SwarmFarm will produce one robot per week

30-11-2020 | |
SwarmFarm will produce one robot per week
SwarmFarm will produce one robot per week

Australian SwarmFarm Robotics has raised AUD $?4.5 million (US$?3.28m) to scale up its production from one farm robot a month to one a week. Currently the Queensland based company has 12 light autonomous robots being used on farms.

The new financial support is the result of a funding round led by Tenacious Ventures and Artesian. The Queensland Business Development Fund also supported the round.

“We use the funding to scale the business up”, CEO Andrew Bate of SwarmFarm explains. “We are increasing the rollout of our technology. We are building up our software team and our business development team and will be able to take more technology on board. We are also speeding up our manufacture. We will speed up our delivery and will produce one robot per week in June 2021.”

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Currently SwarmFarm has 12 light autonomous robots being used on farms. - Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

Currently SwarmFarm has 12 light autonomous robots being used on farms. – Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

First overseas delivery

SwarmFarm will use the funding also for its first overseas deployment. “We are looking towards our first overseas delivery next year as well”, CEO Bate says. “We are still doing our business development to plan where we choose to go first. It must be the right mix of locations, regions and crops.”

SwarmConnect: Platform for apps

A part of the new funding will be used to expand a platform that allows developers worldwide to build apps for SwarmFarm machines. SwarmConnect will give farmers access to the best tech available, says Mr Bate.

“When we started SwarmFarm we really set out to revolutionise agriculture around the world”, he points out. “We looked at field practises and how we actually grow our crops, rather than at automation of agriculture. We wanted to bring new field practices into play that weren’t going to happen at the back of a tractor. Practices that robotics now enable.”

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CEO Andrew Bate of SwarmFarm "We are increasing the rollout of our technology." - Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

CEO Andrew Bate of SwarmFarm “We are increasing the rollout of our technology.” – Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

The SwarmFarm founder realised that the company itself could not think up all the solutions to the problems that agriculture faces. “So we wanted to build a platform to open up the world of innovation to autonomous agriculture through SwarmConnect”, he says. “So the smartest people around the world could start solving agriculture’s problems by releasing apps on board autonomous machines.”

SwarmConnect offers developers a chance to present their hardware and software to farmers for use on SwarmFarm machines. “So it’s also about the attachments”, CEO Bate explains. “There’s no way we can develop all the different planters, fertilisers, fruit pickers, pruning machines and all the other high end applications that will move the dial on farming practices.”

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Two companies have joined SwarmFarm with mowing and slashing technology. - Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

Two companies have joined SwarmFarm with mowing and slashing technology. – Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

More partners on board

SwarmFarm already works hand in glove with third party companies that release attachments for its robots. “To date there are five spray manufacturers that have done that”, Mr Bate says. “And two companies with mowing and slashing technology. And we expect new technology soon.”

WEED-IT

SwarmFarm robots running WEED-IT for example provide fully autonomous weed-spraying for management of fallow weeds. These weeds pose a significant challenge for grain growers. Mr Bate says that developers are keen to work with SwarmConnect.

SwarmFarm now focuses on bringing more partners with their technology on board. “At this stage we are more in a developer phase in terms of manufacturers presenting their technology on SwarmConnect. It’s effectively an Application Programming Interface (API) that they can develop on and integrate with.”

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SwarmFarm is building up its software team and its business development team. - Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

SwarmFarm is building up its software team and its business development team. – Photo: SwarmFarm Robotics

SwarmConnect is an open system that gives developers the opportunity to use their own business models. “It’s optional but they can ask usage charges. That’s quite common in industries like decision ag and data. While fertiliser attachments are traditionally more upfront purchases. Different attachments have different business models. We let manufacturers choose what they want to do.”

Opportunities for cooperation in the future

Other companies in the field of autonomous farm machines offer a similar platform for apps. “A lot of it is very specific to hardware and systems”, Mr Bate points out. “But there could be opportunities for cooperation in the future.”

Also read: SwarmFarm goes global with agricultural robots

Groeneveld
René Groeneveld Correspondent for Australia