Symbio to collaborate with Nissan & Toyota to enhance robotic assembly

  • The AI startup will integrate its software in the U.S based factories of the auto giants
  • This alliance will drastically increase the automation of the assembly line using factory robots, the company stated

Symbio, an AI-based robotics company located in Bay Area, California, has reportedly announced deals with Japanese auto giants Toyota and Nissan for increasing the efficiency of their robotic assembly line. The company will first implement its software in factories based in the United States.

The startup is financially supported by a total funding of USD 30 million. This round of funding was initiated by ACME Capital, existing investors The House Fund, Eclipse Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz. In December 2020, the company completed a Series B funding round of USD 15 million. This comes after they closed a USD 12 million Series A funding back in 2018.

The startup has apparently stated that its SymbioDCS tech will be able to drastically enhance the automation process of the assembly line using factory robots. Max Reynolds, co-founder and CEO of Symbio, reportedly stated that the company aims at increasing the capacity of the factory, thus enabling the end customers to build more product with flexibility and that this can be attained by enhancing the automation efficiency of Nissan and Toyota’s assembly lines.

He further added that in a core vertical like automotive, there are tons of growth opportunities for the company, with only 5 percent of the assembly setup across the industry currently automated, which is far lower than expected.

In a statement related to the news, UC Berkeley professor Anca Dragan apparently expressed that Symbio is not only offering automation solutions to their clients but are also designing tools that will allow developers and experts in the manufacturing domain create customized automation solutions, making them adaptable to new tasks.

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MediBuddy seizes US$20 million in Series B funding round

The investment will be used by MediBuddy to strengthen its doctor & hospital base, product, patient reach, technology, and brand

Indian health-tech company, MediBuddy has successfully secured US$20 million (around Rs 145 crore) from investors India Life Sciences Fund III, LLC and others. In a statement, the company said that the recent investment comes line to an initial funding of US$20 million raised under a Series B round in June 2020.

Sources close to the development state that the latest US$20 million funding was led by India Life Sciences Fund III, with involvement of other investors. The round incited new financing from JAFCO Asia Fund, TEAMFund LP, FinSight Ventures, ALES Global Japan, and Beyond Next Ventures. The round also included involvement of existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, Rebright Partners and Milliways Ventures.

So far, MediBuddy has raised over USD 50 million, claim reports. Established by Enbasekar Dinadayalane and Satish Kannan, the MediBuddy platform entails a partner network of over 7,000 hospitals, 90,000 doctors, 3,000 diagnostic centers and 2,500 pharmacies. The platform has around 1,000-member team working across 22 cities in India.

Commenting on plans in line, Satish Kannan, Co-founder & CEO, MediBuddy, said that their firm orchestrates the infusion of the recently raised funds to further strengthen their hospital and doctor base, and enhance their patient reach, technology, product, and brand, consequently moving a step closer to the vision of providing quality healthcare services and solutions to billions of people.

Over the past few months, MediBuddy has incorporated leading industry professionals to thrive in critical areas, bolstering an already-strong team. While recent, the company received a proposal of a debt fund of around Rs 25 crore from InnoVen Capital, said Mr. Kannan.

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AI software maker Mindtrace lands $3Mn in venture capital financing

Mindtrace, a Manchester-based AI software firm, has made headlines after picking up around $3 million as an investment from venture capital (VC) firms Bloc Ventures, Skylake Capital and current investor Mercia Asset Management. Sources indicate that Mindtrace might use these funds to boost its product roadmap and expand its go-to market capabilities such as strategic partnerships.

Speaking on the investment, Skylake Capital GM, Marcos Battisti said that Mindtrace has developed a platform that provides customers a unique blend of capabilities that include federated learning and few-shot learning. These capabilities are essential for democratization of AI. Furthermore, solutions developed by Mindtrace can help drive new AI capabilities at the edge.

Sir Hossein Yassaie, Chairman, Mindtrace, explained that in order to remain competitive in the digital era, enterprises can utilize solutions like deployment of persistent learning AI technology, learning on multiple platforms and sharing knowledge of new use case across other enterprises and partner networks, with low data labeling and AI model rebuilding requirement.

