250 startups automating crop production

250 startups automating crop production

recent report From the Western Farmers Union highlighted the persistent labor shortages, rising costs, and the effects of climate change facing farmers today among other challenges. While the report focuses more specifically on the need to automate harvesting activities, challenges appear real during other times in the crop production cycle as well.

Inspired by the findings in the report and the growing number of agricultural robotics startups working to tackle these challenges, mixing bowl And the Better Food Ventures They put together a market map detailing nearly 250 agricultural robotics startups that are automating various crop-growing activities at home and abroad. The map was a collaboration with California University of Agriculture and Natural Resources And the Karma.

We caught up with Chris Taylor, Michael Rose and Rob Trace of The Mixing Bowl to learn more about the map and how the crop robotics sector has evolved.

How did you decide how to divide agricultural robotics companies on the map?

Before we decided to segment the companies on the map, we first had to decide “What is a Crop Robot?”. Frankly, there wasn’t much consensus on a definition among the people we interviewed for landscapes, but there seem to be two themes. Firstly, the machines must work independently, and secondly, to provide labor for the cultivation process. But we had some interesting discussions amongst ourselves about what to include on the map. For example, if a file A machine that only senses or collects data Should it be considered a robot? Or if the machine doesn’t have a completely independent navigation system to move around – perhaps just a tool pulled by a standard tractor – is it a robot?

Ultimately, for the purposes of robotic landscape analysis, we focused on machines that Use of hardware and software to perceive the surrounding environment, analyze data, and take real-time action on information related to a crop-related function without human intervention.. In general, systems embedded in the landscape need to provide independent navigation or precision with the help of vision, or a combination. The solutions must also be commercial offerings and be used specifically in the production of food crops.

In regards to how the companies are divided on the map, we decided that it would be useful for readers to segment by production system (broad row, specialty area, vineyards and inland) as well as by task areas (autonomous mobility, crop management, and harvesting). We further divided by subtasks, such as exploration and weeding, within those functional areas. Some, such as indoor harvesters, are specific to the cropping system, while others, such as stand-alone tractors, operate across the boundaries of the cropping system. It is a variety of solutions.

How has this landscape changed in the past two years? Why did you decide to focus so closely on agricultural robots now?

We’ve always been keeping an eye on the sector and have included a few robotic companies in both Farmtech and Indoor Agtech Landscapes before, but this is the first time we’ve been doing a landscape for agricultural robots specifically. In the past, it seemed like more of the activity in space was more research or concept-oriented than real commercial undertakings. Among the commercial projects, there have been many false starts and the sector’s failure to gain market adoption.

But we sensed a shift was happening. To be honest, we have evaluated bot plays in the past as investors in Better Food Ventures and have been very pessimistic. We’ve seen many companies needing to raise large rounds of capital just to bring a product to market, and we’ve also seen many companies die in the Valley of Death, failing to achieve scale and profitability. Furthermore, we haven’t had many successful agricultural robotics exits based on profitability, although we did see some of them earned for having unique technology.

Despite all of that, we felt it was a shift that needed to be analyzed. More great talents and more investment money were flowing into space, and there was Increased activity in relation to both production systems and commercially pursued tasks. Even in our internal investment discussions about robotics startups, we’ve been feeling our downtrend waning. In fact, we’ve now invested in two crop robot companies at Better Food Ventures: Four farmers And the ng farm. Part of what we loved about these new start-ups is that they can access a relevant product/market and generate revenue with a modest level of investment.

The main conclusion from our analysis is that because of significant technological progress, and other reasons We discuss in our landscape analysisDeath Valley, it seems, isn’t as vast and ominous as it used to be for crop robotics startups. One of the phrases we heard more than once in our interviews with robotic solution providers was,[What we are doing today] It wasn’t possible a decade ago,” we agree.

Which section of agricultural robots is the most challenging and why?

Given the realities of the dynamic, unregulated and unforgiving environments in agriculture, all sectors present a difficult challenge. However, the more complex ones are generally recognized as harvesting, specifically picking specialized crops in fields, orchards, vineyards, and inland. Harvest emphasizes all the capabilities of the robot: independent movement, vision, decision-making, dexterity, reliability, and speed. We’re seeing robotic solutions perform some tasks on par with human performance – similar performance at similar cost – yet it has been difficult for robots to reach the speed and accuracy of performing a human fruit or vegetable picker at similar cost – until now, perhaps.

What excites you the most about agricultural robots?

The dynamic nature of the sector and the diversity of solutions being developed, even in the sometimes slow-moving agricultural arena, make crop robots exciting. We have evaluated over 600 companies and included nearly 250 landscape crop robotics solution providers. With death valley now so easy to cross, we expect in the coming years to see more of these startups succeed, take on more challenges, and open up new and unexpected opportunities for farmers. The rate of technological development, including the maturity of shared and open technology platforms, will only accelerate its success rate in the next few years.

Agriculture is definitely one of the most challenging industries to develop robots. Although crop robotics developers are benefiting from technical advances from other robotic applications such as autonomous vehicles and warehouses, the complexity of the tasks and challenging environments that robotic solution providers must solve push the limits of what robots can do. In this regard, agriculture is a technology leader in the field of robotics in general. This is exciting.

#startups #automating #crop #production

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