FarmWise Labs, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryAgricultural technology, robotics
PredecessorDeepLook, Inc.[1]
FoundedMay 31, 2016; 7 years ago (2016-05-31) in San Francisco, California[2]
FoundersSebastien Boyer, Thomas Palomares
Headquarters,
United States
Area served
California, Arizona[3]
Key people
Sebastien Boyer (Cofounder and CEO), Thomas Palomares (Cofounder and CTO), Bruce Leak (Board member)
ProductsTitan FT-35, an automated weeding robot[4]
Number of employees
50[5] (2020)
Websitefarmwiselabs.com

FarmWise Labs, Inc. (established 2016) is an American agricultural technology and robotics company, based in California. Its first product is an automated mechanical weeder that uses a combination of AI, computer vision and robotics to pull out weeds in vegetable fields without using chemicals. It won several industry innovation awards related to agriculture and sustainability.

History

FarmWise was founded in 2016 in San Francisco by Sebastien Boyer, a graduate of École Polytechnique and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Thomas Palomares, a graduate of École Polytechnique and Stanford University.[6][7] With a first prototype of weeding robot, the founders went through The Alchemist Accelerator program and the THRIVE by SVG Accelerator program in 2017.[8][9]

In December 2017, the firm closed a $5.7 million seed round from investors who included Playground Global, Felicis Ventures, Lemnos, Basis Set Ventures and Valley Oak Investments.[10][11] Following the seed round, Playground's Bruce Leak entered the board of directors.[12]

In 2018, once the second generation of the FarmWise robot was up and running, the company started pilot programs with two early customers from the Central Coast of California and tied bonds with the Western Growers Association. It then became a resident of Western Growers Association Center for Innovation and Technology.[13]

In March 2019, the firm partnered with Michigan-based manufacturing and automotive company Roush to build the third generation of its robotic weeders, Titan FT-35.[14][15]

In September 2019, the company raised $14.5 million in Series A financing led by Calibrate Ventures.[16][17]

In October 2020, the firm opened a location in Yuma, Arizona and started doing work in Imperial Valley, California.[3][18]

Products and services

FarmWise builds and operates automated mechanical weeders.[13] Rather than selling their equipment to farmers, it provides its service for a fee per acre.[19][13]

Technology

FarmWise's Titan robot working on a lettuce field at night (May 2020)

FarmWise relies on a patented technology which combines AI, computer vision and robotics to remove weeds in vegetable fields.[20] The company's latest machine model, Titan FT-35, consists of a self-propelled, tractor and a smart implement that encompasses a set of cameras and sensors, and robotic arms.[13]

When working on the field, the machine uses an AI-enabled detection feature to actuate blades around and in-between the crops and in the furrows.[21] In order for their weeding system to operate successfully, the team trained machine learning algorithms on millions of crop images, so that the machine can differentiate between crops and weeds and apprehend the 3D geometry of each plant it encounters.[22] The software is updated every week, using new field data.[13]

The machine is built to work on multiple crops and keep expanding its set of crops using machine learning computer software. Beyond weeding, the company is adapting its equipment to perform more activities on the field.[23][24]

Awards and recognition

FarmWise won several industry awards including AgFunder Innovation Awards in "Most Innovative U.S. Start-up Pre-Series A" nomination in 2018,[25] "The Young Tech Entrepreneurs" French American Business Awards (FABA) award to the company's founders in 2019[26] and "Good Robot" award from Silicon Valley Robotics in 2020.[27] FarmWise was recognized by the Business Insider,[28] SVG Capital/THRIVE,[29] the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,[23] and Time magazine in their coverage of innovative upcoming technologies.[4]

In 2018, Forbes included the company's founders into its "2019 30 Under 30: Manufacturing & Industry" list and MIT Technology Review recognized Sébastien Boyer in its "Innovators Under 35 Europe 2018" award.[30][31]

In 2020, the company was listed as one of the leading vendors of Robotic Weeding Machines by analysts.[32]

