Concept: Seattle-based agricultural robotics startup Carbon Robotics has developed an autonomous robot that lasers to zap weeds. Integrated with computer vision, the weeders can clear out around 100,000 weeds an hour. The startup aims to aid farmers looking to discard undesired plants without using herbicides.
Nature of Disruption: Carbon Robotics provides chemical-free, no-till weed management for specialty crops like baby spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, chard, lettuce, and onions by leveraging laser technology and Nvidia-powered AI. The 12 high-resolution cameras send real-time data to an onboard supercomputer, which uses computer vision models to distinguish crops and weeds. Eight independent weeding modules with 150W CO2 lasers having 3mm accuracy and ready to fire every 50 milliseconds subsequently kill weeds at the meristem without damaging the crops. With a Cummins-augmented drivetrain and autonomous navigation features, the weeders can work at any time of day or night, in any weather. According to the startup, the solution enhances crop output while lowering total expenses connected with contemporary farming. Furthermore, laser weeding provides long-term sustainable avenues to regenerative and organic farming.
Outlook: With Carbon Robotics’ autonomous weeder robots, farmers can experience increased crop yield and quality. Unlike tillage, lasers do not affect soil microbiology. The absence of herbicides and soil disruption allows for a more regenerative approach, which results in healthier crops and higher yields. The robots also reduce the overall cost by lessening the variable cost of manual labor along with the reduced use of crop inputs like herbicides and fertilizers. Carbon Robotics has secured $27M in Series B funding from Anthos Capital, Ignition Capital, FUSE, and Voyager Capital. The startup claims to have sold out of its 2021 and 2022 stock, thus ramping up production and headcount are likely to be significant investments from this round.