PATS, a Delft-based company that uses vision and AI to detect insect pests and then fights them with small drones, has received an investment. The funding will be used to put the first commercial module of the technology on the market on a large scale. The new investors are Jaap Korteweg and Kees van Geest. They join existing investors UNIIQ and Delft Enterprises.

In greenhouse horticulture, pests can cause considerable damage to crops such as tomatoes and strawberries. A significant challenge is the increasing pressure from moths and caterpillars. They can cause major losses at lightning speed because they eat the crops directly. At peak times, the damage can amount to a significant share of the crop. In order to control these kinds of pests, active scouting is first carried out by means of visual inspections in and around the crop. Next, crop protection agents are used to control the pest. These agents are often not sufficient to control the entire pest. The costs of labor, resources, and damage can amount to as much as 5 euros per square meter on an annual basis.

PATS automates these irregular and visual inspections by continuously monitoring pest activity with its camera solution. This helps growers use their current range of products in a more targeted way and eradicate pests sooner. In addition, PATS will be rolling out the first small, bat-like drones commercially to a number of gerbera growers this month. These drones immediately eliminate detected insect pests. This prevents the pest from developing further and prevents extreme damage. The positive results obtained by dozens of users of the Pest Insect Monitor, PATS-C, now offer the prospect of an accelerated roll-out. In addition to the acceleration, the funding will also be used to further develop other PATS modules.

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