Robotics funding is off to a hot start in 2015

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Credit: Signe Brewster/Gigaom

Robotics hardware startups have already raised more than $51.9 million in 2015 thus far, bolstered by home robotics startup Jibo’s $25.3 million Series A round Tuesday.

That’s chump change for a lot of industries, but not for robotics companies, which have traditionally seen much lower investment rates. Google X engineer Travis Deyle’s annual semi-scientific tally put venture funding for robot companies at around $341.3 million in 2014. That’s up significantly from $250.7 million in 2013.

While home robots like Jibo are playing a part in the trend, drones are also a major factor, drawing in $105 million in 2014 by Deyle’s count. They are still here in 2015; Skydio and Galileo grabbed $3 million and an undisclosed amount, respectively, in their seed rounds this month.

That $51.9 million figure also includes Rethink Robotics, which raised a $26.6 million Series D. Unlike Jibo’s home assistant bot, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot is best known for its work in labs and factories, where it can be quickly trained to take over repetitive tasks from humans.

The increased interest in consumer-level robots might be due in part to crowdfunding sites, where novel hardware often turns into a blockbuster campaign. Personal Robot, a home assistant much like Jibo, is in the middle of a campaign that has raised well over $100,000. And there is no question it will be another big year for crowdfunded drones.

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