US ag automation startup FarmWise Labs, which builds weeding robot Titan, has raised $45 million in Series B funding, it announced today.
- Fall Line Capital and Middleland Capital co-led the round.
- Taylor Farms, one of the top producers of leafy greens and other vegetables for the US retail market, and GV — the VC arm of Google parent Alphabet — came on board as new investors.
- Existing investors Calibrate Ventures, Playground Global, SVG Ventures, and Cavallo Ventures — the VC arm of Wilbur-Ellis — also participated in the round.
- The Series B raise takes the San Francisco-based startup’s total equity funding to date to $65 million.
In a statement, FarmWise said it will use the funding to accelerate “its roadmap to release a vegetable weeding implement that sets a new standard of reliability and versatility in farm robotics.” The capital will also allow the company to expand its reach, including into new row crops operations.
How it works:
The FarmWise platform uses artificial intelligence, cameras, and sensors to generate a mass of “plant-level data” — including size, stress levels, and identifying features — which its fleet of Titan robots then relies on to differentiate between crops and weeds.
A set of robotic arms on the underside of each Titan unit then mechanically removes the weeds as they trundle across the vegetable field.
FarmWise claims that its platform’s plant database includes more than 450 million scanned images of individual crops collected over 15,000 commercial hours in the field.
Here’s a video of Titan in action:
Why it matters:
Given the increasing cost burden that farmers face with supply chain disruptions, tihtening regulations, and the inflationary economic environment, FarmWise is angling its weedkilling robots as a cost-effective and sustainable solution.
Titan is able to remove weeds “with centimeter precision [and] without using any chemicals,” the startup said in a statement.
The bigger picture:
Taylor Farms’ participation in the Series B round may be viewed as continuing a recent trend of crop producers investing in — or buying — robotics startups.
- In February, New York vertical farming company Bowery announced that it had acquired Mountain View, California-based ag robotics startup Traptic for an undisclosed sum.
- AppHarvest, a US-based greenhouse operator, acquired harvesting robot builder Root AI in April 2021 [disclosure: AFN‘s parent company, AgFunder, invested in Root AI.]
What they say:
Sebastien Boyer, co-founder and CEO, FarmWise:
“We started FarmWise with the conviction that farmers should be supplied with cost-effective, sustainable solutions to feed a growing world, and artificial intelligence is the ideal technology to make this a reality”
Clay Mitchel, co-founder and managing director, Fall Line Capital:
“We believe that the technology the [FarmWise] team has brought to market can unlock significant savings for producers in and beyond the vegetable market at a time when it’s most needed”
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