Meanwhile, Michael Dimelow, Chief Commercial Officer, Bloc Ventures, stated that major venture capital and technology firms have poured enormous funds into AI over the years incited by innovators that are dedicated on improving decision making capabilities or automating repetitive tasks.

He said that as the world is now entering into an era of AI, teaching computers new learning capabilities as well as cognitively process similar to human could be the next logical step in future technology roadmap.

Commenting on Mindtrace, Mr. Dimelow said that the company has been working on this challenge for over half a decade and their firm is excited to partner with the team at Mindtrace and see whether the goal of unsupervised learning could become a reality.

As per Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Investment Director, Mercia, said AI is of high significance to Mercia and Mindtrace is ideal for their firm as it aims at bringing a brain inspired AI platform that can make machines think more dynamically and learn continuously like humans.

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BioSteel establishes a multi-year partnership with U.S. Soccer Federation

  • The sports drink company will now be the official sponsor of USMNT, USWNT, Youth team and extended national teams
  • The multi-year agreement commences with a premium women’s soccer tournament, SheBelieves Cup, starting February 18, 2021 at the Exploria Stadium in Florida

BioSteel, a sports hydration company, has reportedly signed a multi-year partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation. This makes the company an official sponsor of U.S soccer. This deal initiates with the SheBelieves Cup, considered to be one of the top women’s soccer tournaments,which begins on February 18 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando with the final match scheduled on February 24.

This agreement was executed by Soccer United Marketing, who have been partners of U.S. Soccer for over 15 years. As part of the deal, BioSteel will provide their zero-sugar sports drink packed inside an eco-friendly tetra pak container. These drinks will be available to all national soccer teams of the United States, from USMNT, USWNT to extended national teams.

BioSteel products will be placed on the sidelines during practice sessions and matches, in training camps and in locker rooms as well. This will project the brand message of ‘Clean. Healthy. Hydration.’ across all levels of U.S. Soccer. BioSteel’s logo will be branded on squirt bottles, towels, cups and coolers placed on sidelines.

The company will gain substantial exposure through their in-stadium digital signatures. This will further expand with social and digital integrations, retail activities with brand ambassadors and Team BioSteel athletes.

John Celenza, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of BioSteel, has apparently stated that the company looks forward to making future investments in U.S. Soccer and they appreciate the Soccer Federation for choosing a healthy drink to hydrate their players without compromising the environment.

David Wright, the Chief Commercial Officer of U.S. Soccer Federation, reportedly stated that BioSteel is dynamic as a brand and that they are committed towards bolstering the Federations’ vision for future growth in the sport.

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Time Manufacturing Co. buys Ruthmann to enhance product portfolio

The move will provide both the companies with complementary products and services that allow them to improve their offerings and meet escalating customer demand  

Texas-based- Time Manufacturing Company has reportedly announced the completion of the purchase of European manufacturer of aerial work platform- Ruthmann. Based in Gescher-Hochmoor, Germany, Ruthmann carries a long history of developing superior quality, truck-mounted aerial work platforms across Europe which are made available in the market under notable brand names like Ecoline, Steiger, Ruthmann, and Bluelift.

Similarly, Time is a leading manufacturer of aerial lifts mainly for the telecommunications, infrastructure, forestry, and electric utility industries. The company is operational in the market through various brands such as Aspen Aerials, Versalift, and BrandFX.

In a statement, Curt Howell, CEO, Time Manufacturing Company, said that Ruthmann stands for reliability and quality. Through the partnership, both the companies will provide complementary products and services that allow both the parties to improve their offerings and meet the escalating demand of their customers.

For the record, the acquisition of Ruthmann is an integral step for the American company to develop a strong product portfolio that supports the growing technological needs of the electric utility, telecommunications, and other essential customers worldwide. Time has a robust international operation that showcases a remarkable opportunity to increase and promote the brands of Ruthmann to a wider audience.

Rolf Kulawik, Managing Director of Ruthmann, was reportedly quoted stating that the transaction aims at integrating the two complementary work trucks along with high access equipment manufacturers, increasing the product line with improving customer service.

Notably, Time Manufacturing Company will showcase its product lines across all its brands at the APEX Show in Netherlands in June 2021, and The Utility Expo in Louisville in September 2021.

