Mitsubishi Electric Takes Stake in AI Inspection Startup HACARUS

Mitsubishi Electric expands collaboration with AI startup HACARUS, taking an equity stake to accelerate the development of AI-powered visual inspection systems for factory automation, addressing labor shortages and enhancing quality control.

Mitsubishi Electric Takes Stake in AI Inspection Startup HACARUS
Image / Mitsubishi Electric

Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Electric has announced an agreement to deepen its collaboration with Tokyo-based AI startup HACARUS. As part of this partnership, Mitsubishi Electric will acquire an equity position in HACARUS, aiming to accelerate the development of AI-powered visual inspection systems for factory automation.

The collaboration seeks to leverage the combined resources and technologies of Mitsubishi Electric and HACARUS to maximize synergies, focusing on mutual technological and business potential. By tapping into HACARUS' expertise, Mitsubishi Electric aims to expedite the development and delivery of integrated and automated AI-based visual-inspection solutions. These solutions are intended to empower customers to enhance manufacturing quality and overall productivity.

HACARUS, founded in 2014, specializes in computer vision solutions tailored to manufacturing challenges. Its flagship product, HACARUS Check, is designed for complex visual inspections, including 360-degree views, and can detect subtle defects that may be invisible to the human eye. HACARUS stands out for its ability to customize AI solutions to specific operational needs, ensuring seamless integration into existing manufacturing processes.

HACARUS Check, a visual-inspection solution featuring a unique, compact AI, is a key aspect of HACARUS' offerings. In addition to AI development, HACARUS specializes in integrating AI with various factory automation (FA) devices. Mitsubishi Electric, in December 2023, released MELSOFT VIXIO, an AI-based visual-inspection software incorporating the company's proprietary Maisart AI technology. The software is designed to automate visual-inspection processes, addressing labor shortages and improving manufacturing quality.

Toshie Takeuchi, Group President of Mitsubishi Electric's Factory Automation Systems Group, highlighted the collaboration's significance in addressing challenges faced by modern society, such as labor shortages and manual visual inspections. The partnership aims to strengthen Mitsubishi Electric's response to customer needs through the integration of HACARUS' AI-based visual-inspection expertise into MELSOFT VIXIO.

Takashi Someda, CEO at HACARUS, emphasized the company's mission to contribute to society by creating additional value from data using technologies like AI, IoT, and robots. Through the capital and business alliance, the collaboration aims to develop solutions that promote digital transformation at manufacturing sites, focusing on surface inspection to address societal issues such as the decline in the working population.

The collaboration is driven by the recognition of the impact of shrinking labor forces, particularly skilled labor, on manufacturing productivity globally. The adoption and development of rule-based visual inspection using image-processing technologies have been one response to this challenge. However, the increasing difficulty in detecting defects has led to a growing demand for AI technology to further automate inspection processes and alleviate the burden on product inspectors.