U.S. strawberry harvest robot start-up raises $20M

U.S. strawberry harvest robot start-up raises $20M

Colorado-based harvest automation start-up Tortuga has completed a $20 million Series A funding for its strawberry picking robots.

The money will be used to build hundreds of robots to deploy in 2022.

Last year Tortuga launched a strawberry harvesting robot, which according to the company is a flexible platform and can be adapted to work on other crops like indoor-grown tomatoes or outdoor table grapes.

“For many years, the story behind harvesting robotics has been a lot of promise but really companies have struggled to deliver on that promise for the customer. That’s because this is one of the hardest problems there is to solve,” Eric Adamson, co-founder of Tortuga AgTech told AgFunder News.

“Not only are we doing autonomous robotics but we are also doing picking robotics and we are doing them together in really unstructured environments.”

 

The $ 20 million in new capital will be used to build hundreds of robots to deploy in 2022. Some of the funding will also go towards building out the operating model and making sure there are enough employees to operate the robot fleets.

Tortuga currently offers its technology through a robots-as-a-service model, getting paid by the kilo for the produce that its robots pick.

“On top of that, as we provide other services that are close to harvest, like data-driven forecasting and other types of cultivation services, those will also be service-based although they may not be quite so specific to a kilogram. We are charging for some of these additional services on a monthly or per-hectare basis,” Adamson told AFN.