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RT Corp., a Tokyo-based developer of service robots founded in 2005, raised 400 million yen ($3.8 million) in Series B funding for its food-picking collaborative robot Foodly. RT said it will use the funding RT to strengthen its business structure and hire personnel.

Foodly is designed to work alongside people in food factories. RT said Foodly will help address the urgent issue of labor shortages in the prepared food industry.

The humanoid robot picks up food inside the bulk tray and places it in the lunch box moving down the serving line. Foodly features a head-mounted camera that is used to recognize the food in the bin. There’s another camera in Foodly’s chest that tracks the lunch boxes moving along the line. RT said it uses deep learning and TensorFlow for object recognition.

RT Corp

RT Corp’s Foodly humanoid is designed to work in food factories. | Credit: RT Corp

Now you might be wondering why a humanoid form factor is needed for this type of application. RT said the design will help humans feel comfortable while working next to Foodly, which is about “the size of a small adult woman.” Others might say Foodly has been over-designed, but that’s neither here nor there.

Foodly is based on RT’s Sciurus 17, a service robot developed and sold for to universities and research institutions. Foodly features hybrid control of torque and position in each motor part to avoid colliding with its human counterparts.

RT’s Series B Funding included the following investors: Mirai Creation Fund II, DBJ Capital Investment Limited Partnership, Mizuho Growth Fund No.3 Limited Partnership and SI Start-up Supporting Fund Investment Enterprise Limited Partnership. RT Corp previously raised 100 million yen (XX $USD) in its Series A round.

The Robot Report has launched the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum.

Source: The Robot Report

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