Tencent continues to rush into artificial intelligence

Robotics start-up UBTech has raised $820 million in a funding round led by Tencent, as Chinese investment continues to rush into artificial intelligence. The deal values Shenzhen-based UBTech at more than $4 billion, before including the new funds, up from $1 billion in 2016. Last month, Chinese AI start-up SenseTime raised $600 million, led by Alibaba, while Sinovation Ventures, an AI-focused investment fund led by Kai-Fu Lee, former Google China chief, raised $500 million to invest into the sector. China is hoping to challenge the US as the global leader in AI, supercharging investment in the field… Internet companies Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba have been stepping up their investments in the space, alongside homegrown consumer tech start ups such as drone maker DJI. UBTech focuses on humanoid robots, including Walker, a bipedal robot that can walk down stairs… The company, which has its US headquarters in Los Angeles, wants to make sophisticated devices affordable for use in the home. Its consumer products include Lynx, a small domestic robot costing $800 that has facial recognition and can be used to talk to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, and a Star Wars stormtrooper that can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet, which sells for $300 in partnership with Disney… Alongside Tencent, UBTech is adding investors, including ICBC, Haier, Telstra and Sichuan Railway Investment Group.
Tim Bradshaw