KDDI Corporation, one of Japan’s three largest telecom operators, announced on March 20 that it had completed its strategic funding of Yogo Robot (有个机器人) early this year, with validation and promotion of its products already underway in Japan.
KDDI released the news from the Shibuya Cast building, a shopping mall, in Tokyo. Founded by Japan’s management guru and late Kyocera founder Inamori Kazuo, the telecom carrier is a Fortune 500 company and ranks among the top three, the others being SoftBank and NTT.
In a public statement, KDDI said that Japan faces severe low fertility rates and labor shortage, and this compelled it to actively search for high-performance robots.
“We finally decided to invest in Yogo Robot, one of the best robotic companies in the service segment,” said KDDI. “We hope it will provide more support to scale the commercial building solutions, and look to collaborate more with the firm’s robotic platform to supply more comprehensive services.”
Yogo Robot, founded in 2016 by robot scientist Zhao Ming in Shanghai, is one of the leading service robot startups from China. Among its financial backers are Centurium, Zhen Fund, IDG, Harvest Fund, among others. It so far has closed eight rounds of funding.
According to a press release posted on Yogo Robot’s official WeChat account, KDDI’s introduction of Yogo’s integrated, multi-purpose robot fleet is the first among the industry in Japan.
The carrier also put the robots to work on a trial run in Shibuya Cast the day it confirmed the tie-up. Yogo’s devices are scheduled for sale across Japan in late 2023.
Its robotic system consists of functions that allow robots to autonomously switch between the roles of courier and security inspector.
It also enables ordering on Menu, Japan’s online food and groceries shopping platform, and can connect with merchants in the Cast building to arrange real-time delivery.
Yogo developed the system full-stack on its own and has acquired 650 patents for it, 70% of which are related to invention. Its deployment in Japan marks the first time for the system to enter overseas markets.
“Yogo’s robots and platform not just solve the problems faced by property managers for managing different types of robots and providing space for them,” said KDDI. “They also offer a highly convenient and brand new service experience for users.”