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SwarmFarm's autonomous 'robots' at work. Photo credit: SwarmFarm

Brief: SwarmFarm lands $8.3m to move autonomous farming beyond driverless tractors

February 16, 2023

Why it matters:

“There is enormous demand for autonomy in agriculture, but today, most solutions unlock minimal potential,” SwarmFarm CEO Andrew Bate said in a statement. Acute labor shortages across the industry are a key driver in this demand.

“While many companies are making driverless tractors and developing niche robotics solutions in agriculture today, we believe that there is a third category of autonomy that combines the robot and the application within a development framework that will allow farmers to customize their equipment for their needs and allow developers to bring their innovations to life much more rapidly.”

SwarmFarm’s answer to this is a platform combining its autonomous SwarmBot vehicles with SwarmConnect, its operating system network that opens up the platform. Through SwarmConnect, developers and farmers alike can program SwarmBots to address specific needs — weeding, precision spraying or mowing, for example.  

The idea is that farmers’ needs vary greatly from one farm to the next. Those developing autonomous farming technology must take that into account when it comes to their product offerings. On a higher level, SwarmFarm’s platform is also about re-imagining agricultural processes as more technology emerges. 

“With their background in farming, the team at SwarmFarm has been able to see around some of the corners on the road to autonomy and anticipate the needs of the growers they serve,” Sarah Nolet, co-founder and managing partner at Tenacious Ventures, said in a statement.

SwarmFarm currently serves farmers in Australia. It works with several different farm equipment developers, including WEED-IT, Bilberry, Weedseeker, Rasmussen Brothers Engineering and several others.

The company’s latest fundraise comes as farmers face both increased labor shortages as well as pressure to adopt more earth-friendly practices and products. Many see autonomy as the means of solving both issues.

Last year, SwarmFarm deployed SwarmBots to over 1.3 million commercial acres. The bots operated for 64,000 hours and reduced pesticide inputs by roughly 780 tons.

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