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Muddy Machines announced earlier this month that it brought in over $1.8 million, £1.5 million, for its Sprout harvesting robot.
Sprout is a lightweight, battery-powered autonomous robot that can precisely harvest asparagus for up to 16 hours a day. Asparagus is a very labor-intensive crop to harvest, as workers must harvest daily throughout the 12-week season.
The robot is able to autonomously drive into fields, detect and delicately pick asparagus spears according to a grower’s specifications. The robot’s artificial intelligence and deep-learning technology help it to avoid immature spears and weeds. It’s even able to navigate tight clusters of asparagus or harvest vegetables that are growing sideways.
“Raising money for AgTech and hardware businesses is a challenge at the best of times. We are extremely proud to have secured this funding in the current investment climate,” Florian Richter, CEO and co-founder of Muddy Machines, said. “We are now focused on creating a meaningful amount of harvest capacity for our customers.”
Muddy Machines plans to use the latest round of funding to strengthen its engineering team and build its capacity to expand its fleet of Sprout robots for more widespread adoption. The company plans to specifically focus on building its fleet for the 2023 asparagus harvesting season to generate initial revenue, develop different harvesting capabilities and plan production for the next generation of Sprout robots.
Regenerate Ventures, an early-stage investor in agriculture technology companies that help farmers produce food with a smaller environmental impact, led the funding round. Ponderosa Ventures, Jude Gomilla, Thrive/SVG Ventures and Science Angel Syndicate also participated in the round, among others.
“We were impressed by Muddy Machine’s vision and the speed of technical development,” Paul Rous, MD at Regenerate Ventures, said. “This was a company founded in the midst of the first lockdown. Within two years they had a robot asparagus harvester built and commercially tested.”
“The situation is desperate,“ said John Chinn of Cobrey Farms, the UK’s largest growers of asparagus. “It’s not about cutting costs of labor, but our inability to find it. We have a 12-week season and this technology is vital if we are to harvest the crop.”