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Hyundai unveils new interior design for its EV platform, IONIQ 5

Motioning towards the idea of offering enhanced passenger comfort, Hyundai Motor Company has recently released images of its BEV model, IONIQ 5’s spacious interior. Sources acquaint with this development state that the IONIQ 5 will debut at Hyundai’s virtual world premiere on February 23rd, 2021.

Built on the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), IONIQ 5 houses a flat battery base that enables a more spacious and modular interior, offering flexible configurations to comfortably seat both passengers and their luggage.

The E-GMP platform enables integration of a longer wheelbase and flat floor, features that make IONIQ 5 stand out from other midsize crossovers, particularly those with IC (internal combustion) engines and traditional Steer-by-Wire systems.

Thanks to the flat floor design that allows the center console to slide back and forth, driver and passengers in the vehicle can enter and exit the cabin freely from either side when parked.

Expressing his views, SangYup Lee, Senior VP & Head, Hyundai Global Design Center, said that the IONIQ 5 is a statement of design that presents optimistic features that customers are looking for in the EV era.

Apparently, Hyundai believes in an imminent need for eco-conscious mobility solutions that have a lower impact on the environment. With this vision, the company’s designers have focused on using eco-friendly and sustainably sourced materials in the IONIQ 5.

For example, the seats in the IONIQ 5 at cladded in a sustainable, eco-processed leather that is then dyed and treated with plant-based oil extractions squeezed from flaxseed. Similarly, other soft furnishings used in the cabin compose of textiles that are sourced from sustainable fibers like wool, sugar cane bio components, and poly yarns, as well as materials woven from fibers that are made from recycled PET plastic bottles.

Moreover, components such as switches, dashboard, steering wheel and door panels are layered with a polyurethane bio paint made from rape flowers and corn.

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Rolls Royce considering shutdown of jet engine plants to curb losses

Rolls Royce, the renowned British engineering firm, is reportedly contemplating plans to close down its civil aircraft jet engine factories for a duration of approximately two weeks in a bid to curb losses.

As per reliable reports, Rolls Royce has suffered a drastic fall in sales during the pandemic with lesser jets in the air that need servicing.

The plans are unconfirmed because the firm aims to discuss an agreement with the unions first. Additionally, it has been clarified that this plan would not affect its energy or defense divisions.

Rolls Royce stated that under the agreement it reached last summer with the union, in principle it agreed to enter negotiations with regards to deliver nearly 10 per cent productivity as well as efficiency improvement in its Civil Aerospace operations across the UK.

The engineering giant added further that it has now started complex and useful discussions with the union on how this could be attained. As of now, no date for the shutdown has been set and Rolls Royce intends to spread the wage hit through 2021.

This would be the very first temporary shutdown for the engineering firm since the 1980s, when the company was re-privatized. Rolls Royce is shying away from complete use of the furlough scheme.

The firm added that it is continuing to utilize the UK Government CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) as well as other such schemes elsewhere across the globe, in Civil Aerospace areas where the workload has substantially decreased mainly because of coronavirus pandemic.

But, claiming temporary furlough unilaterally for all the employees in the UK Civil Aerospace business in a pre-planned way is not in line with the intent, nor is it within the true spirit of the scheme, as the workload is not affected in all parts.

The firm, already dropping billions of pounds in costs, predicts £2 billion of cash to leave the business in the current year, nearly more than double estimates. Furthermore, the new coronavirus strains are also making estimates much harder.

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Kerala’s high-speed train project- Silverline to cover 530km in 5 hours

The Government of India has recently extended a green signal to Silverline, Kerala’s INR 63,941 crore semi high-speed rail projects that will help reduce pollution levels, accidents, and congestion.

In a statement by Ajith Kumar, Managing Director at Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited, the proposed project carries the potential to take away nearly 457 lorries off the state’s accident-prone and congested highways daily, since many roll on-roll off trains, each capable of carrying 40 lorries.

Moreover, Silverline will cover Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram, a 530-km long track in five hours, he added, stating that such high-speed trains operate in nations like Germany and the UK at the speed of 140 kmph.

Silverline can touch up to 130 kmph, for which rakes may either be imported or built by Indian companies that have expertise. The ro-ro train in Kerala will mostly operate at night and during off-peak hours, he mentioned.

It is worth noting that the operational cost of a lorry will be restricted to Rs 26 per km, which is much lesser than the expense in a road-route. Moreover, the state route will be covered in 5 hours through Silverline as opposed to a 14-hour road journey.

