Fremont, Calif.-based Monarch Tractor closed $20 million in Series A funding today for its electric, driver-optional tractors. The round was led by Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co., Ltd., a Japan-based global auto parts company, CNH Industrial, and VST Tillers Tractors Ltd., an Indian tractor and implement company. The round also includes At One Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund, and MUUS, a sustainability-focused private capital group.
Its tractors, which use the latest autonomy hardware and software, can operate with or without a driver. The tractor can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver, or an operator can use Monarch’s interactive automation features including Gesture and Shadow modes to have it follow a worker on the job.
The tractors can collect and analyze over 240GB of crop data every day it operates in the field. It can work with farmers’ current implements as well as the next generation of smart tools, the company claimed. Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments, as well as long-term yield estimates, current growth stages, and other plant/crop health metrics. With machine learning, Monarch is able to digest this data and provide long-term analysis of field health, improving accuracy the longer it runs, said the company. In addition, the data collected is securely stored in a Monarch cloud.
“The food ecosystem is ready for transformation with farmers demanding sustainable tools that can increase efficiency and farm profitability. Thus, we have seen an incredible and accelerating demand for our Monarch Tractor,” said Praveen Penmetsa, CEO, Monarch Tractor. “The strategic investments by global leaders like CNH Industrial validate the Monarch Tractor platform’s broad application globally and beyond farm products. We are excited to have a group of investors who share a commitment to supporting the sustainable development of agriculture and positive global impact on farm economics and sustainability.”
Monarch Tractor sells direct to consumers and through channel partners. Some of its current customers include Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Lola Vineyards & Winery, Scheid Family Wines, Hopville Farms, Wente Vineyards and Matthiasson Wines.
“Monarch is pioneering tractor technology that incorporates electrification, autonomous use, and data management. These are three of the key pillars supporting sustainability, productivity, and profitability, both for CNH Industrial and for our farming customers,” said Scott Wine, CEO, CNH Industrial. “We are incredibly excited to work with Monarch to develop and deploy their groundbreaking technology ecosystem, which we believe has applicability across our entire Off-Road business.”
Penmetsa was a panelist on the recent RoboBusiness Direct event “Agricultural Robotics: The Next Multi-Billion Dollar Robotics Opportunity.” The hour-long discussion focused on the emergence and opportunity for agricultural robotics solutions, the engineering and business challenges they face, and the solutions to overcome them. You can watch the event on demand here.
There are several company’s developing autonomous tractors, including Calif.-based Bear Flag Robotics which recently closed a $7.9 million seed extension funding round.