Weed-pulling robots are here. Can they eliminate chemical herbicides?

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Early this year, 85-year-old Bonipak Produce unleashed an orange, 8,000-pound autonomous robot upon its California vegetable fields. It was one of the first farms to begin using the machinery to take over their farm’s weeding responsibilities. Today, the company behind the orange behemoths, San Francisco-based FarmWise, raised a $14.5 million Series A led by Calibrate Ventures to expand its services to farms across California and Arizona.

FarmWise, now with nearly $21 million in funding, was founded by French-immigrant duo Sébastien Boyer, 27, and Thomas Palomares, 26, in 2016. Their ultimate goal was to create a line of machines to bring more automation to farming. Their first product is an autonomous robot that that uses machine learning to meticulously survey plants and pick weeds, eliminating the need for herbicides. After years of research and development, it was deployed commercially for the first time at the beginning of this year.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Let's change how we farm and eat to stop 'climate breakdown'

“We spent the first two years working closely with with growers here in California going through a lot of iterations to take into account all of the requirements and constraints of fields,” says Boyer, who serves as the company’s CEO. “Now we’re providing a process to make it cheaper than ever to use less chemicals and farm organic fields.”

Read full, original article: FarmWise Raises $14.5 Million To Replace Herbicides With Roving Robots

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