Citing reports, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, has sent a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala- Pinarayi Vijayan requesting the state government to accelerate the land acquisition process after receiving the necessary clearances.

Apparently, the letter dated January 5, 2021, also directed the project implementation agency to engage with Japanese International Cooperative Agency to chart out the funding particulars.

Notably, the ro-ro train will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2.87 lakh tons from 2025 to 2026. These figures could increase to 5.94 lakh tons in 2052 to 2053 as a high number of passengers and cargo are expected to use this novel services.

According to the suggested scheme, passenger trains along the route will operate between 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. While the per passenger fare is expected at Rs 2.75 per km.

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Ford Motor calls off plans for EV joint venture with China’s Zotye

Global auto manufacturer Ford Motor Company has recently announced its decision to terminate plans for an EV joint venture launch with China-based Zotye Automobile.

The auto giant revealed that its decision was prompted by significant changes in government policies and the electric vehicle industry since the agreements were initially signed with Zotye in 2017 and 2018 for battery-electric vehicle development and smart mobility, respectively. However, Ford declined to specify the exact changes that triggered this move.

Ford had recently stated that its joint venture in China with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co would initiate the production of the Mustang Mach-E all-electric vehicles.

Ford also claimed in a statement that it is planning to pursue a more flexible business model, that would facilitate the utilization of its existing operations in China and other regions, and help construct associated business centers.

Zotye declined to respond to requests for comment.

During a visit by former President of the United States, Donald Trump to China in 2017, Zotye and Ford came to a decision to invest a combined amount of $756 million, aiming for the establishment of a 50-50 JV in China to develop small electric passenger cars.

In 2018, the firms announced the signing of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) for another JV, to manufacture electric vehicles for ride-hailing fleets.

Various EV manufacturers, from home-grown firms like Nio Inc to industry-leading entities like Tesla Inc. have been making tremendous efforts to expand their production capacity in the largest auto industry in the world, where the government is encouraging the use of more sustainable vehicles as a solution for reduction of the chronic air pollution.

According to spokesperson T.R. Reid, the recent development will not affect the commitment of Ford towards producing vehicles for the largest EV market worldwide. Reid commented that if anything, the company’s intentions have become significantly more ambitious and greater than they were before, with efforts being made to find different ways to fulfill them.

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Syngenta Crop Protection to ink AI partnership with Insilico Medicine

Global agriculture frontrunner, Syngenta Crop Protection has reportedly collaborated with AI and deep learning provider, Insilico Medicine to speed up the launch and development of advanced crop protection solutions to guard crops against diseases, weeds, and pests, in a bid to protect the ecosystems. With this move, the agriculture-based firm plans to offer farmers faster and efficient solutions through innovations to focus on their ongoing challenges for affordable, quality food as well as to enhance their productivity.

For those uninitiated, Insilico Medicine has shown significant advances in pharmaceutical research for the use of AI and deep learning in designing, synthesizing, and validating new ingredients with a proven track record. These processes also have the potential to bring transformation in order to develop new crop protection solutions to keep the plants safe during planting and harvesting.

Through this collaboration, Insilico Medicine would deploy its AI-based small molecule generative chemistry technology to quickly create molecules for active ingredients, as well as to actively design sustainable and environmentally friendly molecules.

Head of Crop Protection Research at Syngenta, Camilla Corsi, revealed that the collaboration would assist the company in harnessing the tremendous potential of AI, in order to come up with advanced sustainable crop protection solutions, given the firm’s $2 billion commitment towards innovation and sustainability. It would also lead to an agricultural transformation and provide farmers with the tools to efficiently produce healthy, nutritious, cost-friendly, and sustainably grown food, while simultaneously curbing the environmental impact.

As per founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, Alex Zhavoronkov, the firm is excited to partner with Syngenta to deploy AI solutions for the benefit of agriculture, while addressing it as a progressive company with numerous brilliant scientists and throwing light on its dedication towards developing safe and sustainable solutions. The CEO further stated that their AI solutions are extremely valuable for crop sciences and have been designed for product safety-oriented businesses from the ground up, to create highly accurate chemistry to guard human health while rendering short-term and long-term protection.


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