Chinese delivery robot company Pudu Robotics (aka Pudu Tech) announced this week that it has completed a Series B+ round of nearly $15 million in funding. The round was led by Sequoia Capital China with participation from existing investors Meituan, Everwin Investment, QC Capital, and Chengbohan Fund.
Pudu makes self-driving restaurant server robots equipped with racks of trays that can shuttle plates of food and empty dishes to and from the kitchen.
This B+ funding comes on the heels of Pudu Robotics’ Series B fundraise of $15 million, which the company announced on July 1 of this year. The B+ round brings the total amount of announced funding raised by Pudu to roughly $30 million. (Crunchbase lists prior Series A, Seed and Angel rounds of undisclosed amounts.)
According to today’s press announcement, Pudu’s robots have been sold to more than 20 countries and regions around the world. Earlier this month, Pudu announced that the Muhguri restaurant is Sokcho, South Korea now had 11 Pudu robots serving food to customers.
Pudu is certainly not alone in creating a new robotic labor force for restaurants. Other players in the space include fellow Chinese company Keenon Robotics, California-based Bear Robotics, and South Korea’s Woowa Bros., which has partnered with LG for server bots.
Pudu said this latest funding would be used to expand its market. The money is coming just as the global pandemic has restaurants reassessing their dine-in businesses. Server robots like Pudu’s remove one possible vector of human-to-human viral transmission, and come with the added benefit of not getting sick themselves.
While that may be good news in terms of not spreading the coronavirus, the increased use of robots means fewer jobs for humans. A recent survey from Aaron Allen & Associates found that more than 80 percent of restaurant jobs could be automated, with the majority of them being server positions.
That stat, of course, brings up a host of other societal issues, but right now, most people are pre-occupied with the more immediate pandemic-related problems.