Humatics Raises $28M

Thanks to Xconomy

Humatics, the Waltham, MA-based startup working on microlocation technology for use in robots and autonomous vehicles, today announced that it has raised $28 million in a Series A1 round.

The investment was led by Tenfore Holdings, with participation from Blackhorn Ventures, JCI Ventures (the venture arm of Johnson Controls), and all major investors from Humatics’ 2017 Series A round, including Fontinalis VenturesAirbus VenturesLockheed Martin Ventures, and Presidio Ventures. The two rounds combined have netted Humatics a total of nearly $50 million in venture backing.

“With its strategic focus on industrial applications, Humatics microlocation can unlock tremendous value by driving greater efficiency and safety in factories, warehouses, ports, and logistics centers,” said Dan Levine, Tenfore’s managing partner and new Humatics board member, in a press release. “Other products in development have the potential to cement Humatics’ position as the leader in developing a microlocation ecosystem that we believe can be as groundbreaking as the first commercial introduction of GPS a couple of decades ago.”

Humatics, spun out of MIT, was founded in 2015 to develop a spatial intelligence platform revolving around location and navigation at the millimeter level. In a 2017 interview, David Mindell, Humatics co-founder and CEO, told Xconomy that traditional GPS relies on satellites and only gives the general location of a person, place, or thing. Its actual position could be up to 10 meters away. That’s not precise enough for the automated, connected future, Mindell said, plus it doesn’t work indoors.

By using radio-frequency technology, Humatics says it can pinpoint multiple, moving targets whose locations are broadcast via transponder. The transponders can be networked together—strung throughout a factory, for example, or mounted on an autonomous vehicle—to provide more precise positioning at what Mindell says is a fraction of the cost.

Last fall, Humatics and manufacturing tech company Eckhart hosted a demonstration of automated guided vehicles outside of Detroit. The industrial robots could move around the factory floor via mobile sensors without the need for magnetic floor tape and other traditional guideposts. They could also change routes on the fly, and travel between the indoors and outdoors with centimeter- and millimeter-scale accuracy.

The Humatics centimeter-scale systems are commercially available now, and the millimeter-scale systems are being piloted and are expected to launch by the end of the year, the company says. It will use its Series A1 investment capital to expand operational capacity at a new, 25,000-square-foot headquarters in Waltham, and scale the spatial intelligence system, called KinetIQ, that debuted in the fall. The company has nearly 70 employees.

Humatics also plans to work on applications for its technology that involve collision avoidance and automated crane positioning in harsh environmental conditions such as those found in steelyards, ports, and mines. Other possible uses include enhanced rail signaling capabilities in tunnels that require robust, long-distance ranging, the company says.

In a statement, Mindell said, “With this new financing, we will address the best problem a growing company can face: overwhelming customer demand. Our customers need microlocation deployed like WiFi as a facility-wide service, and hunger for the ‘virtual grid’ of precise location services that our spatial intelligence platform provides. With the market pull getting stronger by the month, this new financing primes us to scale our operations and product development to capitalize on this extraordinary market moment.”

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