Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Verdant Robotics unveils multi-action farm-robot for specialty crops

Hayward, California-based Vedant Robotics announced the expansion of its robot-as-a-service (RaaS) model to ensure access for more specialty crop farmers.

Founded in 2018, Vedant Robotics has raised $21.5 million to develop a multi-function autonomous farm robot capable of millimeter-accurate spraying, laser weeding, and AI-based digital crop modeling accurate down to the individual plant level. Vedant uses these tools to deliver better outcomes – larger produce, greater yields, and significant savings.

The company has already contracted to service approximately 40% of the U.S. carrot market exclusively for the next five years and intends to offer a multi-action machine for orchards by 2023. It is currently scaling to meet the needs of the U.S. multi-billion-dollar fruit and vegetable industry.

Vedant says its 6-row and 12-row commercial robot-as-a-service farm implements can treat up to 4.2 acres per hour, achieving a higher weed-removal rate per acre than other technology or human ability and reducing chemical usage by up to 95%. At the same time, its autonomous software system collects data and uses machine learning capabilities to optimize yield and growing outcomes, ultimately unlocking new revenues to help farmers reach profitability and sustainability goals.

“Farmers told us not to give them more data, but to figure out what to do with the mountains of data they already have, or better yet just go do it,” said Gabe Sibley, Verdant co-founder, and CEO, who brings more than 20 years of experience in geo-spatial computation and AI. “They want a complete solution that takes action in real-time and keeps farmers in control – all while improving profitability and automating dangerous, back-breaking fieldwork.”

The model combines computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics, GPS-denied navigation, chemistry, and soil and plant sciences – to achieve the next generation of crop production.

Verdant leveraged investments from leading agriculture investors, including DCVC Bio, Autotech Ventures, Future Ventures, AgFunder, among others. The company is now expanding its platform with plans to commercialize a precision multi-action machine for orchards by 2023 – delivering another first for the specialty crop industry.

Agricultural robotic startups brought in $491 million in investment during the first half of 2021, a 40% increase over the same period in 2020, according to AgFunder, but to date, actual on-farm robotics has mostly been on a trial basis. Following successful large-scale roll-out over the past 18 months, Verdant logged thousands of hours in 2021 and is already proven on multiple crops.