References

  1. ^ "Form D Farmwise Labs, Inc". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. December 20, 2017. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  2. ^ "Farmwise Labs, Inc". OpenCorporates. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Herrera, James (December 9, 2020). "Salinas company FarmWise has weeder on Time's list of Best Inventions of 2020". The Monterey County Herald. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Will, Jesse (November 19, 2020). "The Future Of Farming: FarmWise Titan FT-35". Time. Archived from the original on December 28, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  5. ^ McGee, Patrick (May 18, 2020). "Five robots that hope to save the US food supply chain". Financial Times. Archived from the original on May 19, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.(subscription required)
  6. ^ Laszlo, Pierre. "Sebastien Boyer et Thomas Palomares: Un binôme fécond depuis l'École" [Sebastien Boyer and Thomas Palomares, a fruitful duo since school] (PDF). La Jaune et la Rouge (in French). 745 (May 2019): 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Dean, West (February 6, 2020). "Using artificial intelligence, agricultural robots are on the rise". The Economist. Archived from the original on February 29, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020. Sebastien Boyer, an ai expert who has worked for ibm and Facebook, co-founded FarmWise, a San Francisco-based company, in 2016 to develop farming robots. After field trials, the firm is about to launch its first agribot, called Titan. This can navigate autonomously around a field of vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, identifying individual plants and their location. As it moves, Titan deploys a series of rotary blades, which are automatically adjusted to slice into the soil at an appropriate depth to dispatch any weeds. Future versions will do other jobs, such as seeding and microdosing fertiliser and pest treatments directly to individual plants. 'It is personalised care for plants,' says Mr Boyer.(subscription required)
  8. ^ Coldewey, Devin (September 18, 2019). "FarmWise and its weed-pulling agribot harvest $14.5M in funding". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on September 18, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  9. ^ Marston, Jennifer (October 19, 2020). "Applications Are Open for THRIVE's Ag Tech Accelerator Program". thespoon.tech. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  10. ^ Schubarth, Cromwell (December 20, 2017). "The Funded: 14 Bay Area startup rounds rake in $400M at midweek". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  11. ^ Vinoski, Jim (May 6, 2019). "The Farm Automation Breakthrough Bringing The High-Tech West Coast And Rural Rust Belt Together". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "Funding Snapshot: Farming Equipment Startup FarmWise Gathers $5.7 Million in Seed Round". The Wall Street Journal. December 20, 2017. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.(subscription required)
  13. ^ a b c d e Linden, Tim (November 17, 2020). "FarmWise Completes First Commercial Season". Western Grower & Shipper (November/December 2020). Western Growers Association. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  14. ^ Burns, Matt (March 27, 2019). "FarmWise turns to Roush to build autonomous vegetable weeders". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  15. ^ Vinoski, Jim (May 6, 2019). "The Farm Automation Breakthrough Bringing The High-Tech West Coast And Rural Rust Belt Together". Forbes. Archived from the original on May 6, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  16. ^ "VC Daily: GitLab's Valuation Boost; Crypto Custody; Datadog Raises IPO Range; Women in VC Nominations". The Wall Street Journal. September 18, 2019. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.(subscription required)
  17. ^ Wilson, Alexandra (September 17, 2019). "FarmWise Raises $14.5 Million To Replace Herbicides With Roving Robots". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  18. ^ Hettinger, April (December 7, 2020). "Home Grown: Robots raising the bar on ag". KYMA-DT. Archived from the original on December 23, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  19. ^ Noble, Breana (April 1, 2019). "Roush's next power play? Self-driving weeders". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on May 19, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  20. ^ U.S. patent 16,539,390
  21. ^ Walsh, Bryan (June 20, 2020). "Putting robots down on the farm". Axios. Archived from the original on December 31, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  22. ^ Lallensack, Rachael (September 30, 2019). "Five Roles Robots Will Play in the Future of Farming". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  23. ^ a b Guizzo, Erico (January 3, 2020). "Top Tech 2020: Your Next Salad Could Be Grown by a Robot". Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Archived from the original on December 30, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  24. ^ Greenaway, Twilight (September 29, 2020). "The Robots are Coming to Harvest Your Food. What Will it Mean for Farmworkers and Rural Communities?". Civil Eats. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  25. ^ Bedford, Laurie (January 29, 2018). "Finalists Announced for 2018 AgFunder Innovation Awards". agriculture.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  26. ^ Sessums, Martha (May 28, 2019). "French American Business Awards Highlight French Economic Success". FranceToday.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  27. ^ Keay, Andra (December 14, 2020). "Farmwise wins Innovation Award in SVR 'Good Robot' Industry Awards". Silicon Valley Robotics. Archived from the original on December 29, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  28. ^ Bort, Julie (February 13, 2019). "12 AI startups that will boom in 2019, according to VCs". Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 13, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  29. ^ Splitter, Jenny (March 11, 2019). "How To Rank Agtech's Top 50, According to SVG-THRIVE". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "Thomas Palomares, 25, (L), Sebastien Boyer, 26". Forbes. November 13, 2018. Archived from the original on October 25, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  31. ^ Sotres, Marta (2018). "Sébastien Boyer". MIT Technology Review. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  32. ^ Robotic Weeding Machines Market by Product and Geography September 2020 - Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024