FarmWise announced today that it has raised a $14.5 million Series A round of funding for its autonomous agriculture robots. The round was led by Calibrate Ventures with participation from Wilbur Ellis, Xplorer Capital and Alumni Ventures Group. This brings the total amount raised by FarmWise to $20.2 million.
Farmwise builds self-driving robots that use a combination of computer vision and AI to identify weeds among crops and precision mechanical tools to remove them without the need for herbicides. According to the press release sent to The Spoon, FarmWise says its robots have removed weeds from more than 10 million plants. The company will use the new funding to scale up its robotics engineering and operations team and further develop its R&D efforts on “plant-level detection and actuation capabilities.”
Agricultural applications are ripe for automation. The industry is facing a labor shortage, and even when running at full employment, farm work is hard work involving long days out in the hot sun. Robots can run all day without needing a break or suffering heat stroke. To help fill in the human labor gap, there are plenty of agbots getting funding and currently making their way to market, including Augean’s Burro, Advanced Farm Technologies‘ strawberry-picking robot and Bear Flag Robotics‘ autonomous tractors.
Robots like those from FarmWise can also accelerate the move towards more organic farming. With mechanical weed removal, there’s no need for spraying herbicides and pesticides. And it’s pretty safe to assume that FarmWise isn’t just in the business of pulling weeds. If it’s, err, wise, it would build out its robots to be a more versatile platform with a broad array of applications that can be used across a farm.