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Quinton Krueger, Budscout

Canopy scouting robot uses AI to optimize cannabis cultivation

An autonomous 24/7 scouting companion that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to scale your cultivation knowledge, increase your product yield, and grow with confidence. That is exactly the advanced solution that Budscout has created for the cannabis industry. "Cannabis is a highly valuable crop in a highly regulated market. At the same time, very few cannabis companies have the ability to fund data science teams or hire engineers, for example. Therefore, we saw an opportunity to help growers optimize their cultivation," says Quinton Krueger, Founder, and COO of Budscout. "During our time as cannabis consultants, we realized that many growers were in need of a solution to help with labor challenges and monitoring plant health. Our idea for the autonomous Budscout resonated with growers, and the demand has already been incredible."

The Budscout AI team

How does it work?
According to Quinton, Budscout works across three areas. The first: providing continuous, 24/7 environmental monitoring. "Every hour, the robot will go over the top of the canopy and bring you back the traditional environmental metrics, such as temperature and CO2. But it also looks at very detailed aspects. For example, it not only calculates PAR, it actually measures across many bandwidths of light. As a result, you get some really interesting insights into plant health, which is really the second function." The company has spent a lot of time in partnership with the University of Minnesota to do research. "Together, we've developed proprietary algorithms that can see when a plant is sick up to 14 days before a human can. This is very valuable for growers, as you can save yield by intervening as early as possible," Quinton explains.

The third major benefit of the Budscout is the AI, Quinton says. "We're an AI company by heart. We work a lot with image AI, otherwise known as object detection/recognition. We have a camera system built into the Budscout robot, which can count buds and look at the canopy coverage. With that information, you could even tell who your best trimmer is." Moreover, the AI can forecast harvest yields. "When looking at buds, we can measure the size and quantity and predict the expected yield many months in advance."

"Adding everything together, this is moving into crop steering," Quinton says. "In real time, water or nutrient deficiencies are communicated to the grower. Perhaps you need to water now, starve the plant of water in the next two weeks, or give fewer nutrients. You can get into some very interesting solutions as a result of the data. Because of the combination of environmental and object data, the AI can quickly figure out the best way to optimize yield."

Pilot feedback
Currently, the company is taking paid pilots. "We have about 10 robots in the field, one of them at a large MSO. We are manufacturing another 40 robots right now to fulfill the demand we received from MJBizCon. We are aiming to do a Series A funding round in early Q2 that will provide us the additional funding to go full-scale and make around 3,000-5,000 robots. For now, we are focusing on the feedback we receive from the pilots and improving our product before we fully ramp up."

So far, the feedback has been very positive, Quinton says. "We've noticed that people tend to fall into one of two camps. The first is the group focused on labor. These growers are really labor-crunched and want a device that can do 24/7 monitoring. That's their priority, and they're sometimes not even that interested in the AI aspect. The Budscout has been a great solution for them, and really easy to set up. It can be mounted on any commercial rack, bench, or table, and is up and running within an hour."

The Budscout's view

"The second group has been more interested in our unique software," Quinton says. "We have an 'Investigation Mode', which allows you to remotely log in and see all statistics from different locations. Originally, we thought people would use this when something goes wrong in a certain greenhouse, as it helps them to dive into a specific spot. But it turns out, users are using the mode frequently just to have conversations about how their grows are doing on a daily basis. Everyone can log into the system remotely and conduct their meeting, while all looking at the same statistics of a certain greenhouse. Before, someone would have to go out to take pictures, for example, and dive into their systems for the environmental data. Now, all of that is pieced together in a cost-effective solution."

"If you are interested in joining our customer pilot or partnering for advanced research, please go to and sign up for more information," Quinton adds.

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