (US$13.75 million), led by Green Pine Capital and Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group (LCIG)

Direct Drive Tech’s products consist mainly of two series, direct drive joint motors featuring a low rotation speed and a big torque, and a direct-drive, self-balancing two-wheeled robot named DIABLO and TITA.

A range of motor products developed by DDT, comprising M6, M9, M15 and M11, target a number of business scenarios, from mopping robot to industrial robots, from home service robots to fitness equipment.

All photos courtesy of Direct Drive Tech

Specifically, in the case of sweeping robots, DDT combines its direct-drive travel wheels with sweeping and mopping modules to create a flat structure.

The design saves nearly half of the space and is conducive to internal hardware integration. It also minimizes noise and increases the product life cycle by several times since reduction gears are abandoned.

Bright commercial prospects

The company has painted a bright picture of where its technologies can make a difference.

Its direct drive actuators can be adopted in low-speed mobility tools, small servo system, power generators within offshore wind turbines, with the effects of not just improving product reliability but also lowering maintenance costs.

DDT has now formed its advantage in several niche segments, and can deliver a mass-produced direct drive motor every few seconds, said Zhang Di, founder and CEO of the startup.

The firm excited the market more with its launch of wheeled robot TITA. Equipped with DDT’s iconic direct drive joints and travel wheel motors, the contraption has eight degrees of freedom, can stand, walk, jump over obstacles and stop autonomously.

Notably, Zhang, who received his master’s degree in robotic system and control from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), is a disciple of Professor Li Zexiang, a mentor and financier of Frank Wang, founder and CEO of the world’s drone leader DJI (大疆科技). Li is the founder of XbotPark.

“In the area of wheeled robot, DDT is the a domestic leader, possessing technological strengths and an early-mover advantage,” said Zhan Guangjiu, founding partner of Liwan Capital. “We believe rolling motion will become a major form of robotic locomotion in the future.”

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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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