When will you be ready to buy a robot to replace your workers? Not there yet? Well, you're not alone. In order to help build the trust growers have in harvest robots, the company Tortuga looks to offer their harvest robot on a robots-as-a-service basis: you pay for what the robots harvest. With this vision and their earlier released strawberry robot, they just completed a $20 million Series A round led by Lewis & Clark AgriFood.
After four years of research and development, Tortuga launched a harvest robot fleet last year. The platform is now equipped for strawberry harvest, has already picked outdoor table grapes, and will be adjusted to work on blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers as well. And there's more to come, says Eric Adamson.
"Our robots perform a variety of labor-intensive tasks on the farm, with an emphasis on harvest," he explains. "We focus on creating value for growers by addressing their hardest problems: access to reliable, affordable labor and high-quality information. By automating mundane, difficult tasks, workers on the farm can dedicate themselves to higher value work."
In addition to the harvest tasks, the company will also supply other types of cultivation services: data-driven forecasting for example.
Last week it was announced that the company has completed a $20 million Series A round led by Lewis & Clark AgriFood. Other investors include Ceres Partners, The Colorado Impact Fund, Spero Ventures, Root Ventures, REMUS Capital, Morado Ventures, Grit Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures.
The invested money will be used to support on-farm operations, hire more engineers, and expand the fleet of robots. "We've been commercially deployed since 2020 and are expanding with key customers in 2021. By 2022, we will be expanding with new customers," Eric says.
"To enlarge the trust growers have in robots, we'll be offering a robots-as-a-service model, meaning that we will get paid by the kilo for the produce that our robots pick. This way we can demonstrate the value that our robots are bringing, and make it easy for a grower to compare costs and benefits to their current operations."
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