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Bluewhite this week announced that it secured $39 million in Series C financing. The Tel Aviv, Israel.-based company said it already works with more than 20 of the leading permanent crop growers in the U.S. It plans to use the funding to further scale its autonomous tractor and other agricultural systems and to expand into new markets worldwide.
“Having already proven the commercial success of our solution with growers, this new round of funding will enable us to continue providing sustainable autonomous innovation to more markets and work with different types of partners across the ecosystem to impact every level of the food supply chain,” said Ben Alfi, co-founder and CEO of Bluewhite, in a release.
“This next phase of our growth will help provide unprecedented transparency throughout the food supply chain and ensure healthier, safer, and more sustainable food production and consumption,” he added. “We are thrilled to have forward-thinking investors and amazing customers who share our vision to make sustainable, autonomous farming a reality worldwide.”
Ben Alfi, Yair Shahar, and Aviram Shmueli founded the company in 2017. Formerly known as Blue White Robotics Ltd., Bluewhite said it combines sensors, AI algorithms, and a user-friendly experience to help growers manage their fleets and “produce more with less.”
Bluewhite, which has offices in Fresno, Calif., was one of The Robot Report‘s top picks for new automation providers at the 2023 World Ag Expo.
Bluewhite provides tractor retrofit kit
Bluewhite said its standardized perception and autonomy system can be retrofitted onto any compact or midsize tractor, converting it into a fully autonomous driving platform and enabling growers to upgrade their existing fleets. The Pathfinder autonomy package includes all of the onboard sensors necessary for obstacle avoidance and path planning.
Included with Pathfinder is an onboard computer that processes all of the sensor data and controls the tractor operation. Depending upon the make, model, and age of the tractor, additional actuators can be fitted to control steering, throttle, and brakes, said Bluewhite.
The autonomy kit can also control any agricultural implement as needed across permanent crop types, including nuts, berries, apples, grapes, hops, and stone fruit, said Bluewhite. The package provides new functionality, but it also allows a tractor to be driven manually when necessary.
Bluewhite added that its Compass software-as-a-service (SaaS) component, collects data from the field, analyzes it, and provides real-time dashboards, reports, and insights to help growers better manage their farms, thus increasing yields and profitability.
The company claimed that it has already helped execute more than 50,000 hours of autonomous farming activity across 150,000 acres in California and Washington state.
Investors plant capital for further growth
Insight Partners led Bluewhite’s Series C round, with participation from new investors Alumni Ventures and LIP Ventures, among others. Existing investors Entrée Capital, Jesselson, and Peregrine Ventures also participated.
“Particularly in these challenging times, we’ve been excited to see Bluewhite defy the odds and successfully deploy its solution while also raising this next round of funding so it can continue to scale,” said Daniel Aronovitz, a principal at Insight Partners and a Bluewhite board member. “The combination of Bluewhite’s unique autonomous technology and incredible team have led the company to rise above the pack, and we’re thrilled to be working with them as they move into this next critical phase.”
As of August 2023, Insight Partners had over $80 billion in assets under management. The New York-based firm has invested in more than 800 companies worldwide, with over 55 achieving an initial public stock offering.
RaaS model could boost agricultural robotics adoption
Bluewhite offers its systems through a robot-as-a-service (RaaS) business model. This enables it to remotely help farmers manage the platform, update software features, and actively offer customer support.
The company said it shares data gathered from the tractor operations with the growers, enabling them to optimize operations over time. As agronomy science evolves, growers can make better decisions while reducing costs for chemicals, fertilizers and seed, said Bluewhite.