The next 10 years will see robots on every farm, according to Naio Technologies, and the French agtech company is winning investor support to be part of that future.
The developer of battery-powered weeding robots, designed to cut herbicide use, raised $15.6 million in early stage funding this week, signaling investor appetite for sustainable agriculture products. Led by French investment firm Bpifrance, the new funding brings Naio’s total raised to $22.3 million. Naio said it will use the money to improve their technology and prepare for mass production.
“In the next 10 years, there will be robots in every fields of Europe and North America.”
The Escalquens-based company has developed a standard navigation system that can be implemented on any robot, enabling them to handle different crops. Their weeding robot, named Oz, can weed and hoe precisely with remote control, while eliminating the use of herbicides.
Private investor’s interests in agricultural robotics startups exploded last year, and agribusiness giants are racing to acquire such companies. Venture capitalists spent a record $188 million on 25 startups in the space last year, more than twice of 2018, according to PitchBook data. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania-based Fifth Season scored $32 million early stage VC funding last September led by Drive Capital, providing an indoor farming system that’s run entirely by robots.
“In the next 10 years, there will be robots in every fields of Europe and North America,” said Gaëtan Séverac, co-founder of Naïo Technologies in a press release. “Our goal is to ensure the ecological and social transition to sustainable agriculture.”
- After an initial training time of 3 hours, Oz can continuously work for as long as 10 hours on its lithium battery with a maximum speed of 0.8 mile per hour. The company also makes weeding robots specializing in vineyard and vegetables.
- The global agriculture robotics market is projected to reach $23 billion by 2028, driven by a combination of rising food demand, depleting resources, shrinking arable lands, and shortage of manual labor, according to a Research and Markets report.
- Herbicides contribute to a vicious circle of climate change by contaminating ground water and surface water while influence soil pH and microbial. On the other, scientists warn that global warming will increase weeds’ herbicide-resistance, resulting in more weed control failures.