Future Acres’ first product is an self-driving robot dubbed “Carry” meant to haul harvested crops to various stations on a farm. Like with so much automation, the idea is for Carry to take over some of the hard, manual labor of farm work. In addition to hauling, Carry is also a platform and will eventually feature attachments to autonomously do tasks like spraying or tilling.
The successful equity fundraise caps off a busy few weeks for Future Acres. At the end of September it signed a deal with global plant breeder and licensor Sun World International. As part of that deal, Sun World will not only be using Carry at its R&D facility in California, but the company will also promote Carry to its network of 2,000 growers around the world. As we wrote at the time of that announcement:
Sun World will be using Carry in conjunction with a specialized wheelbarrow attachment that has weight sensors built in. When in use during harvest, once the human pickers place 150 lbs worth of grapes on the wheelbarrow, the Carry will automatically drive itself to that wheelbarrow and autonomously haul the harvested grapes to another part of the farm for further processing.
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If that wasn’t enough, last week, Wavemaker Labs, the incubator behind Future Acres, acquired the technology from the defunct startup Abundant Robotics. Abundant make apple picking robots and Future Acres will explore how to use integrate that IP into its Carry platform.
It’s also been a busy equity crowdfunding season for food robot companies. Fellow Wavemaker Labs company Piestro announced last week it had raised $5 million from its second equity crowdfunding campaign. And robot smoothie startup, Blendid, which just raised $2 million from the crowd, recently launched a follow up campaign to quickly raise $1.5 million more.
Raising more than $1.5 million is a nice, err, haul for Future Acres (ed. note: sorry!)! But the company will face well-funded competition from Burro, which also is developing an autonomous platform for farms, and raised $10.9 million from VCs last month.
As Green Cow VC’s Managing Director Maggie Sprenger told me in a recent interview, there’s a massive opportunity in ag tech (everyone’s gotta eat!). So there’s plenty of room for plenty of robot platforms on farms.