Carbon Robotics bags $30m for weed control with autonomous laser bots

21-04-2023 | |
The LaserWeeder in the field. - Photo: Carbon Robotics
The LaserWeeder in the field. - Photo: Carbon Robotics

Carbon Robotics has raised a $ 30 million Series C for its precision weed-control system for speciality crops. Funding will go towards expanding US-based Carbon Robotics’ system in North America, new software and hardware products and launching into international markets. The Series C brings Carbon Robotics’ total funding to $ 67 million.

The LaserWeeder, an autonomous robot, uses AI and CO2 laser technology to target and eliminate weeds in the field with what the company claims is “millimeter accuracy, without damaging nearby crops or disturbing the soil.” Carbon Robotics CEO Paul Mikesell says the decision to tackle weeds came about after conversations with farmers. The biggest challenge wasn’t the weeds themselves, but finding enough labor to manage them.

“Combine that with the herbicide resistance showing up in the weed population — these weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate — and farmers are getting kind of desperate around this issue.”

Need for herbicides lessens

Computer vision on the machine identifies the weeds, helping the ‘bot to distinguish between them and actual crops. This lessens the need for herbicides in traditional farming and reduces or eliminates over-tilling for farmers using regenerative practices. Seattle, Washington-based Carbon Robotics says so far it has “successfully eliminated” more than 500 million weeds across 40 different crops. In 2023, the company will deliver LaserWeeder across 17 US states and three provinces in Canada.

Carbon Robotics’ first machines shipped 11 months ago. Mikesell says the company is now getting consistent repeat orders from farmers who are “very happy.” The company will use its new funding to scale manufacturing and move into new regions in the United States. New investor Sozo Ventures led the round with participation from existing investors Anthos Capital, Fuse Venture Capital, Ignition Partners, Liquid2 and Voyager Capital.

A move to Europe is in the works for next year, as are plans to expand the engineering team and develop new products and enhancements.

Ed Asscheman Online editor Future Farming
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