Celebrating Seoul Robotics’ Series B Funding with a word from our CEO, HanBin Lee
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Today, I am proud to share that last week, Seoul Robotics announced it has raised ₩32 billion in Series B funding (approx. $25 million USD) led by return investor KB Investment, with support from Noh and Partners, Future Play, Korean Development Bank, Artesian, and Access Ventures.
Since our start in 2017, we’ve grown from four founders working out of a small back alley in Seoul, South Korea, to a team of 55 stellar employees across four continents. We’ve cultivated relationships with cities, government entities, partners, and private companies, working with over 80 customers to drive innovation in the 3D perception industry.
But this is just the first chapter. This new funding will enable us to grow our team of engineers and field technicians, develop new solutions, and broaden the reach of our technology – changing the course of autonomous mobility and creating a future that is safer, smarter, and more efficient.
The Road to Series B
As many of you know, Seoul Robotics started with a competition and vision. The task was to develop a software system for self-driving cars; we decided to build that system using data only from LiDAR sensors rather than a combination of camera sensors – something that was unheard of at the time. Our risk paid off and ultimately we came in 10th place, inspiring us to address this gap in the market with Seoul Robotics. With that, my co-founders, Oran Kwon, Jaeil Park, and Hong Minh Truong, and I set out to build on this initial software to truly disrupt the existing market.
We take great pride in the fact that Seoul Robotics is the only company offering 3D perception software that uses deep learning AI and is both sensor- and hardware-agnostic. In fact, the Korean Testing Laboratory independently verified that our proprietary software, SENSR™, can classify and track objects with an accuracy range within 4 cm, a feat that has yet to be achieved by any other system. This is key, because only through highly granular, flexible software can we achieve mass deployment of this technology and bring unparalleled insights to public and private spaces.
With SENSR, we’ve reimagined the possibilities of 3D computer vision. Today, we work with a range of industry-leading partners to address a multitude of problems: railroad companies detecting objects on a train track, and highway systems that can alert drivers in real-time if a vehicle is traveling in the wrong direction on an on-ramp; mines in South America use SENSR for perimeter security, and airports temporarily install our systems on aircrafts for obstacle avoidance.
Before Seoul Robotics, there weren’t any bridges between LiDAR manufacturers and companies outside the automotive market that could benefit from 3D data. We have unlocked access to these insights, lowered the barrier to entry, and accelerated the adoption of this game-changing technology across industries, including smart cities, logistics, autonomous mobility, intelligent transportation systems, and security.
Reimagining Autonomy with Level 5 Control Tower
But we didn’t want to stop there. We asked ourselves, how can we reimagine the standard approach to mobility to make it more accessible and quick to deploy? What if we took our software and placed it on the infrastructure to fuel autonomy, rather than follow the existing approach of on-vehicle sensors?
We took this vision and pioneered the concept of “Autonomy through Infrastructure,” leading us to develop Level 5 Control Tower (LV5 CTRL TWR), a mesh network of sensors and computers that, when installed on the surrounding infrastructure, can take in the full environment and “speak” to vehicles through connected systems like 4/5G and guide them autonomously – kind of like a remote control car.
This system has the same goal as on-vehicle sensors, but achieves it at a fraction of the cost because it is not dependent on the number of autonomous cars. The only cost factors are the price of the hardware, software, and the geographic area the system covers. Not only is LV5 CTRL TWR more cost-effective, it is also safer. The system can capture the full environment, including around corners and blindspots, so it significantly reduces the chances of an accident.
BMW is currently using this technology to automate finished vehicle logistics, moving vehicles autonomously from the factory floor to parking lots, where they are later brought onto ships and trucks to be transported to dealerships. The need for this technology is massive: in total, our estimates find that vehicle manufacturers spend $30 billion just on finished vehicle logistics from the assembly line to when it reaches the customer at the dealership. And with recent labor shortages, this technology is all the more urgent.
BMW has begun transporting finished cars with our technology, but I still feel a sense of amazement every time I see that car moving on its own thanks to our solutions. It took years of development, wins and setbacks, to create the solution we have today. A solution that will not only automate finished vehicle logistics, but one that will soon be deployed in other aspects of first- and middle-mile: trucking logistics hubs, rental car fleet lots, even public parking lots.
With this new infusion of capital, we are more ready than ever to expand deployments of this technology and create smarter, safer, and more autonomous systems.
It Takes A Village
Our story so far has been a bit like the broader autonomous mobility industry: a team of talented individuals banding together to achieve a shared vision, hard work, and non-congruent progress.
For all of us at Seoul Robotics, our excitement extends beyond just the Series B funding itself. It’s recognition that we offer the best-in-class 3D perception software and that our approach to expanding access to 3D insights has strong validation in the market. It’s confirmation that the partnerships we’ve built over the last few years have brought tremendous value and ensure greater safety and security. As our world faces a new, diverse set of challenges, we are excited by all the opportunities to leverage this technology and solve long-standing problems.
I want to extend my thanks to our incredible investors, employees, partners, and customers. Because of all of you, Seoul Robotics is the company we are today. You all have contributed to making our vision a reality, and, more than anything, I feel optimistic as we enter this next chapter.