PHILADELPHIA — Augean Robotics, which is developing robots for the agriculture industry, announced last week that it had raised a $1.5 million seed funding round. The round was led by ff Venture Capital with participation from S2G Ventures, Radicle Growth, and several other investors.
Augean Robotics said it provides collaborative, robot-enabled systems to the agriculture industry, addressing the significant labor challenges faced by today’s growers. The Philadelphia-based company said that farmers can use its robots, which autonomously acquire data and work alongside humans, to increase productivity by up to 30%.
“Eighty-four percent of the U.S. 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, founder and CEO of 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.”
Founded in 2017, Augean’s team has experience in robotics, autonomy, and machinery. They have developed Burro, an autonomous platform that uses computer vision and AI to navigate farms. Some of the world’s largest growers of labor-intensive crops are using the company’s systems through a robots-as-a-service (RaaS) model today.
Today, growers of crops like table grapes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, nursery plants, and other hand-harvested crops are using Burros as virtual conveyor belts, automating in-field transport. This enables workers to focus on high-value tasks and building the modular base for greater autonomy, the company said.
Augean Robotics is targeting widespread commercial availability by the end of 2019.
Augean recognized as an innovator
“We really like companies in the autonomous and robotics sector that are built on an innovative tech stack that can be used to solve specific vertical, valuable, and mission-critical business problems right now,” said Adam J. Plotkin, partner at ff Venture Capital (ffVC). “Augean Robotics, by addressing the acute labor problems facing growers, fits closely within our thesis.”
As part of the round, Plotkin and Kirk Haney from Radicle Growth joined Augean’s board.
In October, Western Grower’s Association (WGA) and S2G Ventures named Augean Robotics the winner of its annual AgSharks Competition, which was accompanied by a $250,000 investment and access to farm acreage for pilot testing to bring Burro to market.
In addition, Augean has been named Judge’s Choice Winner at the Start-Up Competition at the 2018 Farmer2Farmer event, a 2019 “Startup to Watch” by The Robot Report, and one of the most innovative pre-Series A startups in the U.S. in Farm Tech by AgFunder News.