Root AI, which makes an automated solution for harvesting crops grown on indoor farms, announced today that it has raised $7.2 million in seed funding. PJC, First Round Capital, Outsiders Fund, Accomplice and AgFunder all participated in the round, as well as Jason Calacanis. This brings the total amount raised by Root AI to $9.5 million.
Root AI’s robots use a combination of computer vision and artificial intelligence to identify when a crop like tomatoes or strawberries need to be picked. Part of the Root AI pitch is that it’s a “cross crop” harvester, so it can use different grippers to pick different shaped fruit. The robot’s AI helps the grippers pick crops with just the right amount of pressure to remove the food, without damaging it.
Root AI sits in the nexus of a number of different societal and market changes. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, robots were being eyed as a way to keep farms working even through dangerous heat and other conditions. With the pandemic still raging across the country, farms have reported outbreaks among its workers while the federal government has provided no rules to protect them. On a broader level, the pandemic has accelerated the potential for robot adoption because robots do not get sick and reduce the amount of human-to-human contact during the meal journey.
Read more at The Spoon (Chris Albrecht)