Somerville, Massachusetts-based AI-powered robotics company, Root AI, which focuses on indoor farming, has raised $2.3 million in its seed round of funding. The round was led by First Round along with Accomplice, Schematic Ventures, Liquid2 Ventures and Half Court Ventures who participated in this round.
The company plans to use the raised capital to enhance its product and bring its first line of robotic harvesting and farm optimization technologies to market in the next year.
Founded in 2018 by Josh Lessing and Ryan Knopf, Root AI is an extension of work the two men had done as early employees at Soft Robotics, the company pioneering new technologies for robotic handling.
With this young startup, the duo aims to create intelligent robots that will help growers build the smart farms featuring security and quality of food and no longer be limited by unpredictable climate or access to land.
The company’s artificial intelligence technology features vision systems which can see fruits and understand whether they’re ripe and ready to pick even in highly cluttered and complicated growing environments, patent-pending grippers which can reach deep into tangled vines and pluck a single ripe fruit without leaving a mark, and sensors which see the world in full 3D and can use this information to plan the right path to the target.
One of the first inventions coming from Root AI is a mobile robot for indoor farming facilities. Using cameras and sensors on it, the robot is capable of picking tomatoes the right way, assessing health of the crops, conducting operations such as pruning vines, observing and controlling ripening to cultivate crops.
Root AI is expected to begin the pilot tests from 2019. Given that the US, and other parts of the world, is facing a labour shortage in farming, the concept of indoor farming with AI at the core is likely to gain popularity.