Cloudminds Technology, the Santa Clara, California-based developer of a cloud-based platform capable of operating intelligent consumer services robots, is aiming to put 100,000 units of high-end robotics, such as humanoid robots, in the market by the end of 2021. To realise this goal, Cloudminds and its business partners will need “billions of US dollars”, according to its chief financial officer, Richard Tang. The company is looking to raise at least US$300 million in Series B funding through a private shares sale soon. “We prefer to have new investors who can also help us develop applications and commercialise our business plan,” Tang said in an interview on the sidelines of the Credit Suisse Asia Investment Conference this week. “Traditionally, robots have self-contained brains, whose data-processing capacity is constrained by chip sizes and energy supply,” said Tang. “By moving the brains to a network cloud computing environment, robots can have access to infinite computing power, data storage and energy supply.” Set up about four years ago, the company was founded by American Chinese Bill Huang Xiaoqing, a former president of the China Mobile Research Institute, and is backed by Japanese telecommunications and internet services giant Softbank, Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group and technology sector investor Walden International. A US$120 million Series A funding round in 2017 valued the company at US$440 million. Cloudminds has developed a cloud-based artificial intelligence and communications platform, and was looking for hardware partners to make the robots it wanted. “Unfortunately, high-end robotics hardware providers are few, and we could not find a particularly suitable partner. So we ended up developing the robots ourselves,” said Tang. Cloudminds expects to start the trial production of its robots in the next three months. It has also bought some robots from sister firm Softbank Robotics for modifying these into smarter cloud-based ones. It is negotiating with various potential robot applications developers globally for the deployment of these machines in consumer services such as answering customer queries in shopping malls, hotels, banks and hospitals. and making coffee. China can excel in consumer robotics, says Credit Suisse Asset Management specialist “It is a bit like we have come up with the smartphones, operating system and some apps, and are looking for developers of more apps,” said Tang. When its target of 100,000 high-end robots deployed is reached, he expects the nascent industry to reach a turning point towards early mass commercialisation. The robots will then be capable of bringing back 100 million gigabytes of data to Cloudminds’ platform annually, which will greatly lift their servicing capability, said Tang. Having focused its commercialisation effort in China last year, Cloudminds will make a market development push this year in the US, before making inroads in Japan next year. The company is aiming to become a publicly traded firm on a “globalised” stock exchange in the not too distant future, said Tang. Hong Kong and the US are potential venues.