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Iris Ohyama Acquires Smile Robotics: Advancing Innovation in Service Robots!

Japanese home appliance maker Iris Ohyama has announced plans to acquire robotics startup Smile Robotics, as reported by NikkeiAsia. The acquisition will allow Iris Ohyama to develop new robots in-house using Smile Robotics' technology.

Founded in 2019 out of the University of Tokyo by CEO Takashi Ogura, Smile Robotics is known for its autonomous restaurant assistant robot called ACUR-C. ACUR-C can serve dishes, clear tables, and transfer dishes using its robotic arm and sensing capabilities.

The acquisition was formally agreed upon early Monday. Iris Ohyama will obtain all outstanding shares of Smile Robotics for an estimated 1 billion yen ($7 million), giving it full ownership.

This builds on Iris Ohyama's existing efforts in robotics. In 2020, it partnered with SoftBank Robotics to sell cleaning and catering robots to over 4,000 Japanese companies by modifying Chinese products.

With Smile Robotics, Iris Ohyama aims to develop customized in-house robots using its operating system and advanced technology like remote operation. The first product will likely be a cleaning robot for corporate clients, according to NikkeiAsia.

The acquisition demonstrates the growing demand for service robots like ACUR-C in food, healthcare, and other industries. By bringing Smile Robotics in-house, Iris Ohyama can leverage its technology to expand its robotics business and meet rising corporate needs.

It also highlights the strategic value of robotics startups with proprietary systems and IP. Smile Robotics' unique capabilities made it an attractive target, enabling Iris Ohyama to move into autonomous robot development and compete in the space.

As adoption of service robots increases globally, more established appliance and technology companies may look to acquisitions to capitalize on the opportunities. The deal shows the field's escalating competitive stakes and consolidation as leaders emerge.

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