Kubota participates in a ‘Series B’ venture funding investment round totalling $?20 million for Tevel, developer of flying autonomous fruit-picking robots.
Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, founded in 2017 in Israel, is developing autonomous flying robots for fruit picking combining AI with computer vision, advanced robotics, aeronautical engineering, state-of-the-art flight control and data fusion and perception. Tevel is expected to implement commercial roll-out in 2021. Last year, the company won the Best Field Robot Concept Award 2020.
Tevel’s flying autonomous robots are to be used for picking various types of fruits, including apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, citrus and avocado. The start-up is also working on thinning and pruning functionalities.
Kubota’s investment is to reinforce Tevels’s development of labour-saving and automation technology for fruit-picking and enable the launch of a solutions business utilising these technologies, that will contribute to labour-saving and efficiency improvement in farming.
Text continues underneath image
According to Kubota, every year, over 800 million tons of fruits are produced in an area of 70 million hectares worldwide, representing an annual market value of $ 1 trillion. Farmers spend annually $ 100 billion on fruit picking and recruit over 10 million temporary workers for a short period of time to pick their fruit.
Kubota says these seasonal workers are harder and harder to find, recruit, train, employ and provide temporary housing for. “Sourcing and operating field workers during the picking season is a major constraint that risks their investment and profitability for the season, as well as their ability to pick all of their fruit within a short and competitive time window.”
In addition, due to the complexity in crossing borders and international travel during the pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis has further aggravated the labour shortage and increased the risk in fruit production by limiting the availability of migrant workers. “Therefore, Tevel’s solution increases global food security by providing an available and reliable supply chain,” says Kubota.