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Reliance, an Indian company, invests $35 million in the American AI startup Exyn

Indian conglomerate Reliance said Thursday in a stock market filing that it has invested in Exyn, a Philadelphia-based artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics business.

The Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures, had bought a 23.3 percent share in Exyn for $25 million.

The Philadelphia startup’s robotic autonomy is designed to function in places where GPS doesn’t work, so an Indian company invested in it as part of a bigger $35 million Series B fundraising round.

According to the company’s website, Exyn “commercializes the highest level of aerial drone autonomy in the world, Autonomy Level 4 (AL4).” This means that the company’s robots can “autonomously navigate in previously inaccessible environments without a prior map, existing infrastructure (GPS, communications, etc.), or an operator in the loop.”

Reliance, which runs India’s largest retail chain and the country’s top telecom operator, has announced that it will find synergies with the startup in the areas of drones, industrial safety, security, and robotics, and will speed up “Exyn’s product and technology development across multiple application areas and commercialization.”

The Indian company said that the startup made $4.32 million in 2021, $1.83 million in 2020, and $0.16 million in 2019.

This year, Reliance Industries or a subsidiary has invested in a number of companies, such as the hyperlocal delivery firm Dunzo and the Android lockscreen platform Glance, which is supported by Google.

With an eye on growing its electronics manufacturing capabilities, Indian conglomerate Reliance Strategic Business Ventures announced in March that it will invest up to $221 million in American electronics manufacturer Sanmina to form a joint venture. The partners said they want to use their new firm to make India a “world-class” centre for electronic manufacturing.

Reliance said earlier on Thursday that it has reached an agreement to purchase Metro AG’s India subsidiary for $344 million. Metro, which has been operating in India for almost two decades, has 31 wholesale distribution hubs around the nation.

This financing will help Exyn move faster toward its goal of reducing accidents and deaths in “physical” sectors that collect data in hazardous settings. “With this fresh cash, we will further extend our global presence to substantially enhance safety for individuals working in risky situations throughout the globe and keeping them out of harm’s path,” said Nader Elm, CEO of Exyn, in a statement released on Friday.