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US: Ag robotics startup raises $1.5 million seed round

Augean Robotics, a Philadelphia-based startup developing a collaborative robotic platform for the agriculture industry, has raised a $1.5 million seed funding round.

The round was led by ffVC, with participation from S2G Ventures, Radicle Growth, and several others. As part of the round, the company has also welcomed Adam J. Plotkin from ffVC and Kirk Haney from Radicle Growth to the company’s board.

Augean Robotics provides robot-enabled solutions to the agriculture industry, addressing the significant labor challenges faced by today’s growers–chief among them rising wages and a shrinking workforce.

With the team’s deep experience in robotics, autonomy, and machinery, it developed Burro, an autonomous platform that uses computer vision and AI to navigate farms.

“84% of the US crop workforce tends to largely non-mechanized fruit, vegetable, and nursery production, but rising wages and a shrinking workforce are driving growers of these specialty crops to turn to robots to reduce labor needs and costs,” said Charlie Andersen, CEO and founder, Augean Robotics. “We are thrilled to have this investor support, which will allow us to accelerate the commercialization of Burro and to develop the proprietary datasets needed to enable further autonomy.”

Today, the company is partnered with and selling robots as a service to some of the world’s largest growers of labor-intensive crops, and is planning widespread commercial availability by the end of 2019.

The Western Grower’s Association (WGA) validated Burro’s potential through its annual ‘Ag Sharks’ pitch competition, where a panel of venture investors and WGA members voiced strong support for Augean Robotics and committed capital and in-field pilot opportunities. Today, growers of table grapes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, nursery plants, and other crops are using Burros as virtual conveyor belts, automating in-field transport and enabling workers to focus on high-value tasks.

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