Former DJI chief scientist raises $70M for robotics startup

FJDynamics

FJDynamics, a robotics company founded by DJI’s former chief scientist Wu Di, has closed a Series B round of $70 million to make robotics accessible and affordable to the most labor-intensive industries.

Wu left DJI to start FJDynamics in 2019. During his time with the drone giant, he led the research and development in processing chips and oversaw the acquisition of the iconic Swedish format camera maker Hasselblad whose hardware and software algorithms have helped to bring the imaging quality of the recently launched Mavic 3 to an entirely new level.

A PhD holder in domain-specific processor design, Wu has also worked as a vice president at fabless semiconductor company Coresonic and a director at the Swedish luxury sports carmaker Koenigsegg.

Shenzhen-based FJDynamics, meanwhile, makes robots for agriculture, gardening, construction, and manufacturing domains. Wu, however, doesn’t see his startup as a high-tech company. He just wants to build something that benefits people. In an interview with TechCruch, Wu says:

If you look at how robotic technology is being applied, there are a lot of companies using drones and autonomous vehicles. But the majority of people on earth aren’t benefiting from it. Work conditions in these sectors like agriculture, construction, and gardening are physically demanding and there are still a lot of us doing this kind of job. The question is how we use robotic technology to improve their work environment, and that doesn’t mean simply replacing them with robots.

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The sole investor who participated in FJDynamics’ Series B is a major internet firm in China. The company’s previous investors have included heavyweights like Tencent and state-owned automaker Dongfeng Asset Management. Even DJI was an early investor, but the company has since sold off its shares and is making a strong push into agricultural drones itself.

Wu says he left his position at DJI because he felt a sense of disconnection while building “luxury” hardware. Today, he’s making products like automated feed pushers that use AI-vision navigation to feed grass to up to 500 cows in a day.

Incidentally, Wu’s isn’t the only high-profile project that has grown out of DJI’s former tech talent pool. Portable battery maker EcoFlow, hairdryer Zuvi, and electric toothbrush brand Evowera are some other examples.

The fresh capital infusion will allow FJDynamics to “grow its suite of robotics automation technology across agriculture, facility management, construction, and gardening, along with supporting the increasing demand of the company’s ESG product offerings in over 60 countries.”

Wu, who also delivers lectures at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, sums up his ambitions by saying:

I live a simple life that focuses on two things — product [FJDynamics] and education. I’ve seen a lot and realized that money can’t change you or make you happier. So, you need a simple goal, and achieving the simple goal makes your life happier.

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