The common refrain from robotics companies is that they help with manual, repetitive tasks. And when you run a farm, there are plenty of manual, repetitive tasks, and Bear Flag Robotics raised $3.5 million seed funding right before the holiday weekend to help agricultural workers out with them.
Bear Flag Robotics develops autonomous driving technology for tractors so growers can automate common tasks such as spraying, mowing, discing and rippling. According to the company, the result is lower labor costs and because of the smaller tractors increased yield through reduced soil compaction. You can see the company’s work in action in this video:
With its autonomous tractor tech, Bear Flag says that one person can manage a fleet of vehicles instead of requiring a whole crew to run them. Which brings us back to the question that always arises from advances in robotics: what is the human cost to automation? More robots equals fewer jobs for us fleshy folk.
The answer in this case, is actually a little less dire. Farms are in the midst of experiencing a shortage of agricultural workers right now, and robots can help fill in those gaps to make sure farms stay productive.
The advantage of robots, of course is that they can work all hours, never call in sick and don’t get injured. Robots are going to play an increasingly important part of our food’s journey from farm to fork, and you’re seeing more of that technology coming to fields. Augean Robotics’s “Burro” is a self-driving cart meant for pure manual labor like hauling small equipment and harvests around a farm. More advanced robots like harvesters are on the way from companies like Traptic and Abundant Robotics.
Based in Sunnyvale, CA, Bear Flag Robotics’s $3.5 million round was led by True Ventures, and the company has raised $4.5 million total since its founding in 2017.