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Tencent joins $10 million investment in robotics delivery startup Marble

Emerging robotics startup Marble has raised $10 million in a series A round of funding from Tencent, Lemnos, CrunchFund, and Maven.

The San Francisco-based company debuted its autonomous food-delivery robots last April in partnership with Yelp and later announced a partnership with DoorDash. During various trials with local eateries in San Francisco, customers’ meals were placed inside the bot’s cargo bays, which customers unlocked with an access code upon arrival.

Founded in 2015, Marble had hitherto raised $5 million, and with another $10 million in the bank the company said it plans to further develop its technology and expand into new U.S. markets. Indeed, Marble has already expanded beyond San Francisco to the East Bay, and it is also planning a second generation model of its robot for later this year that will be made available in other cities across the U.S.

Additionally, Marble said it plans to double down on its “last-mile logistics” efforts, which will include looking beyond food delivery to pharmaceuticals and the broader retail realm.

“The way that goods are delivered to your doorstep hasn’t changed,” noted Marble CEO and cofounder Matt Delaney. “We need to move toward a more efficient, sustainable supply chain model where we’re solving for the logistical headaches that plague the ecommerce economy, like stolen packages, order returns, and failed delivery attempts. While self-driving cars are still years away, we’re excited about the short-term possibilities for our robots to re-architect this new economy we live in.”

Nabbing Tencent as an investor is a major boost for Marble’s artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions. Tencent recently announced a new robotics lab in China to help bring its own AI research to life, and the Chinese tech titan has invested in other robotics-focused startups recently, including China’s Ubtech, as well as previously investing in California-based educational robot company Wonder Workshop.

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