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The LaserWeeder in action. Image credit: Carbon Robotics

Brief: NVIDIA’s venture arm invests in autonomous weeding startup Carbon Robotics

May 7, 2024

  • NVIDIA‘s venture capital arm, NVentures, has invested in US-based Carbon Robotics, best known for its autonomous laser-weeding platform for specialty crops.
  • A specific dollar amount was not disclosed; Carbon Robotics says this investment topped off its Series C.
  • The company will use the investment to accelerate product development and international expansion.
The LaserWeeder in action. Image credit: Carbon Robotics

Why it matters:

Powered by 24 NVIDIA GPUs, Carbon Robotics’ vehicles use deep-learning-based computer vision models to autonomously identify and eliminate weeds via CO2 lasers. LaserWeeder, as the product is called, processes 4.7 million high-resolution images per hour, zapping 5,000 weeds per minute, according to the company. To date, its dataset includes 25 million labeled plants and more than 30,000 crop and weed models.

Carbon Robotics currently provides machines for multiple big-name growers in the US including Taylor Farms, Cal-Organic and Braga Fresh.

The relationship with NVIDIA’s NVenture team began when Carbon robotics included NVIDIA GPUs in LaserWeeder to showcase a new approach to precision weeding, Carbon Robotics CEO Paul Mikesell tells AgFunderNews.

“This demonstration highlighted the profound potential of AI and GPU technology to transform the agriculture industry, enhancing farming operations and economics through advanced technologies.”

Weeding is the most popular task to automate on the farm right now for speciality crop growers, according to a 2023 Western Growers survey. For farmers, the biggest challenge around weeds isn’t so much the plants but finding enough labor to manage them.

Carbon Robotics is one of several startups tackling these challenges; others include Stout, Verdant Robotics and FarmWise. [Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Verdant Robotics.]

Zapping a weed via CO2 lasers. Image credit: Carbon Robotics

Carbon Robotics will use the NVenture investment to accelerate product development and expand internationally, according to Mikesell.

More specific details are “under wraps,” he says. “We are dedicated to continuous innovation in our product lines, and we plan to introduce more advanced features and capabilities that will further enhance efficiency and sustainability in farming.”

The NVentures portfolio currently includes companies working in therapeutics, AI medical imaging and autonomous building management, among other areas. The investment in Carbon Robotics “highlights [NVIDIA’s]  leadership position in delivering AI-driven solutions to the agriculture industry, using its expertise in GPUs and AI technologies,” says Mikesell.

He adds that the collaboration with NVentures “enhances the LaserWeeder’s capabilities, processing millions of images per hour for precise weed control, and demonstrates the real-world applications of NVIDIA’s AI solutions in improving agricultural efficiency and sustainability.”

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