Australian field robotics startup Agerris has launched onto the agtech scene, securing AUD$6.5 million (US$4.6 million) in seed funding to commercialise its automated farm equipment, StartupSmart reported.
The funding comes from research commercialization fund Uniseed and VC firms Carthona Capital and BridgeLane Group, and coincides with the startup officially incorporating as a business.
Born out of University of Sydney research, Agerris develops robotic systems featuring AI and decision mapping, to lend farmers a hand with anything from weeding and spraying to harvesting and picking fruit.
Speaking to StartupSmart, founder and chief executive Professor Salah Sukkarieh explained he’s been working on outdoor robotic systems and machine learning and automation for some 15 years, although largely in a research-and-development context.
“It’s very hard to find robust 24-7 systems that can operate on a farm in all weather,” he was quoted as saying.
Now, after combining the robust hardware with AI and machine learning technology, he has a product that can bring real value to the Australian agriculture ecosystem, he says.
“It was important to take it out of the lab and give it to the farmers,” he adds.
He may be a university professor, but Sukkarieh’s background is not one of a “classic academic”.
Previously, he has worked in “translational research”, helping large corporates and smaller industry players incorporate new technologies and techniques into their processes.
“I’ve always dabbled in that border between prototype and operation,” he says.
Faced with the opportunity to commercialise the Agerris research, “I felt I was in the best position to translate that”.
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