The San Francisco-based start-up FarmWise has raised $?14.5 million for the development of weeding robots.
The Series A funding round was led by Calibrate Ventures alongside Wilbur Ellis, Xplorer Capital, and Alumni Ventures Group, reports The Robot Report.
FarmWise says it plans to use the funding to grow its robotic engineering and operation teams, as well as boost research and development efforts on plant-level detection and actuation capabilities.
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FarmWise said its autonomous, AI-enabled robots are designed to solve farmers’ most pressing challenges by performing a variety of farming functions, starting with weeding.
“Developing FarmWise’s weeding robots has been an interesting and exciting challenge combining multiple domains of expertise such as machine learning, robotics, and mechanical engineering,” Palomares told The Robot Report. “When the robot goes through a field, it’s searching for the center of each crop, which is the prerequisite to a high-precision weeding service.”
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“This is a tough vision challenge that we solve, thanks to unique plant-detection models fed by millions of images,” Palomares told The Robot Report. “We have been developing our plant-perception algorithms and multi-purpose autonomous platform with the intent of expanding beyond weeding from Day 1, and we are excited to now tackle these new challenges.”
According to FarmWise, their robots can cleanly pick weeds from fields, reducing or eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. In the future, the robots are to increasingly act as specialised ‘doctors’ for crops, monitoring individual health and adjusting targeted interventions according to a crop’s individual needs.